Integrity is of paramount importance if you're talking about media.
Integrity, as a concept, is something I've always been very aware of. As a child I hated being lied to and refused to lie even when it would have served my purposes to do so. I wouldn't even tell "white lies", which lead to me being the guy every woman in the family would ask if clothes make them look fat, because they'd get an actual genuine answer. As an adult my feelings about integrity haven't changed and I still get angry when I see people being disingenuous, especially if it's clear I'd have to be a fucking idiot to believe the crap their spewing and the only reason they think I won't call them on it is to keep the peace. One thing people quickly learn about me is I don't stay quiet just to keep the peace, and if I think you're relying on that social convention in order to avoid being held to task, I'm if anything more likely to pull you up... loudly and publicly. You insult my intelligence and I'll call you on it, publicly and with the intention of everyone who could possibly notice, noticing. However for precisely that reason I try not to insult other people's intelligence and assume you're capable people. You'll never hear me preface things with disclaimers about how it's "just my opinion", I won't go along with popular consensus just to avoid offending anyone, and most pertantent of all; I would do sponsored deals for shitty mobile apps.
One thing that really pisses me off right now are the number of prominent YouTubers in the video game discussions arena, that take sponsored deals for absolute shit. Two perfect examples are Jirard Khalil better known as "The Completionist", and Jim Caddick better known as "Caddicarus". Both of these YouTubers make long form video game content where they're critical about video games, and yet both of them will happily shill mobile apps and free-to-play gambling traps as if they're real games, with full scripted adverts often a minute or more in length in their videos. They'll make out as if they're fun games and that there's something worth playing and frankly it makes me fucking sick!
Either these two internet personalities know that their audience isn't going to play that shit, at which point they're bold-faced selling out and wasting our fucking time; or they actually think we're all stupid enough to believe the things they say in these adverts, despite the fact that the tone and cadence or their voice has clearly changed only making the fact that they're hitting pre-written key-words and phrases even more painfully obvious. If they think we're that fucking stupid, we should be offended. But if they don't I have to ask why? Why would they do this? All they've done is proven without a shadow of a doubt that they will claim to have enjoyed a game they didn't enjoy, will claim to have played a game they didn't play, and will promote a game for money. This means we can NEVER trust another fucking word they say. We can never listen to them promote a game without questioning if they where paid to say it, and considering how shitty the stuff they promote is, we know they will literally overlook any flaw there is in a game if the price is right.
This is what integrity is all about. I won't ever take a sponsorship not because I'm "above" such things, I am, but that's not the reason. I would never take a sponsorship because as soon as I do nothing I ever say again will be worth a damn. Would I promote something for money? Maybe? Where would my line be. Simple. If I'm making a show about video games, the promoted product cannot be in any way linked to video games. That would be a conflict of interest. Second, I would never claim to like it, or have tried it, or agree to any kind of script. I would happily run an advert on a video I made but the advert would need to be honest, and I reserve the right to take the piss out of your product, oh, and my opinions are NEVER for sale. Now, I'm not a YouTuber, and will likely never be a YouTuber. For a start I'm an outspoken anti-SJW which is pretty much poison online, I'm a free-speech advocate and I love saying the word "cunt" just to piss people off. I'm already banned on Twitter, I pretty much play chicken with Facebook every other week by purposely sharing news stories, websites, and links to books, podcasts, and videos by people they've already banned for political censorship. YouTube would be sure to remove me as soon as I got big enough that they noticed me. But it's important to go into this industry knowing where you stand, and letting everyone else know too.
People who've visited the Facebook Group - (shameless plug) - may remember there was a bit of drama surrounding one of the members who made a post about the upcoming PS4 game 'Death Stranding'. He made a post where he was apparently optimistic and interested based on almost nothing, when literally hours earlier he was mocking the game, insulting the director, and claiming the only people interested where being taken in by the 'hype'. This same guy would regularly post inflamatory crap about games he'd never played, particularly games made by Ubisoft because he for some reason hates Ubisoft, and would post fawning fanboy posts about anything From Software are attached to. In the few months I knew him on Facebook I personally saw him write hate-filled articles claiming specific games where terrible and pretty much blaming them for all the ills of the industy. Specific targets included, 'Tom Clancy's The Division 2', 'Days Gone', and 'Assassin's Creed', though his most hater infused rant was about the upcoming game that is rumoured to be connected to Norse mythology. The game doesn't even have an officially announced name and he was bashing it. At the same time, if a game is by FromSoftware it was immediately perfect, leading to him claiming 'Sekiro' was brilliant before playing it, and all but claiming 'Elden Ring' will be his favourite game ever and we know nothing about the game except it's name, it involves George RR Martin, and it's by FromSoftware.
Now, why bring up this guy? He's already had his little tantrum, blocked everyone, and left the group in a huff. Who cares what he thinks right? Well, I care because I'm concerned that others may think the same way. Not quite to the same batshit insane level, but on a certain fundamental level he had one belief that was particularly bothersome. He claimed that he would give one opinion amongst his friends, where he'd bash games and call them shit amongst his "git gud" soulsborne fanboy moronic friends, the kind of toxic cunts who legitimately make video gaming a hostile hobby for many, yeah, those arseholes. He'd claim he's say one thing with them, and then the opposite thing "professionately". He didn't see how having literally diametrically opposed opinions on 'Death Stranding' didn't make sense. He didn't seem to realise that you can't just repeat back the opinions of the crowd like a crap populist mirror. And you certainly can't do all that if you intend to write articles and promote yourself as a video games journalist, as this guy was at the time.
The thing is, opinions change. Often you revisit a game or film, and realise you've completely changed your mind. For me the most jarring example of this was 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2', which the first time watching I didn't like. I thought the comedy was forced, that it was bringing too much absurdity into the MCU and wasn't consistent with the tone and feel of the series so far, and I found the story uninspired... I watched it a second time and I loved it. I must have been in a lot of pain that first day. I regularly suffer, as a disabled man with chronic pain, and I know my pain can colour my mood. The only explaination I can give for my initial dislike of the film is I was in a foul mood. I was having a bad day and jokes I'd normally find funny, I just found irritating. We can contextualise our perceptions, understand our biases, and change our minds. That's all fine. However if you're going to criticise games, films, or any media for that matter you need to have integrity or your audience will never trust you. You can't sell out, you can't promote shitty mobile apps, you can't decide to bash a game on social media just to fit in with your loser friends and not expect to be called out for it. I for one have always felt, integrity isn't just important, it's paramount, it's fundamental. As CS Lewis once wrote, integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is watching. Without integrity everything else you do is called into question.