It’s a tale as old as Twitter itself: one person says stupid and offensive things in the past, one person rises to prominence, old tweets are unearthed, one person apologizes, the internet holds court. The whole performance just happened once again, this time with Crystal Dynamics spokesperson and head of game design on Marvel’s AvengersBrian Wagoner.
As Rock Paper Shotgun reports, over the weekend a bunch of old tweets from Waggoner were dug up, leading to today’s apology, and Crystal Dynamics followed to say how disappointed they were and retiring the status spokesperson for Wagoner. Now everyone involved, after following the prescribed script, is probably hoping it will go away.
Waggoner’s tweets, dating from around 2010 to 2016 (the time he worked for Marvel and Gazillion), were pretty dark. Some were clearly attempted jokes, at least one relying on lazy and racist stereotypeswhile another makes fun of people with disabilities. However, others seem like brazen racism.
As so often seems to be the case, Wagoner reports that he has since changed his personality completely, those historic posts from the distant cancellations of six years ago now moot, given his reformed ways. “Over the weekend,” he explained in a statement on his current Twitter account“The old tweets I wrote before my time at Crystal have resurfaced and I apologize and take full responsibility for the harm they caused to my followers, the community and those with whom I work.”
The boilerplate apology continues: “Since that time I have learned and grown and the content I have posted does not reflect who I am today.” For those unconvinced, he adds, “I understand if you can’t accept my apology because of the pain I’ve caused. I will continue to listen, learn and work to improve myself.
Crystal Dynamics then followedindicating:
It is incredibly disappointing to see employee language and opinions that do not align with our studio values. We apologize to our community and colleagues who are rightly upset by the content. Brian will no longer be a studio spokesperson or communicate about studio projects.
Look, you don’t need my opinion on any of this, because you already have yours, and honestly, it sounds like a story that’s been written three hundred times already, just with a different guy’s name. at first. But hey, I still have opinions.
What I hate about all of this, in all of its aspects, is that none of this is true. From any side.
These scripted “apologies” are designed to save face, to cover all the bases, and to “draw a line under it,” without ever truly apologizing for anything. It’s empty, performative, onlymislead those who are entrenched in the corporate thinking who write them.
At the same time, Waggoner’s tweets were not causing untold hurt to vast communities for no reason. They were crappy, bigoted comments that were ignored at the time (a single ‘like’ on one, a single retweet on another), and are now reappearing to be used as evidence in online courts. to (perhaps rightly) condemn him. People claiming that they finally took down this tyrannical threat from his hate campaign are ridiculously dishonest, and it’s equally misleading for Wagoner to “apologize” as if that’s what happened.
Crystal then adds nonsense about “language and opinions” that “don’t align with our studio’s values,” as if the corporate entity itself is some kind of moral creature, possessing a sheer platonic perfection of ideal values. Have you ever noticed this? Each company is morally beyond reproach, without ever needing to say how, instead letting the individual assume that this means their values perfectly match their own. A corporate person causes outrage, how well this immaculate nebula adapts to not be thatand everyone is invited to assume that this aberration in its perfection has been erased.
Read more: Marvel’s Avengers Reminds You It Still Exists With The Addition Of The Winter Soldier
People say and do stupid things. People have terrible opinions or make nasty jokes. I know because I know it. We all do. Even the most pruriant champions of awakening think shitty thoughts, say things they regret, or hope that what they once said stays private forever. Sometimes people surround themselves with so many others like them that they lose sight of how awful such things sound when said publicly on social media. Later it comes back to bite them in the ass. And it should!
I just want people’s answers were honest. “God, yeah, I really was an asshole, wasn’t I?” Shit, I really need to think before I speak. Or, “You know what, that’s a bigotry I’ve always had, and I really need to do something about it.” Sure, in this case, Wagoner might just 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 we’re perfect now, if only everyone else would catch up.
And no one, anywhere, just says, “I’m sorry. It’s always with caveats and justifications, and almost always the word “apologize,” too. An action, rather than a feeling, a semiotic difference that exteriorizes the procedure, rather than speaking from the heart. It really seems to be the most difficult word.
Oh, and then let’s not forget, the bawling gallery. “He wasn’t fired!” We have no idea if he deserves to be fired, or if he’s a champion for good these days. But more importantly, let’s stop pretending we care if that person you have never heard of before today, who said things you didn’t notice ten years ago, keeps their job. What people want is for the offensive guy to go away, and the idea that an ignorant public claiming this guy’s head will somehow achieve that is damn silly. If he’s an asshole to work with, Crystal should fire him. But let’s all be honest too and stop acting like we know what’s best in every fucking situation.
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