Funny events in anti-woke world

Eacaraxe

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That's pretty bizarre then, since nobody is making or asking for late-medieval/Tudor plays.
Certain parts of "fandoms" certainly are, as evidenced by the counter-example I proffered at which complaints were leveraged for the game having characters that need so much as minor unpacking, and not aggressively and blatantly pushing a predetermined narrative at every available opportunity.

Modern discussion generally focuses on 'morality plays' in the former sense, and never the latter.
Well, when certain audiences stop demanding work with the depth and complexity of morality play, I'll consider that.

Only the ones pushing the ridiculous notion that media must ignore or bury political/moral themes, or the ahistoric notion that good/old media didn't have them front and centre.
Or -- wild idea -- that beloved pop culture works explored those themes with complexity, subtlety, and nuance while inviting audiences to think for themselves.

Well, I think the problem you've identified is that media isn't made by creatives, it's made by corporations. This has always been true to a large extent, but it has become increasingly obvious. It's just intellectual property, and the point of making media is to increase the value of said intellectual property. The inevitable result is that public relations and brand image end up driving narrative, which clamps down on the possibility of interesting or complex stories.
True, but there's an aspect for which you haven't mentioned of particular note for corporations: earned media. Controversy sells, and the (vaguely but not really) left-wing griftosphere and right-wing griftosphere slap-fighting on Youtube and pop culture media outlets amounts to free advertising.

A pop culture tentpole includes a blink-and-you-miss it same-sex kiss, and that scene generates millions' worth of free advertising when terminally online morons argue over it. Of course, that one little kiss is the only thing so much as hinting at LGBTQ existence in the movie. Meanwhile, that kiss gets quietly and unceremoniously edited out of the movie for showing abroad...and it seems like the only people who take issue with it are the "anti-woke" people for rightly pointing out the hypocrisy in it.

There are still creative people making media, there is still a place for media that is morally and thematically complex, and yet the same "anti-woke" crowd seem to find this deeply objectionable. The Witch is frankly far more complex and subtle in its politics than Alien.
And how many of those are getting full theatrical releases and cherry streaming deals leading to nine figures' revenue?

I feel like you've misunderstood the criticism.
No, I really haven't.

How does the game actually convey any of the references you mentioned outside of pure aesthetics? What criticism is it making of extreme right-wing beliefs?
Well, if you'd like me to point it out...

The game's a whistlestop tour of post-Cold War, but particularly post-Reagan, right-wing extremism. It highlights the linkages and connectivity between cults, white nationalism, survivalism, sovereign citizenship, fundamentalist Christianity, and the military, particularly that of the '90s when those individual groups had a staggering degree of overlap and peaked in the period between Ruby Ridge and the Justus Township standoff (with Waco and OKC occurring in the middle).

Placing stand-ins for David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, and Fred Phelps in the same faction, whose headquarters is a digital mock-up of Hayden Lake, communicates the groups and phenomena for which they're associated are all interconnected and synergize with one another. They are all in one way or another -- fundamentalist eschatological Christianity, right-wing extremist militarism, white nationalism and Christian identity, even fundamentalist grift and vexatious litigation -- cults, and they're all connected through conservative Christianity and white supremacy.

These cults and sentiment predated the sovereign citizen and militia movements; Manson was a sign of things to come for his unique blending of white nationalism and eschatology. Shenanigans like Phelps' are how these cults got so much land in the '80s and '90s. Ruby Ridge was the shot across the bow for these cults, that the feds were finally coming for them, and that in turn provoked them to fortify and mobilize. Waco was the catalyst, and OKC the retaliation for Waco. And through them all, The Turner Diaries was a seminal text, if not considered outright sacred in its own way.

And, last but not least, after the downfall of Justus Township...ghost skinning. Lest we think parallels end with the Seed family, or with aesthetics. The player character themselves is indoctrinated to act as a sleeper agent for the cult, mirroring the aforementioned phenomena of white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement and the military, to radicalize LEO's and service men and women.

In other words, it's making the argument right-wing extremism itself is a death cult.

That's not a clever or interesting point, it's not worthy of the seriousness of the topics the game makes an occasional effort to aesthetically reference. If the choice is between preaching and saying nothing, then I'll still take preachy any day.
I think you should ask yourself whether or not it has to. Or, whether it needs to. The game said all that needed to be said, it's up to the audience to form their own opinions of it. Because that's how respecting the intelligence of one's intended audience works.

It's not Ubisoft's fault that people who think they're experts on right-wing extremism can't identify an expy of Timothy McVeigh -- the most infamous right-wing extremist of the 20th Century -- when they see one. This is like calling yourself an expert on basketball, working the sports beat writing about basketball for a news outlet, and expecting to be taken seriously on the topic of basketball, but not knowing who Michael Jordan is.
 
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Gergar12

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Terminal Blue

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Meanwhile, that kiss gets quietly and unceremoniously edited out of the movie for showing abroad...and it seems like the only people who take issue with it are the "anti-woke" people for rightly pointing out the hypocrisy in it.
I'm not sure where you are getting your understanding of media discourse, because queer people take issue with this kind of tokenistic representation all the time. The difference is that we tend not to get angry about it, because why would anyone get angry about queer representation in shitty corporate franchise movies? The people who fall for this kind of thing aren't bad people, they aren't hateful and they aren't really causing harm. They are remarkably easily ignored.

Morever, at the end of the day the basic reality of the situation comes down to a choice between shallow representation and no representation. If someone is really angry that their favourite corporate slop pipeline features a tokenistic gay kiss when the alternative is.. not having that gay kiss, it's pretty obvious that isn't really a good faith criticism. The rational response to Disney having two insignificant background women kiss in Star Wars isn't to get inexplicably mad about it but to treat it with the complete lack of interest it deserves.

And how many of those are getting full theatrical releases and cherry streaming deals leading to nine figures' revenue?
Why does that matter?

There is an element of personal responsibility here. If you want better media, then stop consuming corporate sludge and instead spend your time and money on media made by creative people who care about what they're doing. The people selling you wallpaper paste aren't going to do better if you complain to them. They don't care, that's why they're selling you wallpaper paste. Devote your energy to things that actually mean something.

They are all in one way or another -- fundamentalist eschatological Christianity, right-wing extremist militarism, white nationalism and Christian identity, even fundamentalist grift and vexatious litigation -- cults, and they're all connected through conservative Christianity and white supremacy.
Right, but none of that is in the game.

The game has nothing to say about conservative Christianity or white supremacy, because it is unwilling to even acknowledge that these things exist. Any connection to real people or events never goes beyond a purely aesthetic reference, because the game is too scared to acknowledge that those people ever actually believed anything that a real human being might support or sympathize with, because god forbid a real person playing this game should feel their own beliefs have been challenged.

If the game made you think about and make these connections yourself, then good for you. But it doesn't deserve the credit for that, you do.

It's not Ubisoft's fault that people who think they're experts on right-wing extremism can't identify an expy of Timothy McVeigh -- the most infamous right-wing extremist of the 20th Century -- when they see one.
Who is claiming to be an expert on right-wing extremism?

I'm going to be honest though, I feel like anyone who does have any kind of deep familiarity with right wing extremism is probably going to find all this a bit basic and obvious, because there's nothing specific being said about any of it.
 
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Silvanus

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Certain parts of "fandoms" certainly are, as evidenced by the counter-example I proffered at which complaints were leveraged for the game having characters that need so much as minor unpacking, and not aggressively and blatantly pushing a predetermined narrative at every available opportunity.
Which would put them in line with the former sense, and not the medieval/Tudor sense.

Well, when certain audiences stop demanding work with the depth and complexity of morality play, I'll consider that.
The usual criticism of political/moral themes in media doesn't actually focus on a lack of complexity or nuance, though, does it? It tends to just want those themes out so we can all go back to just having good old uncomplicated fun like the (imaginary) good old days.

Or -- wild idea -- that beloved pop culture works explored those themes with complexity, subtlety, and nuance while inviting audiences to think for themselves.
As do plenty of works created today. If these critics are just comparing the worst works of today with the greatest works of yesterday, then they're just lacking perspective with an odd and misplaced quality critique. Though as I said-- that's very rarely the criticism we actually see. The criticism we actually see is to get ya dang politics and morals out of our funsies cos it didn't used to be there goshdarnit.

A pop culture tentpole includes a blink-and-you-miss it same-sex kiss, and that scene generates millions' worth of free advertising when terminally online morons argue over it. Of course, that one little kiss is the only thing so much as hinting at LGBTQ existence in the movie. Meanwhile, that kiss gets quietly and unceremoniously edited out of the movie for showing abroad...and it seems like the only people who take issue with it are the "anti-woke" people for rightly pointing out the hypocrisy in it.
Lol, no. LGBTQ people were pointing out the hypocrisy and requesting more substantial representation quite loudly and consistently.

"Anti-woke" people didn't give a single shit about representation or hypocrisy: as always, they're just furious that queer people appeared at all, and they'd be even more furious if that representation was more substantial or nuanced. They don't want it done better. They want it not done at all. If they ever brought up "hypocrisy" it was solely as a cudgel to attack the audacity of putting any representation in.

If you're seeing so much more of the latter than the former, I'd take it as a prompt to better curate your online hangouts.
 
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RhombusHatesYou

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Why do these jackasses care now? Musk is being his stupid and egotistical self, but you can kill cops in GTA since the first game. Is this news to them? Have they never thought of this once before in their entire miserable lives? There's being ignorant, and then there's being intentionally obliviously and playing dumb.
Also, pretty sure you don't actually have to shoot at a single cop in the openning scenes of GTAV if you don't want to. Running away and hiding is a valid option. Not that the egos of these galaxy-brained fuckmuppets would allow them to do that... but that's about them not what the game 'makes' you do.
 
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Gergar12

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Eacaraxe

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I'm not sure where you are getting your understanding of media discourse, because queer people take issue with this kind of tokenistic representation all the time.
Is that issue on the forefront of mainstream and pop culture media? or, is it "only trolls and bigots hate (insert media here) because it includes revolutionary and progressive representation"? Because I see a whole lot more of the latter -- and at the cost of suppressing the former, to boot.

Morever, at the end of the day the basic reality of the situation comes down to a choice between shallow representation and no representation.
Well, if any representation is better than no representation at all, then why is there so much to-do about mammies, magical negros, and sassy black friends? You know, by way of comparison. Or if you would prefer a more directed comparison, Will and Grace should be considered a universally good show that oughtn't not be criticized at all, right?

The rational response to Disney having two insignificant background women kiss in Star Wars isn't to get inexplicably mad about it but to treat it with the complete lack of interest it deserves.
The rational response to Disney having two insignificant background women kiss in Star Wars is to ask oneself whatever happened to that originally planned Finn and Poe romance. Then get explicably mad.

And stop dumping money into that shitass manipulative corporation's bank account by the truckload.

There is an element of personal responsibility here. If you want better media, then stop consuming corporate sludge and instead spend your time and money on media made by creative people who care about what they're doing.
Well, I'm certainly glad we agree on something here. I stopped paying to watch Disney shlock a long time ago, what about you?

Right, but none of that is in the game.
1701993321006.png

So here's the Eden's Gate symbol from the game, which is literally a right-wing hate symbol. And if you're gonna come at me with "well ackshually it's the Church of Scientology's symbol"...you might wanna look up Scientology's (as well as that of its founder, and past and current leaders) views on race first. Because rest assured, I'll have a fucking field day with it if you don't.

So anyways...

The game has nothing to say about conservative Christianity or white supremacy, because it is unwilling to even acknowledge that these things exist. Any connection to real people or events never goes beyond a purely aesthetic reference, because the game is too scared to acknowledge that those people ever actually believed anything that a real human being might support or sympathize with, because god forbid a real person playing this game should feel their own beliefs have been challenged.
Ever hear of "show, don't tell"? Because here you're taking issue with the game showing, but not telling -- exactly the phenomenon I'm pointing out as exemplary of media illiteracy, the poor quality of recent works for telling rather than showing, and precisely how not to criticize work.

If the game made you think about and make these connections yourself, then good for you. But it doesn't deserve the credit for that, you do.
This is basically just "games that make players think for themselves are bad". Which is exactly why I keep saying the expectation from certain ideological camps is to make morality play.

Who is claiming to be an expert on right-wing extremism?

I'm going to be honest though, I feel like anyone who does have any kind of deep familiarity with right wing extremism is probably going to find all this a bit basic and obvious, because there's nothing specific being said about any of it.
Yeah, it actually is a bit basic and obvious. Not because there's nothing being said about it, but because people who lived through, or have studied, '90s right-wing extremism are already painfully aware of the connection between cults, militarism, eschatology, and right-wing extremism. The people who didn't live through the '90s -- or were old enough to have strong memories of it -- or study right-wing extremism are the people who need to be made aware of it.

And that's precisely what this game sets out to do -- by showing players these phenomena are connected, rather than just telling them.

Which would put them in line with the former sense, and not the medieval/Tudor sense.
Nah, more like these people are actively calling for a revival of it, which would put it distinctly in the Medieval sense.

The usual criticism of political/moral themes in media doesn't actually focus on a lack of complexity or nuance, though, does it?
Mostly because the people engaged in these sorts of arguments lack the education or articulation to say so...and when they do, they're interpreted in bad faith by people who are happy enough labeling all dissent the sole and exclusive product of bigotry, whilst signal boosting real bigots to erect straw men.

As do plenty of works created today. If these critics are just comparing the worst works of today with the greatest works of yesterday, then they're just lacking perspective with an odd and misplaced quality critique.
They're not comparing the worst works of today, they're comparing the biggest works of today. Which raises the spectre of Hollywood, the games industry, and major SFF publishers pandering to lowest-common denominators, which of course is also part of the critique, that naturally gets conveniently ignored in favor of "dissenters are just bigots".

Though as I said-- that's very rarely the criticism we actually see.
No, that's just the criticism that doesn't get signal boosted, which you ignore for the convenience of your own beliefs.

Lol, no. LGBTQ people were pointing out the hypocrisy and requesting more substantial representation quite loudly and consistently.
And I'll respond to this the same as I just did -- is that criticism on the forefront of mainstream and pop culture media, or is it getting sidelined in favor of clickbait clown shows?

"Anti-woke" people didn't give a single shit about representation or hypocrisy: as always, they're just furious that queer people appeared at all, and they'd be even more furious if that representation was more substantial or nuanced. They don't want it done better. They want it not done at all. If they ever brought up "hypocrisy" it was solely as a cudgel to attack the audacity of putting any representation in.
The grand irony in this being, you're talking to someone who's sick of pinkwashing and other for-profit fake-woke nonsense, and telling me my opinions don't actually exist.
 

Silvanus

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Nah, more like these people are actively calling for a revival of it, which would put it distinctly in the Medieval sense.
I've literally never, ever heard anyone push for a return to Medieval/Tudor playwriting.

Mostly because the people engaged in these sorts of arguments lack the education or articulation to say so...and when they do, they're interpreted in bad faith by people who are happy enough labeling all dissent the sole and exclusive product of bigotry, whilst signal boosting real bigots to erect straw men.
So you're interpreting their criticisms for them, rather than taking their statements to mean what they actually say.

They're not comparing the worst works of today, they're comparing the biggest works of today. Which raises the spectre of Hollywood, the games industry, and major SFF publishers pandering to lowest-common denominators, which of course is also part of the critique, that naturally gets conveniently ignored in favor of "dissenters are just bigots".
The biggest works are largely responses to market trends, which will eschew high levels of complexity in favour of gratification-- and they always have. Works of greater complexity are available in greater number than ever before alongside those simpler works.

So if these people are griping that mainstream films have political themes without adequate complexity, they're essentially griping about broader public interests being too 'basic', as well as overlooking their own choice to ignore all the available art that actually does gave greater complexity.

No, that's just the criticism that doesn't get signal boosted, which you ignore for the convenience of your own beliefs.
You've been signal boosting the right-wing griftosphere and ignoring criticisms from the LGBTQ community, so that's a bit rich.

And I'll respond to this the same as I just did -- is that criticism on the forefront of mainstream and pop culture media, or is it getting sidelined in favor of clickbait clown shows?
Yep, guess if pop culture media doesn't shine a light on us, we don't exist. C'est la vie.

The grand irony in this being, you're talking to someone who's sick of pinkwashing and other for-profit fake-woke nonsense, and telling me my opinions don't actually exist.
I'm aware your opinions exist-- but you've gone far beyond expressing your own position. You've been confidently offering reinterpretation of other peoples' positions that they didn't express. It's that I'm disputing.

But when a critique of pinkwashing just ends up echoing the right-wing culture war grifters and granting them a veneer of credibility they don't deserve, then it rings a bit hollow. Particularly when actual LGBTQ communities who've been pointing out corporate hypocrisy for eons get overlooked and ignored in favour of the overtly-hostile grifters.
 
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The Rogue Wolf

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The fetus in question has a genetic condition that's either already killed it or will kill it soon after birth. The woman is experiencing complications that threaten her future fertility or even her life.
And since she did not carry the child that a man saw fit to put inside of her to term, she is a bad person and must be made to suffer.
 

tstorm823

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The fetus in question has a genetic condition that's either already killed it or will kill it soon after birth. The woman is experiencing complications that threaten her future fertility or even her life.
Did you actually read that letter? Do you understand what the situation is?

The woman, so far as we know, qualifies for the exemption. The hospital can follow procedures for that and they're good to go. The letter doesn't even say not to perform the abortion, it says not to perform an illegal abortion, elaborates on what that constitutes, and points out that nothing about the restraining order prevents them from following normal guidelines.

Instead, she went to a pro-abortion activist organization who got her in contact with an elected Democratic Judge who just sort of declared she could get an abortion. The Judge signed a temporary restraining order against the Attorney General's office telling them they cannot enforce the law in this case, while arguing that she should be exempt in the first place. That is one of the dumbest legal arguments ever conceived. A restraining order telling the state government they can't enforce a law that the judge believes isn't even being broken. This letter is "seriously guys, don't break the law, that restraining order will not protect you." Again, they can abort the pregnancy while not breaking the law, if two doctors agree that the pregnancy "threatens her life or fertility", as you say.

The whole thing is theatrics, they're trying to put together cases that could get some court somewhere to invalidate Texas law entirely. But this is one of the dumbest attempts by far. "I believe her abortion would be legal, so the state can't arrest you if you break the law" is so, so dumb.
 
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Silvanus

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Did you actually read that letter? Do you understand what the situation is?

The woman, so far as we know, qualifies for the exemption. The hospital can follow procedures for that and they're good to go. The letter doesn't even say not to perform the abortion, it says not to perform an illegal abortion, elaborates on what that constitutes, and points out that nothing about the restraining order prevents them from following normal guidelines.
Why do you think they can 'follow procedures and they're good to go'? There's nothing in that letter to that effect: the letter very clearly threatens repercussions for performing this abortion, and then disputes the idea that she qualifies for the exemption (In the fourth point) by disputing that her life is at risk and saying that without life risk, they don't have grounds.

You're rewriting their position into something far more reasonable than the one they actually expressed. What they actually expressed was a mess of threats.
 

crimson5pheonix

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Did you actually read that letter? Do you understand what the situation is?

The woman, so far as we know, qualifies for the exemption. The hospital can follow procedures for that and they're good to go. The letter doesn't even say not to perform the abortion, it says not to perform an illegal abortion, elaborates on what that constitutes, and points out that nothing about the restraining order prevents them from following normal guidelines.

Instead, she went to a pro-abortion activist organization who got her in contact with an elected Democratic Judge who just sort of declared she could get an abortion. The Judge signed a temporary restraining order against the Attorney General's office telling them they cannot enforce the law in this case, while arguing that she should be exempt in the first place. That is one of the dumbest legal arguments ever conceived. A restraining order telling the state government they can't enforce a law that the judge believes isn't even being broken. This letter is "seriously guys, don't break the law, that restraining order will not protect you." Again, they can abort the pregnancy while not breaking the law, if two doctors agree that the pregnancy "threatens her life or fertility", as you say.

The whole thing is theatrics, they're trying to put together cases that could get some court somewhere to invalidate Texas law entirely. But this is one of the dumbest attempts by far. "I believe her abortion would be legal, so the state can't arrest you if you break the law" is so, so dumb.
How does it feel to be wrong about everything all the time?
 

BrawlMan

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Like all grifters he's like a weather vane and turns whichever way the wind blows
Seriously, who is this fucker trying to fool? HIs near non-existent fan base? Congratulations 👏, you fooled one of the few 50 to 100 people. Try not to blow your own load about it and slurp it down to satisfy your pathetic ego.
 

Terminal Blue

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Well, if any representation is better than no representation at all, then why is there so much to-do about mammies, magical negros, and sassy black friends?
The only people I've ever seen talking about the continuing over-reliance on minstrel show archetypes in media are black people themselves, who still tend to be on the margins of pop culture discourse. Where are you getting it from?

The bots totally real people posting manufacturered PR lines on TwiX about how Marvel's Warvengers XXIII: The Last Force Awakendgame gave them "all the feels" with a one second background shot of dudes making eye contact don't give a shit about mammies or representation of black people because they either don't exist, are paid shills or extremely stupid. They're easily ignored.

Like, it's kind of convenient timing that James Somerton just got absolutely obliterated for plagiarizing all his content, because the dude was one of the most popular and influential media personalities when it came to discourse around queer representation in media, and he talked about shallow or tokenistic queer representation all the time (mostly to blame it on straight women). The man was so dogshit and low effort he was reading off of wikipedia and still managed to do the thing you claim noone is doing, mostly by ripping off the entire community of people doing the same thing.

Or if you would prefer a more directed comparison, Will and Grace should be considered a universally good show that oughtn't not be criticized at all, right?
You can criticize whatever the hell you want. Who is going to stop you? However, I remember when Will and Grace first aired, and how rare any kind of positive or sympathetic queer representation was at that time. It's not a contradiction to say that shows like Will and Grace (and Queer as Folk in the UK) are really cringe in retrospect, but at the time they were really important to a lot of people.

Queer people can't afford to live in this world you seem to live in where media is either completely above criticism or completely unacceptable. You can like something or recognize its importance and still politically critique it, especially if the alternative is living in a world with basically no media. Demanding complete purity doesn't help anyone.

The rational response to Disney having two insignificant background women kiss in Star Wars is to ask oneself whatever happened to that originally planned Finn and Poe romance. Then get explicably mad.
That sounds like a recipe for living your life in perpetual misery and disappointment.

So here's the Eden's Gate symbol from the game, which is literally a right-wing hate symbol.
It's a flower-cross, representing the flower from which Bliss is made. It's actually a pretty cool little bit of visual design.

Some people appear to have suggested that its a visual reference to the iron cross, which is a German military symbol sometimes adopted by white supremacists (although it's also still used by the German military today). Suffice to say, I find that quite questionable. Frankly, it looks way more similar to a cross moline, which is a common heraldic cross design, although I also don't think that's remotely intentional. It also, as you say, looks a lot like the scientology cross, although I would chalk that up to them both drawing on common heraldric designs.

But let's assume it is supposed to be visually reminiscent of right-wing imagery, which isn't the biggest leap given the general subject matter. What does that mean beyond a visual reference? What is being said here? My problem isn't that you can't draw connections. They apparently consulted "cult experts" for this game so there is some effort to be authentic. My problem is that I'm not sure those connections ever go beyond the purely aesthetic.

If you want to reference real white supremacists, but can't openly say your antagonists are white supremacists for fear of offending any racists playing your games, what is the point of the reference?

Ever hear of "show, don't tell"? Because here you're taking issue with the game showing, but not telling -- exactly the phenomenon I'm pointing out as exemplary of media illiteracy, the poor quality of recent works for telling rather than showing, and precisely how not to criticize work.
Show don't tell is about the way in which the audience is given information, it's not about deliberately withholding information from the audience for no reason. Showing in this case would be characterizing your "white supremacist" characters by having them act in ways that exhibit their beliefs and attitudes, not giving them the aesthetics and refusing to elaborate further.

All rules in storytelling can be broken. You can have a story (like midsommar) which intentionally sets out to confuse or deceive the audience, but there still needs to be some kind of payoff. If you're just withholding information to be obtuse, what's the point? I could have watched paint dry and figured out on my own that certain right wing extremist movements in America employ similar aesthetics. That's not a point that is particularly worthy of thought.

Yeah, it actually is a bit basic and obvious. Not because there's nothing being said about it, but because people who lived through, or have studied, '90s right-wing extremism are already painfully aware of the connection between cults, militarism, eschatology, and right-wing extremism.
I did my undergraduate degree in religious studies in the mid-2000s. I wrote a thesis on new religious movements at a time when much of the writing and theory on NRMs was from the 90s and heavily rooted in the moral panic around "cults" that evolved out of events like the Waco siege. I have friends today who are still in that field and still writing about the role of fringe religious movements in the modern far-right.

I say this because I feel forced to point out that a lot of the conclusions that came out of that era were just bad. They were, in many cases, highly influenced and driven by right-wing evangelical counter-cult movements, who were able to set themselves up as authorities and whom a lot of credulous people believed for some reason.

"Cults" were never really the problem. They were, if anything, an attempt to try and hide the obvious harm of coercive religious leadership by scapegoating a small number of easily demonized outlying groups. The people supporting and propping up the far right were and are not the Branch Davidians or the WBC, they're the same fundamentalist evangelicals who set themselves up as "cult experts" or "deprogrammers" and who everyone inexplicably believed because cults were scary and of course noone within an established religious institution would ever do anything wrong!

And yeah, there's nothing wrong with references or satire. You can reference the tone of the counter-cult moral panic without necessarily buying into it, but that would require a degree of irony Far Cry 5 never exhibits because it wants to be seen as a serious important game.

You can like Far Cry 5, it has some fun aesthetics and isn't really bad, and if it made you think deeper about the world around you then that's good. But you are misrepresenting the criticism it got as people not understanding the references. Everyone got the references, it's just that references are a really cheap way to pretend to say something while actually saying very little.
 
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