So Stephen Colbert, as we all hoped he would, took on #GamerGate last night. Here are the videos for those who missed it:
Anyone with a couple of brain cells who has watched this show before could have guessed generally how they would handle it: Colbert, in character as an asshole conservative, would defend #GamerGate with a bunch of jokes that expose how stupid it actually is. The interview would feature Colbert aggressively questioning Anita Sarkeesian in a way that both parodies right wingers and allows her to make her eminently reasonable points. But Gamergaters are way too far up their own asses for that sort of thing. Instead, one prominent Gamergater—a rabid anti-feminist who, prior to #GamerGate, was trying to run feminist women out of atheism, because uh, “ethics in journalism”—spent the hours before the show trumpeting loudly about how Stephen Colbert was going to put those “social justice warriors” in their place.
It wasn’t just Thunderfoot who was laughably obtuse about this. His optimistic comments brought a sea of people saying they hoped he was right, though by and large they weren’t as confident as he was that Stephen Colbert, who has a long history of being a feminist, was somehow going to start supporting the cause of people who want to harass and terrorize feminists into silence on the topic of whether or not video games can sometimes be kind of sexist. Their skepticism was, of course, warranted. Not only did Colbert show that Sarkeesian is an eminently reasonable person and not the screaming leftist fanatic that her critics accuse her of being, but he also shredded the ridiculous “ethics in journalism” gambit. “It’s almost entirely women who have been threatened in #GamerGate,” he noted, citing the example of Chris Kluwe, who has been out in front, as a gamer, denouncing #GamerGate, but hasn’t gotten anything near the grief that women get for much less aggressive tactics.
Then he asked about the conspiracy theory of “collusion” between gaming journalists and developers to supposedly force feminism on hapless male gamers. “We’re talking about ethics in gamer journalism,” he intoned dramatically, letting the irony of how much is being made out of how little just fill in the space. “Do you know how huge that is?” Then he let her explain what’s actually going on: Harassment of women in order to keep them from criticizing games or suggesting ways to break out of tired, sexist cliches that dominate the story lines in so many games.
Enjoy some more angry, heartbroken reactions Vox collected from Gamergaters who were stupid enough to believe Stephen Colbert would side with them instead of with women who think it’s reasonable and even necessary to demand more of a medium that many fans believe should be treated as an art form.