Opinion: Paper Mario's #Shufflegate, how outrage attacked history
Or the story of how the author of Watergate Exposed put a sick burn on someone years in advance
Let me explain #Shufflegate for those of you who don't know what it is: Nintendo added a clever reference to the Watergate scandal in Paper Mario: Color Splash, and some idiots thought it was an attack on Zoe Quinn. It's not. Case solved, show's over, we can all go home.
Okay, perhaps a little more elaboration is needed. Zoe Quinn is a victim of internet harassment, and catalyst of the GamerGate incident. She catches a lot of hate. On June 22, Ms. Quinn took to twitter to vent her frustration at a perceived sleight by Nintendo:
what the fuck did I ever do to you, Nintendo, that y'all had to make my suffering into a fucking joke pic.twitter.com/8It2z8X7bH— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
What a good joke. Wouldn't it be fucked up if that actually happened to a real person!— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
Please never ask me what it's like to be a "woman in games". Just refer to that screenshot and the surrounding context.— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
"It's a watergate reference" career ruining?— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
And after a "five fun guys" line? How fucking dense do you have to be to tell me this???
I'm logging off for a bit. Seeing my ex's shit in a Mario game was fucked up enough - seeing people defend it is too much.— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
FYI this is the same company that fired someone after GG targeted her so your benefit of the doubt is likely misplaced at best.— teënage shirtbag (@UnburntWitch) June 22, 2016
Without going too deep into the history of Gamergate, Quinn believed the “Five Fun Guys” was a reference to the Five Guys insults hurled at her, and the career ruining “Shufflegate: Exposed” line was a reference to #GamerGate. She went on to defend her position by saying that Nintendo had a history of disregard for the harassment of women because they fired Alison Rapp “after GG targeted her.“
She conveniently left out the part where Nintendo fired Alison Rapp for moonlighting as an illegal prostitute, even pushing her sexualized photo shoots on the same social media account she used as a representative of a family-oriented, child-friendly company.
I can let Ms. Quinn's outburst slide, to an extent. That's not what this article is really about. She has been on the receiving end of the sh**ty part of the internet's ire for years now, so her first response is, understandably, emotionally fueled. What irks me about this affair is how, after this little outburst, hordes of NeoGaf and social media white knights and some game writers/critics (that aren't fit to be considered my peers) ran with the story, instead of getting the facts straight beforehand. I guess they have to milk that outrage for relevancy and clicks, this is a really competitive social group and business, after all.
I take things at my own pace though, so let me hit you with all the information you need to make an informed decision as to whether this was a joke aimed at a victim of harassment or a Mario-themed joke about the Watergate scandal. Let's look specifically at the Five Fun Guys:
- Fungi Fun Guys is a team name in Mario Party 8. It is given to a team consisting of Mario and Toad. Paper Mario encounters the Five Fun Guys in minigames.
- Fun Guys is a play on fungi, because toads are mushroom people, and they're called the Five Fun Guys because there are five of them (get it, Fun Guys sounds like Fungis).
- The Five Fun Guys are breaking the rules of the game they're playing.
- When caught, the leader wonders if the scandal will ruin his career, and mentions the headline “Shufflegate: Exposed”
- The leader then tries to cover up the scandal by using the key as hush money.
On June 17, 1972, at the behest of then US President Richard Nixon and other upper level figures of his administration, five men broke into the Democratic National Committee's office to plant wiretaps and burglarize the building. They were caught and put on trial for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. This event was a catastrophic scandal, that went to the highest heights of the US government. It was kind of a big deal, and it became known as "the Watergate scandal."
Over 50 government officials had their political careers ruined. Of particular note, was the role hush money played in ending Nixon's political career. Originally, it was unclear if the president had committed a criminally indictable offense, with some believing such an offense was needed to proceed with his impeachment. Consenting to pay said hush money to the Watergate robbers was regarded as obstruction of justice, one of the nails in Nixon's political coffin.
The shitstorm around GamerGate wouldn't even amount to a shit streak on the Watergate scandal's dirtiest underwear. GamerGate got its fucking name from Watergate, as does just about everything that is suffixed with -gate. Every English-speaking human being of slightly moderate intelligence should have a passing familiarity with Watergate, and know the suffix -gate is used to denote a scandal, while relatively few people, outside of a specific social group, know what GameGate is. So which event do you think they were referencing?
Now some may say “Watergate isn't exactly a reference Paper Mario's demographic will understand, I find it hard to believe they'd do such a thing.” To those people, I would ask that you direct your attention to Super Paper Mario's Chapter 7 boss: Bonechill, a clever reference to the depiction of Lucifer in Dante's Divine Comedy. If a reference to an epic poem written in a foreign language over 800 years ago isn't too obscure for them, why would a reference to the biggest political scandal in American history be off the table? Maybe they want to reward Mario fans that are well versed in history? Mario is a bit of a history buff...
How much self-centrism and ignorance does the thinly skinned population of the gaming community have to wallow in until we're no longer allowed to put historical references in video games, for fear of offending some minor props on history's off-Broadway stage? How blind to truth and reason does our community have to be before it's cool to be giant fucking hypocrites and call for dog-piles on those we disagree with, even for imaginary sleights against our crew? How stubborn do these jackasses have to be to refuse to admit they were wrong and to apologize to a company, or anyone really, they falsely painted as some sort of social evil?
When it comes to gaming and social justice, the answer is exactly this much.