First and foremost, we need to work together. All of us. Plain and simple, easy to say, but so very imperative in light of recent events.
Smash is a wild community. It’s one that I have observed from the outside, not because I did not want to be involved, but because I am involved in a multitude of other things in my life, from finishing school, focusing on my career, planning a wedding during a pandemic, etc. That said, I have always been a smasher, from the N64 days to Smash Ultimate. I’ve followed the trends, watched high-level gameplay, read up on the patch notes and play the new characters for about a week to form my own opinion. I play with my youngest brother online all the time. It’s one of the ways we stay connected despite the distance between us. So while I can’t say that I know the smash community as well as some of the big names out there, I am a human being who, like you, is both disgusted and saddened with the recent stories of sexual abuse and mental trauma.
Here is what I urge people to do:
- We need to be proactive and not reactive. I realize that this statement in itself is reactive in nature, but it does not take away from the message. Organizations, smashers, parents of smashers, and friends all need to work together to learn about the turmoil that is caused from these events. We need to be in the know, learning about the dangers of sexual abuse, the mental anguish that it causes, and how to avoid it. We need to be speaking about it openly. We need to work together to make sure that these events do not happen again. We need to get educated, stay in the know, and help others out.
- We need to remember that most of these stories involve minors. This is not an excuse, but rather an acknowledgement that minors, just like adults, are capable of making mistakes. Minors who are on their own, maybe in a different state, without parents or friends to fall back on, in challenging situations. No one is perfect as a kid. No one is perfect now. Peer pressure exists. We need to realize that we all have room to grow and learn from any event in our lives, no matter how big or small it is. While it makes me sad to read the stories of those who were abused, it also makes me sad that the abusers not only made the moves they did, but tried to hide it away.
- Power and Influence is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Did these abusers know that they had such power behind them? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it does not mean that they were not the one in control of the situation. In most cases, they were. They were a big name with a large following and fame all around them. Maybe it was just in their local scene, or maybe it was on a national platform. That power utilized on a minor…there’s no word to describe it other than disgusting. All players, not just the world’s best, need to know and understand the pressures and dangers that comes with being a big name in the smash community. The very popular Youtuber Alpharad describes this very thing well:
no matter how big or small the interaction may be, people who look up to you hold you in a holy light… don’t abuse this. it can be a hard thing to recognize (speaking from personal experience) but to summarize it lightly:
the verified, 400k follower account fighting in the replies with “Timothy Sonic Main” sporting a whopping 12 followers is an inherent imbalance in power
Whether you want to or not, you WILL send your followers after them despite that not being your intention….
…It sucks to be idolized, but it happens. It would be nice if it didn’t, but it does. So please use your power properly. Don’t abuse it.
I can’t agree more, and I am glad that someone with a big a platform as Alpharad gets it. He has talked about it in videos, mentioned how hard it is know that everything is under a microscope, but he does not abuse it. Unfortunately, it does not stop people from taking his words and holding them higher than others.
If you idolize an actor, a public figure, a smasher, but don’t know that person personally, it is IMPOSSIBLE to know who they are as a person. Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, etc. creates an environment where that wall SEEMS to come down and it FEELS like we can interact with our idols. It is not. I doubt Alpharad will ever read this, but even if he does I still feel comfortable saying this. Alpharad is a form of content and entertainment that I get to enjoy when he uploads a new video. He is not someone I aspire to be, not someone I look up to. However, I respect all the things he has done for his local community, for the smash community, and for creating a brand that has entertained 2 Million subscribers. I think that holding the Quarantine series for smashers to interact, and holding it for an audience to enjoy is great! I am happy that he has found his calling, creating content on a platform for many to enjoy.
But I don’t look at Alpharad in a different light. He’s not my hero. I will hold him, and many others with the same large following, accountable for his actions. We all should do that. And you know what, he does that himself. I respect that. I want to thank him for that. It is that type of self-awareness and actualization that may be the key in abolishing these events of sexual abuse and discrimination in the community.
So who am I, and what do I want to do in all this?
Well, I’m not someone who has a big online following. I’m just a man in his late 20’s who has a love for a video game and loves that, despite the discourse and Nintendo’s lack of involvement, the game has a worldwide competitive platform. It is a game that brings many people together from different walks of life.
Mental health is huge. Let’s learn how to speak to one another, and how to listen to one another.