Hey y’all. We know the reports over the past… year (god, it’s been almost a year already) about the awful sexual harrassment and dubious behavior going on at video game mega publisher Activision Blizzard. Sure it’s involved stolen breast milk, an infamous “Cosby Suite,” and even a suicide, but you don’t have to worry — Activision Blizzard has been cleared of any wrongdoing! Just ask Activision Blizzard! Whose internal Board of Directors working group has determined that there is no “systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation” at ABK! I’m using exclamation points, but I’m not enthused!
The Board was focused on exonerating Activision senior executives (and of course the Board itself), stating there was no evidence of higher-ups ignoring, downplaying, or perpetuating sexual harassment at the company, though they do meekly admit there were “some substantiated instances of gender harassment.” They just supposedly weren’t aware of it and weren’t doing anything about it. And even supposing this is true (lmaoooooooo) we’re all theoretically supposed to take that as a GOOD thing.
The report was mainly aimed at debunking accusations of misconduct levied at company CEO Bobby Kotick, such as him threatening a female assistant, failing to report a settlement with an alleged rape victim to the company Board, and intervened to keep Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting from being fired for sexual harassment. Apparently, he’d apologized to the assistant, actually did keep the board updated, and Bunting got proper disciplinary action… though Bunting resigned pretty soon after the WSJ report on the matter got out. Curious, that.
The Board supposedly used email correspondence, fresh interviews, and other primary sources in its investigation, but it didn’t go into detail about how widespread the investigation was, how its data was gathered, or what data was given to external aides in the investigation like the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which settled with the company for $18 million in its lawsuit). Also, the investigation was limited to September 2016 to December 2021, an only five year gap. And we don’t know how many people they interviewed. Hm.
“What we have come to realize over the past several months is that there are many truths about our company — individual and collective, experiential and data-driven — and sometimes they can be difficult to reconcile,” the Board says, in what sounds like the beginning of a dialectical discussion about the nature of reality but is actually them just absolving themselves of blame by going “that’s your truth, man. We’ve got our own.” They then, incredibly, go on to complain about an “unrelenting barrage of media criticism.” Y’all. Did you SEE the thing about the breast milk? Or all the other sheer inhumanity mentioned above? What, you want us to NOT be appalled at that kind of barbarism? This isn’t even getting into the unionbusting, which is its own topic.
Look, to discard my snide, infuriated righteousness for a moment, it bears repeating: even if what ABK’s Board is saying is true, that doesn’t mean there was no sexual harassment at the company. All they’re doing is absolving themselves (the higher-ups, that is) of blame by stating they just didn’t know what was happening. If they didn’t know, what could they have done about it, basically? Well, that doesn’t make me any more affectionate towards them. Assuming they’re even telling the truth (again, lmaoooooooooooooo). I don’t want to treat a serious matter with such flippancy, but they’re doing the same things themselves. There aren’t enough “Obama giving himself a medal” images in the world for it.
Since the company is clearly now going to do little internally to change things systemically or in terms of personnel (they look to institute a zero-tolerance harassment policy and new Ethics guidelines) it will be up to external forces to do so, if possible. The California lawsuit that kicked this all off is still going, and Microsoft is still poised to buy the company for billions of dollars (potentially able to institute sweeping change thereafter). Will either prospect result in justice? We can’t say. But we can hope.
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