The executive editor of Cracked.com, Jason “David Wong” Pargin inadvertently made himself the victim of internet slapstick this week after he was temporarily “shadowbanned” on Reddit for breaking a rule just moments after he accused his critics of violating it themselves.
During an “ask me anything” (AmA) session on Reddit, Wong wrongly claimed that his critics – who accuse him of turning Cracked from an irreverent comedy site into a bastion of dour progressive moralising – were invading the discussion thread to upvote negative comments and downvote positive ones.
Displaying an uncharacteristic sense of humour, moderators on Reddit took action, but not in the way that Pargin might have hoped. They banned Wong and deleted his AmA, after he called on his own supporters to invade the discussion thread.
Wong accused “GamerGate” of “organising a downvote brigade,” complaining that “sometimes, racist, misogynist teenagers don’t have anything better to do.” Wong then asked his Twitter followers to “please go downvote their bulls**t.” It was Wong’s explicit call for organised voting (a banned practice on Reddit) that led moderators to delete his thread and temporarily ban him.
Prior to the deletion of the thread, many of the highest-voted comments directed at Wong were critical in their tone. “Why has Cracked become so similar to BuzzFeed and other click-bait sites?” asked one. “What was the catalyst that began Cracked’s transformation from a witty satirical site to a second-rate version of Salon?” asked another.
Despite Wong’s accusations of organised voting campaigns on the part of his opponents, there is nothing to suggest that his apparent unpopularity on Reddit is anything other than the natural result of widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of Cracked. As one GamerGate supporter bluntly remarked: “it turned out that most Redditors are not fans of his crappy SJW blog.”
It also appears that Wong is not a fan of Redditors. One intrepid Redditor has uncovered year-old comments from Wong repeatedly accusing the site’s users of holding being racists and woman-haters. Wong would troll posts that were critical of feminism, accusing thread-starters of creating Reddit’s “misogynist circle-jerk of the day.”
Little wonder then, that so many Redditors accuse Wong’s comedy site of becoming little more than a knockoff version of Salon or Gawker.
Once upon a time, the site knew few comedic boundaries. For example, this “Star Wars” parody, created by former contributor John Cheese contains racial stereotypes, rape jokes, and intensely vulgar language. It specifically advises the easily offended to stay away.
Today, things are different. In his AmA, Wong proudly proclaimed that his writers “try really hard to walk through the reasoning behind our criticism” and explain “why seemingly innocuous things can be toxic.” Readers waiting for a punchline were disappointed: Wong was being serious.
In one viral image, the website’s former content is compared to its current fare. On one side of the image is the site’s front page as it appeared in 2010, featuring articles about superhero identities, historical identities, and writing tips. On the other is the site as it appears today – plastered with headlines like “5 ways men are trained to hate women,” “The 5 weirdest things that can cause you to be racist,” and “5 shocking realities of being transgender.” Widespread accusations that the site has transitioned from comedy to identity politics appear to have a solid basis in reality.
Follow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter.