Oh you don’t want a fun one? C’mon, here, this is a fun one.
Content Warning: I do talk about circumcision and some ‘mens rights’ topics in this one like male suicide, but it’s glancing mentions.
I am coming to have the opinion that one of the things I have come to use this blog for is to provide a complete history of whatever petty internet nonsense thing that ran across my attention on any given day is. When I wound up writing up a full explainer for The Sodafunk Swindle which was spurred on by someone inappropriately describing a Sound! Euphonium character’s thighs as being thicc I had to realise that there was no depth to just how petty I could be about internet detritus, especially when it was about answering questions of: Why Are People Weird About Things?
Why are people weird about things is also, coincidentally, one of the central motifs of the long-running series of critically acclaimed game, Silent Hill. The Silent Hill Franchise, which is basically Resident Evil for people who read (nobody read this to a Resident Evil fan, what they don’t know won’t hurt them), comes from Japan and is generally held up as a common touchstone for Interesting Creepy Horror Games that are enjoyable despite being hard to play and obtuse and kind of, now, a neverending chain of poor marketing decisions. It’s generaly treated as deeply affecting horror and part of how it achieves that is through its use of vivid, cruelly unsettling imagery and an unwillingness to offer clean and clear explanations of what things mean and what they are.
As with any property that invites the audience to ask questions and provide their own answers, we as a body collective made a wiki, in which we attempted to catalogue all those answers to find the Best Way To Be A Right Fan. That’s how there’s a Silent Hill Wiki .
Okay, now we have our pieces set up. What’s the Circumcision Incident?
Well, around 2015, at one point, one of the moderators and contributors of this venerable wiki decided that a personal pet theory about Walter Sullivan was worth adding to the page’s main entries, adding a new Possible Male Circumcision Victim section. This addition was around 800 words long, or about as long as this blog post is, give or take the introduction or conclusion, depending on if you want to cut things off near the base or at the tip, as it were.
Now, I need to underscore: This is not anything to do with what was in the game. There’s a lot of what we consider unsourced claims, in wikispeak, about how maybe this game’s antagonist was motivated by trauma related to an involuntary circumcision or being excluded from women’s health shelters. This character, for what it’s worth, was abandoned by his parents who were cult members and thinks that his mother is a haunted room.
These additions to the posts included a lot of let’s say disconnected ideas. Involuntary penis circumcision is a thing, it absolutely happens and it can cause medical problems later in life. If you’re one of the kinds of people who think that this doesn’t matter in and of itself, and need the recruitment of someone you can point to as obviously more marginalised than me to accept it, consider the long history of the United States doing medically unnecessary reproductive surgeries on black people as a sort of eugenics for poverty in the name of welfare, and that trans women who needed that building material for something else. Involuntary penis circumcision isn’t a bad thing to care about, certainly not in and of itself! Similarly, a lack of support for men’s mental health is not a bad thing to have an opinion on either!
In much the same way that men will often bring up men’s mental health crisis as a way to move the topic of conversation away from things like misogyny, transphobia and gendered violence and instead onto themselves, you have to ask why and when these things are being brought up. If we’re talking about pay gaps, it’s questionably motivated for you to suddenly try and make this conversation about men’s suicide rates, and if we’re talking about where to find the tombstone in Silent Hill 2 with Walter Sullivan’s grave, it’s really questionably motivated for you to provide a short essay on whether or not he has his foreskin.
The conversation quickly broke down, and by that I mean it was never a conversation. The editor of the wiki, who had some degree of power thanks to long time presence on the wiki, fought with people who reverted the edits, and wound up getting into fights where people were kinda, unsurprisingly, assholes. In this time, the editor made more edits over more parts of the wiki to show that actually, this theme he asserted was all over the franchise, and that was in turn, met with disagreement
A large portion of The Internet in general turned their attention to this, people Made Content Out Of It (like this post, in a way), and then stopped caring because it stopped being interesting. Whatever Happened To The Circumcision Theory Havers Of Yesteryear, one might wonder?
So why is this a fun one?
At its heart, this is an incident where someone with (probably, no business of mine) some personal trauma, a rough mental state, and a very practiced skill of typing words had what amounts to a hypergraphia attack on a publically revertable wall. If you wanna go follow it up, good news, he has a FAQ section on the wiki that is eight thousand words long explaining everything he thinks he needs to in a way that I will generously say is rambling.
The thing is: He’s fine. He made a bunch of weird edits to a wiki, he had an episode, and he got made fun of for a week or so, but if you were there for it, if you were around for it, chances are you only remember the incident as a thing that happened and not like you need to track this figure who had some weird bad opinions about something that he – and several others! – find very genuinely upsetting. It’s a lasting incident, a weekend of people making jokes like ‘there’s got to be a cutoff point for this kind of thing,‘ and then… that’s it.
I didn’t mention his name in this article.
Do you know it?