Monday, 16 August 2010

Penny Arcade Readers are Dicks

... notice, however, that I am not calling out the writers of the comic.

Edit To Add: Well, I wasn't calling them out for the comic, but then there's this.

So, yeah, there's another minor brouhaha going on across the internet between geeks and feminists, who comment that it's like the whole Fat Princess mess all over again. It is, indeed, in many ways!

See, Penny Arcade published a comic that mentioned rape and therefore could be described as a rape joke. However, it was not a joke suggesting rape itself is funny, or suggesting that it should be done to people, or playing up the implied rape for titillation. The joke was about the absurdity of good-deed-doing in MMORPGs, and relied strictly upon rape being an obvious bad thing. This did not arise from hatred.

That doesn't mean that people who are upset are stupid or wrong, it means that they're sensitive. That is not a negative term, MOST people are sensitive, just to different things, often relating to painful life experience. It is NOT POSSIBLE as a creator to avoid upsetting all people, nor is it always possible to apologise for doing so accidentally, since "sorry" is meaningless if you're not willing to retract your art, which isn't always appropriate. (It is possible to avoid compounding the injury by intentionally insulting the people you've upset and blaming them for it.)

So. The original comic did not arise from hatred. However, the "hilarity" of people complaining about rape jokes brings the trolls frothing out of the woodwork, who are eager to say things that DO arise from hatred.


Kazriko said...

I didn't see what was so offensive about the comic in the first place. You're right, it's just using that as an example of how games sometimes emphasize meeting a quota rather than doing good for its own sake... Penny Arcade has always been rather over the top in what they choose to represent the "bad."

Whiner said...

As best I understand it, the objections fall into two categories, the first (and more questionable) being those who object to casual mentions of rape in any context because they make rape seem "more normal" instead of a horrible unspeakable thing. My opinions of that entire theory are too complex to get into here, so I'll brush over that by just saying that I'm anti-censorship.

The second category is people who are upset by mention, even casual mention, of the subject, or know somewhere who is. Being triggered by something doesn't require that the thing was actively offensive. I had an extremely negative reaction to an episode of Voyager once because it involved aliens stealing lungs, and I had just had a friend die of lung failure, so this sent me into hysterical crying. The episode wasn't objectively offensive and the writers could not possibly have anticipated how badly it would upset me. However, it's easy to predict that some readers might react badly to the mere mention of rape, so some people feel that it's not appopriate to drop in references without warning.