Players Who Hate Overwatch's Brigitte Are Harassing Her Voice Actress

Illustration for article titled Players Who Hate iOverwatch/is Brigitte Are Harassing Her Voice Actressem/em

For the past few months, the Overwatch community has been belaboring the same point: Many think the HP-heavy “GOATS” meta is tedious and sloggy. They’ve directed much of their resentment toward Brigitte, a hero considered to be a pillar of GOATS. Now some people are even going after her voice actor, who has nothing to do with any of that.

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Matilda Smedius, the voice of Brigitte, did not decide Brigitte would be a support/tank hybrid, nor could she have foreseen the current meta—in which tanks and healers duke it out in methodical wars of attrition—that emerged shortly after Brigitte was added to the game last year. She provides a healthy dose of personality to the shield-wielding engineer, but that’s it. That, however, hasn’t stopped people from directing their fury about Brigitte toward Smedius online. Last week, she tweeted out a message she’d received from somebody who decided she badly needed to know that Brigitte “destroyed Overwatch and the meta.”

“It just makes me so confused as to why someone would send me this kind of message,” Smedius tweeted at the time. “Like, FINE, if you feel like one character destroyed a whole game, you have the right to think so, but maybe give constructive criticism to the developers instead of harassing the voice actor.”

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This week, she posted a video in which she discussed the issue at length. She began by thanking fans for their support, noting that she’s “never gotten this many replies on a tweet before.” And indeed, the majority of comments on that tweet and many others on Twitter and Instagram are overwhelmingly positive. But there are also angry outliers that confuse Smedius to no end, and even though she feels like they shouldn’t, they have an impact on her.

“I was just kind of fed up with those messages popping up all the time,” she said. “I don’t understand why someone would write that. I don’t understand why people hashtag #DeleteBrig on my pictures or call me fat. I don’t understand the point. The message I uploaded on Twitter wasn’t worse than anything else. I’ve seen worse. Way worse. But it caught my eye somehow. It’s just ridiculous to me.”

Inevitably, her tweet about the harassment made it to the Overwatch subreddit, where it was once again met with support, but also suspicion. Smedius said in the video that some people on Reddit called her “an attention whore, or [said] that I like to play the victim” in messages that appear to have since been deleted by moderators, though negative reactions to them remain.

Smedius, who is 21, has only been a public part of the Overwatch voice actor crew for a year. In the video’s most heart-wrenching section, she grappled with the guilt over her decision to pursue the opportunity. “It hurts and it makes me sad. And I know, I should’ve known about this whole thing when I said yes to doing Brigitte. This is just what comes out of having a huge following. But it still hurts.”

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She went on to emphasize that she’s still relatively new to this, and being disliked by people you’ve never met for something you didn’t do is profoundly weird. But Smedius doesn’t feel like she can express those feelings publicly without facing potential repercussions.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m a 21-year-old whose life got changed a year ago,” she said. “And I’m so happy for all the experiences I’ve gotten. But it’s been a lot. It’s been stressful… I wish I could say I didn’t care about what people think. But I do. I hate feeling like I can’t be sad about that or that I just have to deal with it.”

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“I’m still learning and trying to figure out this whole thing. But it’s hard to be lost when thousands of people—ten thousands of people—have their eyes on you.”

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

It is broadly true that “haters” are an inescapable part of any public-facing position; no matter what you do, no matter how much good you do, or no matter how fundamentally disconnected you are from a perceived problem/irritant, there will always be a vocal minority of dickheads who will feel the need to shit in your cereal.

That said, it’s really kind of heartbreaking to hear Smedius say, “And I know, I should’ve known about this whole thing...”

No, you shouldn’t have—and no, you shouldn’t have to tolerate it without being upset, irritated, or sad about it. You’re still a person, irrespective of your professional or public ventures—and you have the right to feel, think, and express yourself the same way anyone else does.

To hell with anyone who says otherwise.

I guaran-goddamned-tee you that most people go through their day without giving a shit what is “trending” on Twitter, or what some fuckwit with a keyboard and an outsized sense of their importance to the world is farting into the Reddit discourse.

You should never have been expected to predict the shit that would crawl from the cesspits of human communication, Ms. Smedius. Nor should you be expected to put up with the misguided, misdirected, infantile wailings of those who demand a game be designed the way they prefer, in a way that confers an advantage upon them—especially when your contribution to that game (your voice) has fuck-all to do with the design, balance, or play experience of that game.

You signed on to do a job—and you did it well. That’s all anyone gets to ask of you: that you do the thing you signed up to do to the best of your ability.

Anyone who demands differently needs to seriously reevaluate their priorities and place in life—and their willingness to be subjected to the same insane bullshit in their own lives.

Being a public figure is going to invite criticism. That much is true. But criticism is not the toxic fuckery that spews from certain corners of the Internet.

I doubt very much you’ll ever read this, and you’ve clearly got a solid base of support already—but never forget that you don’t owe anyone else a goddamned thing, and that the mewling of those hurling their insults and bullshit at you is nothing but an expression of their own impotence.

Keep doing your thing. Don’t let the bastards drag you down.