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JordanOwen42 on the Couch: Two wannabe Sarkeesian muckrakers react to the horrible news that she's been telling the truth

JordanOwen43 tries the talking cure
JordanOwen42 tries the talking cure

So what do you do when a fondly held fantasy crumbles? That’s a question that both Davis Aurini and Jordan Owen have had to ask themselves this past week, when something they both desperately hoped was true – that Anita Sarkeesian had lied about contacting the police about death threats she’d gotten on Twitter – was shown convincingly to be false.

Both Aurini and Owen have personal and even professional reasons for wanting the terrible things people say about Sarkeesian to all be proved true: they are, after all, the two bumbling would-be filmmakers who are trying to raise money for a feature-length “documentary” targeting Sarkeesian.

And both had a personal stake in this particular story. Aurini, as I noted in a previous post, wrote a blog post a week ago titled “Did Anita Sarkeesian fabricate her story about contacting the authorities?” in which he reported a conversation he had with a San Francisco Police Department spokesman who said he could find no record of her reporting these threats. While Aurini didn’t directly claim she had lied about reporting the threats, his post was positively dripping with insinuations:

Did Ms. Sarkeesian report this to the FBI instead of the SFPD? Did the Officer who she reported to hate women, and throw her report in the garbage? Did she eat some bad burritos, and was this all just a fever dream?

None of the above, actually: The police spokesman looked harder and discovered that Sarkeesian had in fact reported the threats to the SFPD, which had then passed the case along to the FBI. Oops.

Owen had gone a bit farther, declaring the charges against Sarkeesian to be “LEGIT” on Twitter, and posting a now-deleted YouTube video in which, he now admits, he “jumped the gun” a bit, “getting overly excited and exuberant … when it looked like we had Anita cornered.”

So how did the two react to the news that they were wrong?

Aurini went uncharacteristically silent, trying his best to avoid the subject. It wasn’t until nearly a week later – yesterday – that he bothered to respond in a blog post that is a model of desperate duplicitousness.

Instead of frankly admitting that he had attempted to smear Sarkeesian using information that had turned out to be untrue, he deflected, saying blandly that “details have changed,” and going on to attack those who suggest he take some responsibility for his earlier smear job:

Some voices in the peanut gallery have been demanding that I apologize, or that I retract my allegations (funny, that – I don’t seem to recall making any allegations), but this just goes to show what sort of child-like minds we’re dealing with.

He then tried to argue that the “revelation” that Sarkeesian had in fact told the truth somehow muddied the water even more:

This revelation about the FBI doesn’t answer all of our queries, rendering GamerGate nothing but a tinfoil-hat in neck-beard chic – quite the contrary, it compounds them!

After rattling off a list of questions he thinks still need to be answered, and a list of publications he thinks have mishandled the story, he tries to convince his readers that “[t]his doesn’t undermine GamerGate – this vindicates it!”

Jordan Owen’s response was a bit more human, and a lot more interesting. The fact that he had been wrong about Sarkeesian actually seemed to plunge him into something close to an existential crisis. Well, the fact that he had been wrong – combined with the fact that the fundraising for The Sarkeesian Effect has not been going as well as he and Aurini had hoped.

Last Saturday, while his partner was still maintaining radio silence, Owen posted a bizarre video on YouTube in which, lying on the couch in an apartment that looked like it had just been hit with a tornado, he admitted that he’d jumped the gun, declaring Sarkeesian a liar before all the information was in. And he somehow managed to spin the whole story into one in which he was the primary victim.

In the angry, rambling, and nearly hour-long video, Owen described how worn down he was by the constant criticism he’s gotten on the internet since he and Aurini launched their fundraising appeal, lamented how little the two have managed to raise thus far, and pondered quitting the project entirely. He complained that the project had taken him away from his true passions – music and writing – and left him feeling drained and belittled. “I know that I am sincere in my opinions,” he groused.

This is not some bullshit fabrication. I know that. And I have to tell myself that and I have to be resilient every single time I sit down and comment on this because if I waver for even an instant everything will crumble around me. And the social justice warriors will just say, “see, I told you so.” And that’ll be that.

Think about that level of pressure before you have the gall to take me to task for getting overly excited and exuberant in one of my videos when it looked like we had Anita cornered.

Yes, that’s right, a guy trying to raise money to make a film attacking a woman who’s already under attack from seemingly half the internet is complaining that people are attacking him on the internet.

And he seems to feel not an ounce of empathy for her.

While Aurini seems to be a bit of a snake-oil salesman – a bumbling con artist, but a con artist nonetheless – I have no doubt that Owen is indeed, as he says, sincere. A man who’s spoken openly about being bullied as a child, he honestly believes that he is the victim here – and that Sarkeesian and her allies are the bullies.

He’s also angry at and openly envious of Sarkeesian for being able to raise the money she did for her videos while he and Aurini have had to struggle to raise the money for theirs.

His rambling video is a fascinating psychological document. If you don’t have the patience for the whole thing – which you can find here – I suggest you at least watch the much shorter video below, which offers some notable selections from Owen’s lament along with some commentary which is sometimes on the mark and other times a bit presumptuous in its psychological deconstruction of the man on the couch.

TRIGGER WARNING: The video contains images from a Flash game that depicts Sarkeesian with cuts and bruises on her face.

Oh, SPOILER ALERT. Owen didn’t actually shut the project down. He managed to put this little psychological meltdown behind him. He and Aurini are planning to go ahead and start filming – even if they don’t get all the money they claim they need for the project.

It’s all faintly ridiculous, and I almost feel a little bad for the two of them. Until I remember that the two are contributing in their own way – with their videos and their “journalism” – to the harassment that Sarkeesian has been facing ever since she first announced she would be talking about sexism in video games – harassment that we now know included bomb threats sent to organizers of the Game Developers Choice Award when they presented Sarkeesian with an award last March.

Aurini I think is hopeless. But Owen, for all his rage and self-pity, seems at least to have a tiny bit of humanity left in him. He knows what it’s like to be bullied. Maybe at some point in the next few months he’ll come to understand that he and his collaborator are doing the same thing to Sarkeesian that the bullies did to him – and pull the plug on a video project that, however farcical it is, still has the potential to do real people real harm.

I doubt it, but I guess I can still hope.

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g2-41afde8498c5bab45e1e3688a5626aef

Wow, poetic justice for Jordan Owen doesnt seem to begin to cover it.

jbgarner58
6 years ago

There’s nothing wrong with hoping that people can reform and grow-up. Good for you, David, for remembering to keep up some hope!

daintydougal
daintydougal
6 years ago

So I read that linked Kotaku piece about the bomb threat, then I read the comments.
I should not have read the comments.
http://community.sephora.com/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/116046i2AF73FFDE6096D06?v=mpbl-1

ikanreed
ikanreed
6 years ago

And this is where we are.

Being objectively wrong, as always, is a reason to double down. Sarkeesian, even when she’s making the occasional tenuous conclusions, doesn’t have this problem. She knows that she’s just sharing her ideological viewpoint, not insisting it be the only one.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

And I have to tell myself that and I have to be resilient every single time I sit down and comment on this because if I waver for even an instant everything will crumble around me. And the social justice warriors will just say, “see, I told you so.” And that’ll be that.

Yeah, dude, that’s right. You keep telling yourself that. And everyone else will keep laughing and pointing.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

“I know that I am sincere in my opinions,” he groused.

Yes, and so do we. We also know that it is possible to be 100% sincerely WRONG. You’re only entitled to your own opinions…not your own FACTS.

ikanreed
ikanreed
6 years ago

@Bina

The fact that we told him so, for him, is persecution, rather than, maybe, just maybe, a test case for the quality of his assumptions, and a good reason to reconsider them.

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
6 years ago

Ah, the poor fellas. They’ve come to realize they aren’t going to make it to the next news cycle.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Owen described how worn down he was by the constant criticism he’s gotten on the internet

This is almost as good as the Fappening guy feeling sad because the press weren’t respecting his privacy.

Seriously, what is it with these guys and their total lack of self-awareness?

Tessa
6 years ago

Gah, that Aurini post was even smarmier than I imagined.

For the dum-dums:

I am not accusing Miss Sarkeesian of manufacturing the death threats – though I am suspicious, and want this investigated.
I am not accusing Miss Sarkeesian of lying about the police; this should be investigated as well.

The issue is not whether Miss Sarkeesian fabricated anything – the issue is that game journalism, as well as mainstream journalism, took her at face value and never investigated her claims.

Ick. To paraphrase. “I’m not saying she’s lying… But she’s lying.”

Plus he is indignant about an email chain from “gaming journalist elites” sympathizing with Zoe Quinn’s harrassment. Oh no!

ej
ej
6 years ago

@tinyorc

Seriously, what is it with these guys and their total lack of self-awareness?

I don’t think it’s a lack of self-awareness, but a lack of external awareness. They don’t seem to realize that others can (and do) have similar experiences and emotions, which is why it seems unlikely that he will make the connection that what he is going through is exactly like what Anita and other have had to suffer.

Tabby Lavalamp
6 years ago

You know when you’re watching a movie and the bad guy, who has spent the film murdering people, is all “Please don’t kill me”? Except Anita Sarkeesian is a real person whose life has been made hell by people like Owen so I applaud you, David, for being find the empathy for him that I can’t right now.

Adam
Adam
6 years ago

Yeesh, This is depressing. The funny part is that they’re not even getting a fraction of the hate Sarkeesian deals with- nobody’s looking to make a movie smearing them, after all.
What I find amazing is that Owen couldn’t recognize that being the subject of an online hate campaign is fucking tough until he himself was actually subjected to something vaguely resembling one.

kiki
kiki
6 years ago

My favourite part of the Owen whinefest is the five-minute ramble that basically amounts to “I spend my whole time in high school not punching girls in the arm, and then when I finally get out into the adult world, I have to listen to their opinions about things? Ingrates!”

ikanreed
ikanreed
6 years ago

@kiki

Do you think there’s anyone who thinks anti-violence is a code word for misandry? I mean, that’s what a lot of these complaints boil down to, so do any of the awful people actually just take the idea and run with it?

lafinjack
6 years ago

So the SFPD are giving details to random nutbags about open cases involving random nutbags, now?

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

I looked at the comments of the youtube video (I know, I know) and one of them actually explained something to me that I’d been wondering about: Why this crystalizes so much in the “gamer” community, and why they get so hugely upset about this stuff:

“From what I’ve seen, Gamergate is the first time many people have heard of the ongoing culture war. They knew ‘something’ was going on, but they didn’t seem to realise what is at stake or how widespread the problem is. Comment sections on the internet have a bad reputation and many people avoid them altogether. This has literally been going on under their noses, and it took a huge event to bring it to their attention.”

Dude’s wrong about a lot, obviously, but I buy the main point: gamers are intensely, aggressively apathetic about politics, and so it’s a huge shock that someone could have different political beliefs from them. This is literally the first they’ve heard about, like, the world.

(also of course the “I was bullied in high school, so for the rest of my life I can be nothing but a virtuous underdog” syndrome)

storydon
6 years ago

“And the social justice warriors will just say, “see, I told you so.” And that’ll be that.”

It’s also telling that he thinks it’s about him, that somehow the people he’s chosen to bully even care, would even notice if he did give up this project. The leitmotif of the anti-SJW.

kiki
kiki
6 years ago

@ikanreed: I think he’s saying that he thought he was going to get the World’s Biggest Fucking Cookie for his superhuman moral restraint in not constantly physically abusing girls in high school, only to have to listen to uppity wimminz talk about stuff later on in life. Indeed, seldom has a greater injustice been recorded by history.

The main takeaway I get from the pair of them is that they’re just really, really immature; they seem to have a 14-year-old’s idea of what’s morally right or what’s ‘bad-ass’ or what’s intellectually impressive. It’s really weird to see words I would normally associate with some imagined teenage Redditor coming out of the mouth of a grown-ass man.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

You have more sympathy for them than I do, David. I have little patience for martyred geek boys.

Also, seriously: WELCOME TO CROWDFUNDING, GUYS. It’s not like you come up with a geeeenius idea and money just rains on you; there’s actual legwork involved. Just because something is hugely popular on the Internet doesn’t mean they’re willing to pay you actual MONEY. You have to learn the difference between clicks and likes and actual CASH.

I consider this a good call from the Clue Phone. I hope they use it as a learning experience.

Radioactive Elephant
Radioactive Elephant
6 years ago

LBT

Also, seriously: WELCOME TO CROWDFUNDING, GUYS. It’s not like you come up with a geeeenius idea and money just rains on you; there’s actual legwork involved. Just because something is hugely popular on the Internet doesn’t mean they’re willing to pay you actual MONEY. You have to learn the difference between clicks and likes and actual CASH.

I wonder if they are part of the crowd that criticizes Anita for taking sooo long between videos. She should totally release a video a week because money makes the videos manifest, too.

kiki
kiki
6 years ago

(Actually, apologies for the poor word choice; I have no doubt that the world is full of 14-year-olds who are smarter and more mature than these two. ‘Sophomoric’ is what I was getting at.)

leftwingfox
6 years ago

LBT: Heh, reminds me of a conversation I saw years ago in an artist forum.

“Guys, I’d like to do a webcomic, but I can’t draw, can’t write, and have no ideas. How do I make one?”

“Have you considered accounting?”

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

Watched the summary video. From David’s post, I would have also sympathized. However, seeing Owen’s actual demeanor and tone just made me realize how much of a melodramatic whiner he is.

I dunno… If after this whole meltdown Owen actually reasses his position and comes out in support of Anita, maybe I could retroactively sympathize. As it is, he’s basically just throwing a tantrum after things didn’t work out the way he wanted, and digging himself deeper into the “anita is a terrible human being, her backers are dipshits, I’m right but I’m being dragged through the mud, my friends have abandoned me.”

Suffice it to say, I’m not all that optimistic he’ll turn around.

Isaac
6 years ago

@Tessa

It’s worse than that.

He’s saying, essentially, “I’m not saying she’s lying, but she should be treated like she’s lier if she speaks up about all the abuse she’s been getting”.

Also, yay for delurking here.

Puddleglum
6 years ago

Once again the Margaret Atwood quote is eerily accurate. “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

Puddleglum
6 years ago

LBT: Heh, reminds me of a conversation I saw years ago in an artist forum.

“Guys, I’d like to do a webcomic, but I can’t draw, can’t write, and have no ideas. How do I make one?”

“Have you considered accounting?”

I want to be… a lion-tamer!

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

It just makes no sense to me to respond to past bullying by turning around and hating feminists and other people interested in social justice. A lot of us don’t conform to norms in one way or another and were often bullied ourselves. Shouldn’t he be going after the adults who grew up to be bullies instead of the people who are pro peace and justice? I don’t get it at all and this is why I can’t feel too bad for him.

Falconer
6 years ago

I wanted to be … a lumberjack!

Chris Wilson
6 years ago

I was reading Davis Aurini’s blog a few minutes ago (for the laughs) and I came across the video of his call to the SFPD, where he impersonates a journalist and asks Media Relations officer Albie Esparza leading questions meant to elicit damning information. It appears that Mr. Esparza gave Aurini Anita Sarkeesian’s contact info. Is this normal? Any jackass can call the police and the PR guy will tell them everything he knows? Please tell me it isn’t so.

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

To paraphrase. “I’m not saying she’s lying… But she’s lying.”

I would say it goes: “I’m not saying she’s lying, I’m just really really mad that she’s being believed

seraph4377
6 years ago

OT Question #1 @ LBT: What kind of legwork makes for a successful crowdfunding campaign? The last campaign I attempted failed.

seraph4377
6 years ago

OT Question #2 @ Leftwingfox: Suppose someone had a story already written that they thought would adapt well into a webcomic, but they couldn’t draw for shit. Is there anybody out there who might be interested in partnering up? If so, where can they be found?

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
6 years ago

@Leftwingfox

This…

“Guys, I’d like to do a webcomic, but I can’t draw, can’t write, and have no ideas. How do I make one?”

“Have you considered accounting?”

Immediately brought to mind this, from The Muppets Take Manhattan:

How about this? Ocean Breeze Soap: It’s just like taking an ocean cruise, only there’s no boat and you don’t actually go anywhere

icallmycatmrtb
icallmycatmrtb
6 years ago

I listened to the whole eight minute tl;dr version. The first thing I thought was “Wow, this person’s going for gold in the Suffering Olympics.” I don’t think his OCD dx preempts him from making the documentary he wants. However, I think it would be wise of him to maybe step back and consider his motives. I say this as a person who has schizophrenia.

Other than that, just wow. I can’t understand the delusion these people are having.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

“I’m not saying she’s lying… But she’s lying.”

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/534732155727529003/

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Seraph4377: Oh, sure. Say what you will about the Penny Arcade guys, they’re a very successful team of Artist+Writer+Business Manager.

There are plenty of fantasy/furry/fan artists out there who are struggling to work on commission, but don’t have any big ideas of their own. Just look around DeviantArt, Tumblr, FurAffinity or the like. It’ll take a fair bit of networking; make friends with people, follow artists who have styles or interests that align with your own ideas.

You’ll need to pitch yourself as a writer and a reliable partner as well, capable of producing work on a reasonable schedule. Perhaps if you were to start a tumblr, blog or DA account, and started telling the story in daily chunks, ready for illustration?

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Also big grins for Puddleglum and Cassie’s Major Domo. 😀

Gary
6 years ago

Watching that video is really weird. I found myself wondering if he was going to empathise with what Anita goes through on a daily basis, and then from that realising that he’s contributing to that and encouraging others to contribute to it. I was sat on the edge of my seat, thinking “You can do it! Come on, just a little bit further!” And then he starts going on about how not enough people are giving him money when seven thousand gullible idiots gave $150,000 to Anita and I’m thinking “Come on, guy! You were so close!”

There is a fairly vindictive part of me that wants him to take the money and run, so I can point and yell “See, GamerGate? This is what you thought ethics in journalism is?” I mostly just hope he realises he’s being a misogynist bully and stops it.

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
6 years ago

“Something from the grill, Jill?”

“No, meat makes me ill, Phil.”

YoullNeverGuess
6 years ago

I believe that it’s a matter of public record whether a complaint to the police has been made. The details themselves are private, but there will be a public case number. I think the status is public too, like it is ongoing or closed, or in this case, forwarded to another agency.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

So Judgey McJudgepants who falsely accused Anita of lying to police, and is making a huge song and dance about that, lied to police in order to try to get more information than he would be entitled to (malicious noseparkers not being entitled to anything).

Colour me surprised.

Did he college degree cover anything like “ethics”. Although most of us don’t need a higher education course in ethics to know that lying is wrong.

katz
6 years ago

Seraph4377: Oh, sure. Say what you will about the Penny Arcade guys, they’re a very successful team of Artist+Writer+Business Manager.

There are plenty of fantasy/furry/fan artists out there who are struggling to work on commission, but don’t have any big ideas of their own. Just look around DeviantArt, Tumblr, FurAffinity or the like. It’ll take a fair bit of networking; make friends with people, follow artists who have styles or interests that align with your own ideas.

You’ll need to pitch yourself as a writer and a reliable partner as well, capable of producing work on a reasonable schedule. Perhaps if you were to start a tumblr, blog or DA account, and started telling the story in daily chunks, ready for illustration?

I’m going to have to take the opposing position. Artists are in far higher demand than writers. I constantly see people on DeviantArt and such places going “I have a story; will someone draw it for me?” whereas I’ve literally never met a comic artist who couldn’t come up with any copy on zir own.

And, speaking as a writer-illustrator, drawing is by far the more difficult and time-consuming part of process, and it encompasses nearly all the steps: Layout, pencils, inking, clean-up, coloring, shading, lettering, and formatting. (If you were willing to take on some of those steps yourself, you’d have a better chance.)

Now, if you want to pay an artist to draw your comic, then it would be easy to find someone.

Zolnier
Zolnier
6 years ago

I’ve seen a couple of artists looking for projects to work on at deviantart. Not many and mostly in a casual manner to blow off steam but they’re there. It’s probably important to note that the artists though can afford to be a lot more picky, since it’s way easier to become a decent writer than a decent artist.

Shaenon
6 years ago

He’s saying, essentially, “I’m not saying she’s lying, but she should be treated like she’s lier if she speaks up about all the abuse she’s been getting”.

It’s the Catch-22 these guys throw at all the women they harass. If the target doesn’t speak up about the abuse, that’s held up as proof that it isn’t that serious or isn’t really harassment. If she does speak up, she’s a “professional victim” and a drama queen and everything she says will be picked to death for evidence that she’s lying.

Sarkeesian in particular has managed to stay amazingly restrained in her responses to what is now a two-year (!!!!) nonstop harassment campaign. She isn’t remotely emotional or sensationalistic about it. It’s amazing to see the gamerdudes complain she’s being melodramatic, then turn around and make hour-long videos where they moan about how they’re suffering worse than Christ on the cross because their chintzy Patreon campaign has “only” raised $5500.

Michelle C Young
6 years ago

Wait, they already raised $5000? Judging by the video’s style of pointing a camera at the conch, and watching him lie there, silently, for a full minute, before he finally breaks the silence by sighing, then more silence, then more sighing, and then finally ranting…

How much could it possibly cost?

The total lack of self-awareness is just staggering. Also, bbooooorrrrrriiiinnngngggg. Thanks for slogging through it for us, David!

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Katz: All fair points. Re-reading my own statement, It comes across as overly optimistic.

Producing a comic is a job. Creating a sustained comic is a business. Looking for an artist is like looking for an employee or a business partner: you either pay them out of your pocket and take responsibility for the success of the business, or convince them that your skills as a writer, salesperson and marketer is will make the comic a success, worthy of the investment of time and effort they’ll be putting in.

katz
6 years ago

Producing a comic is a job. Creating a sustained comic is a business. Looking for an artist is like looking for an employee or a business partner: you either pay them out of your pocket and take responsibility for the success of the business, or convince them that your skills as a writer, salesperson and marketer is will make the comic a success, worthy of the investment of time and effort they’ll be putting in.

That’s a good summary.

Tabby Lavalamp
6 years ago

“Sarkeesian in particular has managed to stay amazingly restrained in her responses to what is now a two-year (!!!!) nonstop harassment campaign.”

My favourite thing in this is when the gamergates, in response to the harassment, argue “But she’s taking things out of context and she stole videos and that’s not true about Hitman and blaaaaaaaaaaaa blah blah”, completely ignore that the harassment started BEFORE SHE EVEN MADE HER FIRST VIDEO.

mildlymagnificent
6 years ago

daintydougal

I should not have read the comments.

Whenever you’re tempted to hit the button, just imagine yourself as Bart Simpson at the blackboard.

I must NOT read the comments
I must NOT read the comments
I must NOT read the comments
I must NOT read the comments
I must NOT read the comments