Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Don't buy the monster's videogame! What the hell is wrong with you?!?

 People call JK Rowling a "TERF," but even that is giving her too much credit, I feel.  I mean, okay, it's not really giving her credit, but she likes to talk about what a feminist she is and how she cares about women's rights and supports abortion and same-sex marriage and all, but the fact is, she uncritically supports and refuses to distance herself in any way from the most nightmarishly hard right people there are--people who would strip women of all rights and force all gay people back into the closet at best--as long as they hate trans people as much as she does.  Actions speak pretty darned loudly, Joanne.  

The point is, she's a horrible person, and we live in a time where gruesome, evil monsters are literally trying to whip up a genocide against trans people.  So don't buy her fucking game!  What the hell is wrong with you?!?  This is the no-brainer of no-brainers!

Or so you would think.  But when you point out this extremely obvious moral calculus--moral arithmetic, let's say--you get a whole lot of dumb pushback.  So let's have a top-five list of disingenuous "it's fine to buy this woman's game" arguments.

1. "There's no ethical consumption under capitalism."

Okay, fine, but that doesn't mean it's a-okay to support the transphobe.  Are you seriously telling me that you believe in your heart of hearts that nothing you do matters cuz capitalism?  Supporting the transphobe and not supporting the transphobe are not morally equivalent.  Anti-capitalism is of course the correct stance, but you're giving it a bad name.

2. "You are writing this on a device that was almost certainly produced by people with terrible working conditions, you hypocrite."

I mean, yes, supply chains are massively complex, and none of us are really able to follow them through, and it's true that it's impossible to participate in contemporary society without participating to some degree in exploitation.  And yet, if there were a computer company whose CEO constantly loudly bragged about how their company's product was made with child slaves, you don't think most of us might avoid this company?  Once again, you're just using cheap nihilism as an excuse: "if you've ever patronized a company that does bad things, how dare you criticize anyone for anything ever?"  Fuck off.

3. "The game itself wasn't made by JK Rowling; what about the development team, huh?  Do you want THEM to suffer?"

This one just boggles my fucking mind, and more than any of the others, it convinces me that these pro-Rowling arguments are just fundamentally unserious.  People often respond to this with "they've already been paid;" I don't know if that's true, but I do know that this game is massively popular.  Your concerns that the programmers will have to sleep under bridge abutments are unwarranted, which is more than can be said for a non-trivial number of trans youth who have been disowned by their families in part due to the rhetoric of Rowling and her shithead friends.  But more to the point, do you buy every game ever made out of gnawing dread that the creators may suffer if you don't?  Or is this a convenient situational concern that you suddenly came up with?  Don't answer that.

4. "Rowling's already a billionaire; you buying or not buying her shit will make no difference to her bottom line."

Nobody doesn't understand this.  Well, okay, maybe a few of your more right-on TikTokers are a little naive, but it's really not the point.  The point is simple: you don't support the transphobe.  "Opposing the nazis won't actually do anything; why should I bother?"  Not much of an argument.

5. "Look, I agree that Rowling is a nightmare creature, but my eight-year-old is oblivious to all that; she just wants to play the wizard game based on the books she loved.  Do I REALLY need to make this political, even though it's obviously political?"

Actually, I've never heard anyone say this.  But it seems like something you might hear someone say, and I'm including it because it's the hardest one to argue against--indeed, the only one that's at all hard to argue with.

It's hard: if you're raising your child to be a decent human being, at a certain point they'll realize that JK Rowling is shit, but do you really want to have this conversation with them when they're a child?  Well...as painful as it is, it might be the best thing to do.  Then again, I'm not a parent, and I'm not going to say that for sure.  Ultimately, all I can say is that I'm not going to judge you too harshly if you just want to go along to get along in this situation--which, when you come down to it, is fairly bizarre, and it sucks that you should be stuck in it.  If it's at all possible, though, I would at least recommend pirating the game, just out of principle.

I mean, does buying the shitty transphobe's game mean that you are now per se a shitty transphobe.  I mean...no, clearly not.  But when there are super-easy things you can do to separate yourselves from the shitty transphobe and you're making elaborate justifications to avoid doing those things...well, I've gotta say, it's not a great look.  I do gotta wonder to what extent your heart is really in being anti-bigotry.  If transphobia were not exploding right not--if it weren't really a serious thing--then you could see Rowling as an obnoxious but harmless kook, and who cares what you do.  But it is, and so she's not, and so DON'T FUCKING BUY HER GAME.  Jeez.


Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

I'm sort of scared to write something since I conisder you a friend who I don't wish to upset and "Harry Potter" of all f-- things became such a minefield of an issue in recent times I'm almost scared to say my opinion if it include some nuance elements to it.

But what the heck, you only live once...

[And for the record - NO, I don't support Rowling and her views. I maybe a bit ignorant on some matters to have a strong opinion on everything, but at least all her "Terfing around" made me watch a bunch of videos from trans individuals talking why it harms them and I learn a lot and got some perspective even if some topics are new to me]

The last point you adressed (and yes, I seen people bring it up in some form) is acutaly more relevant then you think, as Harry Potter apperently just won a award at kids choise awards as most popular kids series, and the "Legacy" game is the new hit thing so I can imagine that kids who don't have it will feel left-out etc. So yeah, it might be a matter of being "in" for many kids.

About a year ago I seen on biggest Harry Potter facebook group in Poland how someone broth up the issue of Rowling views and pretty much the lion share of people reacted (no matter if they agree with her or not) "It's just her views. This dosen't effect the Harry Potter universe, so why should I care what the author say or do?" Frankly no one was mean, as much "I don't realy care what's she thinks".

Now I can only speak for Poland, where transgender is still a taboo issue and a lot of population is ignorant of the topic, but I can imagine a % of people around the world (US included) simply don't care what Rowling says or even if they read this and they are supporters of trans issue aren't activily thinking about it enough to have strong opinion to boycot her products.

Again, it's not as much transphobia on their part, just ignorance/lack of knowing/intrest and they simply both this game without thinking much about it.

Some of my friends (you included) openly boycot this game and expressed why they think it's wrong to buy it and that's cool. But I have some frineds who are also very on the left who got the game and in my opinion what ever moral dilema they had or not, is realy up to them.

Where I have mix feelings is when I see people who express they got the game and enjoyed it and their meet with people insulting them or shaming them. Being mean aside (and in some cases to total strangers) "you don't catch flies with vinegar". I don't think people get that shaming or offending people will only give unfavorable reactions and that's not a good move if they are only agnostic on the issue ("Ha-ha! I both this game to stick it to the woke mob" types are another stoy).

And I seen this even before the "Legacy" game (Seriously I seen on-line conversation that pretty much went - Hey I got this Harry Potter audiobook and it's pretty cool - Go burn in hell you natzi transhpobe!), not to mention burnings of Harry Potter books on tick tock which... Which is ironic as I seen people who just few years ago laugh at some priest for burning Potter books ("Ho, ho, ho he dosen't realise this makes his side look insane") and yet now they think it's totaly justify, while clealry it won't help to win over people who are on the fence or didn't form a opinion yet. To quote one of my own characters "As a Catholic I like to point out we hated Rowling before it was cool!"

And I'm not saying this in any way justify what Rowling said, I was just upset as I seen this type of behavior from my friends. Agian - One thing to boycot her work, the other to oplenly wish her death (it's just crossing the line for me) or even worse to people who remain Potter fans and I'm just sad the entire Potter-mess escalated this far.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

One more argument I seen people making for the game is:
"Well, you boycot the game but I don't see you boycoting movies, theme parks at Universal Studio, her other books, LEGOS or what-ever-else there is... I don't know. Profesor Snape socks"

I don't think it's a fair point since - well, how the heck you know that this perticual person dosen't do this?

At the same time, I seen Potter fans who are like "Well, I'm not going to buy this game sicne I hate Rwoling but I'm going to torrent it". Aside for the doubtful morality of "Well I think this person is harmful so it's cool for me to steal her stuff" (it's not even an anti-piracy argument as much, anti acting high and mighty argumet)

WELL - Frankly if you honestly belive that buying any Harry Potter-realted product is supprot for Rowling... Um, like sorry dude, but you have to renounce being a fan of this franchise all together. Even by re-reading the book sand writing about your expirance on-line you are still celebrating something she created and she owns. You can argue "Well, I just pretend this book was actualy writen by Hermoione" all you like but you are now just trying justify something you clearly have a moral issue with.

And sorry if sound harsh here. I totaly get it. You can't always separate author from the creator. There are some creators who's views I can stand and I will never pay a dime for their work (Don't even get me started on xenophobic and sexist ways of Frank Miller) but in their cases their work also strongly reflect these viwes. Potter as far I know, isn't anti-trans in itself so I can just imagine why fans have more easy to not think about Rowling as they read it or watch the movies or... well, play this game.

And hell, I write as a person who only read the first book and seen most of the movies so I dont' conisder myself that big of a fan. I know what spell can kill you on the spot, all muggles suck and I hate these guys (every one of them!), and profesor Sybill is darn cool and reflects my view how people who practice magic in real life looks like.

So long story short, this is why I'm personaly more sympathethic toward people who still are Potter fans...

...please don't hate me, just wanted to add my perspective.

(I'm happy to see you write something new on Inchoatia ^_^)

8:04 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Obviously I ment "separate author from the creations" (not the "creator")

8:19 PM  
Blogger Thomas pontificated to the effect that...

I don't see how the fifth argument is any harder at all. If you won't buy a game because of its association with a transphobic creator, there's no reason to suddenly buy it just because your child wants it. Parents who are like that have no spine. Children are able to understand that they can't have everything they want. It might be harder to withhold the books from them if they're in the library or the movies if they are on television. I think would try to initiate a conversation about JKR.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

I think, with the fifth one, the relevant issue isn't necessarily that the parent is supporting Rowling by buying the game for their child, but that the act of giving the game (or any other Harry Potter material) to a child is in itself not the best idea these days (at least without having some kind of discussion about it), because it would be better for sympathetic people to try to lessen Rowling's relevance to future generations to the extent possible.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Achille Talon pontificated to the effect that...

@Anonymous: Well, yes, but I think GeoX was presuming, here, a child who had *already* gotten into Harry Potter (presumably a couple years ago, before the parent knew any better either).

@Thomas: If I understand correctly, that "initiate a conversation" is the crux of the issue. Children know they can't have everything they want, but good parenting usually involves communication. "No, see, sweetie, you can't have the wizard video game, because XYZ": perfectly fine. "No, you can't have the wizard game, and, uhm, please don't ask me why": weird, may be perceived as a personal punishment by the child. The only way to do it *is* to have the "the woman who wrote this is a bad person and also this particular game has glaring anti-semitic subtext anyway" conversation, and depending on the child's age that's a tough one.

All that being said, these hypotheticals seem to assume a somewhat younger target audience than I figured the game had, from what I've seen of it. I'd say a thirteen-year-old can probably handle the Your Hitherto-Favourite Series Is Problematic Talk.

5:00 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

It's probably true that I didn't give kids enough credit. I keep wanting to leave a longer comment, but then I keep thinking of other factors and it starts spinning out of control, and boy, this stuff can get complicated, even if the central question maybe isn't when you get right down to it.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Is the game realy that anti-semitic? I find "Potter universe has gobblins who have long noses and are greedy and money-obsessed" a bit of a streach (this description can very well aply to Mr. Burns from The Simpsons)

On other hand "The lower class that serves us is revolting and we can't have that" plot point feels way more clearly problematic, as a "know your place in the caste system" message. Tone-deaf to say the least...

12:21 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

*I ment "Revolts" not "Revolting"

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Achille Talon pontificated to the effect that...

Eesh, no, take it from me, the Goblins are, uhm, they're bad. (In the original books they were iffy but salvageable; but this goes and adds them *kidnapping children of the dominant ethnicity as part of they secret scheme* and aaaargh.)

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Evelyn pontificated to the effect that...

I think that 4 and your response to it are kind of talking past each other. If a minuscule boycott of the game has *no actual effect*, then refusing to buy is purely symbolic lip service. Now, we all know that purely symbolic lip service can be powerful; but you don't say that this purely symbolic lip service would be powerful. You seem to be saying that it's just a matter of principle. Now, I *assume* that boycotting the game is different from the utterly useless Surely This Is Virtuous action of, say, refusing to read novels from the 19th century because they contain racism; but that's only *my* assumption, and you haven't said that that's your assumption too.
Is it just a politeness issue? Like how I wouldn't extol Churchill if I were talking to an Indian, even though of course that would have no effect on Churchill's actions or any colonialism? Just like we go to the effort of saying 'please' in order to say "I care enough about respecting you that I will go to the effort of saying 'please'", we boycott in order to say "I care enough about respecting you that I will go to the effort of forgoing the consumption of a piece of media"? The actual sacrifice accomplishes nothing directly, but by making it, we prove that we're willing to make a sacrifice, and it makes people feel good that we're willing to make a sacrifice for them?

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Achille Talon pontificated to the effect that...

Yes, that's it exactly.

6:41 AM  

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