Carl Benjamin and Dave Cullen. These names probably don’t mean a lot to most of you, but to hundreds of thousands of YouTube followers, these two individuals represent the core of the Gamergate movement. Their supposed mission is to discredit anyone they deem “social justice warriors”, feminists, the media, political correctness, and what they have come to call “the regressive left”. As you can probably imagine, their online followers consist of a mish-mash of right-wing ideologues, racists, conspiracy theorists, and (of course) misogynists, who seem to hang on every word these two utter. Think of them as the alt-right of the gaming world.
You may have read on Polygon.com just a day or two ago, about how feminist blogger, speaker, and YouTube personality Anita Sarkeesian (a main target of Gamergate) attended VidCon over the weekend of June 21 – June 24, 2017 in order to speak on the Women Online panel, and how she delivered quite the gloriously-worded verbal smackdown to her most vocal critics, several of whom attended the panel in person with the express purpose of attempting to debate & troll Ms. Sarkeesian. Take a look at the play-by-play in the Polygon article, and well…you’ll see how well that went for them.
Let’s talk about a couple of these “fine upstanding members of society”, shall we?
First, we have Carl Benjamin, who has made a career of spreading hateful messages on his YouTube account, his Twitter page, at conventions, and virtually anywhere he is given a platform, and has made over $5,000 on Patreon. Benjamin’s videos consist of a lot of chest-beating, and attempting to discredit political correctness, feminism, the media (ironic, eh?), and anyone who supports these concepts. Now, I’m not going to wax political for too long here, but this is one of the things that really gets me: On his Wikipedia page, it states that Benjamin “self-identifies politically as centre-left and a classic liberal”, the latter of which is a term used to describe liberalism prior to the 20th century. However, he’s also one of these whackadoos who calls social liberals “regressive”.
Then, you have the simply “charming” Dave Cullen. This guy is a full-time YouTube personality with over 240,000 followers, earns an approximate $3,000 per month from his Patreon, and is also one of Carl Benjamin’s supporters. Cullen’s Twitter feed is full of illogical rants, images of Anita Sarkeesian and others, and several instances of Godwin’s Law rearing its head. It’s like a conspiracy theorist’s brain exploded, and the remnants were made into a Twitter account, with the user desperately trying to maintain control.
So. This brings me to the crux of why I’m writing today, and why I have spent the last 3 days torturing myself by researching these mental marvels. I want to know what drives a person to believe in this sort of rhetoric. What could possibly happen in one’s life that would say to them “You know what? Women deserve to be talked down to, intimidated, harassed, and assaulted (verbally and physically), because they want to be on the same socioeconomic level as me”? How does one go from talking to & (theoretically) respecting their own mother, to spouting vitriolic and grotesque rhetoric about how feminism is evil and is designed to completely suppress men as a gender, and how said person’s fragile ego can’t take the “harassment” of a woman wanting to stand up for equal rights and empower other women to do so?
Now, if either Benjamin or Cullen were, at some point in their younger years, ganged up on by a group of women who only wanted to physically beat and verbally demean them, while simultaneously stealing money from them and taking their virginity, MAYBE THEN I could see some sort of PTSD-induced viewpoint possibly setting in, and driving them to the beliefs to which they cling so tightly today. However, in all of the reading that I’ve done on Carl Benjamin, it seems that at least he had a relatively benign upbringing (it’s astoundingly difficult to find life information on Dave Cullen through normal means).
A friend of mine recently gave me a good metaphor for this:
Imagine, if you will, one of these trolls being seated at a large dinner table, with a full plate of food in front of them. Then, someone sits down next to him, who also asks for a full plate of food, yet only receives 79% of what Benjamin or Cullen received. There’s plenty of food on the table for everyone, and no one is taking from anyone else’s plate to fill their own. What Benjamin and Cullen (and by extension ANY of the Gamergate trolls) are essentially doing, is claiming that someone standing up for their own rights and equal treatment as a fellow human being, means that that person is trying to steal food from their plate.
So let’s recap. Trolls like Carl Benjamin and Dave Cullen are still around, and still influencing others through the use of their poorly-devised “logic”, misogyny, and pants-wetting fear of actually learning about women. They still have platforms on which to give their two cents. They’re even making money off of the scared and naive boys of the world, who also can’t relate well enough to the opposite gender enough to see the disparities they face.
Am I saying that these two (and their fellow neckbearded trolls) deserve the same treatment that they’ve shown others? No, not by a long shot. That would be lowering ourselves to their levels. What I am saying, is that they do not deserve the recognition, the followers, or the time of day if you pass them on the street. Ignore them. Turn off their YouTube channels. Block their social media pages. Do not give them the attention that they so desperately crave in order to hang on to that last shred of perceived relevance. Society will be better for it in the long run.