I got a DM on Twitter from someone I’m familiar with in the Netherrealm games sub-community the other day, and it was a simple question: “Have you ever written about Tom?”
“Tom” is “Tom Brady,” AKA Bill Menoutis, a longtime fixture in this particular sub-community and in the greater fighting game community for years and years. The thousand injuries of Mr. Menoutis are far too many to list here, though I’ve mentioned it in passing in previous articles. I’m sure everyone reading this has a favorite meme or have at least heard one through cultural osmosis. You know about the ice clone and its woes, you know he likes Sub-Zero, and you know he has bizarre rants on stream and then hastily delete the VOD or Youtube video, a dancing clown for a delighted few and confused many. Tomgliacci is sometimes seen as a wizened master of fighting games with ideas that may, in fact, save the Mortal Kombat games. I think there are very few people over the age of, say, 19 that actually believe that, but I probably have to include it.
He also frequently lies and takes money from suckers who will give it to him so he can expressly use it not for the intended purpose he was given it. Also, if I’m being completely fair, he doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. Many times I have come up in one of his bizarro rants or podcast appearances as one of his top haters and an example of everything that is wrong with the NRS sub-community, which, honestly? It’s an honor. One of the biggest sins you can commit is not believe that he’s actually an extremely good player held down by game developers that have increasingly, perhaps knowingly and purposefully, “nerfed his playstyle,” but I digress.
Despite that hostility, I have zero fear of Mr. Menoutis, and really don’t think about him all that much. There are a number of times he has attended a tournament I’m also at and done nothing but meekly stand there and ask me for score updates because he can’t see a match. There is zero bark to any of his bite, the definition of an internet tough guy, which gets to the very crux of my answer to the question that was given to me originally:
I haven’t written an in-depth blog post because there’s really nothing else worth saying.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand the subtext of what I was being asked: “why haven’t you written an article that will cancel Tom for all the shady things he’s done?” What left is there to “cancel”? The instance of him being absolutely stunted on by Dominiq “SonicFox” McLean, in which Mr. Menoutis is revealed to have hastily purchased photoshop in order to make a bad edit of an Uber receipt, is already legendary and has been preserved for all time. Clips of him screaming at his crying baby for having distracted him during a game of Mortal Kombat are out there, as are dozens upon dozens of anecdotes about him not paying his share of a hotel or food bill, or leaving people high and dry up for money.
These are all known. It wouldn’t mean much for me, a nobody, to suddenly post up this long screed about how much Menoutis has wronged the entire sub-community with several instances of fraud because that same sub-community has shown that it does not care. Not at all!
I’ve already learned this lesson with everything regarding Infiltration, but I’ll repeat it now: moral condemnations from someone who is giving the veneer of moral authority” (what gives me the right?) onto someone that they personally don’t really like all that much does nothing for most people. While the verbiage might be more poetic, the prose easier to read, at the end of the day it is the same lizard-brain logic: “I don’t like this person, and I want others to join me in condemning them so that I feel more justified in not liking them than petty personal grievance.” And hopefully, by the end, he’ll be banned from, well, life. No more tournaments, no more streams, nothing. He’ll just disappear, like a Thanos Snap, into the aether and no one will ever have to worry about being annoyed by his presence.
Meanwhile, in reality, Menoutis doesn’t go to tournaments, and he will never, ever be put onto anything semi-official if they know what’s good for them, and his “power” literally extends no further than the room of wherever he’s currently living. So if the idea is he needs to be banished from having any influence…what influence? He’s a sad man in his 40’s raging about video games to a small audience that worships him, we are not exactly at defcon 5 here.
Due to an increasingly atomized world that is decades in the making, many people of my generation and younger literally only know what it’s like to have some sort of feeling of power, of control, of the ability to make a difference, via the very public spectacle of social-media callouts. There are few things more effective in the eyes of young people than the “blowup” stream or Twitlonger, which are seen as the ultimate indicators of public shame and are the key to finally Thanos Snap’ing someone out of “discourse” and hopefully driven into silence forever, or at least so quiet that no one has to worry about hearing about him ever again. There is a more common term for this kind of behavior, but I’d rather not invoke it because it’s something no want really wants to acknowledge either way, but it’s real, and it can in fact be totally damaging to someone’s reputation in the blink of an eye.
It’s also totally useless as a tool of meaningful change.
Menoutis has been called out, blown up, bodied, totally humiliated in public and in various ways and means since time immemorial, and he will never not be a beloved underdog figure to a small, dedicated audience, some of whom have far greater influence than he ever does. This isn’t a moral thing to them – much in the same way one might wrinkle their nose at, say, Kevin Spacey but enjoy House of Cards, many of them probably see Tom as less a flesh-and-blood human than a middle-aged clown who happens to be pretty decent at Mortal Kombat and has “hilarious” mood swings that can make for delicious drama to follow and egg on.
This is in no way meant to excuse the real harm that Menoutis may have done to anybody out there, whether it be not paying his fair share when the bill comes due or having taken donation money and used it for something other than his initial promise. What I’m saying is that while I empathize and agree that sucks, and I also wish that those who claim to be close to him wouldn’t enable him to keep participating in something so obviously detrimental to his being, what are we to do when none of this seems to affect people materially? Go buckwild until we finally find the angle, the framing that sinks him for good? For what?
As we’ve already established, he has no meaningful ties to any rights-holder or tournament organizing apparatus, he’s not invited to anything nor does he attend events (there aren’t any right now), so what harm is he perpetuating by making videos that are often hyper-niche and focused on some banal aspect of game balancing?
I don’t believe in handing people power they don’t actually have. It would be so easy to cast Menoutis as Palpatine but he’s really more like a philistine who plays the hits to a small crowd that eats it up. Some of that crowd will gladly call him out publicly on lies that he had perpetuated for months but talk about how much they love him on another stream. I can’t help that. As weird and silly and infuriating as it may sound, that’s just the reality we live in. If I wanted to feel good about myself I could point to all the instances of Menoutis being a weapons-grade goof and, just like him, play the hits to people who I know will already agree with me and we can all acknowledge that we have the right opinion. I don’t know what that does to help further or grow the sub-community other than make Mt. Fuji out of a dimple on an ant’s rear end.
Whether anyone likes it or not, Menoutis is charismatic and has lots of friends who may not agree with his moral character but nonetheless want to see him happy, care about his well-being, and want him to participate in the sub-community. Even those who he has substantially ripped off before. It doesn’t help to be willingly blind about this – there are parts of his personality and grievance-based content that appeals to folks. I think almost everyone who has ever played a fighter has been in the depths of despair about losses and character changes and game mechanics like he has. Truthfully, few people write anything positive about Menoutis, and I’m sure there are more than a few bullshit stories about what he has done that nonetheless spread like wildfire and become fact just by existing. I can imagine it’s frustrating (See? I can’t escape it either) to only be remembered for the worst things you have done and to have no one be interested in hearing if those things have been resolved or not. And if you’re the type of person who likes to pick on game devs who have nothing to do with gameplay on Twitter, he is the perfect fuel for your engine, to feel aggrieved with him as he lays the blame for why he thinks whatever given title is bad at the feet of lazy, disinterested developers. There are only nuggets of truth in all of these, but that’s more than enough for someone to start paying attention.
I don’t like it, myself, and I think its incredibly annoying and disingenuous to pretend like everyone is out to get you when you have consistently lied and taken people for rides, but even I have some sympathy. It can’t be easy on anyone’s mental health to take the trashing he gets on a regular basis for so long and so publicly. NRS sub-communities have a terrible habit of taking everything way too far, and I can’t deny that Menoutis has more times than I can count been the victim of a Festival-of-Fools-like public struggle session, for doing nothing but being dumb and loud, just because it was entertaining. That’s dehumanizing and shameful, regardless of the target.
I won’t pretend that the NRS sub-community, with its strangely polarized makeup of either only literal children as young as 16 or full grown adults well into their late 30’s, wasn’t affected by Menoutis being considered its biggest representation at one point, and I won’t pretend like that sub-community doesn’t have a huge problem with this powerless yet targeted callout culture that has no end goals other than to further interpersonal grievances. But these are bigger issues than one person, and if he were to suddenly not stream or make YT videos, those problems would still be there.
I would be more concerned at the havoc that AT&T, one of the biggest organizations of thieves in the entire world, wants to play havoc with Warner, the main company behind Mortal Kombat and Injustice, more than a single thing Bill Menoutis is currently doing. I would be more concerned that Sony, a company that has ripped off more people than Menoutis ever could, has been given the go ahead to take the reins of Evo. I would be more concerned that potentially big e-Sports events can’t get traction because they align with gambling outfits that have, again, cheated more people out of money than Bill Menoutis could dream of. I would be more concerned that open, offline tournaments will face intense struggles to come back in a similar form, tournaments that Bill Menoutis will surely not attend.
This is all to say there are plenty of things worth worrying about than policing who does and doesn’t think Bill Menoutis should be banned or chastised out of social circles. I think that is a waste of time, I don’t think the people who are already going to defend him from any scandal are going to care, and there are even more people who don’t even know who the hell I’m talking about enough to care. It is a niche issue within a niche community.
You can’t change the culture by feeding into its worst impulses, and I simply refuse to capitulate to the (tempting for views and engagement but otherwise empty) spectacle of castigating Bill to a small, dedicated audience who agrees with me. It won’t have an effect on anything, it won’t make him stop making videos and podcasts, and he is of no harm to me or anyone I know. I would like the culture that he’s influenced to change, and I think there are more efficient ways to go about doing that then going after a sad clown man.