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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.

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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.