It’s been just over a week since the death of John Bain, a.k.a. Total biscuit, due to a cancer he had been fighting over the past couple of years, and in that time I’ve read some opinions and felt some emotions over the whole thing.
For those of you who may not know, Total Biscuit is a game reviewer and Lets Player, a Cynical Brit as he calls, or called, himself, as the case is. For reasons I can only guess at, when Gamergate started, Total Biscuit decided to include himself in the discussion, perpetrating the lies of the hate and harassment movement and becoming one of many talking heads for them, occupying a status enjoyed by other such ‘lovely’ human beings like Milo Yannonopolis and Alec Baldwin.
And of course, as a talking head for Gamergate, he perpetrated their lies.
Now, he’s not the first to do this, but what makes it especially bad is the wide reach of his social media presence to spread these lies.
Lets look at his Twitter, for starters:
721 THOUSAND followers.
And his Youtube channel?
2.2 MILLION subscribers.
That is a pretty large social media reach he has there. It might not be as large as other youtubers and gamer critics, but it is still sizeable, and he used it to speak out on behalf of Gamergate, a hate and harassment movement.
If I sound like a bit of a broken record, it’s because there’s still this idea among some that it really is about ethics in gaming journalism, a lie that Total biscuit believed in and did not apologize for, and they are still out there to this day, doing their best to ensure that gaming as a hobby is as toxic and unwelcoming an environment as possible. Their target is anyone who is, basically, NOT straight, white, cis and male, even slightly critical of the hobby they proclaim to love, and seeking to make it more diverse and inclusive.
I bring this up because apparently, Total Biscuit dying of cancer somehow absolves his being a part of this online hate mob, that we should have respect for the dead and how it’s too soon to talk about all that he did.
And to that I’d have to say no.
To demand respect and silence of people who were either the victims of Gamergate or simply pointing out what he did is a tone policing I cannot abide by. Gamergate, at its height, drove women and other marginalized groups out of gaming, delivered death threats to their main targets, and did their best to pressure companies into not supporting women in gaming and programming, even managing to get Intel to back down for a brief time.
Intel, for their part, realized their mistake and came back with even more support for Gamersutra.
When we call out Total Biscuit for the part he played in Gamergate, lending it some kind of credibility, spreading its lies, it is not smearing the name of a good man who can no longer defend himself, but telling the truth of the matter. For whatever good he may have done in his life, be it supporting charities and discussing his own battle with cancer, he was still a talking head for a hate and harassment movement, and that is the legacy he’ll have left behind.
I was talking with a friend about this, and he said something that struck me true about the whole matter:
“There is no nobility in death. Death comes for us all, regardless of the good or bad we’ve done in life, and if we want people to remember us fondly, we must do good things.”
John Bain’s good was out weighed by his bad, and to demand people not speak up on the ills he has done is asking for a silence he does not deserve.
After all, it is not us who are dragging Total Biscuit’s good name through the mud. Total Biscuit dragged Total Biscuit’s good name through the mud by supporting a hate and harassment movement that quickly became a gateway to white supremacists and MRAs.
And that’s what he’ll be remembered for.