Article written by :: (RSS)

tigtog (aka Viv) is the founder of this blog. She lives in Sydney, Australia: husband, 2 kids, cat, house, garden, just enough wine-racks and (sigh) far too few bookshelves.

This author has written 3412 posts for Hoyden About Town. Read more about tigtog »

69 responses to “Yet another Dickwolves post”

  1. QoT

    I am so filled with rage on this one. And your not so much with just(!) an insensitive rape joke is so on the nose because the number of people I’ve talked to about this who still honestly think the initial strip isn’t the problem – they *completely* get that Gabe and Tycho’s response and subsequent actions are beyond the pale but can’t bring the same condemnation onto the original, rape-joke-making comic.

    (And just pre-emptively in case you’ve got any of the usual suspects hanging about: yes, I *do* understand the point of the original comic, I even think that point is a funny one. Dickwolves, not so much.)

  2. tigtog

    I’m so totally with you, QoT, on the underlying point of the comic being not just funny, but perspicacious even! (warning – potential TL:DR ahead)

    I wish we could actually be having that conversation about the cognitive dissonance between the points-at-all-costs mentality of gaming as a hero character and the underlying ethics of just what sort of hero one would be if one only saved enough people in a horrific scenario to move on to the next level, leaving the rest to suffer just the same. How that makes the hero actually a villain is a really good conversation. But it’s not the conversation we’re having, because the gratuitous rape joke for extra shock value (did the strip really need it? think of all the possible alternatives that still would have made the point) might have been intended to highlight that underlying point, but its effect was instead to obscure that underlying point, because it fed straight into sophomoric heh-heh-heh attitudes about rape jokes.

    Intent and effect are not the same thing.

    As Liss said, the problem with using a setup that casually draws, just for the LOLs, upon an existing trope of pervasive societal contempt for other people’s right to refuse consent, assert their autonomy and establish their personal boundaries is that it will reinforce that existing trope of pervasive societal contempt for other people’s declarations regarding their personal consent, autonomy and boundaries[1]. Responding in a way that ferociously escalates that existing trope of pervasive societal contempt, just because otherwise one might have to think about uncomfortable things that one is much happier not thinking about[2], is such a classic example of silencing techniques abounding in the rape culture, and is also (as Liss also said) so very very predictable.

    As every social justice advocate knows, every society in the world is built on an understructure of toxic prejudices and self-serving/foundational myths that justify those prejudices, and every child grows up into a society while absorbing those prejudices/myths just like they absorb every other cultural norm. This means that until one actively engages in self-examination (via questioning cultural norms) of one’s attitudes and worldview, every one of us is, at some time, going to reflexively regurgitate those prejudices/myths[3] and not see anything wrong with repeating these cultural norms, precisely because they are norms. People, mostly, just don’t think about norms (there are cognitive science reasons for this, but long comment is already long).

    Being a product of one’s culture does not necessarily make one a bad person – but refusing to acknowledge that there’s any toxic crap at all lurking in the foundations of one’s worldview can certainly mark one as a wilfully obtuse purveyor of that same toxic crap, and thus a person of whom others, those others who regularly get harmed by the casual deployment of those prejudices/myths, are going to be justifiably wary of in future. When one refuses to do the work of examining and dismantling the toxic foundations of one’s worldview, then one is marking oneself as an intellectual and ethical coward, so it’s not logical to get hurt that those people who are doing that work aren’t fully embracing one as a trustworthy ally, let alone a kindred spirit.

    1. There are other ways of referencing rape culture tropes in humour that are genuinely subversive in that they work to dismantle the contempt paradigm (i.e. they would make rapists & borderline sexual coercers squirm instead of making rape survivors squirm). Snickering at taboos dismantles nothing.
    2. Social Justice 101 for any newbies: being able to mostly not think about that uncomfortable thing that others, for survival, feel compelled to factor into their every day on the planet? <= = Privilege, right there.
    3. Yep, my hand's up for this one. I've done it on this very blog, where I compose my communication with care, but toxic crap nuggets still slipped by. How many times do you think I might have done it verbally? I shudder to think. I've learnt to examine habitual language and tropes for the toxic stuff, and there are some things I will never write/say ever again. That doesn't mean I've got rid of every scrap of toxic cultural crap rattling round in my brain, I've just got better at recognising it and refusing to employ it.[4]
    4. If you do see a toxic cultural crap nugget slip by me in my writing on this blog, please do call me on it. I’ve got better at listening and acknowledging, too.

  3. tigtog

    P.S. Extra thought: note how in the game example in the original webcomic, the game structure of points being awarded for flashy show-off displays of minor border encroachments that hardly impinge upon the unjust scenario, with no points being awarded for dismantling the underlying injustice, is what incentivises the players to ignore the ethics of allowing the unjust scenario to stand. The injustice is the norm, but how one bolsters one’s own personal position in the game means that the player must turn aside from acknowledging the injustice of that norm, let alone thinking about it or challenging it. One’s own personal quest for sufficient points to get bumped up to the next level is everything.

    Parallels with point-scoring in celebrity gamergeek fandom culture, who gets left behind in the howling darkness as a result, and what injustices are left to stand unchallenged, are left as an exercise for the reader.

  4. uniquerhys

    “Extra thought: note how in the game example in the original webcomic, the game structure of points being awarded for flashy show-off displays of minor border encroachments that hardly impinge upon the unjust scenario, with no points being awarded for dismantling the underlying injustice, is what incentivises the players to ignore the ethics of allowing the unjust scenario to stand”

    Exactly. I’ve been more aware of such unjustices in games since the comic came out. They could have made the point without reinforcing other kinds of injustice, and then digging the hole deeper.

    Example from Starcraft 2: On one campaign level, you have to evacuate 50 colonists from a planet being invaded by the Zerg. Lose one or two and a few extras are added to make up the 50. So obviously there are more than 50 people on the planet to begin with, but they only get a seat on the shuttle if the evacuating commander (the player) screws up and gets someone higher on the list killed. That and the commander loses about 100+ highly trained marines to get 50 civvies off the planet. No points are awarded for shooting the Zerg drop-pods out of the sky before they land, giving enough time to get everyone off-world.

  5. Jessica M.

    So I found this post on the Debacle timeline. I’ve been going through and reading everything it links to, and I was wondering what you thought of the post on there by Erron Kelly? He links to the same post you did from Shakesville but uses it to point out some sort of disturbing things. I’m not sure how I feel about that blog anymore.

  6. tigtog

    OK, I found Erron Kelly’s post myself in the end.

    I dunno. For somebody who’s terribly concerned about people misunderstanding the original webcomic, he’s managed to pretty comprehensively misunderstand both Melissa’s comment about people who try to make an end run around being banned and then the difference between banned posters “taking up the issue [i.e. the topic of the post] via email” and the offer for those who have been banned to contact Melissa about getting the ban revoked.

    It’s not too hard to see that there’s a rather large difference between posting one’s rantingly abusive or tediously ‘splaining comment to Melissa’s inbox (i.e. showing contempt for and/or indifference toward other human beings’ consent, autonomy, boundaries, and dignity) and doing what the comment policy asks (i.e. sending a polite and concise email asking for a return of commenting privileges). I his claimed contradiction is simply nothing of the sort.

    I also wonder how he expects Melissa to know that his two particular banned-from-Shakesville e-friends who are rape survivors are different from all the trolls who will have been spending weeks or even months of the 4chan/Anonymous campaign against Shakesville posing as rape survivors in order to try and get bullshit disrespecting stuff through. Just like rapists don’t go around with a big R on their foreheads, survivors don’t get a big S either. There has to be trust that people mean what they say, and if Melissa and the Shakesville crew are more than a little suspicious of new posters claiming victimhood after the months of 4chan/Anonymous harassment, surely that just shows that they are (a) human, and (b) more devoted to protecting the integrity of the existing community commenting space than they are in letting their energy be diverted to vetting every single new voice. That seems like a valid choice to me, frankly.

  7. tigtog

    P.S. I didn’t get to make the points I wanted about the commentby Melissa he takes such exception to, and which he IMO utterly mischaracterises as “she equates creating new accounts with being a rapist.”

    No, No, and No. Right at the beginning of his posts he points out that he lacks training in the social sciences, and here’s where that really shows.

    There is a HUGE difference between “being a Z” and “behaving like a Z” when one is discussing sociological matters. People model/copy the behaviour of others all the time without being like them in any deeper way. Melissa knows this and chose the words “behaving like a rapist” instead of “being a rapist” very very carefully.

    For those who havent’ read the comment, here it is:

    Let me go ahead and make this point again: If I, or one of Shakesville’s mods, tells you NO YOU CANNOT COMMENT HERE via revoking your commenting privileges, and you do an end run around our security in order to disregard having been told no and disrespect the boundaries of this space, you are behaving like a rapist.

    Rape is not just about sexual violence; it is also about the contempt for and/or indifference toward other human beings’ consent, autonomy, boundaries, and dignity.

    You don’t have to actually be physically violating another person to show contempt for and/or indifference toward their consent, autonomy, boundaries, and dignity.

    That’s the whole point that’s being made about the rape culture. It’s not just about the actual acts of rape that happen within this culture, but about all the narratives, attitudes, and behaviors that surround the violation of another person’s boundaries and sense of personal safety.

    Stop and take a fucking breath, trolls. Look in the mirror. You continually insist that you don’t support the rape culture, but even in the act of invading and trying to commandeer this space, you are perpetuating its most basic tenet that your needs trump the boundaries of another human being.

    You have some serious reflecting to do. There’s nothing decent about what you’re doing, in this space and elsewhere.

  8. Helen

    I’m not across this entire issue as I’m not a comics or gaming fan, but let me just say I’ve had comments on my own blog which demonstrate that it is possible to be a rape survivor and also hold rape apologist tropes. (My rape was real rape, hers isn’t.) Therefore, even if MM had known that certain commenters were survivors, it shouldn’t necessarily trump everything that was actually written.

  9. tigtog

    Thanks for the reminder, Helen. That’s very true, and we especially saw some examples during the recent webwars regarding the allegations against Assange and those who just wanted them summarily dismissed because anything more socially complicated than violent stranger rape is supposedly no type of sexual assault at all. These stances disrespect the lived experiences of those who have been sexually coerced or abused by clever predators who use isolation, intoxication and implied threats to complete their assaults without resorting to actual violence, because they know it means that those whom they assault are less likely to be believed. Similarly, anybody who posts how they personally are not triggered/offended in any way by the dickwolves panel in a way that states or even implies that anybody who is triggered/offended should just develop a sense of humour is disrespecting the lived experience of all those other rape survivors who are triggered/offended.

    So, it doesn’t matter whether I or Melissa or Helen actually might believe that the person making such comments is indeed a rape survivor. If their argument is that anything outside their own narrow rules around their own experience is “not really rape” or along those lines? Then they’re not welcome to comment here, either.

  10. tigtog

    Another source: fucknopennyarcade.tumblr.com clearly illustrates where the imbalance lies on this:

    I read that someone made a threat against Mike Krahulik’s family on twitter. That is absolutely unacceptable. I find it telling, though, that it took a threat to goad him into speaking out. The fact that he received a threat, in his mind, meant that things had gone too far and needed to end.

    I began receiving death threats, threats of rape, and direct threats of violence within literally twenty-four hours of creating this tumblr. So has every woman who has spoken out against this Dickwolves fiasco. One feminist blogger, who wrote about this several days ago, mentioned that she’d never reported her rape—and someone tracked her down, found out where she lives, and called the police station nearest her home to “report her rape for her”—then he posted about it on /v/. But neither myself nor any of these other women backed off. We didn’t make a post saying that we’re done with it.

    There’s a very, very small subculture of feminists posting against rape culture tropes, and there’s an army of neckbeards defending their right to perpetuate the status quo of treatingrape like it doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t happen to them, and they think it doesn’t happen to people they know either, and apparently nobody else really matters. But the feminists and rape survivors and their allies are the ones who are supposed to be overreacting here. Really?

  11. Andy

    If feminists are not a monolithic group, and you can’t blame one group of feminists for the actions of another, then “neckbeards” are not a monolithic group, and you can’t blame one group for the actions of another.

  12. SunlessNick

    The fact that he received a threat, in his mind, meant that things had gone too far and needed to end.

    And most tellingly, the fact that his critics had did not.

  13. Jacob

    Melissa knows this and chose the words “behaving like a rapist” instead of “being a rapist” very very carefully.

    But Melissa also knows very well the power of words and has pointed out again and again that the speaker’s/writer’s intent is irrelevant if someone is offended by their words. I too have no formal social sciences education and see little more in the phrase “behaving like a rapist” than “someone who is a rapist but hasn’t actually committed the crime yet,” and would suggest that this is a perfectly reasonable reading since most people don’t have social science education.

    It seems to me that you saying “Right at the beginning of his posts he points out that he lacks training in the social sciences, and here’s where that really shows.” is not so different from someone being offended by the use of the word ‘lame’ and me saying “If you understood the evolution of American English better, then you would see why this isn’t offensive.”

    (Trigger warning for rape below)

    Also, RE the quote by fucknopennyarcade:

    I began receiving death threats, threats of rape, and direct threats of violence within literally twenty-four hours of creating this tumblr.

    Do you really believe that Tycho and Gabe haven’t been receiving death threats/threats of violence this whole time? Heck, I would bet that some of 4chan has been trolling PA, because that’s what Anonymous likes to do (“Dear Tycho, I think that you should be raped and then told that it didn’t happen!!!)

    I don’t know if any of the people disturbed by PA’s response had their families threatened, but I think that it’s unfair to minimize Gabe’s anguish to “Gosh, I got a threat! Let’s put the brakes on this!” I think that it was more likely the inclusion of people, specifically children, who were not involved in this controversy at all that made him realize things were going much too far.

    As reprehensible as the troll’s actions on both sides were (and in my opinion, the more reprehensible were the one’s targeting rape survivors, since presumably Tycho and Gabe are reasonably inured to death threats), I think most would agree that threatening children is not acceptable behavior in any form.

  14. Helen

    Well, it’s an ill wind that blows noone any good: It got Richie posting again!

  15. tigtog

    Do you really believe that Tycho and Gabe haven’t been receiving death threats/threats of violence this whole time?

    I’m sure that they have received some trollish threats. Trollish threats are pretty obvious and easy to shrug off. But there’s a difference between trolling for the lulz and cyberbullying, and the only good conflating the two does is it allows the bullies to get away with their harassing bullshit by claiming that they were “just trollin’.

    I bet that Gabe and Tycho haven’t received nearly the volume of threats that rape survivors have received from people who are not obviously just trollish shit-stirring but who are instead scarily credible threats, who are actively engaging in bullying using intimidation as a form of silencing. Bullies look for trigger points. Gabe and Tycho, neither of them rape survivors (at least so far as anybody knows) do not have obvious, acknowledged, easy to spot trigger points regarding being raped, therefore this is unlikely to be the bullying tactic of choice against them.

    As reprehensible as the troll’s actions on both sides were

    Presumably you’re referring to the 4chan trollers playing both sides rather than accusing rape survivors of trolling simply by expressing their objections. I certainly hope so.

    (and in my opinion, the more reprehensible were the one’s targeting rape survivors, since presumably Tycho and Gabe are reasonably inured to death threats),

    See again my point above regarding the difference in credible threat level between the two as well.

    I think most would agree that threatening children is not acceptable behavior in any form.

    Threats of violence towards anybody are not acceptable in any form. This is what objectors receiving threats far more credible than that one tweet have been saying since August. But nobody on the “Dickwolves T-shirts! Awesome idea!” side cared, except for how they could make more jokes out of it, until now.

    This reaction encapsulates the whole point of the objections to the original comic and stronger objections to the responses. As long as it was just silly oversensitive rape victims making a fuss by saying “this scares me and that’s unfair” it wasn’t just not considered important, it was considered ridiculous to ask Team Dickwolves to be just a little bit more thoughtful, just a little bit more kind. Every single request for just a bit of empathy was met with contempt or indifference.

    But hey! Let a Team Dickwolves figurehead who has been refusing to listen for over 6 months start saying “this upsets my wife and that’s unfair” (why doesn’t it upset him, btw?), and all of a sudden everybody’s supposed to start listening to him, to start caring about what he feels, because what he has to say is important.

    Again, threats of violence are unacceptable. At any time. To anybody. I’m glad that Team Dickwolves’ figureheads have finally come out and said so. I’m not impressed one little bit that it’s taken them six months to do it.

  16. tigtog

    @Andy

    If feminists are not a monolithic group, and you can’t blame one group of feminists for the actions of another, then “neckbeards” are not a monolithic group, and you can’t blame one group for the actions of another.

    Congratulations on spotting the deliberate irony so quickly, and referencing it so delicately.

  17. Jacob

    This, I definitely agree with:

    Again, threats of violence are unacceptable. At any time. To anybody.

    But I would add the caveat that as much as we want any threat of violence to be unacceptable, the cultural undertow is that violence in some forms (eg. war) is acceptable. Therefore, if people have been viewing this as a battle, then threatening the combatants might seem more acceptable (again, I agree with you that threats and name-calling have no place at all in any sort of debate) than threatening non-combatants — just like targeting civilians is a war crime.

    Presumably you’re referring to the 4chan trollers playing both sides rather than accusing rape survivors of trolling simply by expressing their objections. I certainly hope so.

    I am definitely not accusing rape survivors of trolling by expressing criticism towards PA. However, there are more people on Team AntiDickwolf (is there a better name to use here? I’d rather not use this one, but it’s the most succinct I can think of) than just 4channers playing both sides and rape survivors. To say that the AntiDickwolves are all saints except for some 4channers is obviously not true. What is fucknopennyarcade if not a troll (setting aside the possibility that they are indeed a 4channer)?

    This reaction encapsulates the whole point of the objections to the original comic and stronger objections to the responses. As long as it was just silly oversensitive rape victims making a fuss by saying “this scares me and that’s unfair” it wasn’t just not considered important, it was considered ridiculous to ask Team Dickwolves to be just a little bit more thoughtful, just a little bit more kind. Every single request for just a bit of empathy was met with contempt or indifference.

    This ties in to the last point, but I’ve seen this sentiment a lot – that the people on Team AntiDickwolves did absolutely nothing but express their hurt in such a reasonable way as “this scares me and that’s unfair”. I don’t have access to PA’s email, of course, but I think that a lot of the mail, in response to both the original and follow up comic, was likely accusatory and not likely to garner the response that those concerned had hoped for. Some of this is certainly a matter of ignorance on PA’s (and my, and many other’s) part about what being told that you are complicit in supporting rape culture means, but before this last week, I too would have gotten defensive if someone had said that of me. Still, while I agree that PA has not shown much empathy in this entire saga, to say that all Team AntiDickwolves asked for was a bit of empathy is disingenuous.

    I bet that Gabe and Tycho haven’t received nearly the volume of threats that rape survivors have received from people who are not obviously just trollish shit-stirring but who are instead scarily credible threats, who are actively engaging in bullying using intimidation as a form of silencing.

    I definitely agree that G&T probably haven’t gotten as many threatening messages about this as the people on Team AntiDickwolves, but that doesn’t mean that we can just ignore it (threats are unacceptable at any time, etc). I also agree (which I tried to spell out in my earlier post) that the threats and bullying have a much greater effect on the rape survivors in Team AntiDickwolves than on G&T, which does mean that I hold non-trolls on Team Dickwolves more accountable for careless discourse than I do those on Team AntiDickwolves.

    But hey! Let a Team Dickwolves figurehead who has been refusing to listen for over 6 months start saying “this upsets my wife and that’s unfair” (why doesn’t it upset him, btw?), and all of a sudden everybody’s supposed to start listening to him, to start caring about what he feels, because what he has to say is important.

    I can see this reading of his post, but that’s not how I read it at all. Due to his privilege (and mine, as well), He has tuned this out for 99% of the last 6 months. Does that mean that he has room to grow as a person? Sure, but that doesn’t mean that he has just been ignoring the strife of Team AntiDicwolves — He hasn’t even realized that there was strife to begin with. In the most recent flareup of the last few days, he even said that he expected this to blow over quickly, and I think that when he finally saw it wouldn’t he decided to call an end to it. This is the other thing that I think is important: he was calling an end to it on PA’s side only. He posted this on the PA blog, for PA readers, the vast majority of which either have no or only a passing knowledge of this debacle, or support him. If he had posted this on Twitter, or on Shakesville, or on Kirbybit’s blog, then I would agree that telling rape survivors to just ignore it is missing the point and quite offensive.

    Also, on a separate but related note, thank you, and many other bloggers who have written in a similar vein, for covering this. I have learned a ton about myself and about others, and find myself aligning further and further with Team AntiDickwolves.

  18. tigtog

    Addressing this part of Jacob’s comment separately

    Melissa knows this and chose the words “behaving like a rapist” instead of “being a rapist” very very carefully.

    But Melissa also knows very well the power of words and has pointed out again and again that the speaker’s/writer’s intent is irrelevant if someone is offended by their words.

    The speaker/writer’s intent is irrelevant to whether somebody is offended by their words, true. Obviously one’s intent is still relevant to the speaker/writer, and it is also relevant as to where the offence stands on the malicious/gratuitous/insensitive/constructive spectrum.

    It is actually possible to use offensive language constructively in order to shock people into new ways of thinking – the best of the satirical comedians do it regularly, (eta:) as do sociologists and social justice activists examining and challenging the assumptions underlying our social hierachies. What is however most common is the use of offensive language maliciously, to marginalise others; gratuitously, to add extra impact by using a taboo word just to get extra attention; or insensitively, without awareness of the sociological baggage of the term. I hope you can see that obviously calling somebody out for malicious/gratuitous/insensitive use of offensive language is actually quite a different beast from challenging somebody for a constructive use of offensive language. Conflating these nuanced distinctions is intellectually lazy (when it’s not sheer mendacious disingenuity).

    Some people have been kind enough to refer to the original PA webcomic as insensitive, but actually it was gratuitous. I suggest that Melissa’s use of language that you find offensive is grounded in constructive paradigm-shifting about the fundamentals of the rapist mindset, and how our culture actually encourages people, in very many ways, to act like rapists with regard to respecting other people’s rights in non-sexual interactions and then pretends that this has no influence on behaviour in sexual interactions.

    I too have no formal social sciences education and see little more in the phrase “behaving like a rapist” than “someone who is a rapist but hasn’t actually committed the crime yet,” and would suggest that this is a perfectly reasonable reading since most people don’t have social science education.

    Sorry, no. “Someone who is a rapist but hasn’t actually committed the crime yet,” is not a reasonable reading because it makes no sense. If no rape has been committed, then there is no rapist in the picture at all. So, given that this reading is obvious nonsense on the face of it, then what is actually being said? What is being compared here, really?

    What’s being compared is an attitude or history of contempt and/or indifference to other people’s expressions and negotiated agreements regarding consent, autonomy and boundaries in non-sexual interpersonal interactions. That contempt and/or indifference in coercive/intimidatory non-sexual interactions is behaving just like a rapist does in coercive/intimidatory sexual interactions.

    Contempt and/or indifference leading to coercion and/or intimidation are the common elements. Why would anybody who displays contempt/indifference for the consent, autonomy and boundaries of others in non-sexual interactions suddenly transform into somebody who fully cares about honouring the consent, autonomy and boundaries of others in sexual situations? Maybe just because they can go to prison when it’s a sexual interaction and not so much for the non-sexual interactions. But is refraining from doing harm due to fear of prison a sufficient reason to judge somebody as an ethical and trustworthy person? It might make one “respectable” in the Victorian sense, but it hardly makes one admirable, does it?

    It seems to me that you saying “Right at the beginning of his posts he points out that he lacks training in the social sciences, and here’s where that really shows.” is not so different from someone being offended by the use of the word ‘lame’ and me saying “If you understood the evolution of American English better, then you would see why this isn’t offensive.”

    See malicious/gratuitous/insensitive/constructive nuances above.

  19. tigtog

    Also, on a separate but related note, thank you, and many other bloggers who have written in a similar vein, for covering this. I have learned a ton about myself and about others, and find myself aligning further and further with Team AntiDickwolves.

    Jacob, our comments crossed while I was responding to the other part of your previous comment. Thanks for this.

    Thanks also for your other points above, some of which I need to think about for a while before responding. I think my knee’s jerking a bit more strongly than usual today.

  20. tigtog

    @Jacob, just a quick response to one single point:

    Presumably you’re referring to the 4chan trollers playing both sides rather than accusing rape survivors of trolling simply by expressing their objections. I certainly hope so.

    I am definitely not accusing rape survivors of trolling by expressing criticism towards PA. However, there are more people on Team AntiDickwolf (is there a better name to use here? I’d rather not use this one, but it’s the most succinct I can think of) than just 4channers playing both sides and rape survivors. To say that the AntiDickwolves are all saints except for some 4channers is obviously not true. What is fucknopennyarcade if not a troll (setting aside the possibility that they are indeed a 4channer)?

    I see a distinction between flaming and trolling, don’t you? Trolls often incite flamewars or jump in to escalate them, but it’s not a ‘war’ unless most of the flaming is coming from genuinely angry/upset people with an emotional investment in the issue.

    Sure, some people on Team AntiDickWolves (Team ADW?) have engaging in flaming, which is not at all saintly, but I really don’t think many have been trolling. I would certainly classify fucknopennyarcade as a flame rather than as a troll.

  21. Jacob

    Agh! Our posts crossed again!

    I see a distinction between flaming and trolling, don’t you? Trolls often incite flamewars or jump in to escalate them, but it’s not a ‘war’ unless most of the flaming is coming from genuinely angry/upset people with an emotional investment in the issue.

    I seem to be not giving any of this enough nuance today. It’s been a while since I’ve posted online, and I’m a bit rusty. You’re right, I was using troll to encompass flaming as well, but they are totally different, and I too would classify fucknopennyarcade as a flamer rather than a troll. In that case, I think we are in agreement that Team DW has by and large been the only place that trolls (at least publicly) have surfaced.

  22. tigtog

    A clarification on the nuances regarding malicious/gratuitous/insensitive/constructive intent behind using offensive language.

    Intent still doesn’t matter, IMO, in terms of whether or not an apology is owed when another person says that they were hurt by the language used. When I step on somebody’s foot I apologise, even when it’s an accident, and I would still apologise for hurting their foot even if I was doing it constructively in order to stop them walking into the path of a speeding truck.

    Where the speaker/author’s intent does matter to those harmed by marginalising language is with respect to issues of forgiveness, trust and assumptions of good faith in future interactions.

  23. lazydaze

    I first heard of this controversy on the weekend. I know penny arcade, find them funny but dont read them religiously.

    I think context is key though and the original comic that created the uproar does read differently depending how familiar you are with MMORPG’s. In games like these because any player can take the quest at any time it is like its stuck in an infinite loop, as soon as you rescue the hostages or whatever more will respawn like you were never there. So in the comic, there would always be a 6th, 7th, 8th slave onwards to infinity. It just keeps going.

    Thats why I dont think its a rape joke, but a joke about how online video games sense of reality doesnt fit in with our own. It features rape in the setup however and some people get offended at this, but in my opinion it just seemed like a throwaway line than anything more sinister. It could have been just as funny if it didnt have the r word IMO.

    The aftermath however the PA guys certainly could have handled themselves better. When they got accused of supporting rape culture it was probably a term they had never heard of, and taking the term at face value I can see why they thought accusations of supporting rape culture = supporting rape. They probably should have just apologised to those that were offended, explained that PA has a more sense of humour that not isnt for everyone and moved on, instead there was this back and forth that lasted for months.

    I think it shows that both the PA and shakesville communities are both fairly insular and stubborn who could both learn to see the issue from another persons point of view at times. PA have been opponents for censorship in games so they arent gonna give in and shakesville have been blogging about rape culture since forever. They have opposing views and will never agree, so why argue about it for 5 months?

  24. Mindy

    *headdesk*

    Rinse, repeat. Ad nauseum.

  25. tigtog

    I liked this comment from Shakesville which does a far better job of drawing out the parallels between the original webcomic and the creators’/fans’ reaction to criticism of it than I managed in my attempt above:

    Apologies if this point has already been made, but I just had this thought and felt compelled to de-lurk and share it. The original comic really is a metaphor for everything that has come after it. The hero-character of the comic didn’t want to deal with the reality of the slave’s situation—the hero had gotten what zie wanted and completed the quest, and didn’t want to think about it anymore. So the hero told the slave to shut up about rape already — “Hey, pal, don’t make this weird.” The PA fans who are furiously defending the comic got what they wanted—a cheap laugh. They didn’t want to think about it anymore. They want us to shut up about rape already. They’re asking us “Hey, pal, don’t make this weird.” Except this is real life, not a comic about a game, and they don’t get to just walk back to town, turn in the quest, and move on. We are following them back to town, and we’re going to keep making it weird for them.

    Yep.

    Also, the only thing that’s going to stop the objections from social justice advocates making this weird for those defenders who don’t want to think about the injustice of mocking and marginalising rape survivors is to realise that getting angry about injustice is actually perfectly rational and not weird at all, and that the weirdness disappears once you realise that it’s the demanding the right to just not think about it that’s really making this weird.

  26. Mindy

    it just seemed like a throwaway line than anything more sinister.

    There’s your rape culture right there. Rape is just a throwaway line. Who cares? That’s why if is fucking sinister. Rape is not funny. Especially not for rape survivors. Yet these guys can’t even begin to understand that until someone threatens their family – which is way beyond the pale. But even then they can’t understand that other people have been feeling that way from.the.very.beginning.

    And yes, the comic strip could have been funny. All they had to do was leave out the gratuitous rape reference. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s a rape joke. Survivors of rape feel that it trivialises what they experienced, and it fucking well does and for that they deserve an apology, not five months of death threats, rape threats, and trolling.

  27. lazydaze

    @mindy

    I’m not really here to defend the PA guys, I think their response after the backlash wasnt great and as I said I think the comic could have been fine without the r word.

    I think context and meaning is important, and there is a reason a three panel comic gets different reactions from people. Was it offensive to people, certainly, did they intend it to be offensive, I’m guessing not.

    By their initial reaction you could tell the two PA guys were completely unfamiliar with the term rape culture and if they understood the term perhaps they wouldnt have made their original dumb response.

    PA have made these sort of jokes for their entire history and certainly ones more offensive than that one. They seem to have an all or nothing approach to comedy and I dont think their would ever be a compromise between both sides. Hence a 5 month long internet war.

    and it fucking well does and for that they deserve an apology, not five months of death threats, rape threats, and trolling.

    From what I’ve read both Shakesville and the PA guys have received death and rape threats, that of course is revolting. I dont think the PA or shakesville endorse or are behind such vile threats, but it is what happens when internet wars get nasty. Another blog suspected 4chan was behind the nastiest threats, that wouldnt surprise me.

    I wish these things could end with “I see where you are coming from but I respectfully disagree” rather than it ending in death threats from anonymous internet crazies.

  28. tigtog

    By their initial reaction you could tell the two PA guys were completely unfamiliar with the term rape culture and if they understood the term perhaps they wouldnt have made their original dumb response.

    They couldn’t be arsed to google a term which is widely used on the internet, and which even just reading the Wikipedia article would have meant that they didn’t voice such a common misunderstanding of it that now they’re part of the article. Their failure to do due diligence on this unleashed a whole new generation of gamers who now think they know what a ridiculous idea ‘rape culture’ is, and who have been inoculated against reading about it with an open mind, and this attitude has already had, and will continue to have, ramifications for women gamers and how safe they feel in gaming environments.

    Holkins’ and Krahulik’s reaction to criticism has been so unsmart, in so many ways, from people who like to make out as though they are smarter than most. It’s been so unclever, in fact, that it’s likely to be taught as a case study in how to avoid such a spectacular crash and burn example of utterly mismanaging negative PR.

  29. Mindy

    @ lazydaze

    I’m positive they didn’t mean it to be offensive, it just never occurred to them that it could be. Where they went wrong is in not admitting that it could be offensive and then escalating it beyond all reason when a simple apology would have done.

  30. tigtog

    Some interesting thoughts from rikibeth at Sister Salvation: On Precision In Language, and getting the results you want.

  31. QoT

    I think context is key though and the original comic that created the uproar does read differently depending how familiar you are with MMORPG’s.

    Allow me to preface my response with a bit of gamer self-gratification.

    I am a 30 month veteran of City of Heroes. I have one Level 50 and around 20 alts between levels 20 and 40. My 50 has over 400 badges.

    I. Fucking. Get. MMORPG. Culture.

    The point of the comic has already been addressed extensively by tigtog (yes, lol, your hero isn’t heroic because you only rescue the requisite number of slaves, well done.)

    The point of the comic did not require the use of rape as a punchline. The point of the comic did not require the creation* of a creature entirely designed to rape.

    The point of the comic did not require the use of the phrase “raped to sleep” which feeds into ~edgy~ gamer geek exaggeration (cf Futurama “death by snoo-snoo”).

    The comic could just as easily have read “and every night the necromancers harvest our souls and use them for Christmas lights”.

    But instead Gabe and Tycho deliberately used the common** geek trope of throwing the word “rape” around to look edgy and hip and ironic because they aren’t actually aware and don’t actually give a shit about the fact that we are soaking in a culture which trivialises and demeans the act of rape and the experiences of victims.

    And my level 50 emp/psi defender with psionic mastery ancillary powers, half a suit of Vanguard armour and a portable field craft station thinks that’s a bit shit.

    *YES I AM AWARE THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY CITED THE EXISTENCE OF DICKWOLVES.
    **COMMON =/= OKAY

  32. lazydaze

    I. Fucking. Get. MMORPG. Culture.

    Ummm, why the anger then? I’ve been respectful, perhaps you can do the same? All I’m going on was this post, which did not give any context to the original comic. How am I meant to know how much everyone has read up on a subject? And even so why get aggro at me?

    The point of the comic did not require the use of rape as a punchline. The point of the comic did not require the creation* of a creature entirely designed to rape.

    Yes and if you read my comment I said more or less the exact same thing

    It could have been just as funny if it didnt have the r word IMO.

    But yes, blame me. For what I’m not sure but carry on.

  33. tigtog

    All I’m going on was this post, which did not give any context to the original comic.

    In the first paragraph of this post I linked to a timeline that links to about 50 posts, maybe more, around the internet on this shitstorm. I linked to the archives at Shakesville and Geek Feminism of multiple posts where the strip has been discussed. Those links gave you all the context you could want, if you had followed them.

  34. tigtog

    All I’m going on was this post, which did not give any context to the original comic.

    In the first paragraph of this post I linked to a timeline that links to about 50 posts, maybe more, around the internet on this shitstorm. I linked to the archives at Shakesville and Geek Feminism of multiple posts where the strip has been discussed. Those links gave you/anyone all the context you could want, they just have to be followed.

    The first two comments on this discussion thread, from QoT and myself, mentioned the game scenario critique aspect of the webcomic in ways that made it pretty clear that we are “familiar [enough] with MMORPG’s” to ‘get’ the satirical point, and that we don’t need to have it condescendingly explained to us.

    Condescension is not actually respectful. Not at all.

  35. tigtog

    P.S. In our comments policy, we specifically point out that we don’t consider obscene vocabulary to be inherently disrespectful, certainly not compared to the ruthlessly contemptuous hostility which it is possible to deploy while using the politest of wording. It’s just fucking swearing after all, and while it certainly is used for emphasis, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the emphasis is an angry one.

  36. lazydaze

    The first two comments on this discussion thread

    I didnt read every comment or every link. Is that really a realistic requirement for commenting on a blog? I assumed MMO tropes arent very well known amongst non-gamers, perhaps I was wrong. If it came off as condescending to say how it could be interpreted that wasnt my intention. And I certainly dont think I deserve to be sworn at even if it was interpreted as condescending.

  37. tigtog

    This thread is <50 comments long. It’s not unreasonable to expect someone to read every comment in such a thread.

    Also, why would you assume that bloggers and commentors here are non-gamers?

    Also, the swearing? We’re fucking Australian*. From a post you made in another thread, so (it appears) are you. Why are you taking fucking swearing fucking personally?

    *well, QoT’s a fucking Kiwi, but they swear just as much.
    (this comment has been edited for extra clarity)

  38. tigtog

    Apologies for comment duplicate weirdness. A plugin was causing a few backend blips. Sorted now.

  39. SunlessNick

    I didnt read every comment or every link. Is that really a realistic requirement for commenting on a blog?

    I don’t see how it could be unrealistic to expect someone to read the links offered for context before judging whether context is provided.

  40. lazydaze

    i saw your comments come in twice and then disappear, i thought it was weirdness at my end :/

    Also, the swearing? We’re fucking Australian*

    I’m offended at your swearing, fucking offended :)

  41. lazydaze

    Also, why would you assume that bloggers and commentors here are non-gamers?

    I’ve been a gamer all my life, and although it is more mainstream than it ever has been I still as my default position that its alien to most people. This could be because I was heavily into tabletop wargames and pen and paper roleplaying games as well, which was quite a small and close knit subculture when I was involved.

    The amount of times I had to explain dnd from scratch to bemused people wondering what we are doing with the funny die and equipment, I guess I’m more used to gaming being less mainstream than it now is.

  42. QoT

    @lazydaze: Here’s the thing. My hostility wasn’t actually just for you, so I do somewhat apologise that you got both barrels of it.

    But *if* you check the context, you’ll see that the whole bloody “oh but you just need to understand gamer culture, silly feminists” argument has been absolutely done to death on this issue for literally months.

    And even without that history, it is fucking insulting to just assume that feminist bloggers and gamers are somehow mutually exclusive groups. Not to mention that to even be willing to put forward the “oh but gamer culture” argument directly implies that something being gamer-related means the trivialisation of rape is okay as long as your punchline is funny to geeks.

  43. tigtog

    @lazydave, well that’s where taking a few more minutes to read the whole thread would have helped reset your base expectations, for this space. I find it useful whenever I go to a new blog to not only read the whole thread on whatever post I’ve clicked through to, but also to go back to Newbie 101 and LURK MOAR on other threads to get a feel for the zeitgeist.

    This takes time and effort, but it does prevent me getting egg on my face. Mostly.

    Anyway, I’ve been catching up on a more productive than usual MeFi thread, and one of the comments pointed to a post by Leigh Alexander based upon an answer she wrote to an askme on formspring, and here was a commentor’s response that neatly sums up exactly how this has been a PR disaster, and why so many of those digging in their heels on Team GetOverYourself are not doing Penny Arcade the brand any favours:

    I missed the Leigh Alexander stuff. Thanks to all who kept calling it out, because it’s a wonderful, measured response. Especially this bit:

    The joke doesn’t offend me, but the idea that what people wear or don’t wear at PAX is going to create some sinister delineation between people who were hurt and people who weren’t creeps me out.

    Pretty well sums up the poison pill that Gabe and Tycho unwittingly created for their own video game con. You done good on the booth babe issue, but then you went and created and profited from a blazing TEAM LEARN EMPATHY versus TEAM GET OVER YOURSELF controversy that is going to shroud a gathering that should be about enjoying games and bringing people of varying backgrounds together under one umbrella.

    Given that that community does damn near zippo to address earnestly the racism and sexism and homophobia that pervade its culture, other than to go all BOYS WILL BE BOYS about the Xbox Live douchebags and what have you, that makes this missed opportunity pretty goddamn tragic.

    So now victims of rape who are familiar with the controversy might attend, wanting nothing more than to play some games and see some awesome things, hoping that this will not be a THING, and they will probably be regularly confronted with a visual FUCK YOU, YOU ARE OVERSENSITIVE, WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF FAG t-shirt everywhere they go. And they will not try to engage the people wearing those shirts, because why should they? You’re wearing a shirt that tells me to fuck off if I don’t agree with your position.

    So let’s take the issues of morality and empathy and being a human being and throw that shit on the fire, and let’s discuss this: you run a high-profile charity and a convention that’s grown so big you had to split it in two. And you’re going to put the reputation of all that at risk so you can…troll rape victims? Defend your “first amendment rights” to make rape jokes? Do you not get the concept of branding?

  44. lazydaze

    And even without that history, it is fucking insulting to just assume that feminist bloggers and gamers are somehow mutually exclusive groups.

    As I said I’m still used I’m still used to gaming to be in the non-mainstream den of the geeks. Its nothing to do with this being a feminist blog, more that it isnt a gaming blog. Perhaps thats changed these days with everyone and their cat having a WoW account and the average person probably treats games like another piece of entertainment like film and music rather than something different. I dont know what I can say to prove that its not my intention to piss everyone off.

    But *if* you check the context, you’ll see that the whole bloody “oh but you just need to understand gamer culture, silly feminists” argument has been absolutely done to death on this issue for literally months.

    As I said I first heard of this over the weekend, that probably means that everything I said has been said a thousand times before. If thats the case it wasnt my intention to lecture anyone.

    Not to mention that to even be willing to put forward the “oh but gamer culture” argument directly implies that something being gamer-related means the trivialisation of rape is okay as long as your punchline is funny to geeks.

    I dont know if I articulated it well but I guess what I was trying to say is that I thought the original comic would read differently depending on how familiar the reader is with MMO’s. I assume to someone who is completely unfamiliar with MMO’s that the joke would come off as much more sinister as intended.

    I think the comic would have fine without the r word, and that the PA guys messed up with their response to this, but I think their crime is ignorance and stupidity more than anything else. Does that excuse their dumb response to this, no.

    What really pisses me off is that this led to death and rape threats being made to the Shakesville founder and one of the PA guys family. I just loathe how these internet wars, trolls and such get nasty.

  45. Mindy

    Please note: lazydaze this comment is not directed at you, it is a gross generalisation about male gamers ideas about gaming and women generally. Being a gross generalisation it won’t apply to everyone, and if it’s not about you, it’s not about you. Okay?

    I read a really good comment on one of the links yesterday (sorry can’t remember which one) which said “Yes girl gamers are out there, and yes we are avoiding you. Personally.” She converts her girlfriends into gamers rather than go to places where male gamers congregate because she doesn’t like the atmosphere.

    So Girl/Women Gamers are out there, or there are women like me married to gamers. He took me to see his wargames convention and I didn’t run. He built a special wargames table that took up the best part of the double garage and I didn’t run. He painted it and put that green felty crumby stuff all over it and invited friends down for hours of game play and I didn’t run. But when we moved we didn’t take the table. So I get the game play stuff too. I know what it is to lose hours playing Diablo. I was a evil neutral character in D&D and I was good at it. We still have 12 and 20 sided dice scattered around the house. We own a t-shirt that says “Jesus Saves” on the front and “Only takes half damage” on the back. There are lots more of us than anyone thinks.

    Also, anyone remember the huge outcry when Hex came onto Good Game replacing Junglist? How dare the ABC go for ‘mass market appeal’. How dare they actually acknowledge that there are women and girls out there playing computer games.

  46. lazydaze

    @mindy

    I wonder if MMO’s are killing off the old pen and paper RPG’s. It seems like a lot of work to get a game together when we can just go online and play something. It does seem that there is very little role playing going on in MMO’s, it just aint the same as a good dungeon master setting the scene.

    I think Hex is a really good addition to Good Game. Junglist was good to, shame they couldnt have all three on the show.

  47. lauredhel

    “So Girl/Women Gamers are out there”

    … and indeed, right here. At least one blogger at this blog started pen ‘n’ paper tabletop RPGing nearly three decades ago, had PONG and Atari consoles, was damn excited to get her first tape drive for her ZX81 so she could stop typing BASIC games in by hand from zines every time, and was a keen player of what was possibly the first online multi-user dungeon game with an Australian userbase; and is now helping guide a second generation.

  48. QoT

    As I said I’m still used I’m still used to gaming to be in the non-mainstream den of the geeks. Its nothing to do with this being a feminist blog, more that it isnt a gaming blog. Perhaps thats changed these days with everyone and their cat having a WoW account and the average person probably treats games like another piece of entertainment like film and music rather than something different. I dont know what I can say to prove that its not my intention to piss everyone off.

    Two problems I have with this statement.

    1. Insert generic comment about “what happens when you assume” here.

    2. This has nothing to do with gaming being more mainstream, and nothing to do with “everyone and their cat having a WoW account”. This is about the assumption you made that women on a feminist blog would need big-boy-pants MMORPG culture explained to them, and how much that says about gamer culture. As though feminists or women would be inherently less likely to be gamers (an assumption apparently supported by your defence that “gaming must be more mainstream now” i.e. feminists couldn’t possibly have be thought to be gamers In The Time Before WoW.)

    … not to mention the fact that as the big ol’ gamer I am, I still reject the notion that the comic “reads differently” to people based on their gamer cred. It still trivialises rape. It still uses rape as a ho-ho-ho-aren’t-we-edgy punchline. My gamer friends get that. My non-gamer friends get that.

  49. tigtog

    Have all the gamers here checked out http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ yet? It’s screencaps, vidcaps and soundcaps of abusive shit hurled at women gamers online. Sadly they haven’t made it accessible with alt text or transcripts, but otherwise it’s great.

  50. lazydaze

    1. Insert generic comment about “what happens when you assume” here.

    Likewise, you seemed to assume that my assumptions on not knowing about MMO’s was based on this being a feminist blog, we can talk about assumptions upon assumption upon assumptions but its making me dizzy. I have nothing more to add that I didnt intend to annoy/belittle/patronise anyone and that I didnt assume that MMO tropes would be unfamiliar with the people here because of their gender. Honestly if I offended you it wasnt my intention and I apologise.

    “gaming must be more mainstream now” i.e. feminists couldn’t possibly have be thought to be gamers In The Time Before WoW.)

    same thing, my assumptions werent based on gender or feminism. I did not mean mainstream = girls now play video games ZOMG

    I still reject the notion that the comic “reads differently” to people based on their gamer cred.

    Everything can be interpreted differently, art would be kind of dull if it wasn’t. There is no universal code to determine what is offensive and what is acceptable when it comes to satire or art. My point was that the comic was aimed at gamers and the meaning of the final panel where the “hero” leaves the slave would probably be lost on someone unfamiliar with the mechanics of your typical MMO game. I think the intentions of the comics creators is important. There is a difference between intentionally setting out to mock rape victims and unintentionally doing so because they arent familiar with rape culture, triggers and treating rape as callously as they did in their response. It doesn’t excuse anything, but I don’t think we can change attitudes unless we look at the reasons people have formed those attitudes.

  51. tigtog

    We spoke about intentionality upthread. To save us all needless repetition, perhaps you could take a look at that part of the discussion?

  52. tigtog

    I’d also have rather more than my current less-than-zero interest in their original intentions if Mike Krahulik hadn’t reacted to criticism by going across to a feminist blog designated as a safe-space and posting links to rape jokes, and then when that got criticised issuing Team Dickwolves shirts, and when he felt obliged to withdraw those from sale tweeting that he still planned to wear his own Team Dickwolves shirt to PAX. All those actions (and much more mockery and provocation that I haven’t listed here) are totally intentional FUCK YOU STFU ABOUT RAPE to every rape victim who expected more from men who were happy to gather kudos in the past for their efforts against sexism in gamer culture.

    Nitpicking people’s interpretations of the original comic is hardly the most important discussion to be having about where the PA team went wrong here. P.S. in any case, every single initial post that mentioned the comic assumed that no active malice was intended anyway. Given the way that Krahulik in particular has behaved since, and I’m not giving Jerry a free pass since he hasn’t called Krahulik out for it, that initial assumption of no malice now seems naively generous, even if it is the truth, because there’s been dumper-truck loads of malice ever since.

  53. QoT

    I’m not giving Jerry a free pass since he hasn’t called Krahulik out for it

    I think Richie absolutely perfectly knocked both guys’ recent statements on this out of the park.

  54. The Amazing Kim

    @ QoT

    That’s absolutely hilarious – thanks for posting it.

    Been staying out of this discussion because I’m too busy making a game where points are awarded for flashy show-off displays of minor border encroachments that don’t begin to dismantle the inherently unjust mechanism. :P

    And I’m just so sick of this pattern of conversation whenever a feminist criticises something. It’s like fine mental sandpaper, slowly filing away my patience. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear the sound of ruffling pompoms as I jump up and down on the sidelines, cheering.

  55. tigtog

    Been staying out of this discussion because I’m too busy making a game where points are awarded for flashy show-off displays of minor border encroachments that don’t begin to dismantle the inherently unjust mechanism. :P

    I think your questing heroes should have to do quintuple-somersaults to cross the border and beat the guards in a bake-off contest requiring triple-layer cake with lashings of butter icing. Now there’s a flashy border encroachment!

  56. tigtog

    Just seen a link to this elsewhere – Steve Coogan, who’s no stranger to using offense as a tool to mock hypocrisy and arrogance, thinks Top Gear has gone too far with its lazy, casual racism against the powerless. I link to it because of some of the defences I’ve read elsewhere about PA’s “edgy” humour that is allegedly just so rarely found, out there in the wilds of the internets, and must be protected like the rare and precious endangered species that it is.

    It’s not truly “edgy” to regurgitate existing prejudices, where the only taboo being broken is the one about not being seen to be bigoted. Laughing along with the same prejudices as the mainstream only just that bit more openly is still simply supporting the status quo. Jokes using grossly “politically incorrect” material for shock value, such as sketch comedy show Little Britain, are still just a couple of blokes dressing up as grotesques in frocks or fat suits or blackface – where’s the rarity in representing already marginalised groups as freaks? The sitcom Will and Grace, despite the flair of the actors and writers, repetitively referenced effeminate metrosexual stereotypes (the safe gays) rather than exploring less MSM-friendly gay subcultures of men who could snap a network producer in half with a casually-flexed bicep – where’s the rarity in refusing to acknowledge the legitimate masculinity of homosexual men? When I look at the much-touted “edginess” of PA, I am, similarly, distinctly underwhelmed by the lack of exposure to set-up-and-reveals of any surprising rarity. This doesn’t mean that these three examples are never ever clever or amusing, or that they never ever usefully highlight an aspect of society that is worth mocking; they’re just not that specially innovative in how they do it, and very very rarely truly subversive of the status quo.

    At its best PA can be whimsically insightful with a neat little dollop of wit. This particular webcomic was not one of their best; the cognitively dissonant immorality of gameplay heroics is a standard late-night-over-pizza dorm discussion rather than any surprising new analysis, and essentially the whole strip just looks like something they threw together to incorporate the word “dickwolves” because they’d made up a funny new word. If only they’d spent more effort to come up with a really original joke to get their funny new word out there, yes, we’d all just be LOLing at the funny word and it would be merrily adorning ironic merch without making people feel threatened by it. But they went for lazy humour drawing on overused tropes, they misjudged how much of their audience don’t just find those overused tropes unfunny but actively find them alienating, and then got really thin-skinned about people pointing this out.

  57. Mindy

    Richie did a really good analysis, and now he’s being attacked in comments on his post because, you know, we really should give the PA guys a break because they were really, like, surprised by the reaction to this and they really are the victims here, mmmkay? Yeah, guys are surprised at being taken to task for being arseholes and get their feelings hurt.

  58. Liam

    To derail the thread slightly, TT and TAK, on this point:

    the cognitively dissonant immorality of gameplay heroics is a standard late-night-over-pizza dorm discussion rather than any surprising new analysis

    Brett Holman did a very good recent post on the a/morality of games and simulations which surpasses the late-night-pizza standard.

  59. Napalmnacey

    I would just like to say:

    I wish these things could end with “I see where you are coming from but I respectfully disagree” rather than it ending in death threats from anonymous internet [ableist slur redacted].

    No. Never. I will never, ever respectfully disagree with anyone who thinks it’s within their rights to joke about the most traumatic, horrible, demeaning experience of a person’s life. I refuse to respectfully disagree with two grown men who goad their masses of fans into cruelly taunting and harrassing people who are already traumatised by something so horrendous that nobody can understand the true severity of the crime, the damage, the pain, unless they’ve gone through it themselves.

    I reserve my respect for people that actually give a crap about other human beings. I have every bloody right to reserve that respect, and that doesn’t make me an internet “cr*zy”, thank you very bloody much. And no, I’m not angry at you. I’m not attacking you. I’m deconstructing the hell out of an internet narrative, and if that makes you uncomfortable, there’s not a lot I can do about that. Just rest assured, this ain’t personal (as in, this comment directed at you).

  60. Napalmnacey

    I may have just knee-jerked. :T

  61. lazydaze

    , and that doesn’t make me an internet “cr*zy”, thank you very bloody much

    Unless you were one of the ones sending death threats to the Penny Arcade guy or the founder of Shakesville I wasnt talking about you. Read it again.

    than it ending in death threats from anonymous internet [ableist slur redacted]

    That is not referring to you, or the majority of people who are taking issue with the PA guys, just the people who think sending death threats are acceptable.

  62. orlando

    But they went for lazy humour drawing on overused tropes, they misjudged how much of their audience don’t just find those overused tropes unfunny but actively find them alienating, and then got really thin-skinned about people pointing this out.

    A precise description, methinks, of last year’s Stephen Fry debacle as well. There really should be some kind of lesson here…

  63. Mindy

    No, I don’t think so Napalmnacey, and you didn’t make any death threats either. Respectfully disagreeing with someone who has respected your opinions and feelings throughout is something, telling you that your feelings and opinions are worth less than their ‘right’ to make jokes about rape and tell survivors to suck it up is not respect in any way, sense, or form. Respect has to work both ways and they got it wrong, again and again, first. It’s a bit late to demand respect now.

  64. Lauredhel

    This may be one of those moderately-pointless “+1″ comments, but – exactly what Mindy said.

  65. tigtog

    @lazydave, with regard to those “death threats sent to the Penny Arcade guy” can we note, for the sake of scrupulousness, that there has only been one tasteless but hardly credible-threat-level tweet mentioned, by anybody?

    It’s vile, and I don’t condone any threats of violence being used, even for rhetorical effect. However, one tweet sent a few days ago hardly makes both sides equal offenders in the “internet [ableist slur redacted]” stakes when Melissa at Shakesville and Courtney at kirbybits and others started receiving violent threats, not just rhetorical but skin-crawlingly personal and detailed, in their email inboxes pretty much every day since August, as well as many known tweets far more personally abusive and threatening than the one known tweet sent to Mike/Gabe.

  66. kirstente

    I’m dithering about posting this, because it’s a whole other argument waiting to happen. But it matters.

    Can I request that people stop using ‘internet crazies’ to refer to those trolling and sending violent threats? I know that many people using it this why aren’t necessarily equating ‘crazy’ with ‘mentally ill’, but that is one of its meanings. It feels very insensitive as at least one of the rape survivors involved in this has a mental health problem, and one of the justifications used to dismiss her views is that she’s ‘crazy’.

  67. tigtog

    Kirstente, I hesitated about repeating it in my last comment, even with the airquotes. I should have listened to that hesitation and redacted it. I will do it now, and thanks for the calling out.

  68. tigtog

    Also, dismissing these people as ‘cr*zy’ is a way of distancing and othering them in order to not have to deal with the commonalities they have with “people like us”. The people making threats are bullying arseholes, who may or may not be mentally ill (how could we know) but who are indisputably utter, utter, arseholes. Harassing and cyberbullying people is the act of an arsehole, it is not a mental illness.

    These are people who feel justified, by their emotional attachment to Penny Arcade or their dedication to the 4chan feud against Shakesville, in deliberately triggering rape survivors with graphic imagery and threatening language just for month after month of LULZ. This is at least one person who felt justified, by hir emotional upset about such arseholery, in tweeting a threat that included children, making hir an arsehole too.

    These people are not cr*zy. They are toxic.

  69. Napalmnacey

    @Kirstente – I thought the air-quotes would be adequate in showing my disdain for the term, but obviously they didn’t. I’m sorry if that caused you any hurt. I suffer from PTSD and depression, and quite possibly OCD (some psychs say yes, others say no) so I don’t think using terms from the mental health profession in years past OR terms to be derogatory to those with mental illnesses is appropriate. I’m sorry I wasn’t more on the ball.

    @lazydaze – I know it wasn’t about me. But asking people to to “respectfully disagree” in this situation is disingenuous at best and offensive at worst.

    @lauredhel and @Mindy – Thanks. The rage just bubbled up and I had to let it out, but I always try to temper it with reason. It’s hard when it’s something so very personal and hurtful.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.