Film Crit Hulk Smash: ON DESPAIR, GAMERGATE AND QUITTING THE HULK

Hulk attempts to make sense of the maelstrom. 

1. SIGHT LINES

RUEFUL ADMISSION: HULK HAS BEEN THINKING ABOUT QUITTING NOT JUST TWITTER, BUT ALL OF THE HULK STUFF FOR ABOUT THE LAST MONTH OR SO.

HULK ACTUALLY HAD A LATE-NIGHT MELTDOWN ABOUT IT A FEW WEEKS AGO, BUT IT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR MUCH LONGER THAN THAT. ADMITTEDLY, THE CENTRAL PROBLEM IS JUST THAT HULK'S JUST BEEN REALLY, REALLY BUSY LATELY. YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED THAT, WHAT WITH THE ZERO COLUMNS AND RARELY BEING ON TWITTER AND ALL. BUT THE SIMPLE EXPLANATION IS THAT HULK'S AVENGER DUTIES HAVE TURNED INTO AVENGER "ONGOING CRISIS MODE" WITH SOME MAJOR CHANGEOVER AND MULTIPLE PROJECTS GOING INTO OVERDRIVE. BUT IT'S NOT A BAD THING! IN FACT, IT'S ALL BEYOND AWESOME STUFF. BUT AS A RESULT, HULK'S PREVIOUSLY CRAZY SCHEDULE HAS JUST LOST THAT PART WHERE HULK GETS TO SEE BETTY AND WRITE HULK STUFF. SO, YEAH... WHEN YOU HAVE SO LITTLE TIME YOU BARELY SEE YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES, IT BASICALLY MAKES IT HARD TO JUSTIFY ALSO SPENDING EVEN A MOMENT OF YOUR NON-EXISTENT TIME ON THE INTERNET.

THE BIGGER PROBLEM IS THAT THIS ALL HAPPENED RIGHT AT A TIME WHEN THE INTERNET IS IN A BAD, BAD WAY.

HULK DOESN'T MAKE THIS PROCLAMATION LIGHTLY. IT'S TRUE. SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF DENMARK. AND HULK SAYS THIS KNOWING THAT THERE'S THIS WEIRD, PARTICULAR ARGUMENT THAT SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO LEVEL AT WRITERS / JOURNALISTS / ANYONE WHEREIN THEY PROCLAIM THAT THEIR OPINION ISN'T ACCURATE BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST OSTENSIBLY TRAPPED IN AN "ECHO CHAMBER" AND ONLY HEAR SUPPORTIVE VOICES AND THUS DON'T KNOW HOW SUCH AND SUCH REALLY IS... HULK WOULD LIKE TO POLITELY DECLINE THIS NOTION AND REASSURE YOU THAT IF SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET HAS A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU, OR EVEN JUST EXPRESS WHAT THEY THINK OF YOU, THEY WILL ABSOLUTELY DO SO. AND THE HIGHER PROFILE YOU GAIN, THE MORE READILY THEY WILL DO. SO NO, THIS SORT OF PUBLIC SOAPBOX THING DOES NOT THROW YOU INTO AN ECHO CHAMBER. IT INSTEAD THROWS YOU INTO THE BIG HONKING NOISE OF A BUSY CITY INTERSECTION. AND IT IS SOMETHING THAT ONLY MAKES SINGULAR COMMUNICATION ALL THE MORE DIFFICULT. AND IF YOU GET EVEN A LITTLE MORE VISIBLE THAN WHAT HULK DESCRIBES ABOVE? WELL, THEN YOU GET PUT INTO THIS SPACE THAT GIVES YOU A BIG OLD CLEAR LINE OF SIGHT INTO THE VOID OF THE MAIN POPULACE... LOOK AT THE RESPONSES TO A FEMALE POP STARS ON TWITTER EVERY ONCE AND A WHILE... IT'S THE SPACE OF HUMAN UGLINESS THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO FORGET EVERYTHING AND GO BUILD A CANDIDE-IAN GARDEN SOMEWHERE.

AND THE VOID OF THIS PARTICULAR HOUR IS GAMERGATE.

HULK'S HONESTLY NOT EVEN SURE WHAT TO SAY. EVERY TIME HULK TRIED TO PUT TOGETHER AN ESSAY OF SOME SORT ON THE TOPIC IT WOULD HAVE A PARALYZING EFFECT AND THEN HULK WOULD JUST GET INSANELY, VIVIDLY DEPRESSED. HULK HAD TO LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE FOR SOME TIME THERE. BUT THE NOISE STILL GETS DIRECTED AT YOU WHETHER YOU WANT IT TO OR NOT. AND SO YEAH, THERE WERE A FEW TIMES HULK FELT COMPELLED TO SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING, IN ORDER TO TRY AND HELP. FROM THE RETWEETING OF A GREAT ARTICLE, TO OFFERING SUPPORT TO THOSE THE MOST VICTIMIZED, TO EVEN JUST EKING OUT A POINTED WORD OR TWO ON THE SUBJECT... BUT EVERY TIME HULK BREATHED SAID WORDS ON THE SUBJECT, IT ALWAYS BUBBLED OVER INTO TRUE DISCORD.

HULK SWEARS TO YOU, HULK HAS NO ILL WILL TOWARD ANYONE IN THE MOVEMENT WHO GENUINELY MEANS WELL. HULK'S POSITION IS PURELY ABOUT THE CONTENT AND EFFECT OF THE MOVEMENT ITSELF. AND YET EVERY SINGLE TIME HULK HAS TRIED TO BE FRANK AND HONEST ABOUT THE HORRIBLE EFFECT OF GAMERGATE, HULK WOULD STILL GET BOMBARDED BY THE SAME REPLIES FROM A FEW FOLKS OF "WOW. HOW COULD YOU BE SO WRONG ABOUT THIS ONE THING!" / "DON'T LUMP ME IN WITH THE BAD MINORITY!" / "THAT'S NOT WHAT GAMERGATE IS ABOUT!" / [INSERT DIRECT FLIPPANT COMMENT] / ETC. ETC... AND WHILE MANY OTHERS SEEM CONTENT TO SIMPLY DISMISS THESE STATEMENTS AS PART OF SOME CALCULATED MISINFORMATION OR SOMETHING, THE TRUTH IS THAT THE EARNEST NATURE OF THOSE COMMENTS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAS HULK SO TROUBLED.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK DOESN'T ACTUALLY WANT TO WRITE A BIG COLUMN ON GAMERGATE, NOR TAKE TIME TO DISPEL THE LEGITIMACY OF THE CLAIMS. THERE'S JUST BEEN TOO MUCH ANIMOSITY. BESIDES, THERE'S ALREADY BEEN SO MUCH WRITTEN IN THE WAY OF REAL JOURNALISTIC INSIGHT AND SO MANY HAVE SAID IT FAR BETTER THAN HULK COULD. AND NOW THAT THE HEAVY HITTERS LIKE THE NEW YORK TIMES HAVE GOTTEN INVOLVED (IN ORDER TO ESSENTIALLY CALL A DUCK A DUCK), THE POPULAR OPINION IS NOW FIRMLY SET ON THE IDEA THAT GAMERGATE IS A HOUSE OF CARDS, NOW TOPPLED. THE RUSE IS EXPOSED. THE DUPLICITOUS CORE AT THE HEART OF THE ISSUES HAS BEEN SEEN FOR WHAT IT IS... BUT WITH SUCH CERTAINTY RE: THE RELATIVE MERITS OF GAMERGATE ITSELF, HULK WOULD STILL ARGUE WHAT IS PERHAPS GETTING LOST IN ALL OF THIS IS THE LEGITIMACY OF HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE STILL ON THE WRONG SIDE OF GAMERGATE BECAUSE OF ITS INHERENT ASSOCIATION WITH POSITIVE THINGS IN THEIR LIFE - AND HOW MANY REALLY, TRULY DON'T REALIZE THEY ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS AND THINK THEY ARE HELPING. BECAUSE NO, IT'S NOT ALL DUPLICITOUS BACKROOM CHATTER AND INTENTIONAL MANIPULATION. FROM HULK'S VIEWPOINT, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE SIMPLY RALLYING AROUND VAGUE NOTIONS OF GOODNESS. THESE TEND TO BE A LOT OF SENSITIVE PEOPLE. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY, HONESTLY THINK THIS IS ABOUT ETHICS. AND THEY DO NOT THINK THIS OUT OF DELUSION, BUT OUT OF SIMPLE LACK OF AWARENESS. AND IT IS EASY TO DISMISS SUCH SENTIMENT AND THROW THEM IN WITH THE MANIPULATORS... BUT THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HULK MOST HEARS FROM. THEY ARE REAL.

AND TO THEM, THE BLUNT AND SEEMINGLY "ONE-SIDED" NATURE OF HULK'S SENTIMENT RE: GAMERGATE MAKES THEM FEEL BETRAYED.

AFTER ALL, IT IS THE HULK MISSION STATEMENT TO GO INTO ANY AND ALL CONVERSATIONS WITH A SENSE OF COMPASSION AND OPENNESS... SO HOW COULD HULK SEEMINGLY NOT DO SO HERE? WHY IS THIS THE ONE THING WHERE HULK IS BEING AN "ASSHOLE"?

AND VICE VERSA - TO THOSE ON THE OUTSIDE OF GAMERGATE, WHY IS HULK SO CONCERNED WITH THIS ISSUE? AND WHY IS THIS PARTICULAR CONVERSATION MAKING HULK FEEL DESPAIR AND WANT TO QUIT WHEN SO MANY OTHER EQUALLY DIFFICULT MATTERS FAILED?

TO EVERYONE WHO FEELS BETRAYED OR CONFUSED, IF YOU GIVE HULK A CHANCE, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HULK WOULD LIKE TO EXPLAIN.

2. SIDES

THE MAIN THING THAT THOSE WHO FEEL BETRAYED ASK HULK TO DO IS "LOOK AT BOTH SIDES."

WELL, THE FIRST TIME HULK SAW THE "GAMERGATE" TAG POP UP ON TWITTER HULK CURIOUSLY BEGAN INVESTIGATING IN EARNEST. AGAIN, HULK CAME INTO THIS WHOLE THING WITH GENUINELY NO ILL WILL AND WITH THE SAME DESIRE TO HAVE PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS AS ALWAYS, AND GIVEN THE INTENSITY OF THE CLAIMS HULK WAS HONESTLY WORRIED ABOUT A HUGE JOURNALISTIC BREACH THAT HAD POSSIBLY EXACERBATED THE ENTIRE ISSUE... BUT THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS THAT THERE DIDN'T SEEM TO BE AN ACTUAL BREACH. EVERYTHING REPORTED COULD BE DISMISSED WITHIN A HALF SECOND. EVEN WORSE, THERE WAS SUCH AN UGLINESS TO THOSE FIRST ATTACKS. THE IRE DIRECTED AT ALREADY-FREQUENT TARGETS LIKE SARKEESIAN AND QUINN WAS UNDENIABLE, AND AROUND THEM, AROUND THE WHOLE ISSUE ITSELF WAS JUST THIS MAELSTROM OF VEHEMENT TALKING POINTS, ALL UNDER "POSITIVE" WORD USAGE REGARDING JOURNALISM AND ETHICS. BUT THE IRE IS ALL THAT REMAINED. AND THE THING THAT WAS CLEAR FROM RIGHT THEN, OTHER THAN THE COMMONALITY OF THE FEMALE TARGETS, WAS HOW THERE WAS SOMETHING SO IMMEDIATELY EVASIVE ABOUT THE POINT OF ALL OF IT. AND ANY ATTEMPTS TO CONVERSE ON THE MATTER WERE SO MET WITH WHAT WE CALL "REFRACTIVE TACTICS." PUT IT LIKE THIS: SINCE THEY WERE THE ONES USING THE "POSITIVE LANGUAGE," ANY ATTEMPTS TO DISMANTLE THE MERITS OF GAMERGATE ITSELF COULD BE EASILY CONSIDERED NEGATIVE AND ATTACKING. AND EVERY TIME THEY COULD BE CALLED OUT ON SOMETHING PROBLEMATIC, THEY COULD ARGUE WITH "NO TRUE SCOTSMAN" LOGIC, ETC. SO HERE WE HAD A MOB UNDENIABLY ATTACKING WOMEN AT THE CENTER OF THE INDUSTRY AND THEY TURNED ANYONE WHO BROUGHT THIS TO LIGHT INTO A MONSTER WHO WAS ATTACKING THEM PERSONALLY. AND IN TRUTH, HULK WAS NEVER ATTACKING ANYBODY. NEVER ONCE. HULK WAS CRITICIZING THE MOVEMENT ITSELF AND ITS APPARENT AIMS. BUT THAT DIDN'T MATTER. IT ALL GOT WRAPPED UP IN THE SAME THING.

AND AS HULK KEPT GOING FURTHER AND FURTHER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, THE MORE PROBLEMATIC IT BECAME. THOSE WHO FELT BETRAYED KEPT BEING MORE AND MORE DISAPPOINTED THAT HULK WASN'T SEEING "THE NUANCE" OF THEIR ARGUMENT. BUT NUANCE CAN ONLY EXIST IN SOMETHING THAT CONTAINS IT. DESPITE THE PROTESTS AND DISAGREEMENTS, HULK HAS GENUINELY READ EVERY TALKING POINT AND EVERY WELL-MEANING BIT OF CRITICISM BEHIND THE GAMERGATE MOVEMENT, DESPERATELY LOOKING FOR A KERNEL OF LEGITIMACY... AND HULK IS SO SORRY TO HAVE TO PUT IT LIKE THIS, BUT THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE BEHIND GAMERGATE. THERE JUST ISN'T. HULK KNOWS YOU MIGHT DISAGREE, BUT THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO PUT IT. THERE SIMPLY ISN'T. AND HULK KNOWS YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS. HULK KNOWS THAT YOU MAY EVEN BELIEVE THAT THERE IS. BUT TO SAY IT ONE LAST TIME: THERE ISN'T.

AND SO, SINCE HULK'S ENTIRE PHILOSOPHY OF FINDING THE NUANCE CAN'T BE EQUATED TO FINDING MERIT IN THE MERITLESS, IT INSTEAD HAS TO BE FOUND RIGHT HERE IN THE HUMANIZATION OF OUR DISAGREEMENT. BECAUSE BEING NUANCED ISN'T SOMETHING SIMPLE LIKE "ACKNOWLEDGING BOTH SIDES." IT'S BEING ABLE TO PARSE THROUGH THE HUMANE INTENTION OF BOTH SIDES AND BE ABLE TO BEST DIAGNOSE THE TRUTH FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS, AND THEN COMING TO A KIND OF UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THAT. AND IF YOU ARE INCLINED TO NORMALLY FIND HULK'S INSIGHTS OF SOME VALUE, THEN HULK SWEARS IT'S NOT LIKE HULK HAS HAD SOME MOMENTARY LAPSE IN JUDGMENT HERE. EVERY SINGLE REPUTABLE OUTLET IS COMING OUT IN CONDEMNATION OF GAMERGATE FOR A REASON. IT IS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE BIASED IDIOTS WHO AREN'T DOING THEIR RESEARCH. IT IS BECAUSE THAT IS THE TRUTH. SO IF YOU'VE PREVIOUSLY HAD RESPECT FOR HULK AS A CRITIC OR ANYTHING AND ARE CURRENTLY DISAPPOINTED BY THIS STANCE, ALL HULK CAN DO IS BEG AND PLEAD WITH YOU TO SEE THE PROVERBIAL LIGHT ON THIS ONE ISSUE. HULK SIMPLY DOES NOT WANT YOU TO FALL VICTIM TO THE GAMERGATE VEIL OF GOOD INTENTIONS. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK ISN'T CALLING YOU AN ASSHOLE. IN FACT, HULK IS JUST DESPERATELY CLINGING ONTO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THIS MOMENT AS IF YOU WERE HULK'S CHILD TURNING TO SOME SORT OF DRUG ADDICTION. IT'S THAT SERIOUS.

BECAUSE GAMERGATE IS NOT ABOUT ETHICS OR JOURNALISM - IT WAS BUILT ON A LIE AND IT WAS PROPAGATED BY A BROADER MISUNDERSTANDING OF HOW BOTH OF THOSE DISCIPLINES ACTUALLY WORK. DESPITE WHAT MANY HAVE COME TO BELIEVE, THERE IS NO WIDESPREAD PROBLEM IN GAMING JOURNALISM (ESPECIALLY WITH REGARDS TO ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIE DEVELOPERS). IN FACT, THERE IS A PRETTY DECENT ARGUMENT TO BE MADE ABOUT THE WAY THE AAA DEVELOPERS TRY TO CONTROL MEDIA OUTLETS, BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE FOLKS BEHIND GAMERGATE DO NOT SEEM AS INTERESTED IN THAT ISSUE (THOUGH WHEN YOU BRING IT UP, THEY SAY THEY ARE, THEN PROCEED TO DIRECT ZERO IRE THAT WAY AND INSTEAD CRITICIZE PEOPLE SPEAKING UP ON MISOGYNY... AND IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A MOVEMENT IS REALLY ABOUT, LOOK AT WHO THEY ARE REALLY TARGETING / THE EFFECT). SADLY, THIS CRIPPLING ACTION ONLY HELPS SHOWCASE THAT PERHAPS THE BIGGEST CRISIS IN GAMES JOURNALISM IS THAT IT NEEDS TO FIND A WAY TO SUPPORT EVEN MORE QUALITY WRITERS THAN THE ONES THAT EXIST (AND ARE UNDERPAID) - AND IT NEEDS AN AUDIENCE THAT DOESN'T ACTIVELY HARASS THEM FOR A VARIETY OF HORRIFIC SOCIAL REASONS / MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF HOW JOURNALISM ACTUALLY WORKS.

AGAIN, WE COULD GET INTO THE ARGUMENTS ABOUT THESE MECHANICS AND REASONS BEHIND THIS, BUT PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY DONE IT MUCH BETTER. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, HULK STILL WORRIES IT WOULD STILL ALWAYS COME BACK TO THE TOXIC CULTURE PROBLEM WITH THE LARGER VIDEO GAME DIALOGUE, FOR THAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF THE LIE AT THE CENTER OF THIS MESS. AND THAT TOXIC DIALOGUE FUELS EVERY PRO-GAMERGATE ARGUMENT BEING SPUN INTO A MORAL CLAUSE, WHEN REALLY THERE IS NO MORALITY AT THE CENTER OF THIS. BECAUSE HULK IS NOT THE ENEMY. HULK ADORES VIDEO GAMES WITH EVERY FIBER OF HULK'S BEING. AND HULK LOVES SO MANY FIGUREHEADS OF THE GAMING COMMUNITY WITH COMPLETE AND TOTAL ADORATION. AND HULK LOVES HOW MUCH GREAT WRITING THERE IS OUT THERE. BUT PLEASE UNDERSTAND - THERE IS A HUGE PROBLEM HERE. AT THIS POINT HULK HAS WRITTEN ABOUT MANY FORMS OF MEDIA AND HULK CAN TELL YOU WITH CONFIDENCE THAT THE CULTURE OF VIDEO GAMES HAS A MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH HIGHER RATE OF ALL THE "BAD STUFF" THAN EVERYTHING ELSE (SAVE POLITICS). AND TO SIMPLY IDENTIFY THIS NEGATIVE TREND IN THE PUBLIC CONVERSATION, TO TRY AND RECKON WITH IT AND FIX IT, IS TO BE PERCEIVED AS AN ATTACK ON THE PEOPLE WHO FEEL YOU ARE ATTACKING THEM, AND THUS TO BE MET WITH MORE NOISE.

IN ESSENCE, IT IS THE FAILURE TO REALIZE WE ARE MAYBE ON THE SAME TEAM.

3. TACTICS

PERHAPS THE THING TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT HULK GETS IN A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS IN MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF WAYS. THROUGHOUT THE YEARS HULK'S HAD FRANK DISCUSSIONS WITH ERUDITE FILM SCHOLARS, KIND COLLEAGUES, BRILLIANT ARTISTS, ARTISTS WHO HAVE FELT WRONGED, ARTISTS WHO HAVE FELT RIGHTED, AND OF COURSE YOU HAVE YOUR FLIPPANT TEENS, AGGRESSIVE AXE-GRINDERS, CONFUSED ADOLESCENTS, BRILLIANT PRECOCIOUS CHILDREN, MEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND THERE WAS EVEN THAT NICE LITTLE BLIP WITH STORMFRONT. THE THING TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT ALL OF THESE CONVERSATIONS IS THAT EVERYONE WAS COMING INTO THEM WITH A SPECIFIC VIEWPOINT. AND WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND THE VIEWPOINT OF THE OTHER PERSON, EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE, YOU CAN STILL GET TO THE ROOT OF THE DISAGREEMENT AND CORRECTLY IDENTIFY HOW IT IS THAT YOU'RE SEEING THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY. EVEN WITH M.R.A.'S, WHERE SO MUCH OF WHAT THEY SAY GIVES YOU A "DOWN IS UP" FEELING, BUT THAT'S JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE DEALING WITH A GROUP THAT LOOKS AT THE HORRIFIC SEXISM OF THE WORLD AND SOMEHOW SEES THE EXACT OPPOSITE. THEY CAN ONLY SEE THROUGH THE MYOPIA OF THEIR PAIN AND EXPERIENCE. IT'S THE SOLE FILTER. THUS, YOU CAN SPIT 99% OF ENDLESSLY RESEARCHED HISTORICAL DATA ON THE HISTORY AND CURRENT STATE OF SEXISM, BUT THEY WILL STILL DIRECT YOU TO THE, LIKE, THREE WOMEN WHO HAVE ACADEMICALLY WRITTEN ABOUT FEMINISM BEING BAD. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF EXPERTS HAVE WRITTEN OTHERWISE, THOSE THREE ARE "THE TRUTH."

AND THAT'S JUST BECAUSE THAT IS THEIR EMOTIONAL TRUTH.

HULK'S TALKED ABOUT THE NATURE OF EMOTIONAL TRUTHS BEFORE, BUT IT'S CRITICAL TO UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF PUBLIC CONVERSATION. BECAUSE PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS AREN'T THINGS WHERE WE CAN LOB FACTS AT EACH OTHER AND EXPECT THE RELATIVE VERACITY OF THEM TO DO THE WORK. IT'S NOT LIKE THE UNIVERSE LISTENS IN AND THEN CONFIRMS THE WINNER. AND IT'S NOT A COURT OF LAW. ACTUALLY, THE SAME EVEN GOES WITH APPLICATIONS OF LOGIC; WE DO HAVE RULES IN THAT, BUT THEY CAN BE JUST AS CORRUPTING AND USELESS IF THE RULES ARE BEING USED TO DEFEND TOPICS THAT ARE SIMPLY INACCURATE. WHICH IS EASILY POSSIBLE GIVEN THAT WE ARE A GROUP OF HUMANS WITH ENTIRELY DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS AT INESCAPABLE ODDS.

BUT BEYOND THAT, IN ANY CONVERSATION YOU ARE ALSO DEALING WITH AN EMOTIONAL TRUTH. IT'S A THING SOMEONE BELIEVES IS TRUE OFF THE INTERNAL FEELING THEY HAVE, OR WHAT THEY WANT TO BE TRUE, OR WHAT THEY THINK MUST BE TRUE FOR THE SAKE OF COMPASSION. THE PROBLEM WITH THIS PARTICULAR TRUTH IS IT IS BOTH NECESSARY TO BEING A FUNCTIONAL PERSON (AS IT IS THE THING THAT ALLOWS US TO HAVE EMPATHY AND KINDNESS IN OUR INTERACTIONS) AND YET ALSO SOMETHING THAT IS HIDEOUSLY MISUSED. FOR EVERY OUNCE OF COMPASSION IT CAN WELL UP IN US, IT ALSO CAN BE USED TO UNFAIRLY DENOUNCE ACTUAL FACTS AND PERVERT THE TRUTH. FOR INSTANCE, 9/11 TRUTHERISM IS A COMPLETELY INACCURATE BIT OF NONSENSE, UNFOUNDED IN EVERY DISCIPLINE IT TOUCHES, BUT IT IS STILL PROPAGATED BY THE SIMPLE ACT OF SOMEONE DISTRUSTING GOVERNMENT SO SEVERELY THAT THEY PLACE THEMSELVES ABOVE THE FRAY OF BEING MANIPULATED. THAT'S HOW POWERFUL EMOTIONAL TRUTHS ARE. THEY CAN TAKE EVERYTHING WE UNDERSTAND ABOUT REALITY AND FLIP IT ON ITS HEAD. AND OFTEN, IT'S SO POWERFUL THAT MANY ARE NOT AWARE WHEN THEY'VE COME TO BELIEVE SOMETHING BECAUSE OF THEIR EMOTIONAL TRUTH. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, BUT THE MORE TENUOUS THE FACTUAL CLAIM BECOMES, THE MORE AN EMOTIONAL TRUTH IT BECOMES.

BUT THE REAL DANGER OF UNDERSTANDING THE EMOTIONAL TRUTH IS IT IS SOMETHING THAT THEY CAN USE RIGHT BACK AGAINST YOU. WITH THE 9/11 TRUTHERS, ALL YOUR SCIENCE JUST BECOMES TRUTH THAT YOU ARE PART OF THE "SHEEPLE," SOMEONE WHO JUST WANTS TO PULL THE WOOL OVER THEIR EYES BECAUSE "THE TRUTH" SCARES THEM. WHICH JUST MEANS THAT ANYONE CAN CHALLENGE VIRTUALLY ANYTHING YOU BELIEVE ON THE SAME GROUNDS AND ANYTHING CAN NOW FALL INTO DISREPUTE. IN THIS LENS, THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA SUDDENLY BECOMES INEPT. WITH GAMERGATE, WE'RE ALL A BUNCH OF IDIOTS WHO CAN HAVE OUR EYES BLINDED IN OUR COMMITMENT TO STOPPING SEXISM AND LOVING FEMINISTS THAT WE IGNORE CORRUPT JOURNALISM, ETC. ETC... WHEN YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW EASY IT IS TO FLIP THE SCRIPT WITHOUT HOLDING YOURSELF TO FACTUAL STANDARDS, CONVERSATIONS CAN GET REALLY, REALLY DANGEROUS.

SO HOW DO YOU REACH "THE TRUTH?" IN THAT MAELSTROM?

WELL, ACTUAL JOURNALISM FOR ONE, BUT THAT VERY IDEA IS SOMETHING GAMERGATE ATTACKS WITH IMPUNITY. AND HONESTLY, ESTABLISHED FACTS GO OUT THE WINDOW PRETTY QUICKLY WHEN PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES ON OPPOSING SIDES OF A DISCUSSION. THE TRUTH IS THAT YOU HAVE TO GO BEYOND THAT. YOU HAVE TO REACH DOWN AND TALK TO PEOPLE AND HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION. BECAUSE, REGARDLESS OF WHAT SOME WANT TO BELIEVE, EACH AND EVERY CONVERSATION WORKS AT THE NEXUS OF LOGIC, FACT AND EMOTION. A KID WHO LOVES PROFESSOR HENDERSON IS MORE LIKELY TO BELIEVE A FACTUAL STATEMENT FROM HIM AND A KID WHO HATES PROFESSOR HENDERSON IS LESS LIKELY TO. THIS IS UNDENIABLE. SO IT IS ONLY WHEN ALL THREE FACETS - LOGIC, FACT AND EMOTION -ARE IN TUNE, THEN WE CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER AND SOMEHOW, SOME WAY COME TO A KIND OF MUTUAL CATHARSIS.

SO PLEASE UNDERSTAND IT'S NOT "SEEING BOTH SIDES." IT'S ABOUT COMMUNICATING WITH BOTH SIDES TO EMPHASIZE THE THING THAT HULK REALLY AND TRULY SEES AS FACT.

BUT HONESTLY, WHEN IT COMES TO THE ROUGHEST OF POPULAR CONVERSATIONS, OFTEN THE BEST YOU CAN HOPE FOR IS THE ABILITY TO ISSUE A CLEAR CRYSTALLIZATION OF YOUR VIEWPOINT, EXPOSE WHERE YOU DIFFER AND GET THEM TO SEE THAT LITTLE WINDOW INTO THE GREAT BENEFIT OF HAVING YOUR VIEWPOINT. YOU CAN EVEN LOVINGLY PLEAD WITH THEM TO COME AROUND, BUT AS LONG AS YOU'RE STILL GETTING TO THE CENTRAL LINCHPIN OF WHAT IS CAUSING THE OBSTACLE, YOU SORT OF HAVE HOPE THAT YOU GOT THROUGH IN SOME SMALL WAY. THAT YOU GAVE THEM THE TOOLS TO RECOGNIZE THE TRUTH AT A POINT WHERE THEY ARE MORE READY TO ACCEPT IT. AT LEAST THAT'S WHAT YOU HOPE.

AND HERE IS WHERE WE GET TO THE FIRST MAJOR PROBLEM WITH GAMERGATE.

WHEN HULK ENGAGES WITH EVEN THE MOST STRIDENT GROUPS OUTLINED ABOVE, YOU CAN GET DOWN TO THE DIFFERENCE IN VIEWPOINT. YOU CAN SOMEHOW PARSE OUT A CORE NUGGET AND FIND WHICH THINGS ARE BELIEVED BY WHOM. EVEN WITH STORMFRONT, THE CORE DIFFERENCE IS THAT THEY HAVE THE EGREGIOUS BELIEF THAT WHITE PEOPLE ARE SUPERIOR AND OTHER RACES ARE INFERIOR. IT IS THE MOST INHUMAN, DISGUSTING VIEW IN THE WORLD. BUT THEY WEAR THIS ON THEIR SLEEVES. THEY HAVE IT IN THEIR CREED. WHICH JUST MEANS THE CORE DIFFERENCE IS REALLY, REALLY EASY TO ARTICULATE AND GET TO IN CONVERSATION.

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO GAMERGATE, FINDING ANY SINGLE KIND OF POINT TO LOCK ONTO IN TERMS OF THE VIEWPOINT IS IMPOSSIBLE. REALLY. IT'S LIKE TRYING TO TANGO ON QUICKSAND. EVERY TIME YOU GO BEHIND THE CLAIM YOU HIT ANOTHER LIE, ANOTHER THING SOMEONE WILL SAY YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. AND UNLIKE ANY ORGANIZED GROUP, THERE IS NO CENTRAL ETHOS TO REFERENCE AT THE CORE. WHICH JUST MEANS ALL ORGANIZATIONAL STATEMENTS OR INCLINATIONS CAN BE DISAVOWED. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE MOVEMENT IS ACTIVELY HARASSING WOMEN? "NOPE! THEY'RE JUST THE MINORITY AND NOT PART OF WHAT WE'RE REALLY ABOUT." FOR ANYTHING THAT CAN BE USED TO REVEAL GAMERGATE FOR WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS DOING IS NOT PART OF THE TRUE MOVEMENT. THOSE HARASSERS? THEY ARE JUST MINORITY TROLLS. NEVER MIND THAT HULK CAN TELL YOU FROM THE HUNDREDS OF RESPONSES THAT'S NOT THE CASE. POINT OUT THAT THE MOVEMENT IS ONLY FREQUENTLY TARGETING WOMEN? "NOPE! IT'S ABOUT ETHICS AND THAT'S INCIDENTAL." IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, ALL DISAGREEMENTS BECOME PERSONAL ATTACKS. IT ALL BECOMES A MOVING GOAL POST. THE "TRUTH" OF VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE STEP IS A SHADOW OF SOMETHING THAT CANNOT EVEN BE CONCEIVED, MAYBE EVEN BY THE PERPETRATORS THEMSELVES. BECAUSE THE ONE THING HULK CANNOT GET ANY SINGLE ONE OF THEM TO DO IS OUTLINE SOMETHING POSITIVE THEY ARE ACCOMPLISHING THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THEY ARE TRYING TO ERADICATE FEMINIST INFLUENCE IN GAMING. INSTEAD, THEY JUST CLING SO DESPERATELY TO THE THOSE POSITIVE WORDS THEY SAY THEY  REPRESENT AND LASH OUT AGAINST ANY AND ALL THREATS. THE END RESULT IS YOU CAN'T EVEN GET TO THE NUGGET OF DISAGREEMENT ON THE WORLD VIEW. THERE IS NO WORLD VIEW. THERE IS ONLY THE ATTACK AND THE RESPONSE.

WHICH, IN CASE YOU ARE UNAWARE, IS THE STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR CULTS, BEHAVIORAL PROGRAMMING AND MORE ORGANIZED ORGANIZATIONS LIKE SCIENTOLOGY.

NOW... IF ALL THIS TROUBLE WERE JUST RELEGATED TO THE TOWER OF BABEL VERSION OF THE INTERNET, THEN THIS WOULD NORMALLY BE NO PROBLEM. THE POTENCY OF OUTSIDER OPINIONS ARE MOST OFTEN HELPED BY THE FACT THAT THEY DISORGANIZED, DISTANT AND SEPARATE. BUT THE PROBLEM WITH THE POTENCY OF GAMERGATE IS THAT ALL THOSE WHO FERVENTLY ARGUE THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT SEXISM ARE THEN SOMEHOW ABLE TO BIND THEIR EFFORTS INTO A FIST TO ATTACK FEMALE DEVELOPERS / FEMALE WRITERS INSTANTLY, ALONG WITH THE COMPANIES THAT SUPPORT THEM ON ANY LEVEL... AND HULK'S PRETTY SURE THAT MANY OF THEM DON'T EVEN REALIZE THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE TAKING PART OF.

YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND HOW PROBLEMATIC THIS IS. IT'S ALMOST THOUGHT TO BE IMPOSSIBLE. WHAT HAS ESSENTIALLY HAPPENED IS THAT WE HAVE TAKEN A CULT BEHAVIORAL APPROACH TO DISCUSSION AND PHILOSOPHY - NORMALLY A REALLY DIFFICULT THING TO INSTILL INTO PEOPLE AND REQUIRES ISOLATION, DIRECT PROGRAMMING AND FULL-ON CULTURAL SEPARATION - AND TURNED IT INTO SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN CASUALLY LEARNED ON THE INTERNET'S PROVERBIAL STREETS THROUGH THE ORGANIC PROCESS OF BEING A PART OF VIDEO GAME'S MOST TOXIC SUBCULTURE.

THIS IS ONE OF THE SCARIEST THINGS HULK HAS EVER SEEN.

4. THE PAINS OF BEING PURE OF HEART

AND IT ALL BRINGS US BACK TO THE ABSOLUTE WORST PART ABOUT GAMERGATE, AND THAT IS THE WAY THAT ALL THE GOODHEARTED, KIND AND THOUGHTFUL YOUNG SOULS GET CAUGHT UP IN BELIEVING THE LIE.

THERE'S SOMETHING INNATE, MAYBE SUBCONSCIOUS, AND MAYBE EVEN INNOCUOUS THAT'S DRIVING THEM TO SEE THE GAMERGATE ARGUMENT AS A VALID TAKE ON WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE. MAYBE IT'S NOT ABOUT GENDER ISSUES AT ALL. MAYBE IT'S JUST THAT THEY LOVE GAMES AND HAVE SEEN THEM BE FEARED FOR YEARS AND THEY JUST SEE THIS AS A NEW FORM OF FEAR. OR PERHAPS IT'S EVEN AS SIMPLE AS THE FALSE BELIEF THAT ALL DISCUSSIONS *HAVE* TO HAVE INHERENT SUBJECTIVITY TO THEM, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SOME OBVIOUS ONE-SIDED TRUTHS IN THIS WORLD TOO. AFTER ALL, YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO SPREAD PROPAGANDA, POLITICALLY SPEAKING, IS TO LEGITIMIZE A LIE AS BEING A "SIDE" OF AN ARGUMENT, AND THEN YOU CAN JUST APPEAL TO THE EMOTIONAL SUBTEXT OF THOSE WHO ARE MOST LIKELY TO BELIEVE THAT EMOTIONAL TRUTH UNDERNEATH IT. AS SUCH, THE LIE BECOMES A WEAPON. A BLUNT INSTRUMENT YOU CAN WIELD WITH IMPUNITY AND THEN PROCLAIM THE OTHERS ARE DOING THE LYING THEMSELVES... WELL, THERE IS NOTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THAT IN THE SOCIAL SPHERE.

SO OF COURSE SOME PEOPLE COULD GIVE CREDIT TO THE SIDE OF SOMETHING THAT POSITIONS ITSELF AS MORAL AND PREOCCUPIED WITH UNDOING CORRUPTION! BECAUSE THOSE TERMS IMPLY SUCH GOOD, TANGIBLE THINGS. THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING ATTRACTIVE TO THAT SIDE. BUT AGAIN - WHAT IF IT'S ALL A LIE? WHAT IF IT ACTUALLY SPEAKS TO NONE OF THOSE THINGS? AND INSTEAD ONLY FURTHERS A MORE HARMFUL AGENDA? AND FOR US, HOW DO YOU GET PEOPLE TO SEE THAT? HOW DO YOU HAVE THAT CONVERSATION AND SAY, "NO THAT'S NOT A VALID SIDE, THAT'S A FALSEHOOD?" IS THERE ANY GOOD WAY TO DISARM SOMEONE AND SAY THAT?

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM WITH THE GOODHEARTED SOULS. WHEN YOU CRITICIZE GAMERGATE, THEY THINK YOU ARE CRITICIZING THEM.

THEY THINK YOU ARE CALLING THEM A MISOGYNIST. AND HULK SWEARS TO YOU, THAT'S NOT THE CASE AT ALL. HULK IS SIMPLY CRITICIZING THE IDEA OF WHAT GAMERGATE INESCAPABLY ADVOCATES. AND WHEN THEY GET OFFENDED AT THE IMPLICATION OF BEING CALLED A MISOGYNIST, THEY DO LITERALLY THE MOST UNHELPFUL THING POSSIBLE AND THAT IS TO DIRECT ALL IRE AT THOSE WHO THEY THINK ARE CALLING THEM MISOGYNISTS, WHICH DOES NOTHING BUT HELP SILENCE THE VOICE OF THOSE SPEAKING UP ABOUT MISOGYNY AND EMPOWER THOSE WHO ARE ACTUALLY MISOGYNIST AND FORWARD THEIR AGENDA OF TAKING MORE POWER IN THE SOCIAL SPACE. WHICH JUST TIES INTO HULK'S LARGER FEELINGS ABOUT ANY SOCIAL CONVERSATION. IT'S NEVER ABOUT "YOU" AND WHAT YOU SUPPOSEDLY ARE (BECAUSE IN THE END WE'RE MOSTLY JUST HUMANS TRYING TO DO OUR BEST), IT'S ABOUT THE THINGS YOU SAY AND DO AND HOW THAT PROPAGATES A POSITIVE SOCIAL EFFECT OR A NEGATIVE SOCIAL EFFECT. BUT JUST AS HULK HAS ARGUED MANY TIMES, WE HAVE SUCH A DIFFICULT TIME SEEING OURSELVES AS ANYTHING BUT A PERSON IN A MOMENTARY INTERACTION. AND SO WE ONLY LIKE TO DEBATE THE FAIRNESS OF THAT MYOPIC INTERACTION ITSELF. WE ARE SO DAMN BAD AT SEEING OURSELVES AS PART OF A LARGER TREND / SYSTEM. WE ARE SO BAD AT SEEING WHAT WE ARE ACTUALLY ADVOCATING ON THE WHOLE.

FOR THE GOOD YOUNG SOULS, IT IS SIMPLY A FAILURE TO SEE "THE NET EFFECT" OF WHAT THEY ARE DOING... WHICH IS AS ACHINGLY HUMAN AS IT GETS.

AND THUS, IN ITS HEART OF HEARTS, THE ADDED PROBLEM WITH GAMERGATE IS THAT THERE IS TOO LARGE AN AMOUNT OF EITHER OUTRIGHT DISHONESTY OR SIMPLE LACK OF AWARENESS OVER WHAT IS REALLY BEING PROPAGATED HERE. IT'S FULL OF PEOPLE WHO ARE EITHER MASQUERADING THEIR HATE AND SEXIST ATTITUDES AS A MORAL CALL FOR JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY (WHILE BELIEVING "SJW"S ARE THE REAL EVIL FOR SOME REASON?), OR PEOPLE WHO HAVE REALLY COME TO BELIEVE THIS IS ALL ABOUT JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY AND THUS ARE SO READILY OFFENDED WHEN YOU SAY IT IS ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE (ECHOES OF "IT IS WHAT WE SAY IT IS" ETC.). AGAIN, HULK UNDERSTANDS WHY THEY THINK IT'S GOOD, BUT ULTIMATELY THEY ARE ADVOCATING AN ONLY NEGATIVE THING. ONE THAT INHERENTLY WRAPS THEM UP IN BEING THOUGHT OF EITHER AS MANIPULATIVE OR EASILY MANIPULATED. AND NO ONE WOULD EVER WANT TO FEEL LIKE THAT. SO WHY WOULD THEY CHANGE THEIR STANCE AND ADMIT IT?

THUS, EVERY ATTEMPT TO BROACH THE CONVERSATION AND SAY TRUTHFULLY THAT "EVERY PRO GAMER-GATE TALKING POINT IS BUILT ON A FALSE PRETEXT, PREDICATED ON FIXING SOMETHING THAT ISN'T EVEN BROKEN" AND RIGHTFULLY EXPRESSING THE INSANITY OF THIS SITUATION IS TO DO NOTHING BUT PROMPT CALLS OF BEING AN INSENSITIVE JERK. THEY COME AT YOU AND "ASK WHY CAN'T YOU BE REASONABLE AND CIVIL?" OR "WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THE OTHER SIDE?" AND YET THEY DON'T SEE THE ARGUMENT / MISSION OF THAT THEY ARE BEING SO CIVIL / RESPECTFUL ABOUT IS JUST DOWNRIGHT FUCKING POISON (IT'S LIKE THE PHRENOLOGY MONOLOGUE FROM DJANGO UNCHAINED WRIT LARGE). THERE IS LITERALLY NO WAY TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION IN A CIVIL WAY BECAUSE THERE IS NO REAL WAY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE TOPIC ITSELF. THE POINT OF GAMERGATE ITSELF IS NOT CIVIL, NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT WANTS TO BE. IT'S LIKE SAYING, "LET'S A HAVE POLITE AND RATIONAL DIALOGUE ABOUT CLEANING UP WASHINGTON POLITICS, AND I'M SUPPORTING THIS GROUP THAT IS HARASSING CONGRESS TO DECLARE THAT BLACK PEOPLE CAN NEVER BE PRESIDENT AGAIN! BUT REALLY, THAT'S NOT A RACIST THING - THIS IS JUST ABOUT CLEANING THINGS UP BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I SAY IT'S ABOUT. PLEASE LET'S HAVE A RATIONAL CONVERSATION! WAIT, WHY ARE YOU ANGRY??? THAT'S OFFENSIVE!"

THAT MAY SOUND LIKE AN EXTREME EXAMPLE, BUT HULK SWEARS TO YOU, THAT'S WHAT THIS GAMERGATE ALL COMES OFF LIKE TO PEOPLE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE. AND IT'S THE THING THAT SETS BACK GAMES FROM BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY OUTSIDER CULTURE. AND FOR THOSE ON THE INSIDE, TOO MANY ARE PROCLAIMING NUANCE FOR SOMETHING WHERE THERE IS NONE. BECAUSE THE PROCLAMATION OF NUANCE HERE IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PURPOSEFUL FOG. OR A PROVERBIAL HOUSE OF MIRRORS.  AND THUS YOU LITERALLY FIND YOURSELF EXPLAINING HOW JOURNALISM, SEXISM AND EVEN BASIC ETHICS WORK IN THE FIRST PLACE.

THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT MAKES GAMERGATE SO TAXING ON EVERYONE IN THE PUBLIC SOCIAL SPHERE. IT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE OBJECTIVE "WORST" THING GOING ON IN THE WORLD (UNLESS YOU ARE A TARGETED FEMALE JOURNALIST / DEV), NOR THE MOST IMPORTANT (HULK HAS BEEN ASKED AD NAUSEAM HOW HULK FEELS ABOUT DEVIN'S ISIS COMMENT, WHICH GUESS WHAT? HULK HAS ALREADY TOLD HIM IT WAS AN OBVIOUSLY DUMB COMPARISON THAT ONLY INVITES TROUBLE AND DOESN'T HELP THE ARGUMENT, BUT GUESS WHAT? THE ARGUMENT ENDS THERE - BECAUSE IF YOU ARE GOING TO GO TO WAR OVER THE COMPARISON OF WHAT ARE OSTENSIBLY TWO OBVIOUSLY BAD THINGS VS. THE HOST OF OTHER OFFENSES GOING ON IN THE WORLD OF GAMERGATE, INCLUDING THE OUTRIGHT HARASSMENT WITHIN YOUR OWN GROUP, THEN PERHAPS IT'S TIME TO REEVALUATE WHAT IT IS YOU ARE REALLY AFTER IN ALL THIS. PERHAPS IT'S TIME TO SEE WHAT ALL THE DEFENSIVENESS OF GAMERGATE IS REALLY ABOUT... BUT HULK IMAGINES THAT WON'T HAPPEN. IT ALL GETS CAUGHT BACK INTO THE CYCLE.

THE REASON THIS SOCIAL CONVERSATION IS THE ONE THAT IS MOST TROUBLING TO HULK IS BECAUSE IT IS THE ONE THAT MAKES HULK FEEL THE MOST HELPLESS. AND PERSONALLY, IT IS DEFINITELY THE MOST INVASIVE. FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS OR SO, COMING TO TWITTER WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING HULK RELISHED AS A KIND OF ESCAPE. EVEN WITH THE MOST TROUBLING OF SOCIAL CONVERSATIONS, IT WAS SOMETHING HULK SWEARS TO YOU COULD WORK IN SOME WAYS. A PLACE WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD FACILITATE A DIALOGUE AND DO GOOD IF YOU WERE REALLY, REALLY TRYING... BUT FOR THE LAST MONTH IT'S BEEN SOMETHING THAT ALWAYS ENDS UP FEELING DISGUSTING. THE SAME TOXIC WASH OF EVERYTHING HULK JUST ILLUSTRATED. DAY IN. DAY OUT. ONE PERSON AFTER ANOTHER. IT DOESN'T GO AWAY. IT CAN'T BE BLOCKED. FOR PERHAPS OBVIOUS REASONS, AS WE ARE IN THE LINE OF SIGHTS OR SOMETHING. AND THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE BACK THEIR SPACE WITH VIGOR AND THE SAD PART IS THAT THEY ARE USING AN ARMY OF WELL-MEANING PEOPLE TO INADVERTENTLY HELP THEM DO IT.

AND HULK FEARS THAT EVEN VOICING ALL THIS CAN BRING SUCH VENOM FROM THOSE THAT FEEL THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED BY ALL THESE OPINIONS BUT HULK SWEARS HULK MEANS NO ILL WILL. BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, HULK DOESN'T WANT YOUR SUPPORT OR TO FIGHT OVER THIS... HULK SIMPLY WANTS YOU TO GROW PAST THIS. HULK WANTS YOU TO LEARN NOT TO ASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH PROJECTS THAT ARE CENTERED AROUND HATE, DESPITE WHAT GOOD THINGS THEY MIGHT PREACH. TRULY, HULK WANTS PEACE ABOVE ALL ELSE. BUT IT CANNOT BE PEACE AT THE PRICE OF TOLERATING HATE. IT MUST BE PEACE THROUGH UNDERSTANDING. KINDNESS. GROWTH. LOVE. ALL THE GOOD STUFF.

SO HOW CAN HULK EVEN COMMUNICATE WITH ALL OF THIS?

THE FACT THAT HULK IS READILY IDENTIFYING GAMERGATE FOR THE BAD THING THAT IT IS, MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY IN WAR-MIND OVER IT. AND THERE ARE TOO MANY WHO READ THIS AS ANIMOSITY AND THINK THIS IS MONSTROUS TREATMENT AND THEN ECHO THAT IF YOU ARE TREATED LIKE A MONSTER YOU MUST BECOME A MONSTER. YOU STAND THERE AND GET ACCUSED OF ANGER AND HATRED, BUT IT'S ALL COMING SO DAMN CLEARLY FROM PEOPLE WHO CAN'T RECOGNIZE THE FACT THAT THEY'RE ACTING ON ANGER AND HATRED, OR IN VERY THE LEAST, WHOLLY ASSOCIATING WITH IT. THERE ARE EVEN MANY GAY, FEMALE, TRANS GAMERS GETTING WRAPPED IN THE CONFUSION OF THE MANTRA, BUT THAT JUST GETS CLEARLY WRAPPED IN SO MANY ISSUES AND DEEP MISCONCEPTIONS. THERE'S SO MUCH CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT IS EVEN BRINGING SOME PEOPLE INTO GAMERGATE IN THE FIRST PLACE. HECK, EVEN THE WORD ITSELF IS MEANINGLESS. RECENTLY, HULK WAS TWEET-HARASSED BY A PERSON PRETENDING TO BE ANITA SARKEESIAN, WHEREIN THEY STOLE THE HANDLE AND EVEN WROTE A POORLY EDITED BIT OF WORD VOMIT THAT WAS OSTENSIBLY POSITIONED BOTH AS AND ABOUT ANITA WHO IS SUPPOSEDLY... TRYING TO TAKE AWAY SEX IN GAMES AND BEING A BAD FEMINIST? IT HONESTLY MAKES NO SENSE AND IT IS ALSO ODDLY ONE OF THE BEST BELLWETHERS FOR THE WEIRDNESS OF ALL OF THIS. AGAIN, SO MANY WOULD LOOK AT THIS PERSON AND SAY THIS DOESN'T REPRESENT GAMERGATE; WELL, HULK WOULD LIKE TO SAY "THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE SIGNING UP WITH" TO THE YOUNG AND IMPRESSIONABLE PEOPLE WHO ARGUE THAT, BUT WOULDN'T THAT STATEMENT JUST CONTINUE TO ALIENATE?

YOU TRY TO GET THROUGH YOUR DAY AND THEN YOU ENCOUNTER VIDEOS LIKE THIS, WHEREIN A GAMERGATE ADVOCATE WAS DEEPLY HURT BY JOSS WHEDON CALLING GAMERGATE'S TACTICS THE SAME AS HATE GROUP TACTICS:

AND IT'S EASY TO MAKE FUN OF THIS PERSON'S VIDEO, BUT THERE'S THE STUNNINGLY CLEAR EMOTIONAL TRUTH TO IT - THAT THIS PERSON IS HURT BECAUSE THEY'RE A HUGE FIREFLY FAN AND THEY'RE USING ALL THE RIGHT POSITIVE ASSOCIATION LANGUAGE AND "BOTH SIDES" LANGUAGE AND TRYING TO BE UNDERSTOOD AND THE ONLY PROBLEM THEY CAN'T SEE IS THAT LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE THING SAID IN THIS VIDEO IS INACCURATE. STUNNINGLY SO. HIS CHARACTERIZATION OF WHAT GAMERGATE IS REALLY ABOUT. THE RELATIVE ACTIONS OF THE COLLECTIVE GROUP. THE ONLY THING HE CAN'T EMOTIONALLY GET IN TOUCH WITH IS THE SIMPLE FACT THAT HE IS OSTENSIBLY ADVOCATING A HATE MOVEMENT.

AND WITH THAT LACK OF UNDERSTANDING COMES THE "CODIFICATION" THAT THIS IS EVEN ABOUT FEMINISM. EVEN WHILE MANY OF THE GROUPS MOST OUTSPOKEN LEADERS HAVE OUTRIGHT SAID IT THIS IS ABOUT STOPPING THE FEMINIST INFLUENCE IN GAMES, THE MODERATES KEEP ON DENYING THE FACT THAT THIS IS ABOUT THE INTRUSION OF FEMINISM INTO THEIR SPACE. IT ALL FEELS CAPITAL H-HYPOCRITICAL WHEN THERE'S A MILLION AAA GAMES WE COULD BE GOING AFTER FOR LEGITIMATE ISSUES, BUT NOPE! IT'S STUFF LIKE GONE HOME AND DEPRESSION QUEST THAT DESERVE THE JOURNALISTIC ETHICS ATTENTION FOR SOME REASON? EVEN WHEN WRONGFULLY SO? HOW CAN WE EVEN GET TO THE ROOT OF THIS WHEN THE CENTRAL VIEWPOINT WON'T BE ACKNOWLEDGED? HOW CAN HULK EVEN GET THROUGH TO YOUNG, IMPRESSIONABLE PEOPLE THAT THIS IS ALL SO DAMN FUCKED?

HULK MEANS IT WHEN HULK SAYS THAT THE CONVERSATION OF GAMERGATE IS LITERALLY THE MOST PROBLEMATIC ONE HULK HAS EVER HAD. BECAUSE IN ORDER FOR A CONVERSATION TO WORK YOU HAVE TO BE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE.

SIGH.

SO TO THE GAMERGATERS WHO FEEL BETRAYED... THERE WE ARE. IS THIS AN IMPASSE? ARE YOU STILL CONVINCED THAT YOU HAVE SOME POINT THAT HULK JUST DOESN'T SEE? ARE YOU EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO SUSS OUT WHAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY DOING AND WHY? ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO SEE THAT EVEN IF YOU HAVE THE BEST INTENTIONS YOU MAY BE ADVOCATING SOMETHING THAT HAS A NET BAD EFFECT AND ONLY EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE YOU CLAIM NOT TO BE, WHILE DE-POWERING THOSE TRYING TO STOP IT? DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW HULK FEELS? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT HULK IN NO WAY HATES YOU? THAT HULK SIMPLY SEES THE ERRANT WAY YOU ARE ENTERING THIS MOVEMENT AS BEING DANGEROUS?

AND DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT HULK REALIZES THAT HULK IS ASKING SOMETHING HUGE OF YOU... TO LOOK DOWN DEEP IN YOURSELVES... AND TO REALIZE THAT EVEN IF YOU GOT INTO THIS THING FOR WHAT YOU THOUGHT WERE GOOD REASONS, THAT YOU CAN STILL CHANGE THIS? AND THAT HULK KNOWS THAT IT TAKES TREMENDOUS COURAGE TO ADMIT WHEN IT GOES WRONG? AND THAT HULK WOULD RESPECT YOU ENDLESSLY IF YOU DID, BECAUSE THEN YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING FEW PEOPLE TRULY CAN?

IS THERE ANY CHANCE TO MAKE THIS RIGHT?

BECAUSE SO FAR... TIME AND TIME AGAIN... THE ANSWER HAS BEEN "NO."

IN FACT, EVEN HULK'S MINOR STANCES HAVE ELICITED A NUMBER OF SPECIFIC THREATS THAT HULK WON'T GET INTO. SUFFICE TO SAY THAT IF THEY ARE MADE GOOD ON THEY WOULD ONLY GO ON TO UNDERLINE THE TERRIFYING REALITY OF WHAT GAMERGATE IS ABOUT UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE. THEY WOULD CONFIRM EVERYTHING THAT GAMERGATERS DENY... BUT EVEN IF THEY HAPPEN, WOULDN'T THEY JUST BE ANOTHER PERSON WHO IS NOT A PART OF THE "REAL" MOVEMENT? NO TRUE SCOTSMAN AND ALL THAT?

OR ARE YOU THE ONE WHO CHANGES ALL THAT?

5. EVERYTHING ELSE.

HONESTLY? EVEN ALL THIS GAMERGATE STUFF WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH TO REALLY DETER HULK TO THE POINT OF QUITTING, BUT, WELL...

THE LAST MONTH OR TWO HAVE SEEN A DIRECT OVERLAP BETWEEN GAMERGATE AND A HOST OF HORRIBLENESS. HULK SPOKE A BIT ABOUT FERGUSON IN THE DO THE RIGHT THING ESSAY, BUT WE CONTINUE TO SEE ENDLESS FALLOUT THERE AND A RASH OF MORE POLICE VIOLENCE. WE'VE GOTTEN THE HORRIFIC ISIS TERROR-MONGERING AND THE CONTINUED INSTABILITY OF THE MIDDLE EAST. WE EVEN GOT THE DESPICABLE CELEBRITY HACKING AND THE SICKENING DICHOTOMY OF THE PUBLIC'S RESPONSE FROM DIFFERENT ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM (EITHER IN THE GROSS PUBLICIZING OF THEM OR BY SHAMING THE VICTIMS - BOTH ARE HORRIBLE). HECK, EMMA WATSON DELIVERS A GREAT SPEECH ON SEXISM TO THE U.N. AND MOMENTS LATER SHE'S BEING THREATENED BY HAVING HER OWN BODY USED AS A THREAT AGAINST HER. EVEN RECENTLY, WE WERE HIT WITH THE SUICIDE OF A TRANS WOMAN GAMING DEVELOPER... AND IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IT ALL SEEMS LIKE IT STARTED WITH THE SUICIDE OF OUR COMIC PRINCE ROBIN WILLIAMS. AND OH HEY, THERE'S ONLY A NEW MEGA DISEASE RAVAGING AFRICA AND BEGINNING TO SHOW UP ABROAD AND ... UGH. IT ALL FEELS LIKE TOO MUCH. HULK'S EVEN MADE A FEW ATTEMPTS TO BRIDGE THESE OTHER DIFFICULT TOPICS IN ESSAY FORM, BUT IT NEVER QUITE CAME OUT RIGHT. PERHAPS BECAUSE IT JUST FEELS LIKE ANY OF THEM ARE TAKING ON A SMALL PIECE OF A MUCH BIGGER, FAR MORE DAUNTING PUZZLE.

THAT'S BECAUSE THERE IS, OF COURSE, A BIGGER STORY HERE.

TURNS OUT HULK'S DESPAIR IS NOT SINGULAR. AS YOU HAVE PROBABLY NOTICED, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPRESSED THE IDEA THAT THE HORROR OF THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS HAS BEEN SO FAR-REACHING AND UGLY THAT IT CAN ONLY RESULT IN A LOT OF ECHOES OF ANGER AND DESPERATION. IT'S ONE OF THOSE COLLECTIVE BREAKING POINT THINGS, AS WE'VE FINALLY MANAGED TO ELICIT SOME REAL VOID-STARING AS A WHOLE INTERNET POPULACE IN GENERAL. IT'S JUST BEEN SUCH A SHITTY COUPLE OF MONTHS FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR ANY KIND OF GOOD SIGN, NOT ONLY IN THE REAL WORLD, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THE SOCIAL SPACES WE OFTEN GO TO TO ESCAPE THAT HORROR.

SO WE HAVE TO ASK, IS THIS WHAT WE ALWAYS HAVE TO COME BACK TO?

WILL THIS HORROR ALWAYS BE HERE?

IS THERE ENOUGH GOOD HERE TO EVEN VALIDATE THE HORROR AS A MERE FOIL?

AGAIN, WHERE'S THE DAMN HOPE?

... QUITE FRANKLY, IT'S ENOUGH TO DRIVE YOU MAD AND MAKE YOU WANT TO BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND.

HULK IMAGINES THAT SOME OF YOU WOULD CLASSIFY THAT "BURN THE WORLD" MANTRA AS HULK JUST EXPRESSING SOME SORT OF SELFISH BEMOANING, BUT HULK ASSURES YOU IT CAN BE A VALID FEELING BASED ON THE OBVIOUS TANGIBLE HORRORS THAT EXIST IN THE WORLD. PERHAPS THE PROBLEM IS THAT MOST PEOPLE SPEND THEIR LIVES AVOIDING THIS HORROR. RUNNING AWAY. FINDING SOLACE. AND YES, WE ALL FACE HORRIBLE TIMES IN LIFE, WHETHER IT IS DISEASE, HARDSHIP, LOVED ONES DYING OR EVEN OUR OWN TRAUMA, BUT EVERY ONCE AND A WHILE YOU GET GLIMPSES INTO THE LESS-SEEN OF THE TRULY HORRIBLE THINGS IN THE WORLD, THE KINDS OF VOID-STARING HORRIBLES OF COMPLETE INHUMANITY ON DISPLAY. AND SOME PEOPLE -SOLDIERS, SOCIAL WORKERS, MEDICS, EMERGENCY DOCTORS - HAVE TO DO IT A LOT MORE THAN OTHERS. THEY HAVE REAL MOMENTS OF DARKNESS TO DEAL WITH EVERY DAMN DAY. AND YEAH, HULK'S HAD SOME OF THESE MOMENTS TOO. AND IF HULK HAS TO BE HONEST ABOUT THE LOW POINT, THE ENTIRE NADIR OF THIS WHOLE SHEBANG THAT HULK CALLS A LIFE, IT WAS WHEN HULK WAS DOING PARAMEDIC TRAINING. NOW, WHEN YOU ARE IN A CITY, YOU COME TO REALIZE THAT MOST OF THE NIGHTS AS A PARAMEDIC INVOLVE PICKING UP DEAD HOMELESS PEOPLE, WHICH IS ITS OWN MONOTONOUS HORROR. MOSTLY BECAUSE YOU SUDDENLY REALIZE HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN JUST BE... FORGOTTEN. BUT THEN THERE'S ALL THE VIOLENT NIGHTS AND GUNSHOTS AND THE HORROR OF REALIZING SOMETIMES PARAMEDICS ARE THE FIRST RESPONDERS TO VIOLENT SITUATIONS BEFORE THE POLICE GET THERE. AND YOU THINK THAT'S THE WORST OF IT... BUT THEN THERE'S THE NIGHT YOU GET A CALL FOR PICKING UP A BODY AND YOU DON'T REALIZE YOU'RE WALKING IN TO PICK UP A DEAD BABY IN A BATHTUB WITH ITS SKULL-CRUSHED... AND THERE IT IS... THAT'S A THING YOU SEE... AND IT NEVER GOES AWAY. IT'S JUST ALWAYS... THERE.

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION HULK KEEPS GOING BACK TO AFTER ALL THAT:

... HOW THE FUCK DO YOU RECONCILE IT?

REALLY - ISN'T THAT THE ONLY QUESTION HERE? HOW DO WE SPIN LIFE, WITH ALL ITS TANGIBLE HORRIBLENESS, INTO SOMETHING GOOD? HOW DO WE LOOK AT THE MOUNTAINS OF HOPELESSNESS? HOW DO WE STARE AT THE VOID AND COME OUT OKAY?

YOU KNOW... THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO MADE FUN OF THE ENDING OF THE LAST SEASON OF TRUE DETECTIVE AS BEING SOME GOOFY, OVERLY SIMPLE LESSON THAT SUDDENLY CAME AT THE END OF THEIR MOODY BAYOU NOIR. THE ENDING IN QUESTION HAS RUST AND MARTY, REELING FROM NEAR DEATH, CONTEMPLATE THE HORRORS OF THE WORLD AS THEY LOOK UP AT THE NIGHT SKY. THEY COMMENT THAT THEY SEE SO MUCH DARKNESS ABOVE AND JUST THESE LITTLE BITS OF STARS, TRULY SENSING JUST HOW LITTLE LIGHT EXISTS OUT THERE IN THE UNIVERSE. BUT THEN RUST TALKS ABOUT HOW MANY OF THOSE STARS DIDN'T EXIST BEFORE. AND HOW MUCH MORE TOTAL DARKNESS THERE USED TO BE. IN HIS WORDS, HE RE-WRITES THE NARRATIVE OF ALL OF IT. HE PROCLAIMS SOMETHING CRUCIAL, PERHAPS UNSEEN: "THE LIGHT IS WINNING." MANY FOUND THIS ALL TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN A CHEESY BIT OF SENTIMENT FOR AN OTHERWISE GRISLY AND PSYCHOLOGY-LADEN SHOW. BUT WHEN YOU STARE AT THOSE VOIDS FOR REAL (JUST AS RUST LITERALLY DID IN THE MOMENTS JUST BEFORE, BY THE WAY) THEN THOSE EXACT KIND OF BANAL PLATITUDES BECOME THE THINGS THAT GIVE YOU THE MOST COMFORT. POSSIBLY JUST BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY HOPE WE REALLY HAVE AGAINST THE DARKNESS. AND RUST PREFACED THE ENTIRE STATEMENT TOO: "IT'S ALL ONE STORY... LIGHT VS. DARK."

SO WHEN WE'RE GENUINELY FACED WITH THE KIND OF CRAP GOING ON AROUND US, BOTH IN THE WORLD AND ON THE INTERNET, THEN HULK REALIZES THAT HULK HAS TO FIND A WAY THAT HULK CAN CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING POSITIVE, A BIT OF LIGHT, SOMETHING THAT NOT ONLY SHARES WHAT IT MEANS TO DO GOOD, BUT ACCURATELY REFLECTS HOW DAMN HARD IT IS TO DO SO IN OUR MODERN WORLD.

AND SO, BECAUSE HULK IS A FILM CRITIC AND THEREFORE MOVIES ARE THE PRISM WITH WHICH HULK HOPES WE CAN MAKE THE WORLD JUST A LITTLE, TINY BIT BETTER, HULK STARTED POKING AROUND FOR A MOVIE THAT SOMEHOW SPOKE TO ALL THIS... THAT COULD MAKE HULK FEEL BETTER ABOUT THESE THINGS... AND AS HULK WADED THROUGH HULK'S COLLECTION... HULK REALIZED EXACTLY WHAT FILM SPOKE TO ALL OF THIS IN A WEIRD WAY.

HULK REALIZED THAT MOVIE WAS HAPPY-GO-LUCKY.

AND THEN THINGS STARTED MAKING SENSE...

6. ARC OF THE AUDIENCE, ARC OF OURSELVES

HULK WAS TEMPTED TO WRITE AN ESSAY ON THE ENTIRE FILM JUST NOW, BUT IT DOESN'T REALLY MAKE SENSE TO GO INTO A WHOLE BIG THING (PLUS HULK DOESN'T WANT TO SPOIL IT). SO PLEASE CONSIDER THIS JUST A FIRM INVITATION TO GO AHEAD AND WATCH MIKE LEIGH'S INCREDIBLE MASTERPIECE. FOR IT'S NOT ONLY ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE FILMS EVER, BUT IT'S ALSO ONE OF THE MOST STUNNING ILLUMINATIONS OF THE COST OF BEING A GOOD PERSON. IT'S NOT JUST ITS ABILITY TO READ DEEPLY INTO THE NATURE OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, IT'S ACTUALLY THE FILM THAT MAKES HULK REALIZE THAT MOVIES MAY BE GOING ABOUT THIS "STORYTELLING" THING ALL WRONG.

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE ARE TAUGHT IN WRITING IS THAT GOOD STORIES ARE ABOUT CHARACTER ARCS. PEOPLE START AS THESE FLAWED, INCOMPLETE PERSONS. AND THROUGH THE STORY THEY MAKE CHOICES, LEARN LESSONS AND BECOME BETTER PEOPLE ALONG THE WAY THUS COMPLETING AN ARC. NOW THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO TAKE THIS APPROACH AS THE ONLY WAY TO GO ABOUT STORYTELLING, AND LORD KNOWS HULK WOULD NEVER AGREE TO THAT. THERE ARE A MILLION WAYS TO GO ABOUT STORYTELLING, EACH WITH THEIR OWN GOALS AND PURPOSE. BUT IT'S HARD TO DENY THAT THIS SORT OF STUFF MAKES UP THE MAINSTAY OF TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE.

MEANWHILE, HAPPY GO LUCKY ISN'T ABOUT THE ARC OF THE CHARACTER, BUT INSTEAD THE ARC OF THE AUDIENCE. OUR MAIN CHARACTER, POPPY (SALLY HAWKINS), GOES ALONG HER WAY TRYING TO KEEP THE BEST OF HER ENTHUSIASM, AND PEOPLE CONSTANTLY TELL HER TO BE MORE WORLD-WEARY. TO PROTECT HERSELF. TO NOT BE SO TRUSTING. BUT INSTEAD OF POPPY CHANGING, WE DO. WE THE AUDIENCE. THE FILM REVEALS SHADES OF ALL THESE PEOPLE AND SHIFTS OUR PERSPECTIVE AND UNDERSTANDING ABOUT JUST WHAT KIND OF PERSON SHE IS AND WHAT SHE IS TRULY CAPABLE OF. WE ARE THE ONES WHO GROW. WE ARE THE ONES WHO SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY AND CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE. AND THE EFFECT IS QUITE PROFOUND.

WHICH JUST MAKES HULK REALIZE - DOES TRADITIONAL ARC-BASED STORYTELLING HAVE AN INADVERTENT EFFECT OF SEPARATING US FROM MAKING ANY ACTUAL GROWTH OR CHANGE IN AND OF OURSELVES?

IDEALLY, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO GO ALONG THE JOURNEY WITH THE CHARACTER'S ARC, BUT HOW CAN WE ACTIVELY LEARN TO DO THAT IF WE'RE JUST FOLLOWING ALONG? DO WE INHERENTLY SAY TO OURSELVES "WE DON'T HAVE TO GET BETTER, THE CHARACTER DOES!" THINK ABOUT HOW MANY FILMS WE MAKE ABOUT RACISM THAT ARE CONVENIENTLY SET IN THE PAST AND ARE ALL ABOUT WHITE PEOPLE LEARNING HOW TO OVERCOME SLAVERY / RACISM / WHATEVER IT IS. PEOPLE DON'T WALK OUT OF THE THEATER FEELING CONFRONTED BY THEIR BELIEFS. THEY WALK OUT THINK IT "WE DID IT! ISN'T THAT GOOD OF US HOW WE OVERCAME THAT?" WE ACT LIKE THESE FILMS ARE ABOUT CONFRONTING OUR PAST, BUT REALLY THEY'RE ACTUALLY ALL ABOUT REMOVING THE GUILT. THEY NEVER DIRECTLY CHALLENGE THE AUDIENCE (SAVE MASTERPIECES LIKE DO THE RIGHT THING AND, HONESTLY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE DIDN'T PULL A SINGLE PUNCH EITHER). IT ALL MAKES HULK REALIZE HOW MANY MOVIES ARE OSTENSIBLY ABOUT GROWTH AND BECOMING GOOD PEOPLE, BUT ACTUALLY DON'T HAVE THAT EFFECT ON THE AUDIENCE WHATSOEVER. THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH WE TAKE THE MOVIE DOING ALL THE REWARDING / PUNISHING FOR GRANTED. THINK ABOUT HOW ANGRY SOME PEOPLE GOT WHEN THE WOLF OF WALL STREET DARED TO SHOW THE REAL STORY OF HOW WE BARELY EVEN PUNISHED THE CENTRAL ASSHOLE AND INSTEAD IDOLIZED HIM. PEOPLE WERE UP IN ARMS BECAUSE THE MOVIE GLORIFIED THE MAIN CHARACTER, FAILING TO EVEN REALIZE THAT THE FILM WAS DIRECTLY POINTING THE FINGER AT SOCIETY FOR IDOLIZING HIM. BUT REALLY? THEY WERE JUST LIVID THAT THE FILM DIDN'T DO THE WORK FOR THEM. PEOPLE DOWNRIGHT EXPECT MOVIES TO DO THE WORK. AND WHEN THEY DON'T? THEY'RE WORRIED "OTHER PEOPLE" MIGHT TAKE THEM THE WRONG WAY. AND IT'S ALL INDICATIVE OF A HUGE PROBLEM.

HULK CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT ALL THIS.

THE WAY WE RELATE TO CINEMA. THE NATURE OF STORYTELLING INDULGENCE. HULK SPENT YEARS EXPLORING THE JAMES BOND SERIES AND CAME AWAY WITH THE FACT THAT THERE MAY NOT BE A MORE PORNOGRAPHIC MOVIE SERIES EVER. AND YET PEOPLE TAKE IT DEADLY SERIOUSLY. THEY TIE IT TO THEIR IDENTITIES. IT BECOMES THEIR LENS OF OPERATION. FOR WHAT WE WANT OUT OF OUR MEDIA IS SO CRUCIAL TO HOW WE EXPERIENCE THE WORLD. AND HONESTLY, THIS STUFF IS AS MUCH A PART OF GAMERGATE AS ANYTHING ELSE. BECAUSE IT'S ALL BORN OUT OF HOW WE REACT TO THE THINGS THAT CHALLENGE US. THE THINGS THAT FAIL TO GIVE US WHAT WE WANT. HOW WE RESPOND TO IT. AND HOW WE FAIL TO SEE THAT THE THINGS THAT CHALLENGE WHAT WE WANT IN AN EFFORT TO GIVE US WHAT WE NEED IS THE CENTRAL GOAL OF ART.

TO BEST EXPRESS THIS, HULK ALWAYS THINKS BACK TO THIS ONE INCREDIBLE SCENE IN THE SOPRANOS (IT'S BEEN OUT LONG ENOUGH THAT HULK FEELS THE IT'S BEYOND MORATORIUM ON SPOILERS). IN ONE EPISODE, ONE OF THE FEW CENTRAL, MORAL, NON-GANGSTER CHARACTERS IN THE SHOW IS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. IT'S GRISLY AND DEEPLY AFFECTING. THEN, THROUGH CONSTANT MISFORTUNE AND ALL THAT CAN SIMPLY BE DESCRIBED AS "THE VOID OF THE WORLD," HER RAPIST GETS TO WALK FREE. SHE HAS BEEN BEATEN DOWN AGAIN. NOT JUST BY THE EVENT, BUT THROUGH THE UNFAIRNESS OF LIFE A THOUSAND TIMES SINCE THEN. AND IN A MOMENT OF TRUE DESPAIR, SHE CAN TURN TO ONE OF THE GANGSTERS. SHE CAN TELL HIM WHAT HAPPENED. AND IN AN INSTANT HE WOULD MAKE THIS RAPIST PAY IN THE OLD FRONTIER JUSTICE SORT OF WAY. IT WOULD ALL JUST BE SO EASY AND CLEAR AND RIGHTEOUS. THE STUNNING INJUSTICE OF THE WORLD CAN GO AWAY IN AN INSTANT. SO SHE BREAKS DOWN CRYING AND THE GANGSTER ASKS HER IF ANYTHING IS WRONG. IS THERE ANYTHING HE WANTS TO TELL HER? AND AS A VIEWER, AS SOMEONE WHO IS TRAINED TO COME TO TELEVISION AND FILM FOR CATHARSIS, WE ROOT FOR HER TO JUST SAY THE WORD, TO MAKE THE WORLD MAKE SENSE AGAIN, TO EXECUTE THE PERSON JUST AS HE DESERVES... AND SHE LOOKS UP... DIRECTLY INTO THE SCREEN... AND SHE DEFIANTLY SAYS "NO."

THIS SCENE IS EVERYTHING.

BY DENYING THE CINEMATIC CATHARSIS, IT SAYS EVERYTHING ABOUT MORALITY. IT ALSO SAYS EVERYTHING ABOUT ART. HUMANITY. OUR VIOLENT, NATURAL IMPULSES, AND WHAT WE MUST DO TO CONTINUE AS A SOCIETY. AND IN THE WAKE OF THAT SCENE HULK WATCHED FULLY GROWN ADULTS ARGUE BACK AND FORTH ON WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT WAS WRONG, BUT IT WAS A MOMENT THAT PROVIDED US A CONTEXT TO EXPLORE THE ARC WITHIN OUR OWN BELIEFS. THE CHARACTER DIDN'T CHANGE. SHE WAS MERELY TESTED. AND THROUGH THIS CHARACTER'S DEFIANCE OF THAT WHICH IS EASY, THAT WHICH IS ULTIMATELY IMMORAL, WE ARE ABLE TO EXAM ALL THAT WHICH WE "ROOT FOR" IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR STORIES.

THIS IS AT THE HEART OF ALL MEDIA. BOOKS. FILMS. TV. VIDEO GAMES. ALL OF IT.

BECAUSE IF HULK IS ADAMANT THAT THE KEY TO ANY KIND OF PERSONAL GROWTH IS ABOUT REMOVING ONESELF FROM OUR INDIVIDUAL VIEWPOINTS AND LOOKING AT THE COLLECTIVE EFFECT OF ONE'S ACTIONS, PERHAPS POPULAR STORIES NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB OF CONFRONTING US IN THIS SAME FASHION.

AND IF HULK IS GOING TO TRY AND TAKE THAT LESSON AND APPLY IT TO OUR SITUATION HERE, A BIG PART OF THAT IS REALIZING THAT HULK CAN'T EQUALLY PUT OUR CONVERSATION UNDER THE SIMPLE AUSPICES OF "HULK VS. THE VOID." BECAUSE IN TRUTH, HULK IS PART OF THE VOID TOO. IT MAY JUST BE IN SOME WAYS TO YOU, THE READER. BUT IT IS CERTAINLY TRUE TO THE HOST OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OR CARED ABOUT HULK (OR THINK THIS GIMMICK IS STUPID). IT'S ALL PART OF THE SWIRLING MAELSTROM. AND THUS TO PAINT THIS ENTIRE AFFAIR AS "HULK VS. THE VOID" AND THEN RECEDE INWARD, HAVING BEEN HURT, BURNT AND CHEWED UP IN THE SOCIAL SPACE THAT HULK HAS COME TO TIME AND TIME AGAIN, IS, IN EFFECT, TO GIVE UP ON A THING THAT PROVIDES A UNIQUE KIND OF HAPPINESS. BECAUSE THERE IS WHAT IS PLEASURABLE. AND THEN THERE IS WHAT MAKES US HAPPY IN OUR BONES... AND IF HULK IS GOING TO BE HAPPY IN HULK'S BONES... THEN HULK IS GOING TO HAVE TO REMEMBER HULK STARTED DOING ALL THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE... HULK WILL HAVE TO EMBODY EVERYTHING THAT THIS CAN BE.

AND IT WAS SOMETHING HULK WAS REMINDED OF... BY YOU.

YOU SEE, AFTER HULK HAD THAT LITTLE OLD MELTDOWN WHERE HULK TALKED ABOUT QUITTING FOR GOOD, THERE WERE MANY WHO WROTE IN WITH... WELL... WHAT HULK CAN ONLY CALL THE MOST AFFECTING OUTPOURING THAT THIS GREEN GUY HAS EVER EXPERIENCED. AND IN THAT, HULK MUST TELL YOU WITH UNWAVERING CERTAINTY THAT YOU DID SOMETHING SO INCREDIBLY RARE IN THE WORLD TODAY... YOU HAVE ACHIEVED A PERFECT KINDNESS. AND THE OLDER HULK GETS, THE MORE TIMES HULK THINKS ABOUT THE VOID-STARING MOMENTS OF STUNNING INHUMANITY, IT IS MORE THAT HULK REALIZES THAT THE POSITIVE ACTIONS WITHIN THOSE BITS OF INHUMANITY ARE THE ACTIONS THAT MAKE UP THE TRUE CURRENCY OF THE WORLD. IT IS THE THING THAT FUELS US. THAT KEEPS US A PEOPLE. THE THING THAT LETS US UNIRONICALLY CALL OURSELVES A SOCIETY. AND THOSE MOMENTS SO OFTEN INFORM THE LANGUAGE OF TRAGEDY, TOO. THE MOMENTS WHERE DISASTER STRIKES AND PEOPLE ACROSS ALL WALKS OF LIFE BIND TOGETHER IN A DIRE EMOTIONAL NEED TO MAKE IT RIGHT. WE MAY FIND THE INDIVIDUALS WHO MAKE EXPLOSIONS, BUT...

IN THE END, HUMANITY IS A GROUP PEOPLE WHO RUN TOWARD THE EXPLOSIONS TO HELP.

IT IS WHAT WE DO. AND IT IS A CONFIRMATION. ONE ROOTED IN THE BELIEF AND UNDERSTANDING THAT THIS IS NOT ONLY WHAT PEOPLE DO ON INSTINCT, IT IS WHAT WE KNOW WE MUST DO TO SURVIVE. AND NO MATTER HOW MANY IDEOLOGIES, SETS OF POLITICS OR WAYWARD, MISINFORMED MOVEMENTS TRY TO CONVINCE US OTHERWISE, TRY TO MAKE US FEEL THAT THE ALTERNATIVE RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS OF LETTING THE WORLD BURN IS ONE THAT IS BETTER, THE TRUTH OF WHAT WE ACTUAL DO IN CRISIS PERSISTS. WE HELP. IT IS A DUMB, EVEN OBVIOUS TRUTH. AND IT IS SO READILY HIDDEN AMONGST ALL THE "SIDES" WE FIGHT OVER. AND IT IS BECAUSE OF THESE EVERYDAY MIRACLES OF WHAT HUMANS DO IN CRISIS THAT HULK WILL NOW ECHO THE WORDS OF JOSS WHEDON, ALBEIT USED IN A SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT CONTEXT...

"I just realized something, something that really never occurred to me before... We're gonna win."

NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT SUCKS. NO MATTER HOW OFTEN OUR SPACES ARE INVADED, NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE HARASSED, THREATENED OR HAD THEIR LIVES RUINED, OR EVEN WHEN THE WORLD ITSELF SEEMS IT'S GOING TO HELL... IT ALL COMES BACK TO THE OBVIOUS TRUTH OF HOW WE HELP WHEN IT MATTERS MOST. IT COMES TO THE OBVIOUS TRUTH THAT THE WORLD IS FULL OF "POPPYS" AND WHILE WE MIGHT NOT BE CONVEYING THEIR STORIES RIGHT, THEY ARE THERE. LIVING. BREATHING. AND THEY ARE WONDERFUL. AND WE WOULD DO SO MUCH BETTER TO BE LIKE THEM. NO, HULK DOES NOT THINK HULK IS A POPPY. HULK IS KEENLY AWARE THAT HULK IS JUST A SILLY THING ON THE INTERNET THAT WRITES ABOUT MOVIES. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE GOAL TO TRY AND BE LIKE POPPY IS MOOT. NO, THIS GOAL IS AN ASPIRATIONAL ONE. IT IS ABOUT DOING THE BEST YOU CAN WITH THE SPACES YOU HAVE. AND IT'S ABOUT CELEBRATING THE POPPYS OF THE WORLD. THE ONES THAT REALLY, TRULY EXIST. BECAUSE WHEN YOU CAN SEE THAT, IT COMES WITH THE SLOW REALIZATION IN ONE'S SOUL THAT WE'VE ALREADY WON. IT GIVES THE COURAGE TO FACE THE WORLD WITH AN UNDERSTANDING AND DIGNITY. TO LET THE WORLD'S ACHE SLIDE OFF. IT GIVES YOU THE WILL TO TRY AND CREATE THE PERFECT KINDNESS. NOT BECAUSE IT IS EASY. BUT BECAUSE IT IS HARD. AND BECAUSE SOMEONE OUT THERE NEEDS IT.

HULK EVEN KNOWS THIS MAUDLIN ESSAY WILL BE EYE-ROLLED INTO THE STRATOSPHERE BY ADOLESCENT MINDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, BUT HULK CAN ASSURE YOU IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT GIVES HULK SOLACE AMIDST THE NOISE, AND AMIDST THE VOID; IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT GIVES HULK SOLACE WHEN HULK BLINKS AND SEES THAT BABY WITH THE CRUSHED SKULL... BECAUSE AS SCARY AS IT IS, WE ACTUALLY CAN STARE INTO THE VOID, BUT ONLY IF WE DO IT WITH THE FULL CONFIDENCE OF EACH OTHER'S SUPPORT AND UNDERSTANDING THAT IT WILL ULTIMATELY BE OKAY.

WITH THAT... FUCK QUITTING.

IT'S TIME TO GET BACK TO WORK.

<3 HULK

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