Cry Havoc! And meme the frogs of war!
Shades of Gamergate. The Internet is on fire–again–with angry memes, and again, journalists have managed to run afoul of the “memelords and cyberbullies.” But this time, it’s not about gamers, it’s about CNN.
Katherine Cross at the Daily Beast points out the similarities:
Many of the same tactics and major players that made names for themselves in GamerGate—from Mike Cernovich to Weev—are being used to push a wide-scale harassment campaign against CNN….In August of 2014 Eron Gjoni, the ex-boyfriend of Zoë Quinn, a game developer, posted a lengthy screed in which he falsely accused her of illicitly securing favorable reviews for her game. This touched off a tidal wave of abuse directed at her. ..But the abuse around Quinn rapidly metastasized into something larger that attacked several people at once, and brought old targets like Sarkeesian back to the fore (she was eventually forced to flee her own home after detailed, specific threats were made). Using the fig-leaf provided by the false accusation about reviews, the attackers conjured a scandal about gaming journalism to justify their fixation on the female game developers and feminist critics they so hated. They called it #GamerGate.
Ms. Cross leaves out quite a few details and gets a few others completely wrong. For example, Eron Gjoni did not make any accusations; he simply laid out the facts. Gamers read his account of a game developer very closely affiliated with game journalists, added two and three to get five, and began asking “Does this raise questions about the ethics of game journalists?”SJWs Always Lie: Takin... Best Price: $8.46 Buy New $9.88 (as of 10:10 EST - Details) that “gamers were sexist misogynist monsters mostly living in their parents’ basements and were pretty much extinct anyway.” Gamers, rightly, took this series of articles as a personal insult, and launched a consumer revolt known as Gamergate.
The primary battlefield of Gamergate was Twitter, and the primary weapon was the captioned image, or “meme.” The fallout from the Gamergate flamewar is still going on today; Twitter announced that they had deleted and banned over three hundred thousand users in the last year alone.
But the making of memes has not gone out of style. If anything, more people than ever are creating and posting memes, and one of them–with the colorful but profane handle of “HanA**holeSolo–created one that got under the skin of CNN.
Several years ago, Donald Trump was involved in a Word Wrestling Entertainment event, a “my champion fights your champion” match featuring Trump against WWE owner Vince McMahon. At one point, Trump ran around the ring and clobbered McMahon to the ground.
Solo decided to meme that video. He put the CNN logo over McMahon’s face, and shared it with the world. Somehow, the video made its way across the ‘net, and it was eventually posted to Twitter–by President Trump himself.Star Realms: Rescue Run Check Amazon for Pricing.
CNN is not publishing “HanA**holeSolo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same. CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
Or, he apologized before they contacted him; CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski has stated both.
Regardless, it’s the last line of CNN’s statement that triggered The Great Meme War, Round Two: “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.” In other words, CNN was offended. CNN investigated, tracked down the person who insulted them, and held a “you will not insult us again or we will dox you” threat over his head. Doxing–revealing an individual’s personal information–is the Internet equivalent of capital punishment, and many of the Gamergate skirmishes involved threats of doxing.
Almost immediately, the hashtag #CNNBlackMail started trending, and the memes started flying.
To add insult to injury, there were reports that not only was CNN’s target a fifteen year old kid, but that the creator of the meme was someone else entirely.
James Delingpole, writing for Breitbart, stated the issue clearly.
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Definitely one good thing to have come out of #CNNBlackmail is that the enemy has shown its true colors. But the far, far better news is that the good guys have fought back.
The memelords began taking pages from the left’s playbook; CNN is now finding itself targeted on multiple fronts. Their advertisers are being swarmed with complaints. Bars and airports are being asked to change the channel from CNN or lose business. And Google has removed over fifteen thousand one-star reviews of the CNN app, so far.
Daniel John Sobieski, at American Thinker, is convinced that CNN has broken laws.
So arrogant and self-righteous have liberal news outlets become, that they now take it upon themselves to hunt down and blackmail private citizens who dare to mock their pomposity or make fun of the self-appointed hall monitors of news. Blackmail is a harsh term, but it applies to what CNN did to the Reddit user who made the now-famous wrestling GIF showing Trump pummeling an opponent with a CNN logo for a head…
I count myself among those who believe CNN committed crimes by their actions. CNN took upon itself the role of social media traffic cop with the power to regulate the free speech of others. This multinational media conglomerate was so afraid of an Internet troll that it took police state action against an individual whose opinions, however bizarre, it disagreed with. Bow, everyone, before CNN.
Salon’s Sophia McClennen has declared that memes are an actual threat to democracy.
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Just like talk radio before it, growth of alt-right social media is the real crisis behind Trump’s CNN tweet…Well beyond the problem of fake news, which at least tried to pose as news, these posts are pure opinion, outburst and excess. There is nothing about these posts that even remotely compares to news reporting — and that’s why they are popular. At a moment in U.S. history where trust in the news is at a record low, we are seeing the growing power of individuals outside of traditional media circuits who have built a following by suggesting that their voices are more authentic and more accurate than those of the so-called liberal, elitist, majority-silencing news…
It isn’t just the violence espoused by these sites that is the problem; it is the increasing power of the alt-right across these platforms and the way that these rants become mainstreamed as sources of public information that should cause us to worry. While attention has focused on the way that Trump and his team have demonized the free press, it is time to pay more attention to the encroaching power of the alt-right on social media to influence national dialogues…
The challenge facing CNN isn’t a president who will tweet an immature and aggressive video of himself tackling them; it is the reality that a significant subset of Americans, including ones who work in the White House, are more likely to be influenced by a Reddit user who goes by the ID HanA**holeSolo than they are by a commentator for CNN.
Just like the original Gamergate, the journalists have shown their true colors. The second great memewar is now in full effect. This is the point, in the original Gamergate timeline, where the journalists decided to crush their opponents once and for all with the “Gamers don’t have to be your audience, gamers are dead!” narrative–an attack which merely insulted gamers, and convinced them to go on the offensive. It remains to be seen whether or not CNN will continue to follow the Gamergate playbook.