Anita Sarkeesian went on The Colbert Report on Wednesday to talk about GamerGate, her perceived sexism in the video game industry, and the allegedly nonstop misogynistic harassment she’s received from gamers. She ended up getting a little more than she bargained for, however, and her appearance on the show made her look extremely bad (you can see her interview in this clip on the Comedy Central YouTube channel).
Many third wave feminists, Social Justice Warriors, and even other news outlets rejoiced after her appearance saying she “hit it out of the park” and (for the second or perhaps third time now) declared GamerGate was dead. This analysis shows that they are ignorant of what The Colbert Report is and does. The very fact other media was “signal boosting” anything on Colbert to begin with should have been a red flag. Normally Colbert and the media are not the best of friends.
The Colbert Report is satirical humor which frequently mocks the mainstream media for doing lazy and usually inaccurate reporting. When Colbert showed clips and headlines from mass media outlets categorizing GamerGate as a hate group harassing women, this wasn’t to inform his audience of the facts. It was to show how one-sided and absurd these news stories are. This is what The Colbert Report has been doing in the entire nine years of its existence. The show didn’t suddenly fall out of form for this one story in which it reversed positions and sided with the mass media. So viewers of the interview need to first understand that going into this coverage, the Report was already implying it legitimately was pro-gamergate and the true object of ridicule here are the SJWs.
Then Colbert got to the interview with Anita herself. True to form he did crack several jokes using gamers and GamerGate as the punchline. Namely saying gamers were probably shocked women were talking to them at all and then his “separate but equal games” line. Both were good zingers which I will admit I laughed at. Feminists and SJWs mistakenly and quite ignorantly thought this meant Stephen must actually be anti-gamergate. He’s mocking gamers so he must be anti-GG right? Not so fast. Recall that Colbert is satire. In every episode he uses things that deep down he supports as punchlines for jokes. Colbert has mocked Dungeons & Dragons and the nerds who play it many times but Stephen is (or at least was) an avid D&D player in real life.
In his interviews over the years, you can usually see through the facade and determine Stephen’s true stance by judging the questions he is asking and what kind of information he beckons out of his guest. This is what you must analyze to see if Colbert is truly pro or anti gamergate.
And what you find is that he pretty much grilled her with questions that make her position look incredibly weak. Because he invited Anita on the show, he did catch himself a few times and relent, perhaps thinking he was being too harsh. For example, when Anita was talking about the damsel in distress trope and stated that damsels should be able to save themselves, Colbert started to mention we already have games like that (seen at 1:30 in the clip linked above). He stopped himself, shrugged, and simply quipped “I didn’t know you brought a posse,” remarking at the crowd’s highly unusual applause. This looked like a momentary slip from character where he was about to argue against his guest based on his actual thoughts but caught himself and stopped.
Immediately after that he brought up the Utah State University threat which caused her to cancel her talk there. He asked her about it, she said it happened, and then the interview clearly cuts to a different segment of the interview of him asking about something else. The USU threat is simply glossed over with nothing more than a passing mention. Is this an indication the editing team (and thus by extension the show itself) found this wasn’t actually pertinent information or that her explanation wasn’t credible (just like law enforcement officials said the threats posed absolutely no risk to students, staff, or her in a statement the day before her scheduled talk). This apparently wasn’t the only cut in the interview. An unverified comment on the KotakuInAction subreddit from someone who alleges he was at the taping of the show says that a lot of the truly hard questions were cut from the final airing and that Anita did not look at all happy with how things went. Again, this is unverified but judging by how any in-depth discussion about the USU incident was obviously cut, it does lend credence to the idea a lot of other stuff was as well.
Colbert then asked her to specifically name games she thought were sexist. She wouldn’t. He challenged her to name three games. This should be no problem considering all the games she talked about in her YouTube series videos. And yet she STILL refused to name any sexist games. This was puzzling. Perhaps she couldn’t remember the names of offending games that Jonathan McIntosh wrote in her Tropes vs. Women script (fun fact: McIntosh is the producer and writer of that series so things Anita is saying on video were actually written by him and aren’t necessarily her thoughts or research). This seems pretty unlikely considering all the talks she’s given but why else wouldn’t she name any? Perhaps she thought that if she publicly called out blockbuster game franchises on national television as sexist, too many people in the “real world” would see she has no idea what she’s talking about because anybody who has played these games know the clips are cherry-picked. She begrudgingly did name one, Grand Theft Auto, the safest possible game to name since it is often scrutinized for its violence and adult themes.
So basically Anita didn’t say anything of any substance on the show.
A second reason her appearance on The Colbert Report reveals her as a fraud is the very fact she appeared in the first place. Anita supported the #cancelcolbert hashtag back in April. For those unfamiliar with it, it was a hashtag created by a Social Justice Warrior named Suey Park who accused The Colbert Report of being racist for a stereotypical Asian character he used in a few episodes. Park obviously got a ton of hate from Colbert fans who had the audacity to call her overly sensitive ideas “stupid.” Sarkeesian added her voice to the movement by tweeting out an article written by Katherine Cross which heavily supported Suey Park. Not only that, Anita highlighted excerpts from the article on her Feminist Frequency website which literally called Colbert fans the “virtual embodiment of the patriarchy’s crowdsourced police…”
Then on another Feminist Frequency blog post highlighting yet another apparently important excerpt from Katherine Cross’s “must read” article on the subject, she literally uses the #CancelColbert hashtag!
So it is clear that Anita supported Suey Park and the #cancelcolbert movement and that she agrees Colbert viewers are the embodiment of the patriarchy. Why then would she want to go on his show? Not only go on it but seemingly be star struck when she gets there! She took pictures behind Colbert’s desk, standing side by side with Stephen, and was noticeably giddy during her interview with him. It was as if she had a crush on the man. But just six months ago she wanted him canceled!
It seems that Anita is not truly fighting for ideals she strongly believes in that will better society but is actually in it for the publicity and simply to further her career as a professional speaker. There is quite a bit of other evidence for this. For example, check out this video where a young Anita gives a video testimonial about a teleseminar conference she attended or this video with juxtaposed clips of her saying she is a gamer then saying she is not a gamer. Based on the fact she recently wrote the statement “Even though I was playing lots of games, I still didn’t call myself a ‘gamer'” in her article on the New York Times just a few days ago we’d have to conclude the latter is true and that she doesn’t consider herself a gamer.
But back to the point at hand. Anita was clearly willing to stuff all of her principles about wanting the show canceled in the trash and go on anyway because it was national television. This is the big time! She’s made it! But you have to wonder, if she didn’t really care about #cancelcolbert and yet she was supporting it, what other ideas is she falsely supporting in order to further her career and gain supporters under the guise of social justice?
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