When the survival horror video game Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) came out in late summer 2014, it immediately became a cultural phenomenon and catapulted its creator, Scott Cawthon, to celebrity status.
The premise of the game is simple: you are the night security guard at a Showbiz Pizza/ Chuck E. Cheese style restaurant, and it is your job to keep an eye on the animatronic characters over the course of five nights, hence the name. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. The animatronic characters come online on their own each night and they are out to get you. To survive each night, you have to watch each camera and prepare to shut the doors to your security station when the characters reach the doors. All this has to be done while trying to conserve as much of your power as possible to make it to 6 AM.
Three months after FNAF came out, Cawthon released a sequel to his hit game, Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, and four months after that, the third installment of the FNAF series came out. The FNAF series produced so many sequels in a year (four, to be exact) that it achieved the Guinness World Record for the largest number of sequels in a year. Fast forward to 2021, the number of games set in the FNAF universe total 15 with a 16thgame (FNAF: Security Breach) coming soon and around 15 tie-in books bringing Cawthon’s net worth, according to Pure Net Worth, to $70 million.
Recently, what Cawthon does with some of that money has made its way across social media. Through searching Cawthon on OpenSecrets.org, a database website used to track political donations made by people or companies, someone found out the FNAF creator donated almost $40,000 in August 2020 to Republican candidates and in 2019, Cawthon donated $2000 to Donald Trump and $2500 to Tulsi Gabbard. The revelation is a major blow because of the massive LGBTQ following of the FNAF series.
To say that the last few days have been surreal would be an understatement. I’ve debated greatly how best to address this, including not addressing it at all, but with so many people from the LGBT community in the fanbase that I love, that’s not an option. I’d like to think that the last seven years would have given me the benefit of the doubt in regards to how I try to treat people, but there I was, trending on Twitter for being a homophobe, getting doxed, with people threatening to come to my house.
Cawthon goes on to explain that his wife, who is six weeks pregnant, was worried about her safety. The game designer also explains why donated to Republican candidates and Tulsi Gabbard:
For those who took the time to look, you saw that the candidates I supported included men, women, white people, black people, republicans, and democrats. I supported Kimberly Klacik in Baltimore because I believed that she really cared for the African American community there and wanted to pull them out of poverty. I believed she could have really make a difference in a time when so many black communities were struggling. She lost, unfortunately. I supported Tulsi Gabbard, a democrat, even though I disagreed with her on several issues, because I felt she would have been a good and fair president. And yes, I supported President Trump, because I felt he was the best man to fuel a strong economy and stand up to America’s enemies abroad, of which there are many. Even if there were candidates who had better things to say to the LGBT community directly, and bigger promises to make, I believed that their stances on other issues would have ended up doing much greater harm to those communities than good.
The full statement can be read below.
The discovery of Cawthon’s political donations has resulted in a split among the FNAF fanbase to those who support Cawthon and those who don’t. The rift has spilled over into social media. On Twitter, the hashtag #istandbyscott is used as a way to not only support the FNAF creator but also, among a few, to resort to name-calling, excusing who Cawthon supports, and putting him on a pedestal.
On the scott cawthon thing, it's stupid. I feel like I'm about to be cancelled by saying that I am republican. People should NOT be cancelled over political opinions. Also, to you dumbass democrats, how is the republican party racist when it was made to combat slavery and you-
— DrewTheNFLMan (@DrewTheFatMan) June 11, 2021
Meanwhile, those who are speaking out against Cawthon point out that many of the candidates he donated have a history of homophobic and transphobic policies and/ or stances, including Gabbard.
really sucks that "scott cawthon donated thousands of dollars to republicans (which probably came from fnaf sales) and lgbt/left wing fans are rightly upset and dont want to support him" has already been diluted to "scott cawthon got CANCELLED!!!!"
— Star (@starplatinumb) June 13, 2021
Over at the FNAF subreddit, the moderators have stated their stance on Cawthon and updated the rules of the forum.
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