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Recently Nintendo announced the inclu­sion of a new female ver­sion of Link in Hyrule Warriors named “Linkle.” Poor nam­ing choic­es aside, the reac­tion to the announce­ment from the social jus­tice pun­dits has shown a per­fect exam­ple of the tac­tics used by those bent of wag­ing a cul­ture war in “geek” media. The reac­tion swung from gloat­ing and smug­ness to attacks and recrim­i­na­tions of Nintendo for not ful­ly replac­ing Link with Linkle, or some oth­er orig­i­nal female char­ac­ter. It’s often said “You can’t make cul­ture war­riors hap­py.” But that sim­ply isn’t true. You just have to real­ize what real­ly makes them hap­py, and why.

On paper it seems like noth­ing could make the polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect and per­ma­nent­ly offend­ed hap­py. Their own inter­nal log­ic is con­tra­dic­to­ry. You have to real­ize what makes them hap­py doesn’t con­form to any sort of log­ic; the Mrs. Male trope applies equal­ly whether or not Link is replaced by a girl or a new char­ac­ter is cre­at­ed. At this point their argu­ment breaks down as being con­tra­dic­to­ry. “Make this beloved char­ac­ter female” and “Making female ver­sions of Male char­ac­ters is a neg­a­tive trope” should be mutu­al­ly exclu­sive sen­ti­ments, if you have a con­sis­tent and log­i­cal mind. They should be at odds with each oth­er.

My fel­low SuperNerdLand con­trib­u­tor, writer of “Translating Tumblr,” and all round smart cook­ie Cate Winters observed that the peo­ple she sees on Tumblr cel­e­brat­ing ideas like “Thor is a girl” or the pre­pos­ter­ous “Samus is Trans” fad have the same atti­tude as a child want­i­ng anoth­er child’s toys. They are not sim­ply hap­py with get­ting their own toy, they also want no one else to be able to have it. She observed it was like an imma­ture child going “I’m touch­ing your stuff! You can’t stop me touch­ing your stuff!” It is a self­ish and pet­ty instinct.

What makes cul­ture war­riors hap­py is this: oth­er peo­ple being unhap­py. If you real­ize this then their deci­sions make a hell of a lot more sense.

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In cas­es that piss off their per­ceived oppo­si­tion suf­fi­cient­ly they sim­ply choose not to apply their own rule­set to it. This is a rule­set based on crit­i­cal the­o­ry, and one that can attack any­thing as racist/sexist/problematic by design. “Everything is sex­ist.” Anita Sarkeesian said it her­self. Their ide­ol­o­gy is set out so they can arbi­trar­i­ly choose not to crit­i­cise peo­ple seen as on their “own team,” or ideas they feel push their pol­i­tics and ide­ol­o­gy for­ward. Hypocrisy is accept­able as long as it serves the cause; Nintendo didn’t pun­ish white males enough with their deci­sion so it wasn’t good enough. Not enough peo­ple were upset, and a vic­to­ry could’t be claimed. Faces couldn’t be rubbed in it as effec­tive­ly, and they couldn’t then start mak­ing fur­ther demands about the con­tent of the core Zelda fran­chise while work­ing to deride the rest of the fan­base.

Those attack­ing media in the name of diver­si­ty can espouse the­se two con­tra­dic­to­ry ideas at the same time because they don’t argue from a place of log­ic; they argue from a place of author­i­ty and would rather attack and smear ideas they don’t like rather than try­ing to dis­prove or engage with them. This is Critical Theory 101. Social Sciences and Postmodernism move ratio­nal­ism aside in favour of pro­mot­ing what argu­ment dri­ves a cause or idea for­ward, rather than the valid­i­ty of the argu­ment pre­sent­ed. Linke and Female Thor are minor skir­mish­es on the route to a wider goal.

This isn’t about diver­si­ty, this is about polit­i­cal vic­to­ry and hijack­ing estab­lished cul­tur­al icons for a pure­ly polit­i­cal cause. Some refuse to admit it, but the humor­ous image of Anita Sarkeesian’s con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments that got near­ly a thou­sand up-votes on the /r/gaming board of Reddit is wak­ing peo­ple up to their true moti­va­tions.

The dis­tinc­tion between “Making a female Link” and “Making Link female” is mean­ing­less to the gen­er­al pub­lic, but it mat­ters a great deal to cul­ture war­riors.

Making the canon ver­sion of Link a girl and hav­ing it replace the main char­ac­ter removes the male ver­sion, and this is the action they are real­ly the most inter­est­ed in. This is what under­pinned the cel­e­bra­tion of female Thor; it wasn’t about hav­ing a female ver­sion of Thor. It was about sup­plant­i­ng a male char­ac­ter with a female one on a large plat­form. They want to make exist­ing char­ac­ters con­form to and par­rot their pol­i­tics because it pro­vides them with the plat­form for their ideas that a new char­ac­ter wouldn’t have.

The wider goal is to have all media reflect and dic­tate polit­i­cal­ly pro­gres­sive ideas. When you look at Female Thor you are sup­posed to be remind­ed that you are a shit­lord, that your male space is under attack and that “Lol! Thor is a girl now! The Hulk is Asian! Take that GamerGators! The MRA Racists have lost! I’m touch­ing your stuff, your stuff is mine now haha­ha! If you don’t like it then get out!” It’s fun­da­men­tal­ly about the per­ceived defeat of polit­i­cal oppo­nents via the dom­i­na­tion of cul­ture. That’s what the cul­ture war is, and they can’t talk about “win­ning” it with­out expos­ing that fact.

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This is why every deci­sion that doesn’t lead to some form of cul­tur­al destruc­tion or sup­plan­ta­tion is heav­i­ly crit­i­cized. This is why deci­sions most peo­ple would see as “good for every­one” are nev­er good enough. Simply replac­ing an all-male with an all-female case isn’t adding “diver­si­ty.” Things didn’t get more diverse, they just changed. Having both a male and female ver­sion is diver­si­ty, and the­se are the deci­sions cul­ture war­riors active­ly dis­like. On a fun­da­men­tal lev­el, cul­tur­al crit­ics and their legion of scream­ing, enti­tled fol­low­ers are anti-diversity. This is why peo­ple got upset when it was announced there would also be an all-male ver­sion of Ghostbusters being made as well as the all-female ver­sion. Nothing actu­al­ly changed, the female ver­sion was still being made, but they can no longer rub it in people’s faces. “Ha! I’m touch­ing your Ghostbusters stuff! Look it’s all girl now! I’m rub­bing my gen­der pol­i­tics all over your stuff and there’s noth­ing you can do about it! Don’t like it? Get out!”

If there are alter­na­tives in media that fore­go gen­der pol­i­tics or pro­gres­sive ideas then they have to com­pete in the mar­ket­place with them. This is an admis­sion that, when pre­sent­ed with a choice, peo­ple usu­al­ly prefer media with­out all of the polit­i­cal bull­shit involved.

Did female Thor sell well because it had a female lead or did it sell well because mess­ing with the Thor canon cre­at­ed a lot of con­tro­ver­sy and pub­lic­i­ty? Would it have sold just as well oppo­site a male ver­sion of Thor? We don’t know. But what we do know is that the deci­sion seemed engi­neered to delib­er­ate­ly piss peo­ple off for max­i­mum polit­i­cal impact. Once again this is not about cre­at­ing diver­si­ty, and the actu­al qual­i­ty of media is on the back-burner. It’s about upset­ting a group seen as polit­i­cal opponent’s whist push­ing for­ward an ide­ol­o­gy. It’s end result will be to make all media homoge­nous and far less diverse in terms of char­ac­ters, sto­ry­li­nes, view­points and ideas. Diversity is an emp­ty buzz­word when used in this con­text.

But what does it mat­ter what polit­i­cal ideas a piece of media puts for­ward? Well, con­trary to most evi­dence which shows our polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al ideas are shaped main­ly by our peers and the real wold around us, Critical Theory is built on the premise that media and enter­tain­ment have a pro­found effect on our think­ing and are respon­si­ble for shap­ing our world-view almost entire­ly. The end goal of this laugh­able pro­ces­sion of mean-spirted tantrums is to cre­ate pro­pa­gan­da that will brain­wash the mass­es to bring about the dom­i­na­tion of their polit­i­cal ideas and a new pro­gres­sive utopia. No real­ly. That’s what they actu­al­ly think. What would actu­al­ly hap­pen is media would get a bit crap and peo­ple would stop watch­ing as much of it, or cre­ate alter­na­tives out­side of this nar­row set of rules set forth by PC dem­a­gogues. But this is the rea­son they keep push­ing again­st “com­pe­ti­tion” and work to make life mis­er­able for con­tent cre­ators and enthu­si­ast audi­ences that do not agree with them.

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When you make your char­ac­ter female they will demand it be a “per­son of colour.” When you make it a black female they will demand it not con­form to “gen­der norms.” When you make it have a black female demi­sex­u­al they will ask why it doesn’t reflect the expe­ri­ences of the men­tal­ly dis­abled. When you make your char­ac­ter a black female demi­sex­u­al with schiz­o­phre­nia they will tell you it is offen­sive to use their ill­ness and say to add a trig­ger warn­ing. When you make it a black female demi­sex­u­al with a trig­ger warn­ing for schiz­o­phre­nia they will ask why you are leav­ing out the phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled. When you make it a black female demi­sex­u­al para­plegic with trig­ger warn­ing for schiz­o­phre­nia they will ask why it is being cre­at­ed by white males. When you add wom­en to your team they will demand wom­en of colour. When you replace your entire team with peo­ple who per­fect­ly reflect the expe­ri­ence of the now com­plete­ly unrec­og­niz­able char­ac­ter they will won­der why a team of black female demi­sex­u­al para­plegic schiz­o­phren­ics with no back­ground in cre­at­ing suc­cess­ful media is hav­ing trou­ble fin­ish­ing a project that peo­ple want to buy.

Culture war­riors will only ever be tem­porar­i­ly hap­py and to achieve this you have to make every­one but them unhap­py. Once you have given in they will keep demand­ing changes until your project falls apart or becomes unrec­og­niz­able and eco­nom­i­cal­ly unvi­able. They are doing this because they think mak­ing media that adheres to their warped ideas will func­tion to make every­one else think like them.

Don’t give into cul­ture war­riors; it’s always a bad deci­sion. They have no gen­uine inter­est in your project beyond how they can inject their pol­i­tics into it. Make what you want to make. SweeneyCultureOpinionCulture War,Linkle,OpinionRecently Nintendo announced the inclu­sion of a new female ver­sion of Link in Hyrule Warriors named “Linkle.” Poor nam­ing choic­es aside, the reac­tion to the announce­ment from the social jus­tice pun­dits has shown a per­fect exam­ple of the tac­tics used by those bent of wag­ing a cul­ture war in “geek” media. The reac­tion…
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John Sweeney
John Sweeney is a ter­ri­bly British man with a back­ground in engi­neer­ing. He writes long-form edi­to­ri­al con­tent with analy­sis of gam­ing, games media and inter­net cul­ture. He also does the occa­sion­al video game ret­ro­spec­tive with a week­ly column about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good mea­sure. He also does most of our inter­views for some rea­son, we have no idea why. A staunch sup­port­er of free speech and con­sumer rights; skep­ti­cal of agen­da dri­ven media and sus­pi­cious of unac­cou­table author­i­ty but always hope­ful for change.