MtG rocked by harassment accusations from cosplayer Christine Sprankle against well-known YouTube personality
By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager
On November 24, 2017, Christine Sprankle, one of the most well-known cosplayers in the Magic: The Gathering (MtG) community, announced on Twitter that she would be no longer cosplaying due to harassment. Specifically, she called out one YouTube personality: Jeremy Hambly, known on YouTube as MTGHeadQuarters (no longer active), UnsleevedMedia, and TheQuartering.
Hambly is well known in the community, and is one of the most popular MtG Youtubers, currently sitting at over 144,000 subscribers on UnsleevedMedia and 25,000 on TheQuartering. He rose in popularity by doing booster pack-opening videos on his main channel, but uses his side channel The Quartering to upload more controversial content. A self-described critic of MtG products as well as content put forth by other MtG personalities, Hambly has upset many members of the community over the years. Much of his content has been critical of what Hambly believes is Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the creators of MtG, pandering to women and the LGBTQ+ community. These arguments were most recently addressed by him in the videos “The Women ‘Problem’ in Magic The Gathering” and “I Am Pissed! WOTC, Identity Politics in Gaming & Man Hating Enough is Enough.” While he has also created multiple videos critical of Wedge from The Mana Source, Brian “the Professor” Lewis from Tolarian Community College, and other content creators, it was the accusations by Sprankle this past weekend that was the final straw for much of the community.
Since Sprankle’s tweets, discussion exploded in the MtG community on Reddit and YouTube, and WotC themselves made two statements. The MtG subreddit, /r/magicTCG, saw posts discussing Sprankle’s exit reach Reddit’s main page, and Reddit’s MtG community was largely supportive of Sprankle. The explosion of coverage led WotC to make a statement discussing their sadness over the recent “bullying and harassment”: “No one should be subjected to threats and intimidation. No one should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome while enjoying something they love […] We’re listening to your feedback and working to ensure everyone who plays Magic feels welcomed and accepted.”
On YouTube, Lewis uploaded a 20-minute video that showed support for Sprankle and discussed his own struggles with receiving prolonged harassment and attacks by Hambly and his followers. “My phone suddenly rings, as you all know how scary that is. I say, ‘Oh, death threat! I guess Jeremy made another video or series of tweets about me.’”
In this video, Lewis displayed video clips and tweets by Hambly speaking negatively about Sprankle and about female cosplayers in general, with comments calling out Sprankle for begging for Patreon supporters: “If she wasn’t a good-looking girl, the support would be about five per cent of what it is. […] If she wasn’t crying, same thing holds true.” He also made many demeaning comments on Twitter about female cosplayers such as: “If you’re trading $$ for it it’s just porn,” “Cosplay is dumb. Playing dress up is not ‘work’,” and “When I start looking at some of this cosplay […] I feel a little movement down in my pantaloons, and I’m like ‘I see why people could like cosplay.’” He also discussed the other forms of toxicity that Hambly has brought to the community.
Jimmy Wong, from the channels The Command Zone, Feast of Fiction, and formerly an actor on the cult-hit webseries, Video Game High School, responded to the allegations with multiple tweets from his handle @jfwong, stating “Beyond crushed to hear that constant abuse, harassment, & toxicity has driven away one of Magic’s most talented & dedicated members,” and “I’ve spent many useless hours trying to bring this man to reason, to see if there’s any semblance of dignity or honesty in his veins. I’ve given him the chance to own up to prior mistakes, but instead he’s hid, lied, obfuscated, & deleted old posts to save his image. Disgraceful.” These tweets led him to be a target for harassment as well, but he has stood by his words.
Hambly asserts that the videos and tweets critical of him by Lewis and Wong, among others, have led to harassment and threatening messages being sent to him. He also stated that these videos provide no proof that he committed targeted harassment of Sprankle, nor proof that any harassment on his part led his fans to harass her. In his video on the UnsleevedMedia channel “This Is What Real ‘Harassment’ Looks Like,” he requested that, if these content creators are critical of harassment, it would be appropriate for them to remove their videos and tweets and make an apology to him. He specifically requests a sincere apology from Sprankle herself, who he refers to as “a well-known grifter and cosplayer,” as he claims it was her who started what he describes as a “witch hunt” against him.
As the television, movie, and music industries continue their purge of known harassers, the strong and supportive reaction to Sprankle’s accusations, as well as to the subsequent ones of others who claim Hambly has harassed them, is keeping with the trend of believing the victims. As WotC cannot take more action against Hambly as his content is housed on independently published media such as YouTube, Twitter, and Patreon, it is hard to know how this case will proceed. One thing is known—this has created a further divide in the community, with Hambly and his many supporters pushing back against WotC and the rest of the community.