Felicia Day vs. Ryan Perez: The Lines of Freedom

The Lines of Freedom

While most of the common world was either asleep or contributing to the rotting of their livers this past Friday night – I managed to do both – a verbal skirmish took place on the battlefront known as the internet.

Ryan Perez, a contributor to the massively popular fan-central gaming site Destructoid, was partaking in the spirits himself and decided to use his personal Twitter account to unleash verbal attacks on Felicia Day, a geek-friendly actress who spends so much of her time gaming that she starred in a web series based on the lives of MMORPG players.

As you might imagine, things turned uglier than a village full of Corrupted Blood victims.

Perez proceeded to ask Day if she does “contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona” and if she could be considered “nothing more than a glorified booth babe.” Whether this was a personal vendetta or just a man who can’t hold his liquor without venting, Perez picked the last geek-friendly Twitter to account he should have fucked with, one whose account stands at just under two million followers. Fans and industry workers weighed in, with some demanding an apology from Perez and others firing back with the same type of salvo Perez himself had just unleashed. When the dust had settled, Destructoid made it clear that they would not tolerate this sort of behavior from one of their employees and fired Perez as soon as word had reached them and they had time to issue a disclaimer on their behalf.

Here, for me, is where it gets complicated.

The Lines of Freedom

Felicia Day does indeed contribute, not just to the “culture” of geek but in films and television that make up the very universe where she has become an icon. Her role as a Potential Slayer during the final season of Buffy immediately gave her credibility in anything Joss Whedon created, which led to her appearing in both season finales of Dollhouse and starring in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, a product of the writer’s strike in 2008. Her resume as a voice actress in games includes Fallout: New Vegas, Dragon Age 2 and Guild Wars 2. The list of television credits would fill this entire column, so I have absolutely no idea where the hell Ryan Perez’s idea that Day is on the same level as a hired model originated.

Not only does Day have a ton of fans, she takes each and every opportunity to interact with them. She responds to almost anyone who asks a question on her Twitter account, and I don’t think there is a major or even minor convention that she has not attended, held question and answers sessions, signed every autograph, and taken every picture until the line was done. If she was not the type to mingle – Sarah Michelle Gellar was notorious for this during her run as Buffy – I could see Perez lambasting Day as a scorned fan, someone who waited for hours or saw her somewhere, be it a coffee shop or on the street, and after being shot down, took his anger out through his booze-fueled fingers. His apology sounded genuine, lasting even longer than his diatribe and it sounds to me like the guy genuinely fucked up and is sorry about it. Felicia Day, being the stand-up woman that she is, accepted his apology and moved on. At this point, all of it should have ended.

But we don’t live in that kind of world anymore, do we?

The Lines of Freedom

Destructoid was founded as an independent WordPress blog by Yanier Gonzalez, who wanted press credentials to get access to E3. Since 2006, it has grown into one of the most widely-viewed gaming websites on the internet whose reviews are taken into the same account as IGN and Gamespot. With a wealth of growth, the site also now employs a number of columnists, bloggers and reviewers. What they say and do under the umbrella of Destructoid – corporate or not – should absolutely be evaluated and scrutinized all the way up the ladder.

With this being said, and with my earlier defense of Felicia Day being taken into account, Destructoid outed themselves as gutless Yes-Men who are no different than the big-name, corporate sites mentioned above. Ryan Perez was yet another victim of collateral damage in a constant effort by companies to save face. His opinion on his own personal Twitter account had absolutely nothing to do with any Destructoid content, and he is not known for going with the status quo of opinions. Anyone who read his article which tore Skyrim a new asshole for being the same tired shit with a new coat of paint understands this. His voice was a refreshing gust of wind against the acrid desert of praise directed at just about every major studio project Electronic Arts, Activision and Rockstar demand we worship and purchase at least ten million copies.

A little over a month ago, WWE wrestler Chris Jericho was suspended by the company for 30 days following an incident at a live event in Brazil. Jericho, in order to draw rage from the local fans (he wrestles as a “heel,” wrestling vernacular for the bad guy) took the Brazilian flag that his opponent, WWE Champion CM Punk, had brought with him to the ring, balled it up in his hands and kicked it out of the ring. This is a crime in Brazil, punishable by immediate imprisonment, and had Jericho not been one of the biggest stars in WWE, he likely would not have been able to get out of the country. Local police demanded he apologize on the spot, which he did and later posted on his Twitter. WWE, a publicly traded company whose former COO Linda McMahon is now in her second campaign for the United States Senate, sent Jericho home for a month.

My analogy begs the question: how can a multimedia conglomerate who regularly participates in anti-bullying campaigns like World Wrestling Entertainment be content with suspending one of its top talents for thirty days after what was, in all honesty, a felony in a foreign country, and a supposedly independent website whose tagline reads “For Gamers. By Gamers” has to immediately fire a talented writer who gave an opinion on (I stress this because it’s important) his PERSONAL account? How ironically out of touch with modern media and press is Destructoid? Is anyone on this given day still talking about Mel Gibson’s verbal tirades against Oksana? Did Louis CK lose his TV show on FX because of his drunken tweets on a plane about Sarah Palin and her “retard-making cunt?” Nope. The unwashed masses move on to whatever the next trend is, and in this case, it was who Anderson Cooper prefers to have sex with in his private life. We really suck as a culture.

The Lines of Freedom

I hope Perez gets a job with another website soon, because I wholly enjoyed reading his work. First, though, I hope Destructoid turns in their independent membership card. They may as well start placing unavoidable 30-second commercials for Toyota and Metlife on their homepage, because this kind of trigger-happy behavior falls right in line with McCarthyism. I’m not going to stop reading the website, because there are other good writers there who used to call Perez a colleague. I will, however, remind myself that the articles I find on Destructoid are being constantly monitored by an electric eye, along with the personal lives of each contributor.

– Anystrom0

Image Sources
Felicia Day: Laist.com
Destructoid Logo: Destructoid
John Williamson: Goodcomics.comicbookresources.com
Team America: chrisstenberg.com

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3 Responses to “Felicia Day vs. Ryan Perez: The Lines of Freedom”

  1. Dale says:

    First off, thanks for reading. And I’m totes digging your site.

    We let Ryan go because he broke the very first and most important rule of our policies. If you’ve been following us throughout the years, you know that we’ve been through some shit, and we’ve learned the hard way that we can’t have our staff attacking others, geek celebs or not. We’ve had issues in the past, but we will not in the future.

    Ryan’s dismissal had nothing to do with who he attacked — it was more about the attack itself. We have clear rules covering what we expect from staff’s social networking, even with private accounts. I know that’s not a typical practice in this business, but that’s just how we do it at Dtoid. All on staff sign off on these policies, and they know we’ll enforce them.

    This was not a response to the following outcry — frankly, I wouldn’t even want to respond half the crap that was said that night/morning. Really, I want nothing to do with the senseless attacking and finger pointing that went on then. Ryan, Felicia, and the rest of the Destructoid staff were all ripped apart by an internet that just loves to get mad about anything. You think we wanted to respond to that bullshit? PSSSH. To be clear, Ryan’s dismissal had everything to do with our policies and NOTHING to do with Destructoid saving face or trying to calm Felicia’s fans. I’ve read some of the shit people have said on this topic. All I can say is that they do not know us or what we stand for if they believe we’d dump one of our own to save face.

    You’re right. We’ve grown. And we’re a huge site now. And as someone that has been around since the beginning, and is now running the show, I’m super fucking proud of that. But you will NEVER, EVER see us ‘making a move’ to save face. The day we do that is the day I pack up to go flip burgers or whatever out-of-work bloggers do.

    I loved Ryan. Hated to see him go. Had big plans for him. But policy is policy, and as long as I’m in charge, attacks on anyone — geek queen (I love Felicia Day!) or standard internet troll — will not be tolerated.

    Keep up the good work here. I’m PISSED I missed Anime Expo. I used to go every year. The cosplay is incredible there.

  2. Sylocat says:

    This didn’t happen in a vacuum, Anystrom0.

    For one thing, it ceased being a “Personal™” opinion when he publicly sent it to her and her two million followers, via a twitter account that was also linked up to his work on Destructoid.

    Secondly, he claims to be a games journalist and yet he didn’t bother to spend five nanoseconds on Google to find out who Felicia Day is before publicly calling one of the most respected and influential figures in gaming culture a “glorified booth babe.”

    Thirdly… well, I’m not saying he personally is a sexist, but sexism is a major problem in the gaming community, and attacking the geek cred of every prominent female in the industry, often coupled with sexist slurs such as “booth babe,” is something that occurs on a daily basis.

    I’d be more disappointed in any news organization that DIDN’T let him go after this.

  3. legraf says:

    Dale, the fact that it’s policyy doesn’t in any way counter the heart of Anystrom0 allegation – it only indicates that your policy, not just your one-off reaction, is disproportionate, gutless and conflict-avoiding. In other words, not journalistic.

    And Sylocal – it’s a “Personal” opinion, on a Personal twitter account. The fact he has mentioned Destructoid through this twitter account (I assume!) doesn’t make it less personal, in the same way that my having chatted about work with friends doesn’t make my personal speech the property of my employer.

    I think all of us that care about personal freedom ought to stand up against actions, policy-driven or not, that surrender control of private lives to corporate oversight. I don’t doubt Destructoid had the right to fire Ryan in these circumstances (indeed, had the responsibility, conforming to policy). But we have the right to critize policies and actions with which we disagree.