Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
The joy of being offended

I was watching review videos of board games on YouTube, when I came upon a video about Vagrantsong, a recent game that has vagrants battling ghosts on board of a train. 20 minutes into the 30 minutes video I realized that I hadn't heard anything about gameplay yet. Instead the video was a long tirade about how problematic vagrancy as a theme was, and how the use of certain monsters was cultural appropriation, as the Wendigo was originally native American folklore. The whole video was not a game review, but the application of a woke purity test on that game. The woke purity test has a 100% failure rate, as the very purpose of applying it is the joy of being offended, and if you dig deep enough, you can find something offensive about pretty much everything.

Now this is not completely new in game reviews. The board game Puerto Rico originally had brown cubes as workers, and one can understand that somebody reviewing that game would point out that this was a bad choice (which was then fixed in later editions). However, lately people don't even bother with reviewing the actual game, the gameplay, but *only* talk about anything potentially offending. And more and more, with game developers and publishers having already avoided anything really egregious, the criticism is about stuff that you can't even notice without an in-depth research. Like Vagrantsong showing the Wendigo having horns, which is totally in line with a Google image search of the word "Wendigo", but apparently the original native American Wendigo didn't have horns. What an outrage! I am sure Native Americans all over the continent are up in arms about this! At least if their socio-economic situation wasn't so bad that most of them can't even afford expensive Kickstarter board games.

If you can't find something historic in a game to be offended about, you can just make something up. Dungeons & Dragons is being criticized for racism against orcs, who are shown as stupid and cruel, and have green skin. So somehow woke people get offended by that, thinking it has something to do with racism against black people. As a German I would like to point out that I have a better claim to be offended by orcs: The modern use of orcs dates back to Tolkien, and the army of orcs serving Sauron has a much closer thematic link to the army of Germans serving Hitler than anything actually racial. But high fantasy actually *needs* evil as an adversary to overcome; there is no slight, intended or otherwise, to any non-fictional identity.

What makes me so sad about all of this effort being expended on the search for the joy of being offended is the political consequences: Right-wing populists undermine democracy, capitalism is creating more and more inequality, and the left, instead of fighting the good fight for more democracy and economic equality is busy with frankly ridiculous criticism of any artistic expression. They assume the role of Mother Superior in last-century Catholic school handing out punishment to kids for "impure thoughts". In a political system where voters are forced to vote for the lesser evil, the left is increasingly succeeding in becoming the greater evil. Actually evil people score easy points, because a lot of "anti-woke" measures are more reasonable than the woke alternative. The Democrats conceded so much ground that today the Republican party can get away with claiming to be the party of being "anti-war" and defending the interests of the working people without a college degree, a group the left now calls "deplorables". That isn't going to end well!

and the left, instead of fighting the good fight for more democracy and economic equality is busy with frankly ridiculous criticism of any artistic expression

It seems that you've learned quickly and are doing exactly the same as your reviewer......

The majority of "the left" (whatever that means) is doing stuff which has nothing to do with wokism, but just read your text and see that you chose to focus your analysis exclusively on that.
"instead of fighting the good fight for more democracy and economic equality is busy with frankly ridiculous criticism of any artistic expression."

Seems a bit hyperbolic don't you think?

Anyways outrage culture sells to both the right and the left. I'd argue the right is much better at it seeing as how their outrage merchants are frequently the most watched in the United States but thats neither here nor there.

YouTube naturally pushes content creators to repeat whatever gave them a bit of success. Chances are the creator you watched discovered that their outrage videos garnered more views and the system encourages them to continue to make that type of content.

The same thing typically applies to all types of social media. The algorithms push "engaging" content which often means pushing outrage content.
If the majority of the left is fighting for other things than wokism, then why isn’t that more visible? I consult a wide range of social media and classic media, and 95% of the reporting from the USA is about culture wars. From Europe I see reports of politicians standing in picket lines fighting for better wages. Other than Bernie Sanders, it is hard to imagine any US Democrat doing that. Even AOC wore her “tax the rich” dress at an event where only the rich could afford to attend.
Tobold I could make the same generalizations about the right. I too can cherry pick random right wing Twitter and YouTube personalities and proclaim that the right is all about fighting to make the country into a real life version of Gilead.
The difference is that the edge cases I cherry pick on the right will have millions of followers while you'll struggle to find similar numbers for your edge cases on the left.

I concern myself with what Democratic and Republican politicians do and say not what randoms on social media do or say.

Democratic politicians have literally pushed for federal minimum wage increases during this Presidency but need 60 votes to pass it. To say that only Sanders has stood in a picket line shows how frankly ignorant you are of US politics both on a local and national level, no offense intended.

I wonder why state minimum wages trend higher in blue states then red states? Education rates? Healthcare coverage?

To say Democratic politicians are all except Sanders focused on "Wokeness" is just as much nonsense as someone saying all Republican politicians are Nazi's.
"To say Democratic politicians are all except Sanders focused on "Wokeness" is just as much nonsense as someone saying all Republican politicians are Nazi's.

Which is probably why I didn't say either. But the Democrats aren't exactly distancing themselves from the extreme woke, just as the Republicans fail to distance themselves from white supremacists. Are you saying I am not correct by putting the woke in the general political left field, while putting the anti-woke in the general political right field?

I am pretty sure that some Democrats on a local level stood in picket lines. But could you please provide me a link for a Democrat on the national level doing so in 2022? The last I could find was from 2019, before they got elected.

While I am very much in favor of politics fighting climate change, I don't consider that an economic left policy, at least not if it isn't accompanied by government support for people to pay their energy bills. And student debt relief to me is a regressive tax, with the 40% of Americans without a college degree paying for those who have one.

I believe the world would be a better place if the Democrats would win the mid-term elections and the 2024 presidential elections. I believe the current situation between inflation and the SCOTUS decisions gives the Democrats a unique chance to win those elections with a stronger push for economic left policies and abortion rights. I am very disappointed by what I read in the media that the Democrats are failing to grasp that opportunity. And I am very afraid that in 2024 the USA will be back to either Trump or even worse, a cleverer person with Trumpist policies. I feel the Democrats are too complacent, and believe they have Trump in the bag, without having to actually take a long hard look at themselves to discover why so many people vote for that orange guy. Hint: Calling a large portion of the electorate "deplorables" isn't a wise electoral strategy. Intellectual elitism might well be the death of the party.
Here is literally the first Google result. A democratic politician was arrested for picketing with these workers while several others visited the protest to show their support.

Yes I am saying you are incorrect. You say democrats are woke because they want to ban expressions of art.

What are Republicans then for wanting to ban books from library's? They get up in arms when shows, movies or video games dare to focus on anything other then the default White male. Republicans even cancel their own Politicians like Liz Cheney for the grave sin of not rallying behind Trump.

The whole "woke" and "anti-woke" nonsense is Republican propaganda. The right engages in just as much cancel culture and purity tests as the left if not more so.

For some reason you seem to obsess over the insane social media blather of extreme leftists while ignoring a group of people doing the exact same thing on the right, even more successfully.
I am very well aware of right-wing censorship. What I am saying is that a good political party should pursue good policies, instead of hoping that the opposition is even worse. Yes, Republicans are working towards an evil future that might look like The Handmaid's Tale. But 1984 or Animal Farm aren't really that much better.

Republicans even cancel their own Politicians like Liz Cheney for the grave sin of not rallying behind Trump. Again, Democrats can just claim to have been "slightly less bad" in their treatment of Manchin and Sinema.

And it is a flat out lie to claim that wokeness doesn't exist and is just an invention of Republicans. The woke video I talk about in my post is certainly not made by a Republican. Even the most apolitical person reading just gaming news will have come across stories about woke attacks on games. And there are too many non-aligned celebrities that have become victim of left cancel culture to pretend that it doesn't exist. The only thing you can accuse Republicans of is that they recognize a sure vote-winner when they see one, and play it up.

If wokeness is a Republican construct, then why isn't the Democratic party disowning it? The Republicans are scoring far too many easy points by taking positions that would have been uncontroversial a decade or two ago, but are now under woke attack.
I'm not claiming cancel culture and purity tests don't exist. I'm saying the label of Wokeness is Republican propaganda, which it is. Republicans are exceptionally good at messaging and labeling and then sticking to that message. See CRT as another recent example of the right wing propaganda machine at work.

It's curious to me you mention 1984 as an example of what democrats want when Fox News and the GOP is the poster child for "The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command".

Both sides engage in cancel culture and purity tests yet Republicans do a great job of making it seem like Democrats are the ones that are woke.

The fact you seem to agree with this despite knowing both sides engage in it would seem to show how successful their messaging is. Why is it wokeness when Democrats complain about their ideologies but it isn't wokeness when Republicans complain about theirs?

Why don't Democrats try to distance themselves from the Woke label? For one Democrats as a whole are worse at unified messaging. It's a byproduct of being the big tent party. The Democrats lack cohesion because the party, by its very own nature, doesn't always agree with itself.

This is indeed detrimental to the party and why the democrats are often easily tied to dead on arrival messaging like Defund the Police. It does not help that the old guard Democrats often circle the wagons against people like Sanders in fear of losing their own power. (not unlike Republicans)

I 100% agree that Republicans score easy political points by focusing on culture wars and magnifying examples of leftist "wokeness" because that's what their entire political messaging wing is designed to do. It's how they retain power despite not actually passing legislation that helps the majority of Americans in their everyday lives. Republicans have an extremely organized and effective propaganda machine that spans YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and mainstream media outlets and Democrats are nowhere near as organized or capable of pushing unified messaging.

Right now if you watch Fox News and then go watch Ben Shapiro or read a Steven Crowder tweet or read R/Conservative you'll find they are all spewing near identical talking points on the FBI search of Trumps residence. This isn't by accident. It's the machine at work.

Also Manchin and Sinema weren't sanctioned and disavowed by their state party like Cheney was so it's hard to argue the treatment was the same.

And I can throw out anecdotes of how people can come across right wing examples of cancel culture and purity tests too. That means nothing.

What is the DNCs platform? Do you even know what it is? What is your basis for the claim that Democrats aren't pursuing good policy changes and instead just hoping to be less worse then Republicans? Articles and social media posts? Do you know what legislation Democrats have passed this year? Do you read US legislation to see what's in it versus relying what's reported by outlets? Do you know why Republicans voted against the PACT Act even though they first voted for it?

I think you see yourself as this neutral party that sees US politics through an objective lense but you are just as susceptible to propaganda and messaging as anyone else. I don't think you are as informed about US politics as you think you are.
I'd also like to add that this entire dynamic isn't even new. Wokeness is the current gen label but Republicans have been arguing that Democrats are waging culture wars for decades at this point all while doing the exact same thing.

It wasn't that long ago where promoting Black and Women's rights was seen as radical leftist ideology and Republicans that supported such measures were outcasts within their own party.

Same song and dance with a new label.
One thing that causes me sadness is to see how terms are intentionally misused in order to create confusion and to co-opt messages. "Woke" started as a term to signify seeing things through the lens of historical prejudice that African Americans faced in the US and how that impacted them then and now. Sounds fine to me - stuff happened and it had an impact on that segment of the population. Our experiences shape us so how could that prejudice not have an impact on people? However, now it seems that whatever group(s) didn't like the idea of "woke" have succeeded in making it seem that "woke" means lets blame others for the way they think or for people's current situation - blame being the key term.

Today it seems like bringing up injustices of the past to ensure that they are recognized when you talk about the issues of the present is hate speech to some - they feel offended that you would raise what one group did to another.

However, we as humans do that all the time. We feel for abused children, however when those abused children become dysfunctional adults we don't care anymore. You're an adult just deal with it seems to be a normal response. Seeing that situation through the original meaning of "woke" would mean understanding that the childhood abuse played a large factor in the adult you see today. No blame, just a recognition that you cannot separate a person from the experiences that they've had.

That's just the way things appeared to play out to me. Seems like a straw man, lets redefine "woke" and then decimate it.

As far as the political stuff - jeez, I wish both parties would improve.

I would bet that I know more about US politics than you know about Belgian politics. :)

But my worry is based on some very basic knowledge that even you won’t be able to deny:
1) Trump is a horrible person and unfit to be president
2) Democrats policies are in general better for the average American than Republican policies
3) The cost of living crisis and Roe vs. Wade having been overturned gives the Democrats strong opportunities for good left-wing policies that would be widely popular
4) Despite all that, Republicans have a very strong probability of taking back Congress in the mid-terms 2022, and the presidency in 2024

For me this indicates a fundamental failure of the Democratic party to make good left-wing politics and bring their message across in a vote-winning way. And no “the Republicans are cheating”, while not untrue, isn’t a sufficient excuse. A lot of Americans consider the Republican party as the lesser evil, and the Democrats can’t ignore that. They must identify why middle America is afraid of them, and work to alleviate those fears.

With “woke” being a term the intellectual left chose for themselves, I would not agree of using the same term for right-wing cancel culture. There are some very distinctive differences between the ways that both sides are trying to suppress the freedom of expression of the other side.

Yup I know nothing about Belgian politics. I will say that you do know more about US Politics then most people my age which is unfortunate for this country.

Yeah I agree with all 4 points. I actually believe Republicans will take back at least 1 branch of Congress in 2022.

But I think the reasons this will happen are more complicated then leftists say dumb things and are annoying on social media.

And yes absolutely Democrats often completely squander their advantages because they fail to bring their message to voters for some of the reasons I already covered.

I know you didn't bring it up but I'd like to circle back to the Defund the Police thing. I think it is a perfect example of the absolute ineptitude of the DNC and complete failure to build cohesive messaging to push for real change that would benefit millions of Americans. Pushing Defund the Police as a label opened them up to easy Republican political wins and tanked the entire Police Reform movement for years to come.

Yet funnily enough because we live in Bizzaro world the right wing machine is already pushing Defund the FBI as the rallying cry to the Trump raid.

I could go on and on about my issues with Democratic messaging (claiming to be socialist is a mind blowing one) but I think we'd both agree that they are terrible at it.
It's a common political tactic. Social Justice Warrior went through a similar process so now it's seen as a derogatory term.
For me this indicates a fundamental failure of the Democratic party to make good left-wing politics and bring their message across in a vote-winning way.

That's some Econ 101 "everyone is a rational actor" nonsense.

The reality is that voters vote against their own interests all the time. Part of that is propaganda, part of that is wedge issues, and part of that is that they are morons. See: Log Cabin Republicans, "christian" conservatives in a party that votes against social programs for the poor, etc.

No amount of messaging is going to pierce that cultural membrane. The best we can hope for is when the leopard eats their face, they gain some perspective/empathy in the ER. Right before they go bankrupt with medical bills as they voted against public option healthcare because, again, morons.
Cultural appropriation is an exceptionally thorny area about which I have nothing to say that fits the comment section of a former gaming blog. The word "vagrant", however, is a) archaic and b) offensive. If a developer chose to name their game "Vagrantsong" they were clearly intending to offend people (And probably confuse them, too. It's a bad name for so many reasons.)

If people set out to be offensive they can hardly complain when people are offended, can they?
All bow before the mighty Bhagpuss, who can see into people's head and always know exactly what they intended!

Nobody makes a crowdfunding board game with an intentional offensive title, it just wouldn't be good business. The use of an archaic word is justified by the historic era in which the game is placed. While considered offensive *now* the term is correct in as far as it was generally used at the time. I would also argue that there is a huge difference between calling somebody a "vagrant" and saying that in a specific historic context people who were called "vagrants" existed. I can't really see who is offended by the latter, other than people specifically searching for that joy of being offended.
"The joy of being offended" "if you dig deep enough, you can find something offensive about pretty much everything"

That reminds me of one blogger, who watched some fairly obscure Netflix TV show, and got offended and wrote a rant complaining about "Left Rewriting History!!!" with that show.

You disparage the laudable goal of being more culturally sensitive to others by going along with those who call it "woke" culture. Yes, there are some who take it to a ridiculous degree, as there are those who overdo it on any issue, probably to promote something for their financial benefit. But there's a big difference between some board game youtuber and what elected Democrats are actually striving towards. If you don't believe that, then you are probably listening to too much right wing propaganda which makes people want to think that is what Denocrats are trying to do.
Several people on this thread called me "right wing", after me specifically saying that I want Democrats to win elections. Isn't this just another example of a purity test, where if you don't agree with the censorship of language, you will be censored yourself?

All art is full of references to lore that came before. There are no monopolies on specific ideas. The Wendigo from Native American folklore has since been used countless times in other works. A Google search of the term brings up 8.7 million hits. Do you really believe some actual Native American is offended by some monster in a board game being called Wendigo? Or are the people being offended here just those who are specifically looking for any possible offense?

US politics is extreme "what-aboutism". You don't actually defend the actions of your side, you only point out that the other side is doing the same or worse. And then hope that voters consider your side the lesser evil. This strategy is fundamentally bad, and will backfire on Democrats. Regular Americans are more scared of "political correctness" censorship than they are of the "anti-woke" censorship. Even *I* am more afraid of left-wing censorship than of right-wing censorship, because the right only censors specific left ideas, while the left censors every form of artistic expression.
> Several people on this thread called me "right wing",

I don't see any such thing. The closest I see is from one of the last posts - "you are probably listening to too much right wing propaganda" - which is not exactly the same.
People here are saying that any complaint about “wokeness” is right wing propaganda. I am complaining about too much wokeness. I consider myself center left. I consider it offensive if every time I tell the left that cultural extremism isn’t winning votes, I get bundled with “right-wing propaganda”.

I am very much for cultural sensitivity, for LGBTQ+ rights, for women’s reproductive rights, for voting rights. I am telling the US political left that by taking too extreme positions on all of these issues (e.g. “you cannot use any word out of the lore of a foreign culture in your game”), you are risking to lose even the most basic rights. That is not right-wing propaganda. That is basic electoral survival strategy. I find it depressing that neither the commenters on my blog, nor the US Democratic party seem to be able to grasp this. All you need to do is to be sufficiently open to the will of the majority that the Democrats appear to that majority to be a better electoral option than Trump. How hard can that be? And you are failing on this most simple and basic task.
One YouTuber complaining about something is not representative of the "US political left".

@Jogy: You seem to be confusing what the US political left *thinks* is representative of them, and what everybody else, including the majority of voters, sees. If wokeness wasn’t representative of the US political left, then being anti-woke wouldn’t be such a vote-winner for the Republicans. Of course any single example is a single example, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t how America and the world sees the US political left.
I am telling the US political left that by taking too extreme positions on all of these issues (e.g. “you cannot use any word out of the lore of a foreign culture in your game”

This isn't a position the majority of the US left or Democrats take though.

That's what you don't seem to understand. You keep equating what some far left people on social media say and do with the entire Democratic party. That's why I initially brought up how ridiculous it would be if you did the same thing to Republicans and called them all Nazis.

The number of leftists that would complain about using a word from a foreign culture for game lore would be completely dwarfed by the number of those who either didn't care or thought the first group was a bunch of idiots.

The internet magnifys the voice of a vocal minority. A 2019 study found that 80% of tweets were generated by 10% of Twitter users. The reason why on the internet the left and right on US politics seem so extreme is because those voices get amplified and get center stage as extremism gets clicks and engagement.

When Steven Crowder makes homophobic comments on YouTube and generates millions of views that doesn't mean all or even most Republicans agree with him.

The same thing applies to the Left. Just because a Youtuber put out a video complaining about a Wendigo being used in a board game and it got some traction online doesn't mean the majority of the left agree with them.

I don't think your right wing by the way. I just think your perception of US politics is warped by the extremism you see online, which is understandable considering that's what these websites and news organizations push to generate revenue.
White supremacy is not a position that the Republican party takes. Nevertheless the Republican party is tainted by its association with white supremacy, and is rightfully accused of not distancing itself more from white supremacy. The lack of distancing is hurting the electoral chances of the Republican party.

Replace Republican with Democrats and white supremacy with wokeness.
Yes I completely agree with this statement.

The funny part is that both sides fail to distance themselves from both these things for the same reasons. A fear of isolating their most vocal supporters.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool