Yesterday, Razer tweeted a “light-hearted” joke about the new Apple Macbook Pros and their lack of ports. The tweet tried to bring up the company’s SD reader slots in laptops while also making a crude sex joke.
You can see the original tweet below:
The tweet did earn Razer a bunch of coverage, but probably not the kind it was hoping for.
“Mic reached out to Razer to ask how asking a fellow tech company to suck its dick fits with Razer's mission statement to connect with all gamers,” Mic reported, calling the tweet “the definition of sexism in tech” in its headline. “We'll update with any response.”
Other stories likewise didn’t find much humor in the tweet. “I'm not looking to offend, but I wonder if Razer has considered what, say, its female customers might think of its storage language,” CNET wrote. “Might they store up a little offense when it comes to, say, buying a gaming laptop? Might they think of Razer and decide they're not going to commit any money to a bunch of adolescent dolts?”
It turns out telling a competitor to perform a sex act on you in order to show dominance isn’t the best social media strategy. “Sexism in the tech industry is familiar territory, and while this unfunny tweet isn’t the most egregious example, it certainly doesn’t make Razer look very good,” Gizmodo stated. “We’ve reached out to the company to see why it thought this might be a good idea, and we’ll update if we hear back.”
The tweet has since been deleted, with Razer offering the following apology:
We apologize for the SD reader joke. To those who were offended, it was intended as a lighthearted turn of phrase that missed the mark.— RΛZΞR (@Razer) November 2, 2016
Let’s leave the fact Razer referred to the original tweet as “the SD reader joke,” and get straight to the fact that this apology annoyed and offended an entirely different set of people.
“I really wish you didn't buckle to the politically correct cry babies,” ESL commentator Josh Inman tweeted at Razer. “It was a joke and clearly intended as one. I liked it.” That tweet is the most-faved response to the apology.
The conversation below Razer’s apology has mostly turned into one long argument about whether the apology should have happened, and whether Razer is bad for apologizing at all.
@Razer OMG will companies please stop apologizing to these stuckup pansy ass sheltered new age Millennials.— BrettFX (@BrettFX) November 2, 2016
So why keep talking about it?
Razer has managed to upset both sides of an ongoing argument about culture in gaming while trying to point out a feature of its laptops.
People were unhappy the tweet was written and some genius in marketing decided it should go out, and the people who think macho posturing is a great way to sell hardware were unhappy it was removed.
Razer doesn’t have many options here when it comes to making either group happy, much less both, and that’s the larger, economic argument for why the tweet was so stupid. Razer dug itself into a PR hole with no real hope for escape when its only goal was saying “Hey, our systems are pretty good and offer a variety of options for the power user you won’t get from an Apple laptop.”
Or whatever, there’s a way to say “we have an SD reader” without trying way too hard to be aggressive and “edgy” by bringing genitalia into the situation, while also not dropping straight into bland marketing language. Figuring out how to do so is why people have marketing departments.
The argument over the original tweet and the ensuing apology generated anger and vitriol in every direction. Some people are saying Razer should maybe not have written the tweet, and other people think Razer is weak for caving to “censorship.”
Razer is a company that states it’s “for gamers, by gamers,” and for some this is likely yet more evidence that the previously male-dominated industry may become a place where they have to actually think before they speak, and where sexually aggressive, gendered “trash talk” may no longer be as unquestionably accepted.
.@Razer I hope you see you've got just as large of a fan base (if not larger) who actually support a witty, comedic approach to marketing.— Josh Inman (@Inmaniac) November 2, 2016
Razer’s apology stands in contrast to its own aggressive posturing, and there are fans who seem honestly shocked that Razer’s image is meant to sell laptops and isn’t actually a statement about never having to grow up and admit many different people play games.
So congratulations, Razer! You went from having a legitimate advantage with your hardware to upsetting just about everyone you’d like to buy that hardware. All in one tweet.