February 4, 2023

Thursday’s broadcast of The Game Awards ended in mass confusion, thanks to an incomprehensible stunt performed by a 15-year-old named Matan Even. When reached by phone on Friday (and with his parents’ permission), Even refused to break character and dodged questions about everything from his political affiliations to the circumstances of his removal from the Game Awards podium. Nevertheless, this reporter can now confirm that regardless of the original intent of his joke, Matan Even is sadly not that creative.

Even’s stunt started when FromSoftware’s Elder ring developers left their seats to collect their Game of the Year 2022 award. When they reached the stage, viewers saw a boy with a baby face standing in the back of the group. This was Even, who told Polygon that he bought a regular ticket to the show and simply walked up from his seat in the audience next to the prize winners.

As soon as the developers finished their remarks, Even grabbed the microphone and unleashed a short piece of absurdist nonsense: “I think I want to nominate this award to my Reform Orthodox Rabbi Bill Clinton.” Security immediately escorted Even off stage, but by then he had already claimed his 15 seconds of fame.

For what purpose though? Was his statement an anti-Semitic dog whistle? Or was it just a missed opportunity to tell millions of viewers something else that mattered — or even something that might be funny to anyone other than six of his friends on Discord?

Speaking to Polygon, Even insisted repeatedly that he had only taken the stage to promote former president (and, according to Even’s schtick, secret rabbi) Bill Clinton. Geoff Keighley, Game Awards presenter tweeted last night that the young intruder was arrested after Even was escorted off stage. The Los Angeles Police Department told Polygon that while a police report was made, “there has been no arrest related to this incident.” Even declined to comment on the details of his detention, admitting only to being escorted off stage by guards.

Even’s public stunts began three years ago in the name of a much more sympathetic activist cause: China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. This particular cause has united Americans on both the right and left of the political spectrum, even achieving some brief bursts of viral fame in supporting it. In the fall of 2019, Even went public pro-Hong Kong demonstrations at BlizzCon and at an NBA game. This resulted in invitations to appear on the far-right, conspiracy-spreading broadcast InfoWars hosted by Owen Shroyer, who interviewed Even in 2019 and 2020.

In these previous interviews, as well as previous videos on his personal YouTube channel, Even does not have the thick, unidentifiable accent he displayed when speaking into the microphone at The Game Awards and during his phone interview with Polygon.

When asked about his past views on Hong Kong, Even told Polygon, “I am still a supporter of the perpetual movement. I haven’t talked about it lately. But you know, I’m still in support. I just didn’t think yesterday was the right time to talk about it again. And I thought, you know, specifically, I wasn’t expecting a Hong Kong movement or anything at this event. But I expected — I thought the odds were extremely high that Bill Clinton himself would get a personal invite, he’d sit in the front row, maybe be nominated for at least as many awards as there are. And the fact that he wasn’t even nominated, didn’t win a single one – I was devastated.”

Even described himself as Jewish, repeatedly insisting that his statement about Bill Clinton was “not anti-Semitic” or related to “far-right” politics. (Despite wearing a pair of Yeezy sneakers at last night’s event, Even told Polygon that he believes Kanye West’s political views are “not good.”) Even though Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews are different groups, and “Reform Orthodox” is ” no thingEven claimed that he nevertheless saw Bill Clinton as embodying a “reform orthodox” ideology: “At the end of the day, [Reform and Orthodox] are both Jewish, and I think, you know, separating one group from the other might be anti-Semitic. So I thought calling Bill Clinton a Reform Orthodox rabbi would include all types of Jews.”

When asked about his own political affiliations, Even insisted that Bill Clinton is the only future candidate he would vote for, although Even is currently too young to register to vote and Clinton cannot run for president again , as he has already served two terms from 1992 to 2000. “I just think that the best man, one of the best people in the world, spreading very good Jewish values ​​to Jews all over the world, in different countries, is Bill Clinton ,” said Even. “And I think, you know, we can see him as someone who should run every government in the world.”

By the time we got to the end of an interview that would have vicariously embarrassed even Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, for those not into that joke), I started questioning Even about his stances on various political issues.

Gay marriage? Even says he’s cool with it.

Immigration policy in the United States? “I think it depends on the person. You know, there are many different types of immigration for different types of people from different types of countries. And you know, I’m not claiming to be an extremely knowledgeable person. You know, I might have an opinion about politics. But I think if we want to look at someone who is very knowledgeable about politics, I think we should look at…”

At that point we replied in unison, “Bill Clinton.” Naturally.

I asked Even if he thought his words would affect other people and their views, especially in light of the many anti-Semitic conspiracy theories circulating online, some of which involve Bill and Hillary Clinton. Every time I asked, Even insisted he wasn’t sorry. Did he wish he had said something different, made a different case, or even said something that other people might understand? No, said Even. He just hoped more people would google information about Bill Clinton after the Game Awards.

Why did I even bother writing this interview, you ask? Well, because I think what you put out really matters when you’ve got other people’s eyes on you, and I have that here at Polygon. Sometime in the past, Matan Even may have thought this too, when he made YouTube videos about police brutality in Hong Kong – or maybe he always did it for the clout, and the only reason he turned his back on pro-Hong Kong activism. proponent of this new nonsense is that he never really had any reason other than his own desire for attention.

I don’t think it’s bad to want attention, to want to be heard, loved and admired. I wanted that since I was 15, and I must admit I still want it now. But the difference is that I really care about saying something that matters – or at least something smart. And this was not that.

It was just a huge waste of time, and also a statement that could lead to continued discrimination against Matan Even himself. I can only hope that Even will one day look back at this moment and feel as ashamed of himself as he was on our phone call today, not only for wasting his time in the spotlight, but for the incredibly chilling levels of self-possession he showed. seeing him — not just on stage, but in what appears to be an entire day of phone calls with journalists baffled by an uncreative joke.

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