Star Trek Online: Lohlunat Festival 2019 Controversy
Yesterday Cryptic posted details of the forthcoming summer event, known in Star Trek Online parlance as the Lohlunat Festival 2019. As usual there’s a Tier 6 ship to be earned through daily missions along with a ton of cosmetic items. Emotes are popular with players and so this event also includes several that can be used in space via your starship, giving “Captains” further means of expressing themselves. At first glance, there’s nothing exceptional about this bundle of goodies. Nor nothing controversial. However, the devil is in the detail, as developer’s Cryptic subsequently found out.
One of the emotes that was included in this year’s event was the “Dixies Horn”, just like in The Dukes of Hazard (for those old enough to remember that TV show). I say “was” because Cryptic have now removed that particular emote as a reward, having been made aware of the socio-political connotations associated with the song it is based upon. A post made by Vesta 3312 prompted a debate on the STO subreddit and it soon became clear that this was a matter that needed to be resolved promptly. Below is the original post which makes it point very clearly.
As ever with such online debates, not all participants “covered themselves in glory” and there were several comments removed by moderators for obvious transgressions of the subreddit rules. As ever, many of those who have never faced any sort of discrimination in their life, displayed an empathic blind spot and there were the usual arguments based around false equivalence. “I’m not offended, so why are you” still seems to be the go-to argument of choice, despite being logically flawed and emotionally tone deaf. However, Cryptic have acted promptly, addressed the matter and issued an apology. The official STO website has been edited accordingly and hopefully things can move on without too much loss of goodwill.
Yet, it is still a valid point to ask as to how such a blunder could have been made. Star Trek is an intellectual property couched in liberal, progressive attitudes. It is about diversity, inclusion and social issues. Over the years the various shows have explored many different aspects of human failing but they certainly haven’t endorsed any of them. It is sad that such a mistake was made, especially in light of the existing political climate that has become more partisan in recent years. Hopefully lessons can be learned from this incident and that no lasting harm has been done.