The Year of Our Lord 2015 is a strange place: last night, Law and Order: SVU aired their hotly anticipated Gamergate episode, in which a Brianna Wu/Zoe Quinn mashup is terrorized by faceless gamers and the police actually do something about it. Surprise: everybody — Wu, Quinn, the people who've been viciously trolling them for the last six months — hated it.
In essence, Law and Order presented a softcore, made-for-TV, fairly cartoony, torture porn-lite Gamergate fantasy: a female developer named Raina Punjabi gets trolled, swatted, and one of her employees is sexually assaulted in the bathroom at a gaming convention ("They leveled up," the employee tells the cops, dabbing at her bloodied, split lip. What?)
Eventually, Punjabi is kidnapped mid-presentation and gang-raped in a dank basement by masked gaming enthusiasts. Sobbing brokenly, the camera lingering lovingly on her facial bruising, she quits.
"Women in gaming, what did I expect?" she tells a detective. "I'm out." See, ladies? Life is so easy if you just give up and go away.
Gamergate supporters, naturally, found the episode to be a smear on gamers. A popular pro-Gamergate blogger who goes by The Ralph Retort wrote this:
When I sat down to watch Law & Order: SVU earlier tonight, I knew I was in for a bizarre spectacle. This show has been a bad parody of itself for a number of years now, and only hung around this long because the rest of NBC is has been so fucking terrible. Still, like Zoe Quinn herself said, I don't know what I hoped for, but this wasn't it. Although, come to think of it, given how asshurt some of these SJWs are tonight, maybe it was better than I thought. I know I did get a lot of laughs out of it, even though it definitely was offensive as fuck.
Ralph helpfully pointed out that Real Gamergate has never sexually assaulted a woman at a gaming convention or, you know, kidnapped and gang-raped anybody. Which is true! That's great. Great job.
But between SVU's trademark cheesy cop-talk and its clueless-sounding gaming references (a Reddit/8chan mashup creatively termed "Redchannit," lots of references to something called the "Dark Net,"), Ralph added, "the whole thing was a laugh fest." A lot of people, pro- and anti-GG alike, found it a little out of touch:
Not everyone Gamergater was so amused, though, seeing a full-scale, SJW-backed media smear campaign:
Some of them busily linked to infographics and pro-GG articles about Ethics in Games Journalism, hoping to spread their dubious gospel:
But many Gamergaters also seemed, frankly, just tickled by all the attention. Midway through, someone merrily created a "Raina Punjabi" Twitter account, as well as a Redchannit one, adorned with Ice-T's face.
And some actually thanked SVU for "proving" that Gamergate's harassment of women is overblown:
Meanwhile, Wu and Quinn had a harder time sitting through a cartoonized version of their suffering. Wu tweeted that she'd decided not to watch the episode, but added:
Quinn, meanwhile, was fielding trolls even as she watched the episode:
Her partner Alex Lifschitz also not surprisingly found the episode simultaneously infuriating and tough to watch:
Great work, NBC. You exploited an ongoing crisis that threatens the lives of real people for entertainment, made law enforcement the "heroes" in a situation where they've done virtually nothing, made women the broken, passive victims in a situation where they've actually showed remarkable strength and courage, and managed to piss off, well, everyone. That takes real skill. Level up, or whatever.
Image via NBC/Hulu