Trigger. Warning. Content advisory.
I get a lot of leeway here on the SEGA Nerds site. My views do not reflect those of the site, nor of any other user. This story is laden with opinion, and should not be considered as “objective.” That being said, we’re about to discuss some issues that members of the Church of the Perpetually Offended find “problematic,” and if you subscribe to that unholy cult, you now have this warning to fuck right off, close this page, and go haunt Tumblr with wails of your hurt fee-fees.
Hopefully, all of the intellectual adults are still with us.
Oh shit! Doesn’t SEGA Nerds have a Tumblr page?!
The official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter (@Sonic_Hedgehog) account proved yet again to be one of the most valuable treasures of the modern age this past Wednesday when it posted this:
So, a joke had been made on the internet, and naturally, the choir from the Church of the Perpetually Offended was at the ready with snotty noses and crying. This time, feelings were apparently hurt on the behalf of the transgender community, as most of the railings of “Delete your account” and worries that someone was actually going to commit suicide over reading it (Hello, Darwin, my old friend…), mentioned that the joke was insensitive to transgenders.
Even Brianna Wu, the controversial, anti-GamerGate game developer took a break from taking a break from developing games to add her voice to the echo chamber. To her credit, Brianna went on to cite evidence from the original use of the “identify as an attack helicopter” meme to support her argument in one of her several posts. We’ll dive into that in just a bit.
The “other’ side of the argument
To the rest of humanity’s credit, most of those who reacted to Sonic the ‘Copter’s post did not automatically assume the absolute worst about the user posting it. Since the Sonic post did not have any reference to anything sexual or gender-related, and it was in response to a question about his identity as a hedgehog (not as a male, straight, cis, etc.), most assumed that the joke was directed at another issue, the Internet annoyance known as “otherkin.”
Don’t sweat it if you don’t know what the hell “otherkin” are. I had to explain it to my wife, too, as she isn’t read up on her internet Animorph fan fiction. Here is personal my definition of otherkin:
Otherkin: attention-starved, pubescent-aged, self-diagnosed autists who LARP as wolves and dragons and are deranged enough to believe that it’s all real.
How is that different from Furries? -you might ask. (*Note: I’m being told that attack helicopters prefer the pronouns “tik”, “pah” and “fap,” so I guess I’m obligated to use them from here on out*) Anyway, the difference between a Furry and an otherkin is that when a Furries pretends to be a magical unicorn, they eventually stop playing make-believe and get back to really-real life. For otherkin, however, it never ends. Imagine a teenager telling you -with a straight face- that they identify as a unicorn, or that they have the soul of a dragon, cat, banana slug, etc. They will also say that they expect you to take them and their “condition” as seriously as you would homosexual/transgender issues, although I think most would say “otherkin” is more of a religion than a psychological identity issue. There are other nonsensical non-religions related to otherkin, such as Godspousing and Fictionkin. No joke. Look ‘em up. So, yeah… Otherkin – the butt of the Internet’s jokes since 2013.
So that’s what most thought fap joke was referring to. In fact, any time I see somebody make an “I identify as…” joke, I assume it’s about otherkin, that is, unless there is a specific mention of transexual-related issue. In other words, I don’t automatically assume that the person making a similar joke hates transgender people, especially considering that I myself identify as a lightning-powered superhero in a ninja mask.
Brianna Wu’s citation
As miracles would have it, instead of yet again being told nothing but to “educate ourselves” when being chastised for the latest Internet micro-offense, Brianna Wu respectably provided a citation from KnowYourMeme.com, a wiki-driven website that tracks the origins of internet memes, and lo and behold, “I identify as an Attack Helicopter” does in fact have an entry.
“I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” is a copypasta about a male who dreams of becoming a helicopter. It parodies absurd gender and sexual identification posts often found on forums like tumblr exploring the topic by including references to social justice terms like check your privilege.”
So it does appear that the original use of identifying as an attack helicopter did have a sexual connotation to it. The Know Your Meme entry specifically mentions that the target of the original use was “absurd gender and sexual identification posts often found on forums like tumblr, “ which could mean many different things.
Tumblr is famous for hosting people who identify as “pansexual” or “polysexual,” terms which refer more to each user’s own belief system more than their sexuality. (For the rest of us, these terms basically mean bisexual, but they reject the term “bisexual,” because of course they do.)
For completion’s sake, I’m even going to include the full text of the original use of the meme here for your reference:
“I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter. Ever since I was a boy I dreamed of soaring over the oilfields dropping hot sticky loads on disgusting foreigners. People say to me that a person being a helicopter is Impossible and I’m fucking retarded but I don’t care, I’m beautiful. I’m having a plastic surgeon install rotary blades, 30 mm cannons and AMG-114 Hellfire missiles on my body. From now on I want you guys to call me “Apache” and respect my right to kill from above and kill needlessly. If you can’t accept me you’re a heliphobe and need to check your vehicle privilege. Thank you for being so understanding.”
So there it is. That’s the original joke. Given that this first use references plastic surgery and uses the phrase “sexually identify,” it doesn’t take too much imagination to conclude that this first use was probably directed at transgender people. I’m sure there was an immediate wave of suicides following it being posted to the Internet.
In conclusion… wait… (*Now I’m being told that attack helicopters will only communicate using voiceless sonorants and fricatives. I guess I have to go with it.*)
Pik-pah-pah, tik-tik-tik-tik, pah-pik-pik-pak-pak!
Tik-tak-tak-tak-tak! Pip-pip-pip! Pah-pip-pip!
Tak-tak! Fap! Fap-fap-fap-fap!
“Get to the choppah!!!”
Okay, enough of that. Even if the phrase “identify as an attack helicopter” originated as a slight against the transgender community, I argue that we shouldn’t assume the same intent from the @Sonic_Hedgehog post. In its ridiculousness, “I identify as an attack helicopter” is more than an apt insult to “otherkin,” which, Jesus Christ, what else can be said about that nonsense? Remember when the term “geek” was used to describe circus sideshow freaks? Now it typically means a smart but socially awkward tech-head, hence the “Geek Squad” kiosks at Best Buy. There’s even evidence to suggest that the word “faggot” was originally used to insult women who were considered unpleasant. Insults, just like the rest of our language, is consistently evolving. I wonder what “shitlord” will mean in five years?
I contend that we cannot possibly accuse the user of the @Sonic_Hedgehog account of hating anyone without actually knowing their intent. I don’t pretend to be omniscient enough to know the motivation behind every joke ever told. I don’t think however, that there is sufficient evidence to claim that the Sonic joke was directed at transgender people. Even the account itself is run by a human being who “identifies” as a blue hedgehog on Twitter.
Things may only get more interesting now that outspoken journalist and avid GamerGate supporter Milo Yiannopoulos has “signal boosted” the issue by retweeting the post. What is most telling, however, is that at least at the time of this writing nearly a week later, the post has not been deleted. And you know what? There hasn’t been a sudden wave of mass suicides. It’s almost as though it was just an Internet joke and nothing happened as a result. Crazy, that.
So what do you think? Should a joke immediately become “verboten” and banned the moment anybody anywhere could possibly be offended by it, or can humor and insults evolve? Should we immediately assume the worst about everyone all the time, even when we have so little evidence pointing to their motivation?
If it wasn’t clear, some of my language was deliberately incendiary because I want some raw, honest responses. I’ve asked the editor here at SEGA Nerds to keep our comment section wide open on this. Feel free to tell me exactly how you feel about this issue, the only limitation being the limits of the law (i.e. threats). Disagree with me? Let me have it. Did I micro-aggress? Maybe you’ll even get a micro-apology. It will be cathartic for everyone!
I should also note that you should not seek out and harass any “otherkin” -or anyone else for that matter- which is why I refrained from specifically mentioning any by name. The only reason that I named both Brianna Wu and Milo Yiannopoulos is because I consider them to be public figures. Still, don’t harass them either (even though Milo might actually enjoy it). I should also let you know that Brianna Wu would like you to give her your money, and has a Patreon account with which to take it from you. You can find her Patreon page here. No, wait, maybe it’s here. Oh, hell, that’s not it either. Fuck it. Just Google it. Internetting is hard.