Let Them Burn
On Tuesday, the California State Government’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard alleging a long history of sex-based discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against female employees. This lawsuit is the result of a two year investigation conducted by the DFEH. The work culture on the World of Warcraft team at Blizzard was mentioned specifically in the legal complaint. I wanted to break the situation down a bit and then offer my thoughts afterward.
[Click here for the full legal complaint]. I rarely feel the need to do this, but I will say right now because it is absolutely necessary - STRONG CONTENT WARNING - SUICIDE, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, REALLY BAD STUFF.
First, we can go over the actual issues at hand - discrimination, where they would favor male workers for promotions despite better contributions, qualifications, and more experience from their female coworkers. Harassment, by making jokes of sexual- or rape-related nature, creating a hostile environment where female workers felt forced to police their own speech in order to avoid punishment. And finally retaliation, where women who complained about such behavior would be the ones let go in layoffs. The leaders perpetrating the bad behavior would get a slap on the wrist (and maybe a stern talking-to) but no other consequences and have no other career consequences, often going on to continued career advancement and no lasting change to their behavior. This issue of condoning of bad behavior specifically named [J Allen Brack, Blizzard’s current president], and Alex Afrasiabi, former WoW Creative Director, as major examples of the problems (though we should not think that this begins and ends with just these two).
This is not the time to complain about company business decisions as a player. Dissatisfaction with game design decisions or microtransactions/monetization of games have no place within this discussion. This is the exact systemic situation that we saw with Riot and Ubisoft and all the others where those in power perpetuated an environment where sexual predators like this could thrive. Without systemic environmental change, it won’t matter in the long term if these particular sexual predators get kicked out. If an environment is good for sexual predators, then new sexual predators will eventually stumble upon the cozy unoccupied lairs that were chased out, think “wow, this place is great!”, and settle in right where the old ones used to be. The only way to get rid of this problem permanently is to make the environment clearly hostile to them so they have no place to make their homes and settle in.
Finally, my thoughts on the matter are exactly what I wrote in the title - Let Them Burn. This has proven to be a systemic issue with the top leadership either participating or condoning the behavior. Similar to what happened at Ubisoft and Riot, they deserve to be dragged out into the public and shown exactly what they did and allowed to happen. These bad actors absolutely deserve to be branded with this for the rest of their careers. Clear them out. Get rid of them. Scour them out of the company and let them know that they have no place here. Make systemic changes to make the entire environment hostile to sexual predators so they don’t just hire new predators to replace the old ones. Then, in a year or two, go back through and scour it all over again to all of the hidden allies that we missed in the first scrubbing who thought that the coast was clear. If they don’t or won’t change, then I put my money and my pencil where my mouth is - drop all Activision-Blizzard games and be very outspoken as to exactly why.
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Maybe bc I’m his age and I don’t idolize him like the fandom does so i’m not going to go easy on him and I’m going to be that guy: but shiro misstepped so much when he decided who can be leader and he really left Keith some issues for the trouble.
First of all, that’s not his decision to make. Setting aside the whole inconsistent lion stuff, that’s Allura’s decision. She is the head of Voltron and the one who assigned the lions to each person (sans Lance) in the first place.
Second of all Shiro never even informed her OR THE REST OF THE TEAM that he made this decision.
He made a unilateral call and then left Keith to get the brunt of it from the team. Shiro had plenty of time to tell the rest of them, and help get everyone used to the idea that Keith might ‘take over for me so this is how it goes’. Keith is not to blame for keeping the team in the dark, he’s a scared teenager and the team is not to blame for reacting as they did to the news because why weren’t they informed of this in the months they had with Shiro??
Thirdly Shiro didn’t even train Keith on how to lead a team. The solo missions they had together was Shiro just telling Keith “hey remember I am going to die one day so you’re taking over” “i’m going to die, i’m going to die one day soon. Going to die soon” Thank you shiro for that ominous totally not anxiety laden reminder but do you need to constantly tell your abandonment-issue-traumatize-lost-too-many-people brother that you’re a dead man walking??
Fourthly what kind of advice is that for leadership? He never even impressed on Keith the importance of relying on the others for support. He didn’t do that the first time when he went to Kerberos (an adult advice is to try to get Keith to have more peers his age who can be there for Keith so he won’t be lonely) and this time he just forgets that the rest of the team exists accept in the circumstances that Keith has to lead them. A leader relies on the people under them to have their backs and to lean on when they themselves are lacking, but Shiro didn’t even suggest to Keith that he should turn to the others if he needs help. He quickly shuts Keith down every time Keith protests and even if he’s unaware he’s doing it and it’s unintentional, he guilts Keith into facing this leadership role alone.
Fifth, because of the way the writing keeps isolating shiro and keith into their own little corner of arc writing, it makes it seem like Shiro picked the only person he’s familiar or close to and not based on merit. On a bad day I joke that Shiro probably doesn’t even know Hunk’s name because that’s how non existent their relationship and screen time together is. But with this writing it could be true, and shiro isnt around Lance or Hunk or even pidge long enough or as much as he is with keith to make a weighed inform decision.
I know the whole ‘keep the team in the dark’ is for writing effect and to dramatize the whole situation, but shiro didn’t set things up right at all. And if the implication that his spirit is the one influencing the black lion’s decision is to be believed? It’s a dick move and that whole sequence of the other paladins trying the black lion without response is unfair. I know he is dead at the time but he did say he is aware of what is going on outside too, so yeah. -Hunk anon
So to piggyback on what you're saying here, I'll address a couple things.
First and foremost, they should have established if it was ONLY the lions who could choose their paladin, or if it was up to Allura, or if the former leader could help make that decision. Again, it seemed to be a "whenever it's convenient" sort of thing.
The one instance where our opinions vary, here, is that I think it would have been most interesting if it was up to the lions, and the lions only, because that would have really hammered in their sentience, as well as the understanding that if a lion picked you, they picked you for a reason. That if they picked you, you 100% deserved to be there.
This was undercut by Keith randomly being able to pilot Black, and Allura choosing for them in the beginning.
Secondly – you nailed it, in regards to how uncomfortable it was for Keith that Shiro never told Allura or the rest of the team that he wanted Keith to be the next leader.
I think Keith knew how it would look – he knew that the others probably saw some favoritism from Shiro, and he knew if he said anything himself, it would be received poorly.
And guess what? It was.
The minute he let slip that Shiro wanted him to lead, the rest of the team started saying just how much they didn't want him to lead. You can see the immediate regret on his face after he speaks – and he was right to keep it quiet, given the reaction he got.
Honestly, who would want to lead after hearing how bad everyone thought you would be in that role?
Most importantly, though, is what you said about training.
And look, one of the reasons I relate to Keith is because in a weird way I've been in his situation. I've been thrown into roles where all I can do is handle it the best way I know how at the time.
Training is not having someone watch you and see what you do. Training isn't just teaching someone to copy what you do. Training is giving someone the opportunity to learn from you, while also allowing them to decide how they would handle a situation.
If people are trained poorly, or if they are not trained at all, they will take on a new role with the belief that they now have to do everything by themselves.
You're the leader, now, so you have to be everywhere at once. You have to help everyone, and you have to protect everyone. Because you're the leader, it's all on you.
And the biggest problem, here, is that someone like Keith – who had spent basically his entire life ONLY looking out for himself and ONLY relying on himself – would never think to delegate, which, essentially, is the only way to successfully lead. The thought of delegation would never cross his mind, and he would eventually, and rightfully so, just burn out.
I actually really disliked the episodes where Keith was freshly thrown into the leadership role because he had no idea what he was doing, and no one was remotely trying to help him. (I actually put this in my latest fic because it was so frustrating to me lol)
It especially annoyed me that, after Shiro returned, he very openly and blatantly didn't respect Keith as the leader, even though Keith was only there because of him. He kept undermining his decisions, and telling him he was wrong in the way he chose to lead.
(I understand that Shiro was technically a clone at this point, but in the early stages how much of it was still him and how much of it was Haggar, really?)
Having someone blindly go into a new position/role/job and then reprimanding them for any mistake or simply telling them they are doing things wrong is not the way to train or lead.
It's no wonder Keith wanted to get as far away from that situation as possible.
He was told he was meant to take over the role of leader, which he did not want. Then, when he did it out of necessity, he was expected to know everything about it without training or assistance. Then when Shiro returned – the person he felt believed in him the most – he was met with the proof of what he had feared all along: That he would never be as good as Shiro, and that he wasn't meant to either lead or even be a part of this team.
I know that Keith wasn't even meant to originally leave the team, but ironically, it's one of the things that makes logical sense, in my opinion.
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