Once again, pop culture critic Jonathan McIntosh has lived up to his nickname and has reached an entirely new level of “Full McIntosh“. Never heard of the term? It refers to McIntosh’s illogical and absurd arguments relating to video games. This is the same man upset that video game consoles have controllers, because it is limiting to new players and how could anyone use all of those buttons?
Never mind that any six year old can pick up a PlayStation or Xbox controller and become fully acquainted with the buttons within the hour. It’s concerning that McIntosh—a self described pop culture critic—can’t even manage the basic functions involving video games, especially considering video games are vital to modern pop culture. How can one trust McIntosh to analyze something he can barely use? It’s like a movie critic who doesn’t know how to use a remote to watch a DVD, or a book “expert” who’s only read Where’s Waldo because text is limiting to new readers. You can’t expect someone to be an expert, or even to critique something, if they don’t have knowledge on that movement. McIntosh even has the audacity to claim gamers are the bad ones because he can’t understand buttons:
The problem is: He’s not the only self-described expert who doesn’t have the required expertise for their own profession. Whenever a medium becomes successful enough—video games, television, books—it becomes popular enough so it can be studied and analyzed at universities. Video games are in their peak, which is why academically-minded folks like Jonathan McIntosh have come out of the woodwork and realized they can make money out of analyzing video games. The problem arises when these academic minds have no understanding of the medium they’re studying.
Books were probably the first popular medium to be desecrated by those at universities and colleges. Books were previously seen as being incomparable to conversation. Plato believed letters and the written word would destroy the tradition of oration:
[They] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.
However, once books had become mainstream enough, Plato’s fears were soon forgotten. Once academics had gotten their hands upon books, these people—regardless of whether they enjoyed reading or not—became addicted to the idea of people thinking they were smart and read prolifically. Bibliomania was the real-life consequence of this, a pseudo-illness in the nineteenth century in which mostly upper-class Englishmen became obsessed with buying books.
Nowadays, there are entire faculties at universities set up to analyze books: there are Literary Studies faculties and Bachelor’s Degrees in English. They are devoted to finding themes and meanings in even the most meaningless works of fiction. With the advent of radio and television, these same faculties increased to add radio dramas, television programs and movies to their repertoire. Anyone who’s ever studied a book in high school will understand how teachers will find any meaning in a book. Character eats an apple? Well that’s a Biblical reference. This character wears a yellow shirt? Well, clearly that’s a byproduct of Morty Shirt Theory and implies Morty’s shirt is only yellow because of the darkness of Rick’s soul and a comparison to the blue of Rick’s shirt, hence implying blah blah.
These academics and culture critics only care about finding meaning in their chosen entertainment medium. It doesn’t matter if the text has no meaning: It now has meaning. Since they are so separated from the practicalities of the real world, academics and critics truly believe that their meaning is the one true meaning. Much like Jonathan McIntosh and video games, he truly believes those who actually buy and play video games do not have the same foresight as him on the entire industry.
Basic English: McIntosh is upset that companies like Microsoft, who owns Xbox and Kinect, have the gall to stop selling a console because it doesn’t sell well. In his insular bubble, he believes he knows exactly how the video game industry works, simply because he makes YouTube videos analyzing elements of said video games. He knows more than the video gamers who actually play video games and don’t enjoy the Kinect. He is the modern academic: stuck inside their ivory tower complaining about the thoughtless plebeians below who disagree with him.
There is nothing wrong with academics and academic-types like McIntosh analyzing the intricacies of video games, television shows, films and novels. Many, but not all, have political and sociopolitical elements worth understanding. However, people like McIntosh believe they understand the very elements of video games and video game consoles by virtue of being a self-described pop culture critic. Claiming you are something does not mean you are the ultimate expert, beyond criticism, especially when you’re only analyzing said medium not because you like it, but because you think you can get some attention making rash judgements.
Jonathan McIntosh is not an expert on video games, but he claims to be the ultimate authority on the movement, when he is clearly not. The same is true of academics who claim to be well versed on other forms of entertainment and pop culture. There is simply nobody who is above criticism. Much like academics who claim to be the foremost figure on novels, but only read one genre (usually literary fiction), Jonathan McIntosh is the video game expert who only knows about music and dance games on the Xbox Kinect.
When most are disagreeing with McIntosh—as appears to be the case on Twitter—maybe he should attempt to engage in rational debate instead of dismissing an entire demographic, thus proving how much of a dye-in-the-wool ivory tower academic he is at heart.