A reply to Bob “Moviebob” Chipman

Originally posted on Moviebob’s blog, 5 Sept. 2014


I’m an amateur, newcomer, film buff largely thanks to your videos and influence (which led me to Mark Cousins’ Story of Film, as a brief aside), Bob, and I feel compelled to comment.

Having read many of your blog posts and comments in the past two weeks as someone whose views I genuinely respect, I don’t think it would be an unfair assumption that you view the events of the past few years as analogous to the rise of New Hollywood. If that is indeed your sentiment I very much agree with it, but I would proffer one thought as someone new to the history and world of cinema: New Hollywood didn’t arise merely out of the ashes of the studio system, it arose out of the ashes of the Hays Code as well.

I don’t see merely iconoclastic criticism of the games industry that will lead to a revolution in how games are perceived and experienced. I see shades of moral authoritarianism as well. It is very fair to criticize the role and treatment of women and women characters in gaming, and that absolutely needs to happen, but the pervasiveness of unfair criticism, or criticism that is invalidated upon examining the work in its own context, leads me to question the sincerity and motives of those involved. The same applies to the wave of invective-laden articles and speech outright demonizing each and every person who has an opinion that dares deviate from professed positions in the slightest, such as boogie2988.

This bears out as well in the current environment of chill and blacklisting allegations, as well as others to which I won’t currently comment. We’ve seen one indie dev ostracized in real time by his colleagues, publicly, for daring to tweet a moderate opinion. Many developers and critics are speaking anonymously to avoid losing their jobs, or out of fear of blacklisting and social ostracization. More are quietly supporting us, virtually begging for the opportunity to publicly speak their minds. That, to me, is not evocative of New Hollywood; it’s evocative of the Red Scare, as if some silent, unofficial Waldorf Statement has been made and gaming now exists in its wake.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I believe individuals who have even basic knowledge of cinema should be inherently suspicious and critical of this controversy and the actions and allegations of a few. We’ve seen what happens when moral authoritarianism asserts itself in a creative medium, in the Hays Code and during the Red Scare, and the lasting damage it can inflict on those who produce and consume within the context of that medium. Iconoclasm and controversy are good, but not when today’s iconoclasts become tomorrow’s Robespierres.