Blizzard wrongly thinks people forgot about Blitzchung during the BLM 2020 Protests (Opinion)
(Disclaimer: This article contains some opinions of the writer, and contains reporting of the news on "trending internet opinions" of others over Blizzard's recent actions. It is not a purely informational news piece. This discussion is open to all sides.)
"Hey Blizzard, Why is freedom for Hong Kong offensive, "non-global", and "being political", but BLM is a human right you defend?" - That is the question the internet took to twitter with as Blizzard joined much of the gaming industry in supporting BLM. The internet was quick to take issue with Blizzard seemingly hypocritical pandering to customers only when topics are popular in certain parts of the world. Blizzard seemed to many to only support freedom when it is geopolitically favorable to do so.
(Source: CCN.com, Screenrant.com, Spieltimes.com)
Imagine supporting one group of people, one conversation about equality and freedom, because it is popular to do so, and publicly silencing another because it would be financially hurtful to do otherwise. That is the situation Blizzard is in right now as the internet has taken issue with Blizzard's hypocrisy during the US 2020 Protests. Twitter felt Blizzard's joining in on the "BLM trending topic", shows they lied back in 2019 during the Blitzchung controversy.
For a refresher, at the end of 2019 Blizzard was in serious hot water with...well pretty much everybody. Even non-gaming circles voiced objection to Blizzard. Blizzard banned esports Blitzchung for speaking up against the Chinese Communist government in defense of the Hong Kong protesters. Blitzchung said “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Age” during an official broadcast on an official Blizzard owned twitch page.
At the time, I played devil’s advocate and defended Blizzard’s point that their greater issue was the fact that he did it on one of their official streams, essentially speaking for them. Something that I still think is admittedly still wrong. However, Blizzard’s slow and poor response and the way the press and social media took it, it came off as Blizzard oppressing free speech and backing the Chinese government. To me, at the time their stance didn't seem that out of the ordinary. Most major companies don’t allow employees or representatives to make political comments when representing said company. Back then, I argued that maybe Blizzard would have done nothing if Blitzchung had made the same statement on a personal twitch account. WIth the backlash Blizzard faced, I always thought it was more a "how they did it, not what they did" issue personally. Free speech after all is only free speech on your own time. I'd get fired if I walked in my day job with a hypothetical Red MAGA hat, Obama shirt, or whatever politically charged garment. Companies regularly limit speech of employees on social media and apparel, this isn't new. Blizzard just acted silently and harshly. They didn't just say, "We don't want to work with X person anymore because of political comments" They said nothing at first, banned him, took his winnings, and even fired the seemingly innocent broadcasters who just happened to be there. Adding fuel to the fire was a unrelated Chinese social media account that was run by a different company, but appeared to be Blizzard by some, made pro-chines statements condemning Blitzchung. Blizzard faced protests from fans and walkouts from employees alike across the country, forcing them into apology.
Blizzard came out with a statement of “political neutrality”, half-apologizing, they simply didn’t want to be political on their pages. At the time, many fairly argued that basic human freedoms and human rights shouldn’t be considered “political”
Why is dredging up this recent history important? Blizzard’s main defense was a desire to be politically neutral, a desire to be "global". In accusations that Blizzard was bowing down to the Chinese Communist government, stated they wanted to be free of political statements.
During these difficult times, Blizzard has joined countless other big name gaming industry platforms in voicing support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I want to be clear, I (and most of the internet responding to this) am not directly criticizing them for doing this. On the contrary, most of the gaming industry has rallied to show support for equality and human rights. I wrote an article titled "A Break from it all" about all the cool things the industry is doing to support equality and inclusion in today's world.
Many people are taking issue with a need to remind everyone of Blizzard’s hypocrisy on the matter. There is a particular human rights discussion, a matter of inequality and freedom that Blizzard has been exposed on before.
While no one condemns their support of the Black Lives Matter in the slightest, by choosing to speak in favor of this human rights/equality discussion, it destroys their only defense they had back in 2019. This hypocrisy proves all along they didn’t care about being politically neutral and were in fact fearful of retaliation to the Chinese government. They sided on the side of money over freedom after all. Back in 2019 no one believed that they were truly trying to be neutral. Public opinion was that Blizzard feared financial impact from China.
INTERNET OPINION: "Blizzard can’t support one political/ humans rights/ equality conversation and then say they wish to be a politically neutral company on another political/ humans rights/ equality discussions."
False hypocritical sincerity by major corporations is something we can’t stand for during these times. False sincerity and support ends when the hashtag stops trending. We must point out Blizzard’s hypocritical contradictory statements. If we want to fight for equality, it is important to remember to do so on a GLOBAL scale. An American company publicly supporting BLM because it is “popular” with it’s American customers and publically condeming the Hong Kong protests because it is popular with its Chinese customers/government relations is the pinochle of hypocrisy.
Others have defended Blizzard as a sign that they have learned from their mistakes, while others feel it is proof of Blizzard being hypocritically situational, pandering to popular topics depending on the demographic of the nations involved even if it is contradictory. What are your thoughts? Is it a sign that Blizzard is learning from their mistakes and doing better? Or is it a sign of hypocrisy and Blizzard siding with topics they feel are geographically popular?