[I actually wrote this post for my blog over at ITworld.com but they're doing some work behind the scenes over there so I can't post. Since this is a fairly time-sensitive topic I decided to just post it here, even if it's a bit off-topic. Ergo you won't find my usual level of snark and cynicism in this post.]
One young journalist learned the power of social networking over the weekend. Said lesson ended with him out of a job.
Ryan Perez writes about video games. Until this weekend he was at Destructoid. Friday night he hopped on Twitter to share his thoughts on Felicia Day, actress and web content producer. Ms. Day celebrates being a geek and she has a large following in the gaming community.
Perez tweeted: “Does Felicia Day matter at all? I mean does she actually contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona?”
He followed this with a pair of tweets directed at Ms. Day:
First: “@feliciaday, I keep seeing everywhere. Question: Do you matter at all? Do you even provide anything useful to gaming, besides “personality?”
Second:“@feliciaday, could you be considered nothing more than a glorified booth babe? You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium.”
This happened late Friday night (technically early Saturday morning) and, given that Ryan Perez had 48 followers, not much happened.
Then Saturday night, Veronica Belmont (who has 1.6 million followers) brought wide attention to Perez’s tweets: “@destructoid Hey, your writer is a ******* ****. But you probably already knew that. cc: @Dtoid pic.twitter.com/1ThlHCPZ”
That really started the ball rolling, and within 2 hours Destructoid responded.
1: “We would like to apologize re: comments made by one of our contributors toward @feliciaday and state publicly @Dtoid does not share them.”
2: “We have great respect for the contributions @feliciaday has made both to the culture and business of games and online entertainment”
3: “We hope that @feliciaday and her fans will be understanding. Thank you.”
And then 2 hours after that: “Destructoid has ended its relationship with Ryan Perez, effective immediately. We again apologize to @feliciaday and all others concerned.”
Phew! What a night of drama!
Later Perez apologized (via Twitter) to Ms. Day, saying he was drunk, really didn’t know who she was and that he was new to twitter and thought an @reply was private. (Would that have made things any better?) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.)
By then it was too late and the Court of Public Opinion had already passed sentence. It probably didn’t help that at the time of his initial Felicia Day tweet his Twitter bio read: “I’ve been a gamer for about 1.412 seconds. In that time, I’ve written for GamePro, Bitmob, and now I write for Destructoid. I love the smell of busty women.” [emphasis mine] He listed http://www.destructoid.com as his website.
He later changed the last line to “I love YOU, fine people of Twitter and when I last checked it had changed to “I like curing AIDS, comforting inmates on Death Row, helping children or something, clouds, fluffy dogs, bright colors and l Julia Roberts movies.”
There’s a lot of discussion going on around this. Lots of people support Perez’s right to say whatever he wants on his personal twitter account. These people fault Destructoid for cutting ties with him. (Perez says that he suggested it, just as a way to limit damage to the site.) Other people think Destructoid did the right thing and that Perez should be outcast from society and made to live on a desert island without internet, or something (I’m extrapolating a bit).
As for Ms. Day, she’s kept pretty silent about the entire debacle, though she did reply to Perez’s apology tweets, saying “@PissedOffRyno I accept your apology, genuinesly hope you mean it, and hope this can end all the hostility being flung both ways.”
This whole spectacle is pretty interesting, in my opinion. I think in the realm of internet insults, Perez’s comments were fairly tame. I think it was the Booth Babe remark that really got him in trouble since gender issues are a hot issue in gaming right now. (For good reason: see Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube and Opinion: Video games and Male Gaze – are we men or boys?.) I’m not sure that he deserved to lose his job over these comments, but at the same time I think Destructoid made a smart business decision in distancing itself from him.
I find it really peculiar that a person who writes about video games didn’t know who Felicia Day is, since so much of her online content is directly associated with gaming. The Guild is a web series based on a group of MMO players and it was what really launched Day’s web career. She’s also done a live action Dragon Age series Dragon Age: Redemption and gaming is a big part of her Geek & Sundry label. And of course her character plays D&D with Fargo on the SyFy series Eureka. Love her or hate her, I think every gamer who is active online must know who she is.
And lastly, that “I love the smell of busty women” line in his original bio says a lot about his attitude towards women. I have no idea why Ryan Perez decided to have a go at Felicia Day Friday night, but I wonder how it’ll turn out for him. He’s gone from 48 followers to 3,289 as of Sunday afternoon; probably more exposure than he ever would’ve gotten without this controversy. I expect once the heat level drops a bit he’ll wind up being hired by some other publication and having a higher profile than he ever had at Destructoid. But we’ll see.
Anyway I’ve droned on long enough. I’d love to hear some other opinions on all of this. Did Perez get what he deserved or did Destructoid overreact? And what about this “lynch mob” mentality on Twitter? Is it justified? Is it fair? Please share in the comments below!