A Video Response to the Trolling of Carolyn Petit’s Grand Theft Auto V Review


I thought I’d try something new and do a vlog post this week. It’s a brief, ranty wish for internet accountability inspired by the backlash to Carolyn Petit’s Grand Theft Auto V review for GameSpot. I’m so sick of internet commenters using anonymity to sling insults without consequence, and while I don’t expect this video to make any kind of huge difference, I just wanted to put some (anger-fueled) positivity in the world.

I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir with you lot since you’ve proven time and again there’s hardly a troll among you, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway.

I make funny faces.

Note: I’ll be moderating the comments so check any hate speech at the door lest you be soundly deleted! Again, I don’t foresee that being an issue here, but fair warning.

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  1. Ignoring people is a useful skill. Especially ignoring people who are dumb. Why even feed their egos by talking about their bad behavior? They are not going to listen so the best thing to do is not feed the trolls.

  2. I concur Sara. Though you and I don’t agree too often – I couldn’t agree more with your video.

    I also find importance in what @Cube says above about “not feeding the trolls” … but sometimes the “trolls” that are out there need to be force fed some mother f*cking Gandalfian beat downs! *claps to Sara.

  3. Maybe a better way of putting it is this:

    I enjoyed your post and your points are valid. Unfortunately I believe that the people it would most help will not listen to more than 15 seconds of it.

    You can’t force people to think and from my experience the effort in trying is better spent doing almost anything else.

    1. Cube, I hear you, believe me. I’m just starting to feel like an embodiment of “all that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.”

      I may be fighting a losing fight, but at least I’m fighting.

  4. @Cube –

    Because the trolls aren’t the only ones reading it; it’s important to keep skewing the average discourse online in a positive direction even if it doesn’t change any minds.

    The gamer community is deeply flawed, and the only way that will eventually go away is if people don’t let them get away with it. It’s not about “forcing people to think,” it’s about voicing your opinion, too.

  5. AMEN!!!

    Thank you Sarah, even tho I must relinquishly agree with @Cube. Your point is well made, but it’s a drop of clean water in a vast dirty (stupid) ocean.

    You have said all of what I think every time I read a childish comment. Trollers infuriate me so much that I now just avoid the comments section.

    You’re truly a part of what makes this site my daily stop!

    p.s. sorry for the mistakes, English is my second language…

  6. I agree pretty much whole-heartedly, Sara. The seemingly-constant refrain is “Don’t feed the trolls, ignore them and they’ll go away, don’t let it bother you,” but that’s patently false.

    It’s nearly 2014. The internet has been around a long time, and all of this terrible, willful ignorance isn’t getting any better. If anything, I’d say it’s getting worse. We have entire generations of people growing up in a two-sided world. In person, most people are held comparatively accountable, but online…? Not even a little. People run rampant with their hatred and spite and racism and sexism and I absolutely refuse to believe that this behavior isn’t seeping into the rest of their life. People that recognize how dangerous this behavior is almost have a responsibility to speak up against it, and I for one fully support any voice raised against the rising tide.

    I think things will get worse before they get better, but we all have to do what we can. Much love!

  7. what especially worries me is how do these people treat women in real life. they must have mothers,sisters,girlfriends etc. spewing poison online must effect how you act in real life and even they are all dumb 12 years old what kind of a grown up will they be?.

  8. While I agree with what you’re saying I don’t think the Internet will ever change, but maybe the people writing those foul things will eventually. The Internet is like a heckler during your favourite stand up comic’s set. Except there isn’t just one there are millions and even if you silence one there’s always another next in line. It all boils down to age and immaturity.

    I remember when I was 12 in 1996 (before the Internet word trolling even existed by the way). My family had just gotten our first PC with a 28.8k modem. Me and my buddy were on a chat or something and people were talking about the band TOOL. Together we thought it might be funny to write some crap and get reactions. So we did, and it pissed people off and we laughed on our side of the screen giving high fives. Immature? Yes. Stupid? Yes (especially now because TOOL is one of my favs). But really what else can you expect from two underdeveloped boys home from school feeding off of each other with to much time on their hands?

    As much as most adults our age love video games now. We have to remember the age of a lot of these people when they are first getting into this stuff. These people aren’t mature, especially when together in a mob mentality. Ignorance feeds ignorance, it’s sad but true. The only hope we have is that one day when they grow up they can realize just how stupid they have acted and try to atone for it by apologizing or doing something positive. A lofty goal I know and usually something you probably won’t be able to see as a result in an internet forum.

    Feed the trolls, don’t feed the trolls who gives a hoot. When the Internet ticks me off I go up a hill look down on my city and remember what an amazing, large, beautiful world we live in and how privileged I am to be taking it in. That is until I hear news about some cool game I want coming out for my system.

  9. Your triforce is cheese. Their argument is invalid. Holy crap, you are good at this, Clemens. All of my internets…for you, milady. That was just outstanding. Do you have multiple copies of Dracula on your shelf? [cyber hug]

    But I would like to go on record as saying I’m opposed to deleting unpleasant comments as I believe in the right to make a complete asshole out of yourself publicly. I also believe in my right to read said comments and laugh maniacally at their implicit stupidity. Don’t keep them to yourself; share the lulz, Sarah.

    @fishkin- Most of these people are sniveling losers in real life who feel powerless and choose women as a target online because they are intimidated by them irl. They deserve our pity as well as our contempt. I doubt many of them would have the stones to alienate the real women in their lives. That lack of stones is the exact root of their problem.

    1. Nick—regarding multiple copies of Dracula on my shelf: you know it! I think I have eight copies of the text, as well as a few adaptations. My husband’s ultimate goal has always been to get me a first edition, but you know, they’re like $10,000. He’s a woodworker though, so one of the earliest gifts he ever gave me was a hand carved stake (complete with my initials set in a heart) mounted on a plaque. Pretty much knew I was going to marry him when I unwrapped that one.

  10. I know that the guys out there who need to be taught a lesson won’t get it. Especially here. Obviously they need to go back to 1st grade and get slapped by their mothers. That’s how I learned what’s right and what’s not. I can’t do that for these people, neither can anyone else here.
    If nothing else, telling people their comments are hateful, degrading, demoralizing, or otherwise unintelligent garbage helps the rest of us feel like the online world still has potential for real communication.

  11. As the single First World Dweller to not buy GTA V, I haven’t bothered to keep up with any news about it nor read any reviews. So, the Gamespot ‘controversy’ is new to me. However, I did enjoy and agree with your points in your vid and did enjoy it, overall. I appreciate you taking the ‘first step’ (which is a bit of hyperbole but I’m a shitty writer and couldnt think of better phrasing) with this vid and encourage you to continue with them. Thanks for this post and thanks for taking a stand.

  12. So I just spent several minutes trying to find somewhere I can buy that mouse Link t-shirt but to no avail. Is it still available anywhere?
    Also, I completely agree with everything you said in this video. Especially about objectivity in reviews since it’s an argument I’m seeing thrown around often when someone doesn’t like the Metacritic score of one of their beloved games being pulled down a bit.

  13. Great post Sara, As many have said it seems like some people are willfully ignorant of this kind of thing and at times can feel almost futile, but exposure on it is nothing but a good thing, slowly climbing away at what is certainly an uphill battle.

  14. @David R. Yes! It’s also about moving the culture as a whole into a more respectful direction. Maybe this is a corny comparison, but has anyone ever seen one of those What Would You Do episodes where they get actors to behave badly and film people’s reactions? Often it includes an actor being discriminatory in some manor, recently against Muslim Americans, and observing what people do. There was a good one where a military member stood up against the bigot actor and said something to the effect “this isn’t what we I fought for.”

    What’s my point? These sorts of positive examples don’t happen over night. It’s about creating a culture where discrimination seems bad to enough people and taking a stand once in awhile is considered good. Every little contribution helps teach people its ok to be nice for change. As Douglas Adams wrote “And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change…” See how far we have come? We only nail them to virtual trees these days.

    @Caleb K, I get your point about not feeding the trolls. Sometimes its hard to know when you’re just being counterproductive. But, I believe that sometimes immature kids need a model of good behavior. Someone older, cooler, and more mature than them who demonstrates just how childish they were being.

  15. The website link is to my blog where I am critical of both the review of Grand Theft Auto V and the reviewer. I do not troll however I have used a post from someone who ruins a good argument with sly insults at the reviewer which I do not condone, as part of my review.

    My main problem with Caroyn Petit’s review was one main point and that was the question of the game showing blatent misogyny. Had I been reading this on another site I would not have had a problem with it as at times the game comes across as sexist because of the nature of the humor employed. But I find it hard to believe that someone from Gamespot can have the hypocrisy to accuse Grand Theft Auto V of misogyny on the same day another member of staff from the same website, in a preview talking about the same game series, has two young ladies dressing up as prostitutes/stripper which seemed out of context for what was essentially just a history lesson of the series.

    Carolyn Petit is a transgender woman, which I think fuels most of the dislike of her personally among the trolls and professional haters (which I tend to not even acknowledge anymore as telling them what they are for their outdated opinions only fuels their vitriol). However I do think the type of discrimination she has probably encountered both in real life and online, in my opinion was because of this, not because of her gender, and she will not (hopefully) ever be the victim of the type of disgraceful sexist discrimination that most women are victim of.

    I believe Carolyn’s review was poor and while in part after playing Grand Theft Auto V I can see how it can be perceived as being mysogynistic because of it’s dark humor and parody or real life I do think that there are other issues in the game (technicalities of the game play, environment, controls, etc) which could and should have been mentioned which were overlooked especially when she seems to have no problem accepting some of the violence of the game off-hand. While I am a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, I do find the violence at times to be overly excessive, or gratuitous for the sake of it which she seems ok (and yet in a review of another game she complained about the violence which was just as bad as the violence in this particular game.

    The issue for me is not about gender simply about how some of the journalists at Gamespot review games, and how sometimes the reviewers do post poor or ill conceived reviews.

  16. I personally don’t like or want reviewers to tell me about how they feel about a gamer personally! I don’t really want to know what the writer likes or dislikes (unless shown in video, but thats not the kind of review I’m talking about). These writers think “my readers expect this, they want to know my personal opinion.” I much prefer something objective, rather than just personal preference, its not about you (the author) its about the game dammit! I’ll figure out everything else without you when I play it. And I NEVER, EVER buy a game based on reviews, that’s for people who don’t know what games they like or anything about them. I don’t think a woman character would be suited to GTA – its just not realistic, and all these comments about how GTA is sexist and misogynistic would be NOTHING compared to what you would see if one of the characters would be a woman. Saints Row would work though!

  17. I disagree with your point about a female character in a GTA game John. In some games there have been strong female characters and so it could easily be done in Grand Theft Auto too, but then there is simply no pleasing some people and there are bound to be those who would find some reason, no matter how obscure as an excuse, to complain.

    As for your main point I agree but I do also think on many of the more well known websites which have advertising space on the site for sale, there will always be (rightly or wrongly) a question of how much a review is influenced by genuine opinion on the quality of the game, and how much is influenced by the money they receive as part of the advertisement package for it.

  18. I honestly had no problem with the Gamespot review since, like most reviews, they are the opinions of the reviewer. As much as a they would want to not show any bias, it’s almost impossible to do because, essentially, a review boils down to the person liking or disliking something.

    It’s this kind of overboard reaction that gives gamers a bad reputation. Why? Because it makes us sound immature, violent jerks.

    BTW, I’m giving this vlog a 9/10.

  19. wow i hope you make the internet perfect. I just read a story about a girl who committed suicide because of cyber bullying. She was 12 and did a faceplant from 3 stories up. But something tells me this poor critic you are talking about will get over whatever was written about her. You are fighting a losing battle here, and if you care to actually know of what you are speaking, read studies of the maturity regression that happens to people with strong e-identities, and people who sleep, eat, and breathe video games. The only way to “not be a dick”, and hide behind anonymity, is to start caring about the REAL PEOPLE in our lives, and put the video games and the Facebook and the Twitter into the 20 minutes each day you choose to throw away because your spending big bucks on fancy phones and laptops and gaming systems and can’t see them going to (waste?).

    Oh sorry, did you just want comments from people who agree with you, because your life has gone from “real” to learning about life from video games, instead of actually living? So everyone should do what your little fingers and remote are telling them to do, and if they don’t, you’ll rant and rave unoriginal feminazi drivel, before destroying the next unrealistically muscle bound “bad guy” with your little remote button, and high five-ing your equally oblivious girl friends. Look up hypocrite in the dictionary. You may just find your avatar.

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