It’s a story as old as Twitter itself: the person says stupid and hurtful things in the past, the person comes into the limelight, old tweets are dug up, the person apologizes, the internet holds court. The whole performance just took place once again, this time with the Crystal Dynamics spokesperson and head of game design Marvel’s AvengersBrian Wagoner.
How Rock Paper Rifle relationships, a series of old tweets from Wagoner were unearthed over the weekend, leading him to apologize today, and Crystal Dynamics followed up to say how disappointed they are and that they are stripping Wagoner’s spokesperson status. Now everyone involved, having followed the prescribed script, presumably hopes it will go away.
Wagoner’s tweets, dating from 2010 to 2016 (during which he worked for Marvel and Gazillion), were pretty grim. Some were clearly attempted jokes, at least one based on lazy and racist stereotypeswhile another simply mocked people with disabilities. However, others seem to be just blatant whistleblower racism.
As often seems to be the case, Wagoner reports that he’s had a complete personality change since, these historic messages from the distant annulments six years ago now questionable given his reformed ways. “Over the weekend,” she explained in a statement on his ongoing Twitter account“old tweets I wrote prior to my time at Crystal have resurfaced and I apologize and take full responsibility for the pain they have caused my followers, the community and those I work with.”
The standard apology text continues: “Since that time, I’ve learned and grown, and the content I’ve posted doesn’t reflect who I am today.” For the unconvinced he adds: “I understand if you cannot accept my apology because of the pain I have caused. I will continue to listen, learn and work to improve myself.”
Crystal Dynamics then followedstating:
It’s incredibly disappointing to see employee language and opinions that don’t align with our firm’s values. We apologize to our community and colleagues who are rightly shocked by the content. Brian will no longer be a studio spokesperson or communicate on studio plans.
Look, you don’t need my opinion on all of this, because you already have yours, and honestly, it feels like a story we’ve written three hundred times already, just with another guy’s name at the beginning. But heck, I still have opinions.
What I hate about all of this, about every aspect of it, is that none of it is true. Wherever.
That written “apology” is designed to save face, to cover all bases, and to “draw the line below,” while never apologizing to anyone for anything. It is empty, performative, aloneYou are deceiving those entrenched in the corporate thinking that writes them.
At the same time, Wagoner’s tweets weren’t wantonly causing untold harm to large communities. They were bigoted, shitty comments that were ignored at the time (a single “like” on one, a solitary retweet on another), and now reappear to be used as evidence in online courts to (perhaps rightly) convict him. People pretending they’ve finally brought down this tyrannical menace from his hate campaign are ridiculously dishonest, and it’s just as deceptive for Wagoner to “apologize” as if that’s what happened.
Then Crystal is also added, with nonsense about “language and points of view” that “are not in line with the values of our firm”, as if the corporate entity itself is some kind of moral creature, possessed of a platonic perfection guided by ideal values. Have you ever noticed this? Every company is morally impeccable, never needing to declare how, instead letting the individual assume that it means that his values happily coincide with his own. One person in the company causes indignation, at which point this hazy immaculateness fits don’t be thatand all are invited to assume that this aberration in their perfection has been erased.
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People say and do stupid things. People have horrible opinions or make bad jokes. I know because I know. We all do. Even the most itchy wokeness champions have shitty thoughts, say things they regret, or hope that one thing they once said stays private forever. Sometimes people surround themselves with so many others like them that they lose sight of how awful these things sound when said publicly on social media. Later that comes back to bite them on the ass. And it should!
I just want people’s answers they were honest. “God, yeah, I was really being an ass, wasn’t I? Damn, I really need to think before I speak. Or, “You know what, it’s a bigotry I’ve always had, and I really need to do something about it.” Sure, in this specific case, Wagoner could very well be reformed, but this idea that the views we held last Tuesday don’t reflect who we are today is so boring, and the attempted implication is that we’re perfect now, if only everyone else would have achieved it.
And no one, anywhere, just says, “I’m sorry.” It’s always with caveats and justifications, and almost always the word “apologize” as well. An action rather than a feeling, a semiotic difference that externalises the procedure rather than speaks from the heart. It seems that it really is the hardest word.
Oh, and let’s not forget us, the bray gallery. “He Wasn’t Fired!” We don’t have a clue if he deserves to be fired or if he’s a forever champion these days. But most importantly, let’s stop pretending that we care if this person has it never heard of Before today, anyone who said a few things a decade ago that you didn’t notice gets to keep their job. What people want is for the offensiveness to go away, and the idea that an ignorant public claiming this dude’s head could somehow achieve that goal is bloody idiotic. If he’s an asshole to work with, then Crystal should fire him. But let’s also all be honest and stop acting like we know what’s best in every damn situation.