Thursday, February 10, 2011

What the hell was Penny Arcade thinking?

I just want to throw in my two cents on Dickwolf-gate. If you need to get up to speed, click here. If you want the NeoGAF thread, click here.


If you play with fire, and get burned, don't act suprised. That's my thought on this whole Penny Arcade controversy. Let me explain.

It's pretty apparent that Penny Arcade prides themselves on shock humor.* The whole point of the original comic was to be intentionally tasteless to make a point about just doing the bare minimum to complete an objective in a video game. That's okay, I admit to laughing a lot at humor like this. But when Liss complains about it, the response is where things start to go wrong.

Liss is a rape victim, so she has every right to be offended. Do the PA guys have a right to use shock humor? Yes. But to pile on with a response that's juvenile at best and offensive at worst? My mom would say that's not thinking with your head.

Amanda Marcotte's response, to me, is telling, and is about where I stand. I have no problems with the comic, I just think that the response is, for the lack of a better word, stupid.

It's like the Groupon Super Bowl ad that mocks Tibetans. Who approved this? Did anyone think ahead?

If you use shock humor, and someone objects, this is a textbook example on what NOT to do. Just apologize and move on, instead of piling it on.

And that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.**

*Yes, I linked to Wikipedia, bring on the [citation neede] jokes!
** Apologies to Dennis Miller.


  1. They already apologized. Although they acted the way they did, I don't think you should discount what feminists have done wrong too.

    PA's initial reaction seems mostly based on shakesville's post and "Liss" who brags about her supposed dark sense of humor and how funny she thinks murder is (because it apparently isnt real but the dickwolf rape is), then does that over a rape joke, as a survivor of the Kosovo war, something I try not to drag around or blog about, I don't think Liss deserved an apology or to be taken seriously.

    Now I know the focus on rape over other kinds of crime/suffering has to do with core feminist interests. But for people who have nothing to do with feminism, let alone know nothing of their rape culture theory, it comes off as a horribly, obnoxiously selfish group that laughs at everyone else suffering but their own, and one of many groups who demand that society be reshaped to cater to them and them only. As someone who's been on the wrong end of war crime, I wouldn't go near certain games, Homefront probably being the worst from what I've seen, but I know better than to try to ruin anyone elses fun.

    Gamer culture is what it is, if there's a path feminists could take to change it and there probably is, they seem to of just ran off in the opposite direction and burned all the bridges along the way, and it'l have a big impact on how people see feminists. PA has a history of standing up for themselves, something Liss probably knew, and the actions of feminists with the latest accusations of violent games causing rape, are starting to make feminists look like the new Jack Thompson.

  2. I've been keeping up with the Dickwolf thing, and it seems like it's just about over now.

    But I find interesting is that people are saying PA is being stupid, unintelligent, rude, etc, much the same discussion circling around the Groupon ads you mention in your post.

    But how is this stupid? Like the groupon ads, its' drummed up a LOT of publicity, gotten a lot of people who normally wouldn't look at webcomics to look at PA... Just like Groupon stepped on tibetans or whales to advance their message, PA has done the same. Though probably unintentionally in their case.

    If your frame of reference for right and wrong is that they upset some people, well then you're absolutely correct.

    But from an outsider's perspective, from PA's perspective, they just won a coup. They got more attention, more readers, and even managed a hardcore faction of fans to circle their wagons around PA, probably further increasing their reach and sales.

    I'm a marketer, and from where I'm sitting PA won big time, just like Groupon.

  3. This is an excellent post with some really great links. It's refreshing to see so many gamers who are able to say "yeah, PA messed up."

    I'd love to see the feminist equivalent of this post calling out shakesville and Melissa McEwan