It’s a story as old as Twitter itself: person says stupid, offensive stuff in the past, person comes to the fore, old tweets are dug up, person apologizes, the internet sits in court. The entire performance just happened again, this time with the Crystal Dynamics announcer and the game designer Marvel’s AvengersBrian Wagoner.
As Rock Paper Shotgun reports, a few old tweets from Waggoner were dug up over the weekend, leading to him apologizing today, followed by Crystal Dynamics to say how disappointed they are and that they are taking speaker status away from Waggoner. Now everyone involved seems to be hoping, after following the prescribed script, that it will go away.
Waggoner’s tweets from 2010 to 2016 (during which time he worked for Marvel and Gazillion) were pretty grim. Some were clearly attempts at jokes, at least one that relies on lazy, racist stereotypeswhile another only outright ridiculed people with disabilities. However, others just seem to be blatant dog-whistle racism.
As so often seems to be the case, Waggoner reports he’s had a complete personality change since then, those historic messages from the distant Annuls of six years ago are now debatable given his reformed ways. “On the weekend,” he explained in a statement on his ongoing Twitter account“Old tweets I wrote before my time at Crystal have resurfaced and I apologize and take full responsibility for the damage they have caused to my followers, the community and those I work with.”
The canned apology text continues, “I’ve learned and grown since that time, and the content I’ve posted doesn’t reflect who I am today.” For those who aren’t convinced, he adds, “I understand if you cannot accept my apologies for the pain I have caused. I will continue to listen, learn and work to improve.”
G/O Media may receive a commission
Crystal Dynamics then followedwith the words:
It’s incredibly disappointing to see staff language and attitudes that don’t align with our studio values. We apologize to our community and staff who are rightly upset by the content. Brian will no longer be a studio spokesperson or communicate about studio projects.
You see, you don’t need my opinion on this because you already have your own, and honestly this feels like a story we’ve written three hundred times before, just with a different name at the beginning. But hell, I still have opinions.
What I hate about all of this, about every aspect of it, is that none of it is true. On each side.
These scripted “apologies” are meant to save face, cover all the bases, and “put the finishing touches” without ever truly apologizing to anyone for anything. It’s just empty, performativeThey deceive those anchored in the corporate mindset that writes them.
At the same time, Waggoner’s tweets, not intentionally, caused untold damage to large communities. They were shitty, bigoted comments that were ignored then (a single “like” on one, a lonely retweet on the other) and are now resurfacing to be used as evidence in the online courts to have him (possibly rightly) to condemn. People who claim to have finally brought down this tyrannical menace with his hate campaign are ridiculously dishonest, and it’s equally insidious for Waggoner to “apologize” as if that happened.
Crystal then chimes in, too, with nonsense about “language and views” that “do not align with our studio values,” as if the corporate entity itself is some sort of moral creature possessing a purely driven platonic perfection of ideal values. Have you ever noticed that? Every business is morally sound, with no need ever to state how, but allowing individuals to assume that their values happily align with their own. One person in the company stirs up outrage, and that nebulous immaculateness adapts don’t beand everyone is asked to accept that this aberration has been blotted out in its perfection.
Continue reading: Marvel’s Avengers reminds you it still exists with the addition of Winter Soldier
People say and do stupid things. People have terrible beliefs or make nasty jokes. I know because I do. We all do. Even the lewdst advocates of awakening have shitty thoughts, say things they regret, or hope what they said will stay private forever. Sometimes people surround themselves with so many others like them that they lose sight of how terrible such things sound when said publicly on social media. Later that comes back to bite her ass. And it should!
I just want people’s answers were honest. “God, yeah, I really was an asshole, wasn’t I? Heck, I really have to think before I speak.” Or, “You know what, that’s a bigotry I’ve always held and I really need to do something about it.” Sure, in this particular case, Waggoner may be reformed, but this notion that the views we held last Tuesday don’t reflect who we are today is so tiresome, and the implication attempted is that we’re perfect now, if only everyone else would catch up.
And no one, anywhere, just says, “I’m sorry.” It’s always with caveats and apologies, and almost always with the word “sorry.” An action, not a feeling, a semiotic difference that externalizes the process rather than speaking from the heart. It really seems to be the most difficult word.
Oh, and then let’s not forget the scream gallery. “He wasn’t fired!” We have no fucking idea if he deserves to be fired or if he’s a champion for good these days. But more importantly, let’s stop acting like we don’t care if that person has you never heard of it ago today who said some things you didn’t notice a decade ago gets to keep his job. What people want is for the insults to go away, and the idea that an ignorant public claiming this guy’s head will somehow achieve that is bloody idiotic. If he’s an asshole to work with, then Crystal should fire him. But let’s all be honest and stop pretending we know what’s best in every goddamn situation.