Heat Street was not a good website. It was a very bad website, in fact, which you may be able to discern from its motto being “no safe spaces”. A failed experiment in creating a libertarian Huffington Post crafted by Louise Mensch, a former Tory who aimed for Arianna Huffington and instead briefly became a cult figure among the type of Twitter user who unironically follows Al Giordano.
Heat Street tried vainly to appeal to the young, Reddit-y conservatives of today by posting incessantly in favor of Gamergate, and defending noted racist frog meme Pepe (more on that later). But what did it in was, ironically, maybe the only decent thing the site ever did: Mensch’s opposition to Trump, which inspired backlash from such sources as Breitbart. But before you praise a conservative for doing the bare minimum possible to oppose Trump (ah, the McCain), know that Heat Street somehow fucked up attacking Donald Trump, basing their resistance on paranoid conspiracy theories about how Russians infected, not just the election, but every quadrant of society that doesn’t agree with them.
Mensch’s ignominious farewell from the site she founded allowed for the ascent of Heat Street’s other luminary, Ian Miles Cheong, the saddest boy alive. Ian Miles Cheong used to be well-known as a woke, anti-GamerGate voice on Twitter. All that changed when a review of The Witcher 3 shook his ideals to the core by suggesting a game set in a fantasy world with dragons and magic might be able to accommodate a character who wasn’t white. Overnight, Cheong became a strident voice in favor of GamerGate and the alt-right, ready to defend Pepe’s innocence or retweet literal creationists if they attacked Bill Nye. Cheong was a brave maverick, who feared nothing except ants, seeing slightly less nudity in video games, and also everything.
Mensch’s era at Heat Street is known for causing the site to be at war with itself: one author would publish an article defending the racist meme frog, Mensch would leap in to counter them. One author would defend some creepy anime, Mensch would replace it with a piece about how it was creepy. This sounds like a bizarre, complicated way of going about the job of editor-in-chief, compared to the typical approach of just saying “hey, don’t publish that bad article you wrote”, but then again, I’m not the head of a failed libertarian off-shoot of Fox News. Luckily, under Cheong the site would flourish as a source that would drag up a few Tweets and use them to passionately defend video game breasts – truly journalism’s highest pursuit.
Heat Street was a directionless site that tried to appeal to the alt-right, and ended up appealing to no one. After alienating everyone, this failure of a site died on Friday, merged into Marketwatch. Mensch now runs her own blog to a dwindling audience, and Cheong’s pursuit of e-fame in an extraordinarily awful demographic looks like a road to nowhere.
Heat Street is in the Hell reserved for media outlets. As it arrived, it looked up into the shining sky, where on the clouds of Media Heaven, the sites we once loved frolic in peace. The Dissolve is up there, and Comics Alliance. You can almost hear the heavenly voice of The Toast regaling them with the tales of Narnia, as written by Ayn Rand, and with jokes about Sufjan Stevens song titles as described by medieval monks. Beneath is Media Purgatory, where Gawker sits under a banner reading “Yeah What Happened Was Fucked Up But So’s Leaking Sex Tapes”. Heat Street is not there. It is in Media Hell, unloved and unwanted, sitting for eternity as Grantland blathers about Boston sports and justifies outing trans people. It shall not be missed.