Editors Note: NewsieLicious is a Horse News Member that offers in-depth analysis on fandom culture. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his.
Recently, an article was posted here on HN that lambasted AnimatedJames for his recent video, "The Truth about the Brony Fandom". In the video, he says the fandom has lost touch with one of the show's core values, honesty, in its seemingly unanimous resistance to people who may be considered "brutally" honest. He concludes that this hugbox mentality will slowly unravel the fandom we know and love, as nobody wants to be the one to tell people when they really need to just stop.
Here's the thing, though: I think he's right.
In the beginning of this whole scandal, AnimatedJames stuck to his guns, not because he really liked rape jokes or harassing people, but because he believed that comedy was a medium where you shouldn't be silenced just because someone is offended at your material. This proved to be a mistake, as LeekFish and her supporters retaliated by assassinating every last shred of his character, declaring anyone who supported him to be a harasser and a delinquent, and even going so far as to threaten to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) as a legal weapon to silence his video and strike his account as punishment.
At first, this argument seemed simple. AJ could've just taken Leekfish's name out of his joke, and this would've all been over before it started. Clearly, his stubbornness was fueling the fire, and in the beginning, the court of public opinion was widely in Leekfish's favor.
But then, she started getting aggressive. Clearly, keeping the video from being seen was the least of her worries; days of outrage on Twitter had done more for the video's view count than AnimatedJames could ever have accomplished alone. More than just taking down the video, it was clear she wanted to "win" the argument. She began telling her fans to abuse YouTube's reporting mechanism to bring the video down, and then began to justify using the DMCA against him. Yes, just like Cyrricky and dozens of other magnificent assholes before, she was willing to use YouTube's takedown system as a weapon to silence her opponent. She had gone too far, and people were starting to realize it.
Conveniently--almost too conveniently--this is when Leekfish started reporting that she was receiving death threats from her opponents. Anyone who ever followed a Tumblrite scandal before knows that the very first thing a Tumblrina does when backed into a rhetorical corner is claim to be receiving death threats or other harassment. It instantly forces anyone involved in the debate to qualify their responses with such platitudes as "Harassment is wrong, but..." or "I don't agree with what's happening to you, but...". It quickly swings the scales of public opinion back in your favor, without you ever having to prove that such threats ever existed.
Eventually, AnimatedJames did take the video down. Of course, by then the drama had attracted so much attention that it was saved by hundreds of people (and reuploaded by a few), so it's possible that it'll never completely vanish from the Internet. Nevertheless, this wasn't good enough for Leekfish. After AJ made a snide remark on his Twitter account about taking the video down, Leek's reply was: okay, but you didn't have to be such a dick about it.
Even if AJ was wrong at first, he had good reason to be angry at the lengths that Leekfish and her supporters were willing to go through to resolve such a simple conflict. So, to get some of this anger out of his system, he posts this video, lambasting the decision to use the "nuclear option" of the DMCA takedown and rolling it into a greater complaint about the state of the fandom on the whole.
Watch it, though, and you'll notice something: not once does he mention her by name, and not once does he mention the week of relentless character assassination that led up to it. Instead, he sticks to the facts of the situation, and without naming names, he describes the whole situation and why he saw it as wrong to consider hauling the law into this battle at all.
This is why I think he won this great debate: in the face of all of this back and forth drama, he stuck to the facts. Leekfish, on the other hand, has spent days now spewing hyperbolic nonsense at anyone opposed to her, silencing and blocking those who don't unconditionally support her, and making the persecution she's suffered at the hands of this situation extremely public. She was undeniably wrong for entertaining the idea of a DMCA, but you won't hear her admit it; in fact, you won't hear her much at all, as she hides behind her boyfriend, Steve Streza, who (shit you not) is about to start his shiny new job at Tumblr itself.
Today, though, shit got real.
After the release of AnimatedJames' video today (which, as a reminder, doesn't mention LeekFish by name once), she began to receive a new wave of criticism about her willingness to use the DMCA. Needless to say, the YouTube audience really doesn't take kindly to people like that. The disruption was apparently so severe that she had to cut short her time vending at BronyCAN. This time, she claims that she was being stalked by her critics, plus the previous claims of harassment and threats.
Is it true? Who knows? I can't say for sure that she did or didn't get harassed, as she has yet to provide any substantial proof of this harassment to the public.
All I know is that, in the face of this latest crisis, she has finally gotten what it seems she wanted all along: the sympathy and support of god damn everyone.
No doubt, if you're on Twitter you've seen the newest campaign, #ISupportLeekFish. Here are just a few of its most notable entries:
If you're the kind of person who would criticize LeekFish's approach to this whole situation, her activities, or her motivations, the message that #ISupportLeekFish sends is that you have all of these people to contend with now. Show staff, influential artists, and dozens of other people have jumped on the bandwagon already, and the tweets aren't stopping.
Ironically, the message this campaign sends is that when it comes to LeekFish, a little "brutal" honesty isn't permitted. As long as someone out there is possibly saying or doing something bad to her, she'll remain immune to criticism.
I think it supports AnimatedJames' original point surprisingly well.
You could only read this post on Horse News.
This post is inconvenient, and perhaps a dangerous thing to say, but it's honest. Still, though, you would never find it on Equestria Daily, Derpy Hooves News, Pickle Barrel Kumquat, the MLP Forums, or anywhere else that news is shared. All of those places have done their part to make sure that this fandom is the ultimate hugbox, only ever posting supportive commentary in favor of the artists they speak about, and categorically avoiding calling people out on their shitty behavior.
That's why when shitty behavior strikes, it's Horse News' job to call it out. Whether it's some dude tracing his way into an industry, conventions shitting on the public interest, or bipolar maniacs going wild, you'll find it here, and seemingly only here.
Why? Because a huge majority of the fandom can't handle that kind of honesty.
Editors Note: The article was reverted back to a draft because it didn't follow procedure or formatting. No content within the article was changed whatsoever.
Please stop bitching.