It’s another thrilling episode of the Safe Spaces Podcast! Our stalwart host Nathan Evans is once again joined by perpetually grumpy tech guru Herman Exum are back to their favorite stories that drove them bonkers over the last two weeks. They put themselves through the ringer so you don’t have to – there’s only so much hair-pulling before the roots start showing, so on with the show!

A recent mass shooting at a Madden Football eSports event has, once again, reopened the floodgates for pundits and provocateurs alike to talk, demonize and draw conclusions about the state of videogame violence, toxic masculinity and – of course – gun control. Practically nothing about the actual science or psychology behind the motivating factors that cause, contribute or even control the twitch reactions or emotional levels of millions of game fans across the planet, the vast majority of whom aren’t sociopathic killers or violent malcontents.

So what could violence at gaming tournaments mean for the future of eSports and competition events? Quite a bit, actually, though probably in ways benefiting anyone involved as jumping to premature and often incorrect conclusions is de rigor in situations like these. It’s a conversation that desperately needs to happen, yet somehow never does… We’ll do our best, but we’re swimming upstream here.

From here things turn to the most anticipated funerals of the year: The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s star-studded extravaganza and the late Senator John McCain’s stately affair. Our hosts do their best to avoid the inappropriate, yet totally expected, “Trump Bash” others are trumpeting (get it?) on the two, instead focusing on the magical reactions by President Bill Clinton as he watched Ariana Grande perform for the crowd.

What can we say that screengrabs can’t say thousands of times better? Few ex-Presidents can express themselves better and more accurately than William Jefferson Clinton, and the only surprising thing about his reactions to Ms. Grande’s soulful performance is that anyone is surprised at all.

Bill Clinton’s reactions have become their own kind of Zen for the internet age, expressing thoughts and inner dialogues many of us could only ever hope to have if consequences for our actions weren’t factors. To paraphrase that old chestnut: smile like nobody’s watching, frown when the shake stops shaking. Don’t ever change, Mr. President!

Perhaps you’ve heard the brouhaha stirring about the upcoming movie First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, and its reluctance to show the first human being to set foot on the moon planting the old stars and stripes on the lunar service? The filmmakers are on record stating their removal of the iconic scene was to honor humanity’s accomplishment as a whole, though conservatives (none of whom have seen the actual film, we’d wager) aren’t having any of it. Whether a celebration or anti-patriotic, it’s possible both sides are “correct”, yet still wrong at the same time.

Finally, our hosts conclude this episode by taking a quick peek at the never-ending saga of Star Trek’s most infamous star, Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, several audiobook readings). As a child actor he would, infamously, play the youngest member of the Enterprise throughout the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation (the best ST, if we’re being honest). He’s since become something of a legendary figure for those growing up in the age of the internet, never shy about injecting himself in every possible situation, movement, or obnoxious Twitter spat.

Mr. Wheaton recently made headlines – or clickbait headlines – by announcing he was quitting Twitter in an attempt to “protest” the service’s refusal to remove the hilariously quotable Alex Jones from their pipeline. Wheaton then attempted to migrate to Mastodon, only to discover he wasn’t as welcome as he thought he’d be. Long story short, he’s quit social media yet again, protesting its “toxicity” and how he “doesn’t deserve” to be treated so badly by strangers. Forgetting that Mr. Wheaton himself was often the bully to strangers who disagreed with him, it’s a strange tale of comeuppance in the digital age, and how the hands-off appeal of social media can transform even the most likable person in the world  into a complete asshole.

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