Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

In Which I Tell You a Story

More like "show you a story," as this is one better told in moving pictures. This story mirrors my own research of the topic of #GamerGate, but is writ larger and grander. And with a slightly different ending, at least as far as I can tell, given that this thing is hardly over (going on four months now!), and the story still unfolds a little more every now and then.

David Pakman is progressive liberal, a feminist, a registered independent that votes Democrat, and until recently, a member of The Young Turks network. In short, he's the platonic ideal of 'anti-GamerGate', but he's also, despite his political leanings, a proper journalist who isn't afraid to ask hard questions to even those he might be sympathetic towards, and in that he's got my respect. He's been covering GamerGate in a series of interviews since late October, and has come to embody the saying of "If you've got both sides accusing you of being the for the other guy, then you're doing your job right." He's probably doing his job better than I am, if only because he started from a stronger, further Left position than I did.

The thing is, I can understand the cognitive dissonance he's suffering right now, and that becomes more and more apparent as the series of interviews and opinion pieces goes on.

It started with an interview with Brianna Wu (antiGG), who was there to discuss her involvement in GamerGate (interestingly claiming the movement was 2+ years old and began with Anita Sarkeesian and Samantha Allen), but ended in her accusing him of putting her on trial when he asked too many questions. Interestingly, when discussing an interview with Milo Yiannopoulos, she had some similar allegations...

...which led to Pakman's interview with Milo Yiannopoulos (neutral, leaning proGG) regarding his attempted interview with Brianna Wu and his own impressions of GamerGate. Milo has fantastic hair.

Pakman's next interview was a rarity. A female perspective from (proGG) Jennie Bharaj, gaming personality and herself a gamer. Honestly, Jennie doesn't interview well, but I feel she came off no worse than Ms. Wu.

A watershed moment, though, was probably Pakman's interview with professional gamescaster and one of the most prominent YouTube gaming personalities (proGG) TotalBiscuit aka John Bain, who, mere days after cancer surgery, brought another relevant perspective regarding his own experiences in dealing with games publishers and press. He has a magnificent voice.

Arthur Chu (antiGG), Jeopardy winner and possibly the most baffling nerd culture pundit to date, was Pakman's next and, to date, longest interview. The highlights of this interview were Pakman repeatedly assuring Chu that they're on the same side, and Chu accusing Pakman of giving voice to an angry mob and 'insane conspiracy theorists.' Chu does not interview well either.

Possibly one of the few True Neutral alignments, Liana Kerzner came next. Kerzner has a gift for cutting through erroneous bullshit.

Canadian and (self-described) radical feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists were the next to speak to Pakman. Their involvement with GamerGate came early, when Zoe Quinn accused them of being exploitative towards women and transphobic because they stated that entrants in their game-jam had to identify as female before a certain date in order to participate.

8chan Admin Frederick “HotWheels” Brennan (neutral, free speech advocate)spoke to David, placing an emphasis on free speech and roundly denounced doxxing, harassment, and illegal content.

Here's where the story gets really interesting. David discussed his own opinion of GamerGate, stating that while there is a problem of sexism, it's hardly exclusive to games and is really no worse there than anywhere else. He also believes that ethics in games journalism isn't the biggest problem in the world, especially in light of things like water shortages, wars, and human rights violations. And he's right. But I think what he misses is that this is a fight that gamers are equipped to fight, and it's a fight that's in their own backyard.

And then the CBC got involved, and showed a snippet of one of Pakman's videos in a one-sided smear story, specifically during a segment that talked about harassers.

The CBC then responded with the reporter saying 'we're totally not calling you a harasser, we promise.'

Pakman found out that he was on a 15,000+ strong blocklist of 'harassers.' Other harassers include actor Taye Diggs and KFC. No lie.

Again, Pakman found himself labeled a harasser by an alleged former 'GamerGater' and blocked by Arthur Chu.

Porn Star Mercedes Carrera (proGG), herself a woman with a history in technology, appeared on his show (safe for work, I promise!) to tell the story of how the AbleGamers charity backed out of a fundraiser she had been planning because of her involvement in GamerGate. This is possibly the most blatant example of David losing his cool, as he does interrupt her to go on tangents periodically.

I apologize if I've left a great deal of material for my readers to sort through, but I feel a personal connection here, if not to the subject matter, then to the idea of a liberal person who asks too many questions having their perceptions broken. Pakman has faced such hostility from the anti-GamerGate side for questioning what's presented as unassailable truths, and this mirrors my own experience in recent years; first in my decision to retire the label 'feminist" in reference to myself in the face of populist third-wave feminists, and now even the reluctance to identify as liberal or progressive due to the behaviors of others flying those flags.

As for me? I still don't know if I identify as Pro-GamerGate, but I'm sure as hell Anti-Anti-GamerGate.

This is the end of Salem's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" series of articles. If anything further develops, it will be addressed as an epilogue or a follow-up article. 

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