Your Click-Bait is Everything Wrong with Journalism (A response to Alexis Kleinman)

The thing about modern news is – it’s all clickbait.  Doesn’t matter how independent it is, they are still click-baiting.  The reason is simple – the typical audience is so bored and so unconcerned with what they see that you have to work extra hard to get any amount of traffic at all.  I remember the days when The Huffington Post actually cared about good reporting of the news.  Man, that was ages ago!  I’m getting old.  Now, go on their home page and find me five articles without titles that either exaggerate or outright lie about their content.  Find me some non-clickbait articles on that website.  Part of the reason that I don’t actively read The Huffington Post anymore is because I have grown so tired of the click-bait bullshit that they have.  Wading through the garbage to find pearls just isn’t worth it.

With that in mind, we get to today’s response.  See, Nintendo has been doing a series of promotional posters for Women’s History Month.  You know that old poster with the woman holding the wrench?  It’s in the same vein as that, only with Nintendo female characters.  However, a writer for The Huffington Post, Alexis Kleinman, was not pleased.  In an article she wrote called “Nintendo’s ‘Strong Females’ are Everything that’s Wrong with Video Games“, she decided to lay out her problems.  I won’t respond to all of it.  Rather, let’s take a look at some specific points and make a rebuttal.

On Tuesday, Nintendo emailed me, saying that it was celebrating Women’s History Month. How? By putting some of its female characters on Rosie the Riveter-style posters. It’s a cute idea, but there’s a big issue: Nintendo doesn’t really have many powerful or playable female characters.

Believe it or not, I actually agree with her on this, to an extent.  Aside from Samus Aran and Bayonetta (both of whom are featured on the promotional posters), the Nintendo line-up is a little bit lacking in female characters who are note-worthy for their strength.  The reason why is simple – they have stuck to the same IPs for a VERY long time.  Nintendo’s inability to try anything new has been, in my opinion, an iron ball around their ankle for some time.  You have studios like Naughty Dog and Bioware and Square Enix (more back when they were Square and Squaresoft.  The good old days…) who have a long list of strong female characters who can stand tall to male counterparts.  But Nintendo has been rather slow to this game.  The company has gotten so comfortable with what they make that they haven’t tried anything else.  It’s wearing a little thin, these days.

It’s also worth noting that one of Nintendo’s featured characters, Tetra, is kidnapped in the game “The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker” and must be saved by a male character. Once it is revealed that she is actually Princess Zelda, Tetra is forbidden from leaving the castle, since it’s “too dangerous.” Not cool.

But she is still a good character, is she not?  For real, I find it a little annoying that you don’t mention that she was a pirate captain before she realized who she was the reincarnation of Princess Zelda.  And the King was just worried for her safety.  Isn’t that what a father is supposed to do?  You also neglect to mention that in the end, she casts off her identity as Zelda and chooses to continue the life as a pirate.  Much like a certain video game critic, you ignore context to sell a narrative.  That’s frustrating…

When the female characters aren’t being saved, they’re just what feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian calls “Ms. Male Characters,” or “female versions of an already established or default male character.” See: Bombette and Toadette. These two are just pink versions of the male characters.

How did I know that I would see Sarkeesian’s name appear on a poor criticism of video games…?

Female characters are often just “female,” rather than possessing any personality traits.

Even the more famous, developed characters are problematic in their unnecessary sexualization.

First, gotta love that Sex – feminism that rags on women who openly display their sexuality.  Because, you know, there are no REAL women who own their sexuality and don’t care what people think about that, right?  Hey Mercedes, what do you think?  Any women like this in real life?  Next, there are plenty of female characters in Nintendo who have personality.  Even Princess Peach, who you rag on for not being on the list, has a personality.  Sure, she gets kidnapped a lot, but she still has a personality all her own.  Same with Princess Zelda and lots of others.  You seem to want to find nit-picky details that you can sell to an audience.  Click-bait.

Studies have shown that sexualized portrayals of women in video games negatively influence peoples perceptions of women in life.

You link in a study that I actually might do a response to someday, because it has some problems associated with it.  But that’s it?  Some obscure research paper?  Published in a journal called “Sex Roles”?  Huh.  That seems a little shoddy.  Oh well, it at least is evidence.  That’s more than Sarkeesian ever does.  Although, I vaguely remember this reference being used in one of her videos.  You wouldn’t have, perchance, taken it from there and just said that it backs you up, would you?  Just putting that out there.

So what’s to be done? You have to admit that there’s a problem before you can make a significant change. By sending out this press release about all of the steps Nintendo is making for women, Nintendo is minimizing the fact that women are not only underrepresented in games but are also sexualized and marginalized in games.

What’s the problem?  For an article that you click-baited me here to, you certainly aren’t giving me anything interesting to ponder on.  I’ve already refuted Sarkeesian’s videos on these topics.  This whole thing about women being “sexualized” in gaming is really offensive, when you think about it.  I said to Sarkeesian and I’ll say to you – do you just want to ignore what lesbian and bisexual women might find attractive?  I can think of one bisexual woman who finds “sexualized” women in video games attractive.  Is her opinion suddenly mute so that you can promote your point of view?  Is that the gender equality that you are shooting for?

There are a few games that showcase powerful women characters — games like “The Last Of Us” and “Beyond Good And Evil” — but they are few and far between and, for the most part, aren’t made by Nintendo.

Beyond Good and Evil, the same game that EVERY self-important feminist who wants to sound smart praises.  Same with Braid.  Sure, I think The Last of Us has phenomenal female characters too, but I can’t help but think that you pulled that out of the ether.  What about Mass Effect?  What about the Final Fantasy franchise?  I coujld go on all day about strong female characters.  Never mind that your reducing Bayonetta to “sexualized” and nothing else is kind of insulting to all the personality that her character has.  But whatever.

It’s blatantly obvious that you didn’t really care about your talking points.  You recycled what Sarkeesian has already said, so that you can make something that will click-bait people into reading it.  And people wonder why GamerGate became a thing.  Congratulations, Ms. Kleinman!  You are everything wrong with journalism.  When truth and context doesn’t matter, because we have a narrative to sell.  Another thing that I can add to the list of reasons why Anita Sarkeesian is a terrible person.  After all, she props up this bullshit.

Until next time, a quote,

“We are are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information; our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being use to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late.”  -Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck

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12 thoughts on “Your Click-Bait is Everything Wrong with Journalism (A response to Alexis Kleinman)

  1. A title is meant to designate the contents with some enthusiasm, to lead you into it curiously rather than have titles that intentionally misdirect and split hairs. Nothing is click bait unless it is made to be.

    • A description of the entire Huffington Post library, if you ask me. Although, it’s the same with most modern media these days. After all, NPR did an unboxing video. Ugh….

      • I don’t put much thought into my blogging except from the title and try to ensure I make it attractive without enticing views for the wrong reasons. I’d feel guilty otherwise that I’m taking advantage.

      • Ironic – I put loads of thought into my site, without thinking much about the titles. I make them on point, but that’s about it. I care about my content too much, I guess.

      • I just let the content leak from my brain and fingers onto the keyboard, I’m just more concerned with getting it to people. I have always made it clear the contents of my blog are “what comes to my mind and typed on the spot”, I don’t do lists or anything so I don’t do a massive amount of prep work.

      • I wouldn’t say that I do massive amounts of prep work. Depends on the post, really. Some are on-the-spot replies to stupidity I find, or my SION posts. Others are more thoughtful stuff, like my Top 10 posts. It’s a mix.

      • Glad to see SOMEONE is mixing up what they post intentionally, I’m just a camaraderie of noise that you might find something worthwhile in if you dig a few miles down.

      • Although, clearly I am engaging to someone. After all, I have nearly 600 subs on WordPress alone. Progress!

      • If I get too much of a mindset to be particularly engaging I end up writing reams of text. I always wanted to keep my posts below 1000 words, now I do it almost consistently. I feel my writing is more natural but damn is it a bit intimidating when I look back over it.

      • My posts are typically around or slightly above 1000 words. Unless I only have so much to say. It all depends. If I could foresee how crazy my site has gotten, I don’t know if I’d believe it. 😛

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