The fighting game community as a whole has made strides to become a more inclusive and welcoming space. It has come a very long way since the late 2000s when saying the words f#$got and tranny were socially acceptable language. People have become a little careful in how they communicate and the words they chose to use. However, that’s not to say that everything is 100% politically correct all the time. Human error and flaw are still very apparent. That being said, some things should just stay locked up tight in your brain.
Prominent and accomplished Super Smash Bros Ultimate player MKLeo made a very careless and sophomoric “joke” after he won Evo 2019. His tweet:
Some would say it’s harmless but many people found this tweet to be very disgusting. Amongst the discourse, a lot of people didn’t see why this tweet was so problematic and hurtful. It was this population of people who saw those who took offense as overly sensitive whiners. The funny thing is that there were quite a few prominent women in the Fighting Game Community who took offense to this including the owner of UYU eSports team Jinhee Kim, who is Korean. I would venture to say she understands the cultural implications behind his tweet more than most people would.
For those still scratching their heads in confusions, allow me to enlighten you. Context is key. MKLeo responded to a question he was asked beforehand and made the joke about it on Twitter later. He said it in jest. MKLeo is a huge fan of KPop, which makes the need for context much more vital. KPop has a very seedy underbelly of scandals and controversies. There are plenty of articles and testimonies discussing this very thing. Seoulbeats wrote an incredible editorial about how prostitution of young trainees in the KPop industry has become a norm.
The KPop industry was stunned when soon-to-be music mogul and incredibly success KPop idol Seungri whose part of the juggernaut group BIGBANG was caught being the ringleader of a longstanding illegal prostitution operation. Seungri confessed and retired from the KPop industry shortly after. He’s currently under investigation for other crimes including illegal overseas gambling.
What MKLeo and others are blithely unaware of is that there is a real history of mental and physical abuse of Asian women being married off to rich (mostly white) men. Just this past May, a video went viral of a man slapping his newly married wife in the face. Many people commented that this is very normal behavior.
To bring this full circle, we can’t forget the few scandals within the FGC that have transpired regarding the safety of women. Noel Brown and Andre Howard were both banned from events after incidents had come to light about sexual assault and domestic abuse. Both of the situations occurred during an actual FGC event. It was a no-brainer to ban them. However in the case of Lee Seon-woo aka Infiltration, his allegations took place outside the confines of the tournament space. He was charged with domestic abuse of a woman. What made this even more difficult was this took place in Korea where he lives. There judicial system works a bit different and is way trickier. However, the court ruled against him and he was fined. Later Panda Global released him from their team. Capcom banned him from the rest of the 2018 Capcom Pro Tour season and the 2019 season to come.
He made his first big appearance at this past Evo 2019 entering (and winning) the Samurai Shodown tournament. Some people wondered why he was welcomed back with open arms. Others used this as an opportunity to address the “lack of outrage” for Infiltration being at Evo but the abundant shaming of MKLeo’s tweets. Though there was a small minority of people who did indeed express distaste for an accused abuser to be able to compete still. Unfortunately, the case with Infiltration is way out of our hands. Since nothing happened at Evo or an event, there was no reason to ban him. What happens on his own time is of no concern to Tournament Organizers. I’m sure if everyone who’s committed or been accused of domestic abuse was banned from tournaments and events, there would be a lot less people going.
MKLeo’s comments aren’t a reason to cancel him but more of an opportunity or teachable moment to make him aware of the implications behind his words. His words were unfortunately harmful to women, especially Asian women who deal with this in their daily lives. We can do better. No matter what his intent was, the impact is what’s important. If he and others are willing to be educated and learn, the FGC can be a better place for everyone.