Can We Ever Get Out Of Our Own Way?
There’s a popular saying that “hell is other people”. I’ve used it, and I know that others use it to indicate how much they dislike the behaviors of others, comparing having to endure the public attitudes and ignorance of others to eternal damnation. According to this maxim, we’ll never be able to escape the stupid, and at times that’s especially true in the video game community.
I’m linking this video because while I find things I can take personal offense to, I find parts of it kind of funny. Kimmel’s job is to take almost any situation and put a humorous spin on it. 364 days out of the year we require the application of this formula from our comedians because pointing out the absurdity in every day life, magnifying it, and turning it back to us is pretty much the textbook definition of comedy, and if we’re honest with ourselves, helps us to put our troubles into perspective.
Generally, everyone who ends up as a target of comedy either take their ribbings or understands that what’s said and laughed about today will be long forgotten by tomorrow (considering the hour that these talk shows air, “tomorrow” is a matter of minutes). Everyone, that is, except the gaming community, which I’m sure is absolutely no surprise to you, dearest reader.
One one hand, I’m heartened by the fact the Kimmel’s earlier bit on YouTube Gaming garnered the most kickback of any bit they’ve aired. That means two things: a lot of people who know what YTG is or who use YTG have watched Kimmel’s show (so he’s welcome for that!), and that there’s enough people out there who feel strongly enough to register their indignation (ideally, good for us in the gaming community).
Being gamers, though, the…flavor of indignation could be charitably described as “unpalatable”. Of course Kimmel is going to feature comments that provide the easiest hooks and the funniest punchlines because that’s his job. To him, it’s just another day at the office. To a lot of gamers, though, it’s retreading an old trail that we know that we’ve left behind a long time ago. Gamers aren’t antisocial loners who live in their parent’s etc etc etc. I could tattoo that on my forehead, but there will always be a cadre of people out there for whom that stereotype is their one and only understanding of what we do and who we are, so it’s to those people Kimmel’s bit is pandering. Unfortunately for us as the butt of the joke, the comments that Kimmel provided as fodder do absolutely nothing to help dispel that stereotype.
Blaming Kimmel is pointless because he’s a comedian and I’d actually be confused had he taken a different tack. Instead, I have to blame those who thought the best way to rebut his insinuations was to write violent and incoherent comments. Yeah, it’s YouTube, so it’s technically it’s a sport unto itself, but like how I would expect Kimmel to take the approach he took, I can’t say I expected anything less from our little band of miscreants.
People need to really sit and think about how maybe their behaviors aren’t actually helping solve the very problems that they’re railing against. Maybe their foul mouthed tirades are helping them to let of steam, sure, but in the end, painting yourself as an unhinged jackass is only going to reinforce the stereotypes you’re trying to convince people aren’t true. Can’t take a joke? Can’t form a sentence? Can’t present a counter-argument without sarcasm and violent, foul language? That’s the epitome of being socially inept. Thinking that telling someone to “tie fish line around your balls and jump” is more creative than moronic has less to do with defending the honor of your community than it is about being seen by your peers as witty and snarky. As someone who finds this behavior abhorrent but who is also caught in the dragnet that you’re cinching around our collective community, thank you for your contribution, YouTube commentators.
I like to daydream about what we could accomplish as a community if people who had these levels of rage were actually funneling it into avenues that put the community first instead of putting their own 0.5 seconds of peer attaboys ahead of the betterment of our hobby. These people have passion, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s destructive passion. It does no good for anyone to burn the house down in order to save it, which is why I feel the need to write this post, and why I wish I could somehow calmly explain to those who take Kimmel’s skit at face value and who think even less of us as a community than they did before that bit that we’re actually nothing like how he has portrayed us, and how those comments do not represent us as a community. We’re obviously not all like those commentators, but being good students, hard working adults, and loving parents and spouses doesn’t bring the inherent funny, so we won’t get airtime or opportunity to have that kind of Real Talk.
In the end, our fate rests on the shoulders of my daughter, and your daughter, and your son, because those are the people who are growing up far better adjusted than the people whose first thought is that they’re going to take the fight to Kimmel at the helm of a loaded YouTube comment. Our kids aren’t going to need to fight situations like this, because there’ll be nothing funny about people who play video games. They’ll have grown up with a decent balance between going outside and staying inside. They’ll have made real friendships that exist online-only and won’t bemoan the death of face-to-face interaction for the benefit of a tired punchline. As an adult, I am only riding on the leading edge of such progress, not driving it. Our kids will grow up in a way that will be the absolutely best rebuttal of shticks like Kimmel’s, and will neuter any arguments held by those who think we’re all a bunch of antisocial losers.