This weekend, the /r/MagicTCG was on lockdown after cosplayer Christine Sprankle announced she was quitting due to persistent harassment. The post discussing Sprankle being driven from the hobby quickly went to the front page of Reddit and was temporarily locked.
The finger of blame was pointed at Youtube channel UnsleevedMedia. Related posts on the subreddit were locked as other prominent Magic community members showed their support of Sprankle and shared their own stories of harassment from UnsleevedMedia.
Christine Sprankle has regularly attended Magic tournaments over the years dressed as popular characters like Elspeth, Freyalise and Liliana and earned herself the title ‘the godmother of Magic cosplay’.
Her cosplay has been featured on the official Magic website and in the documentary series Enter the Battlefield.
However the attention she’s drawn hasn’t all been positive.
In an Instagram post, Sprankle announced she was cancelling her upcoming appearance at GP Portland and deleting her private Facebook account because she was “super tired of the harassment and would love to have some peace and quiet.”
In a sticky addressing the situation, the moderators explained:
“Last night, a post regarding a tweet from Cspranklerun was made, and it was very successful. It generated a lot of discussion, some good, some bad. The post continued to climb in popularity eventually reaching /r/all and the attention of many unsavory subreddits. With this newfound attention, users who are not part of our community began to raid our subreddit, posting some pretty hateful things in the hopes of stirring up more drama.”
On Reddit, it’s common for people from outside a certain community to join in high profile topics like this one. However when there is a coordinated effort from another community to disrupt the conversation (known as “brigading”), it can have detrimental effects to the original subreddit.
To address this, another comment from the moderators made it clear that any attempts to support, deny or dismiss the harassment would result in a permanent ban from the subreddit.
Telling victims of harassment that “it’s just a joke” or to “grow a thicker skin” do nothing to help in situations like this and serve only to remove responsibility from the people being assholes.
One of the locked threads was a screenshot of a tweet from Sprankle, naming UnsleevedMedia as a major antagonist in this saga.
It has been a rough year. And I have blocked and not said anything about him because I wanted it to die but without a doubt MtGHeadquarters/UnsleevedMedia has made my life hell this whole year with his unnecessary videos/tweets about me and other members of Magic.
— . (@cspranklerun) November 25, 2017
UnsleevedMedia, formerly MTGHeadquarters, is a Youtube channel with 143,865 subscribers that posts a range of Magic videos, including inflammatory content like this video ‘satirically’ accusing Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater of sexual harassment based on a Twitter poll.
Other Magic the Gathering community members – including Hall of Fame member Eric Froehlich – have since come forward with their own allegations and accusations of harassment from UnsleevedMedia.
No one has made me more miserable than that man, no one has spread more vile lies and attacks. I’ve lost sleep, had panic attacks. No more.
— Tolarian Community (@TolarianCollege) November 25, 2017
I won't dignify him with an @ mention – those of us in the community know exactly who he is, & unfortunately some of us know intimately well how he harasses and operates on a daily basis. I'm tired of all the fans saying "why can't you just get along". I refuse to. He has to go.
— Top Tier Waifu (@jfwong) November 25, 2017
What really upsets me is that nothing actually happened this weekend…people just decided ENOUGH & to make a stand. This has been going on for YEARS & been known about for YEARS. Even people inside WotC have been harassed by these people. It shouldn't have to come to this ever. https://t.co/eSXCI4bUDf
— eric froehlich (@efropoker) November 26, 2017
Wizard of the Coast have also chimed in on the situation.
We're saddened by what happened in the Magic community this weekend. Cyber bullying and harassment are unacceptable, and we support those who come forward with their experiences. No one should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome. We're working to be a part of the solution.
— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) November 26, 2017
UnsleevedMedia responded on Twitter to the controversy claiming people should “dig deeper and look for the truth” while accusing others of “Faux Outrage”.
Enjoy Your Weekend Everyone! My final statement on all these folks and their Faux Outrage. Take the time to ask for reciepts and you'll see this is all hilarious. 🙂
— UnsleevedMedia (@UnsleevedMedia) November 25, 2017
UnsleevedMedia’s reaction to these accusations, and past allegations of harassment, mimics the behaviour that /r/MagicTCG moderators were banning users for. Dismissing their actions as just a joke or satire.
In reaction to this drama, another Magic Youtuber, The Professor from Tolarian Community College, posted a video detailing many instances of alleged harassment from UnsleevedMedia.
In this video, which includes numerous clips from UnsleevedMedia’s past videos, The Professor addresses UnsleevedMedia directly about the harassment both of them have received and the consequences of UnsleevedMedia’s actions.
“My phone suddenly rings, as you well know how scary that is, and I say ‘Oh, death threat. I guess Jeremy made another video or series of tweets about me,'” says The Professor.
There are clips of UnsleevedMedia talking about Sprankle and her Patreon. He calls Sprankle a “serial virtue-signaller and crying for Patreon dollars cosplayer” while saying that she cries in her Patreon videos so that “loser beta cucks” will give her money.
Another of the instances highlighted in the video shows UnsleevedMedia accusing a Magic pro of pedophilia after a disagreement on Twitter. The Professor’s response to the so-called defence of satire is simple, “there is criticism, there is satire and then there is calling a person a pedophile for tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, to see.”
The video concludes with a heartfelt statement: “All I ask is that you consider the ramifications of your actions and ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. Is that how you want to shape the world around you? Is that how you want to shape other people’s lives? It isn’t what I want to do and it’s not what this video is meant to do and I’ll never do another video like this again. This was supposed to be a video on how to be a better control player.
“Is this the message you want to send out into the world?”
UnsleevedMedia’s response was to call the video “unsubstantiated lies”.
Classic Unsubstantiated Lies Spread By The Largest MTG Channels Out There! https://t.co/yZ1JLV9Tdf
— UnsleevedMedia (@UnsleevedMedia) November 27, 2017
It is unclear what action, if any, Wizards of the Coast will take in response to this situation and the subreddit has resumed normal activity.