Tag Archives: ethics in games journalism

Impressions of “Dangerous,” by Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulous is a former gadfly who placed himself in two of the biggest political stories of the past few years. His method for doing so is “trolling,” a form of literary expression combining humor with condemnation, similar to literary prophecy such as the Book of Jeremiah. A pivot player in gamergate, Milo helped transform a minor revolt against a corrupt trade press. Finally, Yiannopolous has become a civil rights hero, as the violent attacks on his right to speak on college campuses by members of the Antifa terror group attracted media, FBI attention, and Presidential attention.

Dangerous is a guided tour of Milo’s career over these events. It’s told primarily in the prophetic style. As such the bulk of the work is funny and thought-provoking, but not particularly substantive. The two chapters on a scandal involving ethics in game journalism and violent attacks on American campuses, however, are excellent. A version of the book with only those two chapters would be well worth the price.

The greater part of the book is a collection of attacks against the general left-liberal political coalition,” as well as “debate-club” (which is to say, Establishment) Republicans. Yiannopolous (and the broader alt-lite or new-right movement he is part of) has a strained relationship with the Republican establishment. The question is one of prioritization: the Party establishment focuses on concrete policy objectives (such as foreign policy or tax policy), while the prophetic wing of the Party is interested in cultural change, demographic stabilization, and media control. This dispute over objectives can flair into anger and lead to crude insults on both sides — such as this twitter screen where Weekly Standard pro-Establishment writer calls a prophetic public intellectual a “Nazi”

Gamergate

Milo includes an excellent chapter on the gamergate trade press controversy. I’ve described the economic dynamics of it before. Historically, the game press was controlled by large hardware companies and written by subject-matter enthusiasts. Google and Facebook’s advertising monopolies reduced the publishers’ revenues, leading to a collapse in journalist wages and press. Simultaneously, new self-publishing platforms took users away from the trade-press . The retreat of a traditional editor-centric approach led journalists to pivot away from ethics in journalism: journalists funded the products they reviewed while maximizing revenues through click-bait, or a combative and deceptive editorial style style. And journalists sleeping with subjects.

Yiannopolous doesn’t discuss any of this — well, except for sex and, briefly, ethics. As in the rest of the book, his interest is cultural change, not economic policy. Instead he provides a complementary account of personalities involved in the scandal and their objective. From Leigh Alexander to Carl Benjamin, Allum Bokhari to Anita Sarkeesian, the people who became Internet celebrities from the affair give drama to his narrative. The rhetorical focus is on the corrupted power of editors, and the marginalized voices of the readership. Milo once planned to write a book on gamergate –this chapter would have been a great conclusion to that work.

Politics In the Age of ANTIFA

One reason I write less about politics now is that the nature of politics has changed in the past decade. We may be entering a paramilitary age of American politics. One symptom of this is the rise of Antifaschistische Akton, a German paramilitary organization shortened to “Antifa”.” The son of the former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate is active in the terrorist movement ANTIFA. A failed candidate nominee for the Democratic National Chairmanship likewise endorsed street violence. Perhaps one reason I adored DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazille’s recent memoir was that it reminded me of American political before the normalization of terror.

Politics now is more dangerous. If gamergate made Milo an Internet celebrity, he became a national figure after the ANTIFA riot at the University of California. Antifa succeeded in pressuring the University into silencing Milo, out of fear for property and lives. Milo’s not the first figure to be targeted by leftist paramilitaries — Dr. Allison Stranger was hospitalized following in an attack that recalled Red Guard violence during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. But unlike earlier victims who saw the success of the paramilitaries and simply fled (Dr. Stranger was fleeing while being attacked), Yiannopolous used the attacks to grow his own following.

ANTIFA paramilitaries are well organized around certain universities. They are able to force police to stand down. Milo is by the clearest voice exposing this violence, which is often ignored or defended by ANTIFA’s moderate allies. Directly because of Milo’s actions there is both Presidential concern over and FBI investigations into ANTIFA. This is a tremendous civil rights accomplishment. Milo’s prophetic and hyperbolic style can be tiresome. His activity in the computer games trade press was important but niche. But there is no doubt he is a civil rights hero.

The 2016 Presidential Election

Individuals who were active on gamergate, regardless of their affiliation, often claim the events foreshadows or directly lead to the 2016 Presidential election. Milo is one of those individuals. For the most part, I agree. Tactics of social media organization and intimidation were developed and tested by both sides in gamergate that were weaponized by Clinton and Trump allies during the election. Indeed, a common element between Mr. Yiannopolous, gamergate, and the Antifa riots are Milo’s former editor: Donald Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon.

I just wish there was something substantive in Milo’s account. Unlike Bannon, Yiannopolous did not leave Breitbart for the Trump campaign, even though he has a great story to tell. Shattered, a book about the election from the Clinton campaign’s perspective, could be complemented with a book by Yiannopolous. At the very least Milo is part of that story, but this book is not an account of it.

Final Thoughts

If you plan to read the entire book, get the unabridged audio narrated by the author. Milo is a terrific public speaker, and even the repetitive first half is enjoyable because of how engaging and funny he is. Alternatively, if you plan on reading the book on paper or e-reader, the introduction and final few chapters (beginning with the chapter on gamergate and his civil rights work on American campuses) are very worthwhile.

I read Dangerous in the Audible edition.