Ed Driscoll

Law & Order: SVU Takes On #GamerGate

What could go wrong? Pretty much everything, Forbes’ Erik Kain writes:

One thing leads to another and pretty soon SVU has uncovered a Serious Terrorist Organization of some sorts, made up of gamers who can’t tell the difference between games and reality and want both women and social justice out of gaming. Yes, we hear this sort of thing on Twitter. Social Justice Warriors are the enemies of many in the so-called #GamerGate movement. This has yet to reach ISIS levels of terrorism outside of the inflammatory tweets of some industry insiders.

So these gamers kidnap a high profile female game developer, Raina Punjabi, during her game launch (for  her fictional Amazonian Warriors RPG, which is a non-violent game because of course women who play games don’t like violence!)

The Gamers are super high-tech. They use the “Darknet” to make sure everything they do is totally untraceable. Scary! And they post their awful videos to Redchanit which, I mean, come on people is this for real?

(Alas, redchanit.com and redchanit.org are already registered. Update: By NBC last October….)

Evil gamers in masks kidnap Punjabi, post videos of her being assaulted, make her confess to all sorts of horrible things—here it’s very much Gamers Are Worse Than ISIS territory—and many, many bad one-liners are uttered. It’s embarrassing and awful and wonderfully bad all at the same time. It’s the Reefer Madness of our generation.

Reefer Madness you say? Well, this is the TV series that railed against the horrors of Pepsi Madness in 2011 after all:

Davy’s Mother: Davy was 12 when he took his life. I tried to make him stop with the cola.  But he was addicted to it.
Det. Benson [slowly, with furrowed brow]: Soda made him kill himself.
Davy’s Mother: I collected all the research. High-fructose corn syrup can make you obese. And obesity can make you depressed.
Det. Benson: And depression can lead to suicide.

As I wrote back then, when Law & Order SVU seemed like the second coming of Jack Webb’s old Dragnet series from the 1960s, RC Cola is the flame, Mountain Dew is the fuse, Jolt Cola is the bomb. So don’t you try to equate marijuana with Coca-Cola, mister, not with me. And don’t even get me started on bottled water and air-conditioning, you capitalist Tea Party punk!

And don’t get ’em started on TV chefs: As Matthew Sheffield wrote at NewsBusters in August of 2013, Law & Order: SVU aired an episode “in which a character based on Paula Deen kills a Trayvon Martin character.” And now video games. But then, the original Law & Order spent nearly 20 years depicting midtown Manhattan as a seething cauldron of Christian fundamentalism, and in its last season, a hotbed of conservative Tea Partiers.

As I wrote in an early Blogcritics post when its first DVD debuted in 2002, Law & Order was actually a fairly watchable police procedural for its first three or four seasons before it became an ever-expanding parody of itself.

Which is why I’d like to think Jerry Orbach is tuning in from somewhere in TV Heaven, shaking his head and muttering to himself, “I busted my a** for a decade saving this franchise after it was on the brink of cancellation, and this is what it’s become?

Update: Almost forgot this, after goofing on this line with my wife for the past two days:

Update (2/15/15): “The GamerGate Law & Order Episode Reveals Progressives As The New Architects of Moral Panic,” Allum Bokhari wrote yesterday at Breitbart London:

In the past, finger-wagging censoriousness tended to be driven by what was then called the “moral majority”, a large constituency of small-c social conservatives, often from strict Christian backgrounds. It was they who led boycotts of Monty Python and Kevin Smith movies, who accused Dungeons and Dragons of spreading Satanism, and who led campaigns against violent video games and music lyrics in the 1980s and 1990s. Virtually every moral panic of the late twentieth-century bore the fingerprints of the moral majority.

Today, that picture has changed dramatically. It was not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who championed the removal of Grand Theft Auto V from shelves in Australia. It was not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who banned a “corrupting” pop song on 20 campuses. And it is not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who are currently trying to whip up a boycott against Fifty Shades of Grey. 

In the world of gaming, we find the same pattern. The moral panic so starkly represented in Law & Order: SVU was not created by conservatives. Indeed, when conservatives have been involved, they have usually taken the side of gamers. Once again, it was driven almost exclusively by progressives and their cheerleaders in the media. Ordinary gamers, most of whom are moderates or liberals, now look to right-wing and libertarian media for fair coverage – an almost unimaginable position just a year ago.

Moral panic has once again returned to gaming. But, this time, it comes wearing neon hair dye, hoop earrings and plaid shirts, rather than blue rinses and Christian crosses. And people are starting to notice.

And they’re uploading their pushback…to the Dark Net!