The Last of Us Part II, part 1: The Internet Sucks Ass

I’m so mad about the response to this game. Some recent history: The Last of Us Part II was delayed and delayed (and delayed?) and finally released this June 19th. Somewhere after some but not all of those delays, Naughty Dog (the development company) had its servers hacked, resulting in the leak of cutscenes giving away major plot elements. How about a page break before we start spoiling everything?

Most salient of the spoilers, to the initial response, was that Joel, the main playable character from the first game, gets brutally murdered about half an hour into the (30+-hour-long) game. This murder gets called the “inciting event” in Naughty Dog’s rather restrictive press guidelines, and is meant to be left undiscussed in media until the game has been out at least a week. Welp.

Internet tools completely lose their gamer-gating minds over this disclosure, and launch a “review-bombing” campaign on any website that still lets people vote on things, including Google Reviews, and most notably, Metacritic, where the game’s Critic Score hovered between 9.6 and 9.8, while the User Score was around 3.2 – 3.8, with over five thousand reviews posted within the first 5 hours after this (30+-hour-long) game was released. Welp.

This first part of the “backlash” obviously shouldn’t surprise me, because, you know, the internet, but somehow I find it so exhausting and infuriating. 

First of all, that any disclosure of a single plot-point could cause you to have a reaction like “this 30-hour-long narrative cannot possibly have any value.” I’m trying to think about the worst plot-point in Game of Thrones to see if I’d have had this reaction… but even knowing pre-Season 8 that, say, “Tyrion gives Bran the Iron Throne in the final episode,” I could have easily imagined compelling and rewarding ways the series could have gotten there. I’d have been wrong, obviously, but I could have imagined them.

Secondly, that having come to the indefensible conclusion that this entire work was valueless without consuming any of it, these children expressed their frustration with the weakest possible tantrum – clicking a bunch of one-star reviews? I struggle to imagine how this felt good even to them: “Now I’ve shown them that they can’t kill a character in their work of fiction! This review score that is known to be trivially gamable, which is why I have just gamed it, will now be lower by some fractional amount!” In their defense some of them also wrote lies about what was wrong with the game, many of which included claims that the game was full of “plot holes,” which, shocking everyone, actually turns out not to be a synonym for “character development.”


That first section of gamer-gating I found frustrating in large part because it was so incomprehensibly flaccid and pointless.

The next part of the tantrum got to me because I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation: many troll reviewers also complained that the game was “political.” Given that the game depicts the last human survivors 25 years after the collapse of anything that could be called a political society, what they mean, of course, is that in this game there are gay and trans characters, and the game treats cruelty on the basis of gender identity as a bad thing. Ugh.


The last development of the troll discourse, coming up on three weeks since the game’s release, has really elegantly combined the immature idiocy of the first wave with the vicious hatefulness of the second. Abby, the character from the game who commits the aforementioned murder of beloved character Joel, is in game a very strong woman. Not in the sense of Strong Female Character (every female character in the game is already surviving in a literal apocalypse, after all), but literally very muscular and physically strong. 

Literally strong.

Internet idiots decided that this was impossible, that Abby was “unrealistic” or had to be trans herself [she isn’t], and since the character was also responsible for “ruining the game,” see point 1, they took the obvious step of sending death threats to…

Wait for it. 


And actually take this time to think about who would receive death threats in this situation. Imagine you’re an unspeakable asshole who responds to fiction you don’t like, because it portrays a woman in a way that doesn’t meet your own insane aesthetic, by sending hate over the internet. As such a person, whom would you attack?

Perhaps the writers of the game? Although writing can be somewhat anonymous in game design, so maybe the director would be a more straightforward target? 

Or maybe since the presentation of the character was part of what was found offensive, the artists or character designers?

But no, after all, you’re an idiot and an asshole, so you don’t address yourself to any of those people.

The person who has been receiving hatred and death threats has been Laura Bailey, the actress who spoke Abby’s lines

Which, in the end, does make sense—she is a woman.

Ugh.

In a way, perhaps it’s a twisted compliment to both the story and to Ms. Bailey’s portrayal, that even the garbage people found the characterization so vivid that they felt fine identifying the actress with her character. In another way, everyone sucks and I hate them all.


Ok. The rage is temporarily exorcised, and I should be able to finish the post about how amazing this game is now. Until next time!

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