Ice-T to gamers: “The press will always be the enemy”

Ice T
Creative Commons/Mohylek

It’s the anniversary of GamerGate, and the movement just got a birthday present. Earlier today, musician and actor Ice-T attracted support from gamers after he condemned outrage culture and misrepresentations of gamers in the press.

Ice-T’s comments came after GamerGate supporters criticised his role in a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode inspired by a press-led panic about gaming culture. In response, Ice-T seemed to acknowledge that gamers got a raw deal from the mainstream media. “The press will always be the enemy”, said the musician. “Play your games [and] f**k the press.” He added that the episode he appeared in was just a “fake TV show.”

The episode, entitled “Intimidation Game”, drew inspiration from panicked press reports around the GamerGate controversy, portraying gamers as misogynists, rapists, and murderers. Forbes called it the “Reefer Madness of our generation.” Many of the lines given to Ice-T’s character, such as “I read on Kotaku that it’s better than Civ Five with the Brave New World expansion pack” were ridiculed for their clumsy appropriation of gamer jargon.

But his recent comments indicate he had no knowledge of the GamerGate controversy, and shares the movement’s concerns about standards in the mainstream press.

Ice-T has good reasons to mistrust the press, as well as moral panics around art and entertainment. His debut album, Rhyme Pays, was the first in America to feature one of Tipper Gore’s infamous “parental advisory” stickers. In 1992, his rock band, Body Count, faced public furor over the content of some of their songs, which included lyrics about “cop killers”. He has occasionally been mischaracterised in the press as a rapper, when in fact he produced a mix of rap, rock, and heavy metal.

Gamers will be relieved to hear that he wasn’t aware of the context surrounding GamerGate when he agreed to take part in “Intimidation Game”. GamerGate supporters advocate for higher ethical standards in games journalism and reject allegations from feminist critics that video games have a negative effect on the real world. They have been wrongly accused of rape and death threats by far-left social activists and bloggers, and the media panic around the movement has been compared to 1990s panics about obscenity in popular culture.

Prior to his comments about GamerGate and the press, he re-tweeted a picture mocking the culture of offence-taking in America.

With his opposition to political correctness and his history as a target of media misrepresentation, Ice-T clearly has much in common with GamerGate. When I conducted a survey of the movement’s political attitudes last December, they agreed by a margin of 96 per cent that “nothing, no matter how offensive, should be off-limits to art or comedy.”

GamerGate political attitudes survey

Source: #GamerGate political attitudes survey

Ice-T’s comments about offence-taking, as well as his history as a target of establishment outrage suggests he shares the values of the cultural libertarians, a nascent, anti-censorship faction of the culture wars that we described earlier this week. Will he continue to level up?

Folllow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter