Reginald and me
On the 9th of June, on Episode 12 of 'Summoning Insight', a League of Legends talk show I host along with MonteCristo, a comment I made regarding TSM owner Reginald saw me leveled with allegations of racism. In this article I will outline my side of the story and my thoughts on Reginald. This is another topic, along with my previously outlined Polish problems, which I was prohibited from speaking about during my time at OnGamers, but which I will now address my thoughts and feelings on.
Firstly, I have seen much misinformation regarding the chronology of the events which led up to and followed that fateful day, so it will serve the reader to note the following chronological listing of what happened, when and in what order.
The chronology of my relationship with TSM and the Reginald incident
- March - 'Grilled' interviews with Dyrus and TheOddOne filmed at MLG Dallas.
- October - 'Grilled' interview with Xpecial filmed at the S3 World Championship.
- November - My interview requests begin to be denied by Reginald.
- February 7th - The pilot Episode of 'Summoning Insight' is aired.
- June 8th - I'm informed that Travis and the rest of OnGamers have been black-listed from working with TSM, due to criticisms made by myself and Monte on previous episodes of 'Summoning Insight'.
- June 9th - Episode 12 of 'Summoning Insight' airs, starring guest Candy Panda. I break the news that Reginald has black-listed OnGamers and, following that, make the joke about Reginald.
- June 9th - Reginald releases a vlog, hours after Episode 12 has aired, outlining his thoughts regarding the OnGamers black-listing and 'Summoning Insight'.
- June 10th - OnGamers issues an official apology to TSM, Reginald and the community.
It has often been repeated that Reginald black-listed OnGamers from working with TSM as a result of this Episode and my comment about him, which is entirely inaccurate and chronologically impossible. TSM had already black-listed OnGamers prior to the show, which is the news I broke on that episode and which spawned the rant I gave about professionalism, which ended up leading into my joke about Reginald.
Planet of the Apes
I'll first of all address my joke about Reginald, which some members of the community have labelled as racist. Something I've found quite curious and suggestive is that when people have repeatedly referenced my comments about Poland, another scandal regarding comments people found offensive, they are so quick to copy and paste a transcription of those comments, confident as they are in the damning power of the words, yet a similar approach has not been brought to this scandal.
People don't ever paste or write out of transcription of my joke regarding Reginald. In fact, I've yet the joke and the statements before and afterwards transcribed anywhere the story was reported, despite transcribing it being a job that would take all of say five minutes. As a result, I've transcribed the relevant section myself. Beginning at this point in the video, I say:
"We were actually having a show and there was this guy on the show, who I just remembered, he's in this right hand box. He's called Candy Panda... he loves Reginald by the way! If he ever gets the chance to to be on TSM, he's right there. He thinks [Regi] is a great man, motivational leader, again, possible father figure... see the way I talk the man up? [Reginald's] Caesar. If this was 'Planet of the Apes', he's Caesar. I had to go there, whatever, you know how I do that shit. But, again, I would allow Caesar to come on and say 'Get your hands off me you filthy dirty ape', if he said that to me, but he probably wouldn't."
The reason I bring up the curious lack of transcription out there, is that my joke or comment is often referenced as "Thorin called Reginald a monkey" or "Thorin compared Reginald to a monkey". Some even attempt to suggest it was not even a joke and simply an attempt at a factual statement, to be interpreted literally. No mention is ever made of the section in which I say "I would allow Caesar to come on and say 'Get your hands off me you filthy dirty ape', if he said that to me".
The context of the joke
Firstly, this was not a racist joke. I referred to Reginald as Caesar as a joke following an earlier joke at Candy Panda's expense, suggesting that while MonteCristo and I have issues with Reginald, Candy Panda does not and, as the perception might be due to TSM's vast rumoured wealth and exposure, that the German AD Carry would jump at the chance to join TSM. To continue the line of humour, I suggest that Candy thinks Reginald is great, listing a number of his imaginary qualities, such as being "a great man, motivational leader, again, possible father figure". Following nine words later, I make my joke about Reginald being Caesar, if this is Planet of the Apes.
I don't say that Reginald looks like Caesar. I don't suggest that Reginald is like Caesar. I don't suggest that people of Reginald's ethnicity look like or are like Caesar. I don't suggest that Reginald is a monkey or that he looks like a monkey or that people of his ethnicity look like or are like monkeys. I compare Reginald to a fictional movie character who is a Chimpanzee.
In what context do I compare Reginald to Caesar? The context does not follow at all that I am referring to his appearance or ethnicity, the context can quite clearly, following the statements expressed beforehand, be seen to be regarding his character, which is of a great man, motivator and possible father figure. Any interpretation that this is a racially motivated statement is entirely projected from the part of the reader or listener.
Flirting with the community meme
The primary spawning point of allegations of racism as they pertain to this incident comes from the community-generated meme that Reginald looks like a monkey and thus is compared to the League of Legends champion Wukong, who is a monkey. I made no such comparison and nothing within my statement bears any connection to that meme, except that the character chosen in my metaphor, is a chimpanzee, an animal often confused by the general public as being a monkey, despite being a great ape.
It has been suggested that I could have picked any movie or character for my metaphor, so it is in some way damning that I chose one who the people who assume is a monkey, thus playing into the meme. The reason I picked that particular character, is that in the spur-of-the-moment it fit well with the characteristics I was listing and conjuring up an image of around Reginald. That it flirted with, without expressly stating, a connection to a community joke about Reginald's appearance, was a bonus.
I don't like Reginald as a person and in the cooling down phase after my rant about his unprofessionalism, where he had essentially attempted to leverage my job against increased success for the OnGamers brand, I went too far in lashing out, essentially making a statement which while entirely justifiable on its own grounds, did tread close to a well-established and offensive joke about Reginald's appearance.
I do think Reginald is ugly, but that's neither relevant nor appropriate in the context of 'Summoning Insight'. I certainly do not think he is ugly due to his ethnicity and was not playing into any historical stereotypes regarding that ethnicity, neither of which I had any clue of. To provide context for that statement, I will point out that I would describe Dan Dinh, Reginald's brother, as being quite a handsome and good-looking guy, yet as far as I know he is of identical ethnic heritage. The point here, is that even any interpretation of my statement as flirting with the joke of Reginald looking like a monkey is one which carried no racial motivation or undertone on my part.
Thorin the filthy dirty ape
It is also worth noting, to further add to the case that I did not refer to Reginald within the context of him being a monkey or looking like a monkey, is that in the lines following the joke of him being Caesar, I state that he could come on the show and say to me "Get your hands off my you filthy dirty ape". So the context of that statement, is that I am myself compared to an ape. If the purpose of the joke had been to suggest that Reginald or people of his ethnicity were apes or in any sense sub-human, then how would it contextually make any sense that I myself would be referred to as an ape directly, not even in terms of character?
My thoughts on Reginald, the black-listing and professionalism
As I stated earlier in the same episode, I had disliked Reginald since long before he black-listed myself or OnGamers from working with his team. Despite that, I had never particularly made that dislike public and it had not in any sense affected my willingness to involve him and his team in my work, within an entirely professional capacity. To me, being able to seperate your personal feelings from your professional work, where it benefits your professional work to do so, is a true definition of professionalism. An example of my intellectual honesty in this regard can be seen in this piece, praising best Reginald's decisions for his team, more than four months following his black-listing of OnGamers.
On those grounds, Reginald showed himself to be unprofessional. It would, quite obviously, benefit TSM, their fans and their level of exposure to be interviewed by Travis Gafford, the game's premiere and most high-profile interviewer. Fans rely on those interviews after LCS matches to add to the flavour of their viewing experience and give them insight into the thoughts of the players as the season progresses. Instead, due to Reginald disliking critique of his team by Monte and myself, he denied TSM fans and League fans in general of such interviews.
As I stated in that segment, I have no problem with Reginald black-listing me personally, as he had already done over six months prior, from doing interviews with TSM players. I had never publicly stated that the black-list had taken place and many months after it had taken effect, I had even called TSM the best team in North America, when they acquired Bjergsen and began the LCS Spring Split, even defeating C9 for the first time. I have not let my personal feelings about Reginald or TSM affect my professional work. Any time I have predicted against them, I have honestly analysed the game and come to the conclusion they would lose that match or series.
As I outlined, I have had a couple of previous incidents where teams wanted to black-list me, but I reached out to them and explained that I wouldn't even reveal their actions against me, provided they did no punish Travis or OnGamers by denying them interview access, which all of the teams in question had readily agreed to, in time.
I will say that I actually agree with Reginald's notion, from his vlog, and suggested by Locodoco, that TSM avoid social media during the split. If I were a coach or owner, I think that would be the approach I would take, as there is no point gambling with the player hearing some criticism that might in some way influence their play negatively. That seems like quite a fair and rational conclusion to arrive at. Other statements made by Reginald in his vlog were ludicrous though.
Before moving on to some of the other statements in the vlog, I will also state that I agree, to a degree, about Reginald's comments regarding Travis informing myself and OnGamers that we had been black-listed. If he was told that in confidence, as a friend of Reginald's, then I'm not sure he actually does have an ethical obligation to inform his employer of what he has learned, quite possibly the opposite. With that said, from knowing Travis for a number of years, I think he did not realise the potential implications of informing myself and OnGamers. Looking back now, I'm sure he'd recognise that he made a mistake and possibly hand it differently if the situation arose again.
"Nothing comes positive from Summoner Insight"
-Reginald in his vlog of June 9th 2014
Reginald suggested that many other teams would not work with us, even directly naming Dignitas as one. Our incident with Dignitas owner ODEE flaming us in chat had come during Episode 10 and it was on the very next Episode, 11, that ZionSpartan, Top laner of Dignitas, appeared. Following that, we have had Crumbzz appear on the show twice, in Episodes 16 and 23.
The only NA LCS teams whose players did not appear on the show were Evil Geniuses, LMQ and Cloud9. EG members I spoke to were having a difficult split and wanted to wait until after their campaign was finished before doing our kind of media. LMQ players speak very little English and it has always been our policy that having a guest be translated live would take up too much time for too little benefit to the show, slowing the pace down considerably. Finally, Cloud9 members have not appeared largely due to their own personal black-list of my content, which dates back to more than 8 months prior to Reginald's vlog.
Reginald stating that "nothing positive" comes from the show is patently ludicrous. Not only does the show provide hours of entertainment for viewers, it gives them extended analysis from MonteCristo, one of the premiere thinkers about the game, and we have had a wide variety of well known and well respected guests appear. Even if Reginald does not care for SI or the opinions expressed upon it, it is not an either-or situation when it comes to him working with OnGamers or not. By denying access for interviews, he has now taken away a positive from the community there. To paraphrase him: "Nothing positive comes from black-listing Travis from interviewing TSM players".
My primary regret about the consequences of my joke of Reginald being Caesar, is that it helped spawn the misconception that OnGamers were black-listed due to me making a racially insensitive comment. As a result, a number of community members sided with TSM, when the issue actually should have been about the relationships of teams and the media. That my joke over-rode that discussion and diverted it onto an unhelpful tangent is something I greatly regret.
This should have been a moment in which OnGamers was able to stand strong and directly put it out there into the industry that teams could not simply black-list them entirely, else there would be public statements made regarding the topic. Instead, the sheer weight of public hysteria meant OnGamers seemingly had no choice but to buckle and apologise entirely, ceding important ideological ground.
It's also the case, as I outlined in my apology, that I did, upon reflection, come to the conclusion that it was inappropriate to allow my metaphor to flirt with the community meme of Reginald being a monkey, being as that meme is essentially just a mean joke about someone's appearance. If I am being intellectually honest and aspiring to be a good person, then I can agree that is not an appropriate course of action. In that respect, I had no problem with apologising to Reginald, as there are plenty of grounds on which to criticise him and be angry with him, but that is not one which should even enter the discussion.