Last week this statement was posted and shared across social media platforms. It outlines toxic behavior by Tanner Clausen of the Shadow of the Cabal podcast, perpetrated against folks involved in the Shadows in the West (SITW) podcast. Amelia Antrim of OSN’s Character Creation Cast was named as a person who specifically contributed to harm suffered by creators of SITW.
The One Shot Network takes all claims of toxic behavior seriously. We consider all the hosts on our network ambassadors for the hobby and expect them to act accordingly. It was our duty to look into the situation, even if it revolved around shows that are not in our network. Our goals for the investigation were as follows:
- Determine to the best of our ability what occurred.
- Assess Antrim’s alleged role in events and her responsibility for harm caused.
- If necessary, ensure a proper apology is issued.
- Take action to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Our investigation into Clausen’s behavior began shortly before the SITW statement was posted. We will discuss our rationale for this decision below. We reviewed private statements about Clausen’s behavior made by people outside the SITW production team as well as public claims made by members of SITW. Some of the statements we reviewed were issued in confidence and will not be reproduced here.
Clausen was accused of a number of toxic behaviors common to bad faith allyship. This includes taking advantage of folks from marginalized communities, forcefully expressing harmful views, controlling his image to appeal to influential people, and showing hostility towards vulnerable people. When criticized, he refused responsibility, attacked the character of his critics, and worked to silence opposition. Part of this was framing his critics as bad faith actors themselves, using his status and allies to enforce his position. These behaviors were repeated over a long period of time in cases both involving and not involving SITW.
After investigating Clausen, we turned our focus to Antrim. For this portion of our investigation, we reached out directly to SITW and the parties affected by her behavior. Antrim was accused of aggressive behavior on social media, refusing to accept responsibility for harmful actions, and attacking the credibility of her critics.
We believe Clausen is a bad faith actor. He repeatedly used his position to attack members of marginalized communities. The rationale for our conclusion is presented below in a later section. Based on the nature and amount of evidence against Clausen, The OSN will neither work with him in the future nor tolerate association with him by members of OSN. All content including Clausen has been removed from our archieves.
Regarding Antrim, we do believe that she is responsible for actions that directly harmed members of SITW. This includes antagonistic interactions over a long period of time and statements that hurt the reputation of marginalized people. Both of which were exacerbated by a failure to recognize her behavior when confronted. It’s impotsnt to note the most severe of this behavior is related to efforts Clausen made to manipulate her perspective.
Antrim’s role in this situation was markedly different than Clausen’s, yet still had very serious consequences for marginalized people. It is important for the community to understand the scope of what transpired.
Explanation of Findings
Part of Clausen’s strategy was surrounding himself with trusted people to create the appearance of credibility. We have concluded that part of his aim in cultivating a friendship and professional relationship with Amelia Antrim was using her identity as a bisexual woman to legitimize his position.
Earlier this year, members of SITW raised concerns over the treatment of queer characters on SOTC. These concerns are explained well in the statement we linked above. The revolve around events in the plot of SOTC which perpetuated harmful stereotypes and tropes. As a result of these concerns, the SITW team criticized SOTC’s status as an LGBTQ+ program on the RPG Casts directory.
Clausen reacted to this criticism by claiming this erased the bisexual identities of performers on his show. This response refused to engage with the real concern raised by SITW. It also used the identities of queer people to deflect criticism and discredit marginalized critics.
As the conflict between Clausen and critics from inside and outside SITW escalated, he framed himself as a victim to his cast. He enlisted them to defend him and their show. As a bisexual woman, Antrim has faced erasure and dismissal in the past in online spaces. The kind of attack Clausen suggested was happening was familiar to her. Which is one of the reasons she did not take a closer look at the situation before defending herself and her castmate.
This matter first came to the network’s attention when Antrim expressed concern over tweets by the members of SITW regarding this incident. To her, this was a sudden event sparked by a disagreement over RPG Casts. To the cast of SITW, this was the latest and most inflammatory event following a history of antagonistic interactions.
In talking to members from SITW, we discovered they found Antrim’s personality online consistently dismissive and defensive. This was an observed pattern of behavior, not the sort of thing that could not be easily captured in screenshots and laid out clearly in concise explanations. Experiencing that, coupled with an association with and consistent defense of Clausen, helped them draw the conclusion that she was intentionally acting against them.
Our suspicions about Clausen’s role were sparked by one of his attempts to bury this situation. He arranged an “apology” to be performed by Antrim for conflict between her and members of SITW. This framed the conflict as solely her responsibility.
Both Antrim and members of SITW expressed discomfort with this idea. Despite the discomfort of everyone involved, Clausen forced the issue. This “apology” did not resolve any issues as Antrim felt she was a victim, having her words and actions mischaracterized by people who were attacking her without cause.
Prioritizing an action meant to quash negative publicity of his show before the comfort of one of his performers and her potential victims set off alarm bells for us. If his intent was to protect his cast from harassment or find justice for victims, pressuring either side into interaction is counterproductive. It was possible someone could follow through on a bad idea like that out of ignorance, but it could also be a willful disregard for harm. That meant there was potential Clausen was a bad actor. It was our duty to our Network associate to ensure that was not the case. We began investigating Clausen as a possible bad actor after this incident, shortly before the SITW statement was posted.
Again, our investigation found Clausen at the center of a number of incidents involving toxic behavior. Specifically using conflict to raise his profile while casting himself as a victim to deflect criticism. Using the identities of his castmates to reframe SOTC as a progressive show despite its content is consistent with his behavior under other circumstances. As was encouraging the people around him to speak in his defense.
Once we gathered what we concluded to be an appropriate amount of evidence, we presented it to Antrim. This evidence challenged the understanding of events Clausen had cultivated. Antrim came to understand how her past defense of him had been harmful and gained a new understanding of events, including incidents she previously thought were unrelated.
Antrim’s most overtly harmful actions were under the influence of Clasen. Her role in the central conflict was exacerbated by the fact that she was used as a shield for a bad actor. However, Antrim is still responsible for her behavior. Also, part of this issue extends beyond the central conflict regarding Clausen and SITW.
With this understanding of events, OSN entered the final stages of our investigation. We sought to evaluate the character of Antrim’s harmful behavior. If she was guilty of malicious action, it would be grounds for dismissal from the network according to her contract. If her behavior was caused by ignorance or manipulation, it is the Network’s opinion that education and probation are more appropriate.
To determine the next steps, we reached out to the cast of SITW to gain more details about their experiences with Antrim and assess the extent of the harm done. We would like to clarify that although SITW assisted by answering questions, their opinions are their own. They have not reviewed our statement prior to publishing, nor have they endorsed the results of our investigation.
Based on all the evidence we reviewed, we believe that the most serious of Amtrim’s wrongdoing was driven by purposeful manipulation. While it is important to acknowledge that behavior, it is also critical to understand the context that separates what Antrim did from what Clausen did.
Antrim’s personal behavior helped escalate this situation. Her online persona is unrelated to Clausen’s influence. They way she interacted with people on forums and social media helped foster a toxic atmosphere. That absolutely need to be addressed but it is not immidiate grounds for dismissal.
Based on our evaluation, we believe Antrim understands what occurred and the role she played in it. With the information we currently have, we deem it appropriate for Antrim to apologize and take actions to improve her behavior.
She wrote an apology which you can read here.
She has also:
- Ended her association with Tanner Clausen
- Resigned as a member of SOTC
- Resigned as a moderator in The Broadswords forum.
This will keep her away from a negative influence and give her room to reflect. It is very difficult to realize that you have been manipulated. Even more difficult to recognize that your behavior did not fall in line with your own values. Healing and growing from this will take time. To aid her growth she taking the following steps to help insure nothing like this happens again:
- Taking time to develop skills to have mindful interactions when interacting with people with people on social media outlets.
- Making concerted efforts to de-escalate or step away from conflicts before they become heated.
- Proactively researching and vetting future partnerships.
Based on our investigation and her apology, Amelia Antrim and Character Creation Cast will remain a part of the network. It is the Network’s hope that having the truth of this matter recognized will allow all parties involved to move past what happened.
Why Provide So Much Detail?
The purpose of this document and its related investigation is to expose the root causes of this situation to help prevent similar ones from happening in the future.
In evaluating this situation, it became apparent that patterns of harmful behavior present throughout the gaming industry provided the opportunity for this situation to develop in the way that it did. The behavior that drove it to this point is not unique to Antrim or even Clausen.
Clausen was able to inflict a great deal of harm because he took advantage of Amelia’s privilege. The victim’s statement called out Antrim as “the poster girl of white feminism.” It is deeply important for our community to understand the sentiment behind that statement. As mentioned above, Antrim believed this conflict started recently surrounding a single event. For the members of SITW, it is the culmination of over a year of frustration.
Without realizing it, Amelia overshadowed marginalized people. She made posts that drew attention away from their presence while highlighting her own. The central criticism of white feminism is drawing attention to issues that affect cis white women and failing to address equally important issues for people with other identities. As a bi woman, Amelia does face a hostile environment in gaming. However, her needs are still more likely to be addressed than other marginalized folks. If attention shifts from “issues facing LGBTQ+ folks in gaming,” to “bi white women,” it’s more harmful than many privileged people realize. It’s also easier to instigate that shift than people realize.
Amelia also personally made them feel unwelcome by dismissing their ideas and perspectives. This behavior was not specific to her interaction with SITW. Furthermore, this behavior is not uniquely Amelia’s. Hostility in online spaces is common, but it has a more dramatic effect on marginalized people. For them, negative interactions are more severe and last longer. Incidents that were small or did not even register in her memory, had a dramatic impact on these marginalized individuals.
When Amelia was criticized, it was easy for her to dismiss the negative impact of her behavior because she could not see it. Allyship isn’t a passive activity. Simply deciding that you support marginalized folks is not enough. Thinking of yourself as an “ally” can actually blind you to the ways in which you perpetuate harm in communities because it reduces your likelihood to consider the impact of your own behavior.
Listening to people from marginalized communities, introspection, and taking steps to address their issues is what drives substantive allyship. Not intent or labels. This failure to introspect and take responsibility creates opportunities for bad actors.
This happened to Amelia, but many privileged people are responsible for similar behavior without realizing it. The framework of privilege allows even well-meaning people to cause harm. It also provides systems for willful bad actors to exploit. Until privileged people take the time to examine their behavior, events like this will continue to happen.
Our sympathies are with the people who have been struggling unheard in this situation. We wish to offer our own condolences and hope this statement helps reduce the potential for similar incidents in the future.
Thank you for your time,
The One Shot Team