This Is How Your Online Reactionary Sausage Is Made
From the folks who brought you #Gamergate, the Twitter campaign lately seeing even its tiniest achievements come undone, comes #Metalgate: a non-scandal of such impressively delusional proportions that its mere existence is an object lesson in manufactured outrage.
Here’s immensely popular gaming Youtube-r and cultural commentator John Bain, aka Total Biscuit, declaring Metalgate “a thing.”
Alright! Great! So, um, what the fuck is #Metalgate?
Since this seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, I searched the hashtag on Twitter, clicked “all” and scrolled to the bottom of my screen about a dozen times. This got me to the tweets from approximately 45 minutes ago. Hundreds, maybe thousands of tweets about SJWs (“social justice warriors,” if you don’t speak meme) and their vile, pernicious assaults on metal fans! Brave denials that metal fans are misogynists or “conservatives.” Triumphant proclamations that metal does indeed rule! And that SJWs drool!
Ok! So, what the fuck is #Metalgate?
Since so many of the accounts tweeting the tag had avatars bearing #Gamergate insignia, or mentioned the latter explicitly, I went over to r/kotakuinaction, one of the main hubs for #Gamergate discussion. The top #Metalgate links were one linking the first of the above TB tweets, and a post titled “#MetalGate apparently a thing now, SJWs managed to piss off metalheads (again)” which is simply a link to a Twitter search of the hashtag.
Ok, so: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK IS #METALGATE.
Finally, I hit on what is, as far as I can tell, the origin of the hashtag: this article on a site called Death Metal Underground. Even here, though, when the author states “#metalgate has arrived courtesy of the same people who intruded into the gaming industry despite a striking lack of actual contributions,” it’s unclear if he’s describing a phenomenon already being discussed or coining a word for it himself.
Similar to how “#Gamergate” was coined by Adam Baldwin while linking to videos about Zoe Quinn’s sex life, then famously retconned to actually be about ethics in journalism, the origins of #Metalgate seem to be unimportant. #Gamergate has established a template. Throw a hash in front of a word and a “-gate” behind it, and you send out a veritable Bat-Signal to thousands of angry people on the internet: “Social Justice Warriors are doing… something. We may not be clear on what they’re actually saying or doing, but they must be stopped.”
So now that I had waited so long (and inflicted this wait upon you, reader), what was the smoking gun? What was the SJW assault that the online throngs have rushed to the ramparts to defend against?
Metal is still dogged by the issues that arise from its deep-seated conservative values, but thanks to an increase in conversations about racism, politics, and feminism, those on the right side of history have gained solid ground. — SPIN
Emphasis by Death Metal Underground. That’s it. No, literally, that’s what #Metalgate, which by now has garnered thousands of outraged tweets, was created to respond to. Two sentences taken from the preface of SPIN’s list of 2014's best metal albums.
The article’s other primary source is a Washington Post article from 8 years ago. The rest is your standard fare mythologizing about the hated SJW menace, such as:
The grim fact is that metal has split into two groups. When the newer group encountered the older group, they were appalled that it did not share their opinions, not just on politics but how to live.
This article was apparently seized upon by Youtube ranter and #Gamergate fixture Sargon of Akkad, who spat out a 20 minute deconstruction of the 8 year old Washington Post article, as well as a month-old piece from Metal Injection called “The Problem With Heavy Metal Is Metalheads: Stop Calling Everyone A Faggot”, whose premise seems, to me at least, pretty uncontroversial.
He also links to this murderer’s row of villainous SJW slander, which, despite all having been published months and years ago, have not yet managed to destroy the artistic freedom of heavy metal: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
#Metalgate isn’t even a tempest in a teapot. It’s a tempest in a hypothetical teapot that may or may not be orbiting the earth. The only reason it deserves the slightest attention is that it shows how, in the wake of #Gamergate, fomentors of online reactionary mobs have adopted something akin to a mass-production model for these non-scandals. #Comicgate, #Shirtgate, #Tabletopgate, and now #Metalgate; hashtags used to signal boost and call for angry reinforcements in a fight against the amorphous, ever-present SJW Menace. And don’t take my word for it:
The smarter of their ranks know that this bare modicum of honesty is poisonous to the public at large (“the culture war against social justice” does not make the best ad copy). Hence why #Gamergate, to the laughter of everyone but themselves, insists that they really, seriously you guys, are about ethics in game journalism, despite barely even paying the subject lipservice anymore.
Even Total Biscuit saw fit to back off his initial rants just an hour later. (Of course, compare the number of RTs/faves to the earlier tweets above.)
For the record, there is a legitimate scandal buried within that SPIN article: its lack of BABYMETAL’s self-titled debut, the best metal album of this and many other years.