Generally I try to avoid using profanity in my writing, much less the headlines. It’s not that I’m a prude or that I have virgin eyes and ears, but I do my best to maintain at least a baseline level of professionalism which frequent swearing tends to dip below. In this case, however, I’ll make an exception, and in all reality that one exception is likely to become a plurality. It’s one of the few times where I think the shoe simply fits.
As you likely have seen by now, a neck-bearded, knuckle-tattooed young…um…model-of-sorts and a sidekick went around the Grand Prix Richmond tournament hall taking photos of our model posing piously behind men, usually obese, with the tops of their posteriors exposed, and presumably unbeknownst to the background subjects. These photos were then posted, of all places, on the internet. That’s right. A photo gallery of Magic crack posted for all to see. As I perused these photos I found myself laughing – sometimes heartily! – and with every chuckle I emitted, I confirmed myself an asshole.
I’m a nerdy gamer. Many of my friends are nerdy gamers, and some of them either currently or previously struggled with weight issues. To that degree, my friends embody those that were photographed, which means I was laughing at my friends.
As I realized in this moment that I’m a despicable asshole, my conscience made me choke on a heaping helping of humble pie. Fortunately, in the words of Ron Wolfley, “Humility is a wonderful master,” and I can strive to improve moving forward. It still feels like a kick to the junk, though.
The Real Issue: Intellectual Fratricide
The surface problem is that the photos were taken and published at all. It’s not as though this unscrupulous duo was taking the pictures to bring to light the use of proper attire, or lack thereof (although the model, who goes by the handle OB1FBM on the Reddit forums claims that “It’s part funny, part social commentary, and part PSA.”). They were taken surreptitiously and posted semi-anonymously, and a reasonable person would conclude that the photos were taken to make fun of these men. To disparage and ridicule, and possibly earn the responsible party fifteen minutes and thirty coins. To that end, mission accomplished.
The actual problem, however, is that the offenders essentially committed fratricide against the dignity and humanity of their brothers-in-cards. Our non-GQ-caliber model claims to have participated in the tournament that weekend, which means he is a gamer, too; thus, nerd-on-nerd violence. Sure, friends are known to throw a jab at each other now and then, but every indication is that these folks are no closer to one another than peers in a jury. To take the damage further, his collection of crack-shaming photos has gone viral, not just amongst sites like Gawker and other similar domains, but Time.com published a story with the sub-heading, “These are cracks in their natural habitat.” The general public needs no help to form and perpetuate a non-flattering gamer stereotype. These pictures will only serve to fuel the antagonistic flames coming from the holier-than-thous towards nerds of various genres. Most of us probably struggled socially to some degree while growing up. Although we have likely either embraced our oddities, learned to steel ourselves against the barbs of others, or some combination of both, the actions of this young man and his accomplice are no less frustrating and hearken back to some very uncomfortable times.
Maybe We All Need to Lighten Up?
The M:TG community at large is divided on the issue, with thoughts ranging from, “Dude, lighten up…it’s funny!” to “BURN HIS ASS TO THE GROUND!!!” I’ve read reports that he is a TO for his own store in Ohio, and that Wizards has issued a six-month suspension for his actions, although the notion of a suspension is rumor as far as I can tell. That’s not to say that Wizards won’t suspend or ban him, and if the participants can be identified then surely sanctions are in order, if for nothing other than a PR move. Organized Play falls under the auspices of marketing, and this is bad press for the brand. You can expect Wizards to take some kind of action to reinforce the notion that tournaments should be a welcoming environment and offer a safe-haven for gamers. As for other punishment, well, history shows that those who sell out their brothers tend to receive their just rewards.
I won’t sit here and crucify the man. That’s not to say I condone his actions – they are frustrating, irresponsible, and ill-advised at best, but goodness knows some of my actions can comfortably fit under those categories. Nor can I condemn those who laughed at or enjoy the photos. We all have different senses of humor, and I dare say we’re all guilty of laughing at or telling an off-color or targeted joke or two. If anything, the photos should make us take stock of ourselves. If we find the photos offensive, maybe we’re the ones with some unresolved issues. If we find the photos funny, maybe we’re harboring some arrogant attitudes towards others.
Or maybe we just need to pay a little more attention to our attire, because crack is whack.
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