Cancel Culture, though seemingly fighting for social justice, can be pretty unjust at times. The most recent victim of the canceled movement is voice actor Alexander Gross, who plays a villain in a dungeon crawler-dating sim indie game called Boyfriend Dungeon on the record-breaking Nintendo Switch console. The voice actor recently posted on Twitter, imploring fans of the game not to harass him, as the actions and behavior portrayed by his character are only fictional.
According to IGN, Alexander Gross is being canceled and harassed for his voice-over portrayal of Eric, the main villain of the Boyfriend Dungeon video game, who constantly stalks and harasses the player. And while the game displays a content warning at the very start of Boyfriend Dungeon, notifying players about its triggering content, some players are unhappy about the inclusion of potentially triggering content. Consequently, most players are urging the developer to amend the warning and make it more elaborate, while more extreme examples demand the villain’s overall exclusion from the game.
And while Boyfriend Dungeon is being criticized, not for its content, but for the lack of warning, the game’s voice actor is being canceled and even harassed on social media for the characterization of the game’s villain. In short, Eric, the aforementioned villain voiced by Alexander Gross, is a stalker who goes on to be emotionally manipulative and stalks the players repeatedly throughout the game – a character even Gross himself didn’t like. The actor addressed the issue in his post on Twitter, urging players to be respectful.
Let’s pause for a second. Playing a villain in any media is challenging. Besides being difficult to perform, playing a villain can be pretty good. But when it comes to visual media, like movies and video games, the measure of an actors’ performance is measured by the fandom’s dislike for their character. Remember Jack Gleeson’s portrayal of Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones? Joffrey Baratheon is probably one of the most hated villains ever, which only makes Gleeson’s portrayal of the character more deserving of critical acclaim. Too bad he won’t appear in the prequel series House of the Dragon. Maybe in a Boyfriend Dungeon sequel, if there ever is one?
Regardless, the same thought process could be applied to Alexander Gross’ voice-over portrayal of Eric – a role that’s, just like Joffrey Baratheon, universally reviled. However, where Gleeson received critical acclaim and world glory, Gross’ performance in Boyfriend Dungeon earned the actor a canceled target on his back as well as harsh criticism on social media for his work – which he performed outstandingly if we might add. It’s worth noting that the mean and negative criticism comes from only a handful of social media accounts. The rest of Boyfriend Dungeon video game fans are in sympathy with Gross, expressing their disbelief that some players aren’t able to distinguish between acting and reality.
Regardless of how displeasing and unsightly Eric from Boyfriend Dungeon might be, criticizing and harassing the voice actor has no excuse. After all, Gross was simply playing a role in a story. Ultimately, this only shows just how often the leader, in this case Twitter’s Cancel Culture, isn’t the wisest amongst the masses but the loudest. It’s also noteworthy that most users endorsing the online harassment of Alexander Gross and trying to get him canceled also want to exclude Eric as the villain of the story, leading up to the question: are we going to ban video game villains on account of disagreeing with the games’ antagonists?