Blog Banter 55: Infamous

Last Blog Banter we talked about heroes in EVE Online. The followup to that topic has been provided by Wilhelm aka The Ancient Gaming Noob:

“Write about somebody who is “space famous” and why you hate/admire them, somebody who isn’t space famous but you think should be or will be, or discuss space fame in general, what it means, and how people end up so famous.”

I’d like to add another take on the subject, is there a cost of being famous in EVE and if so, is it worth the price?

There’s really only one person for me to write about here – a person more egotistical, more self-absorbed, more narcissistic than even me. I refer, of course, to the Mittani.

The MittaniLet’s talk about this larger than life icon of self-proclaimed villainy. He is the CEO of Goonswarm, by far the largest Alliance in all of New Eden. In fact, the only other alliance large enough to rival them was Band of Brothers, and as the premiere mini-series of Eve Online: True Stories tells us (from the Mittani’s own point of view in fact), the Mittani was instrumental in the manipulation and eventual downfall of that rival.

He speaks, for good or bad, and his drones listen (wasn’t it just a few Fanfests ago that a drunken Mittani had his minions attack a suicidal player to help them along in their despair? How thoughtful). That’s what they are really, drones. Thousands of mindless pilots buzzing around their queen waiting for instructions. Not a self-thinker among them. Of course the Mittani has been successful. He is the king of the stink pile. He has taken the rejects of the internet, found originally on the something awful forums, catered to the lowest common denominator of ignorance and instant self-gratification, manipulated all of them into doing his bidding, and they praise him for it.

The Mittani is a thinker. That is his superpower. He is intelligent, cunning, charming, exposing just enough of his emotion to make people think he may actually have a heart, when it suits his purpose.

No wonder the Mittani is such an icon.

Then there’s Alex.

eveonlinefanfest_241531People have often disparaged me for not drawing a clear line between the character of Roc Wieler and the player behind the avatar. They are one in the same. We all are if we’re honest. Our characters, no matter how much we like to think we are good roleplayers, or actors, or whatever word you want to use to rationalize your pathos, our characters are us. They may be an extreme version of our inner desires, but they are us.

Alex is the Mittani is Alex. You only have to meet the man once to know this. Much like his character, Alex is the queen bee, surrounded by those same vacant drones. They follow him around blindly, catering to his every whim, seeking favour with this king among men. It’s hard for me not to smirk and facepalm every time I see it.

We all know the basics of Alex’s story – young, charming, very intelligent, retired lawyer, mortgage free, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying blah to minimize his accomplishments. He has done well for himself. Hell, he’s turned his passion into a paying website with themittani.com, something greater than my Eve Online inspired music albums have done.

Here’s the thing, though, and maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe Alex has pulled the wool over even my eyes so completely that I am writing blind.

Alex is a nice guy. Don’t tell anyone. He wouldn’t like that.

Despite the bravado. Despite the public persona. Despite the mistakes he makes when going to extremes to placate the Swarm, if you ever get the chance to sit one on one with Alex in a casual, private setting, he is truly one of the most genuine and interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is intelligent, which appeals to me, as it allows us enjoy great discussions. He is extremely funny, and I do enjoy laughter. And he pays attention, to everything, much like I do. He is very aware of every action, every word, every nuance of his existence.

We are very much alike. To that end, he’s an also a bit of an ass when he’s been drinking, as am I.

That brings me to the final points of this blog banter discussion: What makes one famous vs infamous, and what is the cost of that fame?

There was a time when some would’ve considered Roc to be famous, the eternal good guy, poster boy of the Minmatar Republic, the goody two shoes, always choosing to do the right thing. Doesn’t sound like the Mittani does it? Yet it is. Different goals, same determination, drive and intelligence to get there.

Some have called me manipulative in my past. Now I am called influential. The end result is the same – people do what I want. Again, like the Mittani. It’s how we employ our skills and natural abilities to get to those ends that differentiates hero from villain, famous from infamous, good guy from bad.

And what does it cost? In the case of the Mittani, a scrutiny in all you do as Alex or as the Mittani. There is no “good enough” when it comes to the media. There is always something to tear you apart for. Look at this article. There are many negative points made, if you choose to see them that way. Most are public record, permanently on the internet.

Yet I don’t think negatively of the Mittani. Roc barely knows him. And I don’t think negatively of Alex. In fact, I would consider him a good acquaintance. I would say friend but we really don’t know each other that well. We’re two guys that can sit down in a city full of EVE Online fanatics and not feel compelled to talk about said game. Instead, we can engage in deep and meaningful conversation about pretty much anything.

The bottom line is he is a galvanizing force, whether as a character or as a real person. But like us all, he is not infallible.

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