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The Sonic the Hedgehog news site TSSZ News has shut down following a series of controversial tweets that compared Sonic the Hedgehog to Black Lives Matter protestors. As a consequence of the shutdown, more than 20 years of enthusiast news coverage of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise may be lost forever.
The controversy centered around a tweet sent out on the site’s official Twitter account. The ill-advised tweet noted how Sonic the Hedgehog was “wrongly detained by law enforcement” in the opening moments of Sonic Adventure 2 and how a core aspect of Sonic Forces centered on a resistance force of Sonic and his friends fighting against the oppressive forces of Eggman (a.k.a. Dr. Robotnik). TSSZ News used this to push back against followers who had suggested the site had “no business as a Sonic site covering what is happening in the US.”
All of the content on TSSZ appears to have been removed. The front page was replaced with a message from the site’s operator (which has also been archived) which detailed the reasoning behind the closure.
“Everything is an extraordinary circumstance right now. Too much is happening that makes Sonic, Sega, or video game news, frankly, unimportant,” the message reads. “Our community and our world demands better, but now does so to unsustainable extremes. And in that, TSSZ can no longer be the platform it should be. The decision has been made to permanently close TSSZ, effective immediately.”
Community reaction to the closure of the Sonic the Hedgehog fansite TSSZ News has been understandably mixed. There’s a general trend of people thinking the site owner has overreacted to the situation by closing down the site, removing work produced by contributors in the process, rather than removing the offending tweets and apologizing for them. Other Sonic fansites have tweeted their thoughts on the controversy:
Documenting this community and this franchise is important. Purging the public collection of articles, some of which were collaborative in nature, was not the right action to take.
This community does not deserve one less voice of accountability. We wish you reconsider.
— Tails' Channel • Sonic the Hedgehog News & Updates (@TailsChannel) May 31, 2020
Hey hey hey guys. Yeah, they messed up with the Sonic comparisons thing, but do you really want them off the internet forever for this slip-up?
I know they can improve & they've been around for so long, I definitely don't wanna see them gone
TSSZ, don't go, just try to improve
— Ben (TWIP) (@twip98) May 31, 2020
Some responses, however, have not been as kind in their assessment of this whole debacle.
>compares BLM to fictional blue hedgehog
>People find that completely and utterly tone deaf
>"WhY aRe PeOpLe So MaD aT mE"
If someone asking you to apologize for tone deaf statements is 'extreme' I don't know how you've gotten to this point. Go back to pre-school.
— TheChosenSun @ THE SPOOKY MONTH (@RaucousDivinity) June 1, 2020
No. Your service may be missed. But your guilt tripping, your use of current events to heighten your image and your clout, and your defensive, poor little me complex will not.
Keep the website, lose the clowns behind it. Because that’s who we won’t miss.
— SGTSemiSauce (@SGTSemiSauce) May 31, 2020
The tweets preceding the site’s closure are indicative of a reported pattern of behavior from the owner and operator as noted in a submission to a Sonic the Hedgehog subreddit. According to comments on there and elsewhere, the site’s owner has a history of injecting unrelated politics into its social media posts. Combine that with an apparent stubbornness and an unwillingness to admit a mistake, and the end result has been TSSZ News being shut down.
Whatever the case may be, it looks like a long-running fansite has shut down for good after a single day of questionable social media posts. While the site’s content will surely be missed, other fansites and communities are nonetheless available and will likely continue covering one of SEGA’s biggest and longest-running franchises.