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September 5, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe


 
Ugh. I'm so ready for somebody to step up with an alternative player oriented gaming convention. Giant Bomb Con anybody?

(Not that the GB folks are perfect, but they're streets ahead of Krahulik.)
posted by kmz at 10:06 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


And this comes after Gabe already drove developers away from PAX just a few months ago.
posted by kmz at 10:09 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hope to Christ I'm never in business with anyone as evidently unaware of his own best interests as Krahulik. It's stunning to me how difficult basic human empathy or, for that matter, shutting the fuck up when the storm has passed, is for some people. It's hard not to engage in armchair diagnoses when he opens his mouth.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:11 AM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm starting to suspect that Krahulik is addicted to drama. Like at some point he realized that there's exactly half the internet that will cheer him on regardless of the awful stuff he says, and half the internet will take their sweet time to write multi-paragraph essays about him and the things he does, and it's all attention, good or bad. I literally can't think of any other reason for why he would even bring up dickwolves outside of the fact that he knows they'll get press.

I'm not even saying that in a "we don't need to pay attention to this guy" way because, well, we -- as in, people that care about such things, not everyone -- do need to pay attention to this guy because like it or not the PA complex holds quite a bit of power and PAX is captital-i Important. Their continued providence is proof that Krahulik saying awful things alone isn't going to make any sea changes.

Meanwhile, I think if there's one person I'd like to be less than Krahulik, it's Holkins. It's not as though he's innocent of anything, but they're business partners and I can't imagine he doesn't severely regret letting a certain genie out of its lamp.
posted by griphus at 10:11 AM on September 5, 2013 [31 favorites]


I'm starting to suspect that Krahulik is addicted to drama.

And I thought he was the quiet, reclusive one. Maybe his fame and apparent power to lead (some of) his fans to support his causes has changed him.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:14 AM on September 5, 2013


Related: Twitter and the Victimization of Golaith.

It’s sad, because when PAX first showed up, it felt safer than a lot of other gaming cons. No booth babes. Less antagonism towards women. I went to PAX east two years ago (after the dickwolves incident, but after the merch was pulled) and I was thinking of going again this year as a way to meet up with some east coast friends. I’m reconsidering it now. Other cons have gotten better about creating a safe environment and PAX, if anything, seems determined to get worse.

BTW, Home is a ton of fun, and I would totally be down for going to another player-oriented gaming con.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:14 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]




Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:17 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]




kmz: "Ugh. I'm so ready for somebody to step up with an alternative player oriented gaming convention. Giant Bomb Con anybody?"

Quit Fucking Going To PAX Already, What Is Wrong With You suggests Geek Girl Con, GaymerX, GenCon, Dreamation, DexCon, and DragonCon.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:19 AM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


And here I was thinking "I'm in Seattle now, maybe next year I'll get a ticket, see what it's like". So much for that.

Christine Love's take on it is definitely worth reading. (Of Digital, Analogue, and Hate Plus fame)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:19 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Like their contemporaries, Family Guy and South Park, Penny Arcade believes that it can make claims and state opinions through humor, but those claims and opinions only exist when they want them to. All the brilliance of satire without any of the responsibility or risk that comes with committing to an actual statement."

I don't believe the South Park guys behave this way, do they? I don't know enough about Seth McFarland to be sure. And I suppose I would call Family Guy (mostly) topical humor, not true satire, which South Park is.
posted by oneironaut at 10:21 AM on September 5, 2013


DragonCon has its own problems - though it's managed to ditch the worst.
posted by Artw at 10:21 AM on September 5, 2013


Gabe just posted this follow-up. If you want to be even-handed or whatever.
posted by kbanas at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2013 [39 favorites]


" @cwgabriel still mocking rape survivors."
This is untrue.

"they had to make merchandise out of rape"
This is untrue.

AVB wrote an entire post saying no one is "censoring" PA (which PA never said) and that PA isn't satire (which PA never said).

A did a strip that did not mock rape survivors in any way. Some people got angry at it because they felt it didn't take rape seriously enough, and accused PA of not caring about rape. PA responded to that accusation with the dismissiveness it merits.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


I lost respect for them after the Dickwolves, but I would still occasionally click through. I lost all interest in doing even that after the weird trans freakout on Twitter a few months back. I'm thinking of going all out anti-PAX activism style after this and that's a long way from giggling at their comics not all that long ago. Honestly, wishing to take back the ONE right thing they ever did in response to a controversy is really messed up.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2013


Also, Magfest.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A did a strip that did not mock rape survivors in any way.

For the record, we are absolutely not going to have a first-principles discussion about the original issues here. If people want to take this up with TFB over MeMail, that is totally AOK but it's not the topic of this thread and we are politely asking people to not turn it into the topic of this thread.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on September 5, 2013 [60 favorites]


I literally can't think of any other reason for why he would even bring up dickwolves outside of the fact that he knows they'll get press.

yeah - i'm trying so hard to be kind in my assessment, to give leeway, but it really seems to me like the only reason to bring it up is to cause exactly this - or even more simplistic, to get that room of cheers - both of them are awful and shows that he at no point has gotten the critiques or he enjoys stoking the fires of rape culture. i'm even of the mind that i personally didn't hate the original dickwolves joke, but every single action after that shows that they didn't deserve my original benefit of the doubt.

like, if he's going to mention a second of regret about all of that completely out of the blue - why not regret making the shirt? because if non-engagement is what he wanted, that was what needed to be undone.
posted by nadawi at 10:25 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


sorry jessamyn - i would have reworded my comment had i seen your note...
posted by nadawi at 10:26 AM on September 5, 2013


I'm wondering, because maybe I am purely missing something, but I was at PAX East earlier this year, and for the last few years not to mention going to PAX Prime a few times before that.

I'm a woman, and I have never noticed it getting more hostile towards women or anything other than a safe environment. Am I just blind? Because the way people have been writing about it post Gabe's comments, it sounds like magically overnight it has become one of the least. I find that incredibly hard to believe. PAX for me has always been the friendliest, chillest, and most safe of the "big" cons. Now in almost no time at all it isn't?
posted by tittergrrl at 10:26 AM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


That’s a hard question because honestly Robert makes very few mistakes. Although if he asked me that same question today I’d probably say “the time you asked us to be brutally honest in front of three thousand people.” So I had to think really hard about it and the only time I could remember really thinking he made a mistake was when he told us we had to pull the Dickwolves merch. I didn’t really get a chance to elaborate on why that was though, and unfortunately by not doing so it created a bit of a firestorm on the Internet.

Err, um, what?

Though he does say he regrets making it in the first place, he does not really go on to really why pulling the merch was the bit he singled out for regret.
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have to say, that "clarification" clears very little up about why there was regret expressed about pulling the merch.
posted by catch as catch can at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2013


I sorta know the history of this incident, and I know a bit about the grossness of trade shows, and I read the apology kbanas posted and it seemed a pretty straight on, no excuses mea culpa. I don't follow these guys closely, so I am not familiar with other misdeeds they've perpetrated, but the dude sure didn't seem to be ducking responsibility or hiding behind his legions of asshole fans.
posted by Mister_A at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


These guys are not that deep or complex. They don't like being told what to do. They don't like being asked to look at the world from someone else's perspective. They're not that emotionally mature. Their comic strip is perfectly good, Koo has built a hell of a business on top of it.

I'm far more perplexed why people have such a strong attachment to such a piece of cultural ephemera. It's an amusing web comic, but these guys are hardly Watterson or Schultz or something.
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


while i think he's being weasel-y - i think he's saying that in the whole fiasco, the mistake that robert khoo had made was asking/telling them to take down the merch. all the rest of it are mistakes they made, not khoo. i personally think he's asking us to believe he's dumber than he is to believe that he didn't realize that answer needed a disclaimer. but, look at that, now he gets an uproar and page views! ugh.
posted by nadawi at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


For the record, we are absolutely not going to have a first-principles discussion about the original issues here

Are we only talking about the reaction to the Dickwolves strip, and not the strip itself? I suppose that would put the "meta" in "metafilter", though it seems a little odd to me to have a discussion about the reaction to a piece of art in which one may not discuss the piece. Or is this a way of saying "We can discuss how awful PA are, and whether its appropriate to stop going to PAX, threaten them, or just yell about them, but there is to be no disputing that they're rape-loving assholes"?

A long quote from Gabe's response, so people who don't want to click on the site don't have to:

"So let me start by saying I like the Dickwolves strip. I think it’s a strong comic and I still think the joke is funny. Would we make that strip today? Knowing what we know now and seeing how it hurt people, no. We wouldn’t. But at the time, it seemed pretty benign. With that said I absolutely regret everything we did after that comic. I regret the follow up strip, I regret making the merchandise, I regret pulling the merchandise and I regret being such an asshole on twitter to people who were upset. I don’t think any of those things were good ideas. If we had just stopped with the strip and moved on, the Dickwolf never would have become what it is today. Which is a joke at the expense of rape victims or a symbol of the dismissal of people who have suffered a sexual assault. the comic itself obviously points out the absurd morality of the average MMO where you are actually forced to help some people and ignore others in the same situation. Oddly enough, the first comic by itself is exactly the opposite of what this whole thing has turned into.

There are people who were offended by or hurt by the joke in the strip and rather than just let it go we decided to make a second strip. That was a mistake and I apologize to this day for that strip. It was a knee jerk reaction and rather than the precision strike back at our detractors that we intended, it was a massive AOE that hurt a lot of innocent people. We should have just stopped right then but we kept going and made the merchandise. Had we left it alone, the ongoing tension about the whole thing might have subsided but Robert made the call to pull the shirts. In hindsight all this did was open the wound back up and bring on a whole new wave of debate. Any action we took at the time just dug us deeper regardless of what it was. What we needed to do was stop. just stop. I apologized for it at the time and I will still apologize for it. Everything we did after that initial comic strip was a mistake and I regret all of it.

If you saw the panel you know that someone in the audience shouted out and asked us to bring the merchandise back. Both Robert and I immediately said no way. We have worked very hard to make PAX a safe place. We have an incredible anti-harassment policy, a “booth babe” policy that you will not find anywhere else in the industry,and panels that cover all the social issues facing gaming today in a meaningful way. That’s the heart of PAX and that will never change"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


From what I gathered, Artw, the issue with pulling the merch was that it revved up the whole shitstorm again. I don't know how true that is, like I said, I don't follow these guys closely.
posted by Mister_A at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


From kbanas' link:
There are people who were offended by or hurt by the joke in the strip and rather than just let it go we decided to make a second strip. That was a mistake and I apologize to this day for that strip. It was a knee jerk reaction and rather than the precision strike back at our detractors that we intended, it was a massive AOE that hurt a lot of innocent people. We should have just stopped right then but we kept going and made the merchandise. Had we left it alone, the ongoing tension about the whole thing might have subsided but Robert made the call to pull the shirts. In hindsight all this did was open the wound back up and bring on a whole new wave of debate. Any action we took at the time just dug us deeper regardless of what it was. What we needed to do was stop. just stop. I apologized for it at the time and I will still apologize for it. Everything we did after that initial comic strip was a mistake and I regret all of it.
So, there's that. They don't regret pulling the merch, they do regret the whole damn thing, but they suck at this apologizing stuff, so they screwed up their in-person explanation of it, forgetting the audience wasn't involved in the behind-the-scenes discussions of it.

They've had a hard time getting a read on the situation from the word "go", and are still having a hard time figuring it out, but are now trying to make up for earlier moments of awkward stupidity and recognize and apologize for their role in the vituperative mess they created. They seem to be kind of failing at it, but hey, it's video games - they'll keep trying until they get it right and the "achievement unlocked" message blinks on the screen.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


A did a strip that did not mock rape survivors in any way. Some people got angry at it because they felt it didn't take rape seriously enough, and accused PA of not caring about rape. PA responded to that accusation with the dismissiveness it merits.
I didn't get too angry at the strip. I got pretty fucking upset at the their fucking horrific reaction to the people complaining about the strip. They turned a small mess into a huge motherfucking disaster with the fucking dickwolves merchandise and their idiotic comments that keep coming. That's the shit I'm angry at. They keep saying really dumb things that make it absolutely apparent that they do not understand and never intend to.

I am trans and I am a rape survivor, and I am fucking tired of all the horrible, hurtful, things the PA guys say. I went to PAX this year to go to the Press XY panels. I won't be going back again.
posted by yeoz at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2013 [34 favorites]


The apology that kbanas links to seems perfectly reasonable and very much a "real" apology to me. Can this issue ever go away?
posted by jbickers at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I agree that Krahulik may be addicted to drama. I think he just likes to fight.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


yellowbinder: wishing to take back the ONE right thing they ever did in response to a controversy is really messed up
posted by tilde at 10:36 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can this issue ever go away?

That would seem to be up to Gabe.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:36 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was unaware of the transphobia thing, and it seems like the same situation all over again. Krahulik takes an issue that could easily be settled with a sincere apology and some steps to make both sides happy and blows it way out of proportion by repeatedly making fun of people, twisting the knife, and saying idiotic things. He should probably hire someone to keep him off of Twitter for the rest of his life.
posted by codacorolla at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


the second link is incredible.. the quotes by rich stevens alone make it worth it. i find it pretty fascinating that people who know these guys personally and professionally agree with the theory that a lot of strangers seem to have, which is that the bullied grew up to be a bully and is seemingly unable to see it.

Can this issue ever go away?

it has a way higher chance of going away if he stops opening his mouth about it and reigniting it.
posted by nadawi at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know I'm in the minority here, but I'm more troubled by the outrage the PA guys are getting than the whole "dickwolf" thing. That comic was funny, and he didn't mean to hurt anybody.

I have my buttons and sensitive points too, my mother has very late Alzheimer's, it's been effecting my family for 15 years now. I hear Alzheimer's jokes, and yeah, it's not funny to me, but I don't get so bend out of shape that I can't see the humor and I have to ruin it for everybody else in this world.

As for why he is now bringing it up again, I think he doesn't want to stop what he's been doing. PA is 5th grade humor, it's potty jokes, gay jokes, rape jokes, that's their bread and butter. They want to write whatever they want and not worry about the blowback everytime, and that means standing up for the dickwolves, even if some people don't think it's funny.
posted by jonclegg at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


The only thing I know about these dudes is this incredible snit fit over their appearance on Jordan Jesse Go in 2010. In all honesty... I can understand not liking the format of the show. I can understand being annoyed about logistical difficulties. But going to the internet and posting a huge screed about how much you hated it, complete with referring to the guy whose show you just did as an "organism"? Seems to fit in with their general pattern of behavior.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


there is to be no disputing that they're rape-loving assholes"?

No. The point is that few people care about that part any more, no matter what their personal conclusions. People care about their reactions at the time and their reactions now to an issue that people feel they should have made some different decisions about. And turning this MeFi thread into a nitpicky discussion about the original comic is 1. not what this thread is about and 2. incredibly derailing in a predictable (for this site) way and we'd like it to not happen. MetaTalk is open and available. This thread is not for arguing about your personal feelings about the original comic. We'd like people to make an effort to have this thread be about what Artw actually posted about.
posted by jessamyn at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


The correct response to somebody saying "hey, that thing you wrote kind of made light of rape in a way that makes me, as a rape victim, feel uncomfortable", is "oh jeez! sorry about that, we were super not meaning to do that. we'll be careful in the future."

Penny Arcade did the exact opposite of doing that, which is why there was such a fuss.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:39 AM on September 5, 2013 [60 favorites]


I'm far more perplexed why people have such a strong attachment to such a piece of cultural ephemera.

It's pretty much because of PAX and Child's Play, both of which have completely outgrown and eclipsed the actual comic.

I guess there's no point in clicking the second link, since we aren't allowed to talk about it.

Both links are talking about the same thing.

The apology that kbanas links to seems perfectly reasonable and very much a "real" apology to me.

Maybe if something like that had been written oh, 3 years ago?

In comparison, this is one of the best real apologies I've ever seen, and it was written within hours of the actual incident.
posted by kmz at 10:39 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


It just looked to me like he said something fucking stupid at the con and afterward Robert or someone else sat him down and made him write a "clarification". It doesn't take back the "room full of rape fans" issue at all.
posted by NoraReed at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


tittergrrl: "I'm a woman, and I have never noticed it getting more hostile towards women or anything other than a safe environment. Am I just blind? Because the way people have been writing about it post Gabe's comments, it sounds like magically overnight it has become one of the least. I find that incredibly hard to believe. PAX for me has always been the friendliest, chillest, and most safe of the "big" cons. Now in almost no time at all it isn't?"

In the course of the drama I've heard reports of the con handling harassment among volunteers badly, but it's not clear to me that PAX is actually worse on that front than any number of other gaming/scifi cons. I see it as kind of like the Chick-Fil-A situation. While any individual customer experience is likely to be fine (PAX puts on a good show, Chick-Fil-A makes a good sandwich), now that there's been all this mess, the event is colored by the grossness of the founders, and for a lot of people, that poisons the whole thing.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


The apologies all seem to have the same general message to them: we're not sorry that we upset and hurt people, we're sorry that everyone freaked out and got mad at us because we don't understand why they're mad; also we still think this stuff is funny.

so uh. fuck them.
posted by elizardbits at 10:41 AM on September 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


The other thing about Krahulik's behavior is that he knows about his fans and he knows about his ability to polarize them for or against something. And that's great if it's a con or charity or, hell, even a vaguely-purposed Kickstarter that made the PA empire a cool half mil.

On the other hand, when he starts a fight knowing that he can bow out and have their legions continue it for them (or, well, him) long after he's "apologized" and washed his hands of the matter, that's some much, much bigger shit behavior.
posted by griphus at 10:42 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


As for why he is now bringing it up again, I think he doesn't want to stop what he's been doing. PA is 5th grade humor, it's potty jokes, gay jokes, rape jokes, that's their bread and butter. They want to write whatever they want and not worry about the blowback everytime, and that means standing up for the dickwolves, even if some people don't think it's funny.

If this is supposed to be supporting Gabe, it's not working very well.
posted by kmz at 10:42 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this sums the problem up pretty well.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2013


so uh. fuck them.


Ok, but I don't have to fuck them, right? I can still enjoy the comic and be pretty OK with his apology and so on?
posted by kbanas at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


when he starts a fight knowing that he can bow out and have their legions continue it for them

Plus the whole "oh did i hurt your feelings HAHA IMMA DOUBLE THE FUCK DOWN THEN" thing.


On preview, you can do whatever the hell you want, I'm not your mom.
posted by elizardbits at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


we're sorry that everyone freaked out and got mad at us because we don't understand why they're mad; also we still think this stuff is funny.

I don't know anything about this controversy, but your summary doesn't seem to match what's in the link kbanas posted above:
Everything we did after that initial comic strip was a mistake and I regret all of it.
The only thing he defends is the original strip.
posted by yoink at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is a discussion on MeFightClub about this, specifically about Child's Play and group donations to it that I started there (and have only observed since yesterday afternoon). I would link directly to it but MFC is closed content unless you register for it.

Anyway, proud of MFC as I am and proud of the people I know there, I think there's some pretty interesting discussion going on there.

As for this particular discussion (and its non-MetaFilter global analogs), I personally think that a missing link is a discussion of appropriateness of expression. Not freedom of expression and not Gabe-is-an-asshole, but some strong illustration of the ethic that even though it's possible to say a thing, it's desirable to not say it, and not make jokes about it and not push it.

Personally, I found that looping in the Silk Ring Theory (LA Times editorial, I think previous linked on the Blue) applies really well to discussion of the appropriateness of jokiness in the presence of trauma survivors. Remember folks, Comfort IN, Dump OUT. I put inappropriate jokiness in the Dump category. And trauma survivors in the center. And suddenly it all sort of seems to make sense.
posted by kalessin at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


sure, if every single time he shoves his shit covered foot in his mouth and then manages to dribble out a good sounding apology, but still continues to make basically the same mistake over and over and over again, you just want to think that's a ok, that is totally your right.

i'm personally pretty glad that at least today there are people in the industry standing up and saying that they're done with penny arcade and pax.
posted by nadawi at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Regarding the first article in the FPP: I disagree with the thesis that modern satire is best represented by Family Guy and South Park.

For one, Family Guy's not a satire. At best, it's an amalgam of parodies.

For another, while South Park often tackles subjects in a satirical manner, its episodes always take the form of parables, and have done so since the very earliest episodes. Some of those parables have kind of stupid or shitty or transphobic morals, and South Park has varied considerably in quality, but that has nothing to do with satire and everything to do with the fact that it's essentially an editorial cartoon written by two guys who've never seen it as their responsibility to know shit about shit.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:51 AM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can still enjoy the comic and be pretty OK with his apology and so on?

You go and do whatever you want, you beautiful butterfly! Let your freak flag fly high!
posted by kmz at 10:51 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


The other thing about Krahulik's behavior is that he knows about his fans and he knows about his ability to polarize them for or against something.

Yeah, exactly. In other words, he's in control of the whirlwind. It only stops being funny, when he can't control it. I mean, the only reason he stopped with the DW thing last time was that someone threatened his family.

I mean, I'm kinda thinking that the only way to he'll shut up is if something he values is at stake, like if enough people boycotted PAX or maybe even someone just threw a pie in his face randomly everytime he steps out of his house or something.
posted by FJT at 10:53 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel for the guy; it looks like his personal growth is pretty blocked, and he has a lot of money, power and sycophants enabling him to rationalize being stunted as taking a heroic stand.

Hope he can overcome that.
posted by Mooski at 10:54 AM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Are we only talking about the reaction to the Dickwolves strip, and not the strip itself?

Well, yes, because that's what's at issue. Since you seem to have missed it, the Wired article in the FPP sums the whole thing up pretty nicely:
Whether or not the strip was offensive isn’t really relevant at this point: More than the comic itself, what made the most impact was how Penny Arcade responded to the readers — including rape survivors — who said it upset them. First, they mocked their critics with a series of posts and a flippant non-apology. In a subsequent “make a strip” demonstration at PAX Prime, Krahulik further needled the issue by drawing a dickwolf, and Penny Arcade even monetized the discomfort over the rape joke by making and selling “Team Dickwolves” shirts and pennants.

More people protested, and some companies and speakers began making noise about pulling out of PAX Prime. Finally, the dickwolves merchandise was was removed from the Penny Arcade store. Krahulik made it clear that he objected to the decision to stop selling the merchandise, and would be wearing his dickwolves shirt at PAX to illustrate that point, even though he knew the dickwolves — and the sentiment they expressed — made many potential attendees feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

[...]

Sampat also has firsthand experience with the dangers of criticizing Penny Arcade. This week, she posted an impassioned condemnation of Penny Arcade and PAX, outlining the company’s history of inappropriate public comments and behavior, as well as its failure to address the harassment and alleged assault of a volunteer by another volunteer at PAX East. Since then, she has received thousands of angry comments, including rape threats and death threats directed not only at her but at her children. (In 2010 and 2011, critics who wrote about the original dickwolves incidents were similarly flooded with harassment and rape threats.)
posted by Mike Smith at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2013


Yeah, exactly. In other words, he's in control of the whirlwind. It only stops being funny, when he can't control it. I mean, the only reason he stopped with the DW thing last time was that someone threatened his family.

I very much agree with your comment as a whole, but it's worth noting also that whether or not his family was even threatened is kind of up for debate; the tweet that seemed to finally shut him down was: A Funney Joke: Go to Mike Krahulik / @cwgabriel ‘s house, Literally Murder His Wife and Child #jokes #funny #murderwolves, which seemed to be a straight-up parody of the dickwolves thing and Krahulik's general "it was just a joke, don't take everything so seriously" message, more than any kind of statement of intent to do harm.

Krahulik only seemed to have the ability to empathize when someone got really confrontational about the fact that other people care as much about their bodily safety as he does about his family's.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:01 AM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


I read things from people bitching about something Krahulik did at the tail end of PAX, and before I heard details about what actually went on, I thought "oh God, more trans related stupidity or is he back to dickwolves?"
posted by rmd1023 at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2013


I stopped reading PA after Gabe's transphobic rant a little while back.

As has been said, the PA guys always seem sorry that people are mad at them, not that people got hurt.

An example of a sincere apology that I think of when these two say dumb stuff is Bill Corbett (of MSTK3 and Rifftrax fame) who apologized by focusing on how his failure to think hurt others and that he will try his damnedest in the future.

That's all I thought I wanted from the PA guys. I wanted them to try and better themselves.

They never seem to do that.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


They want to write whatever they want and not worry about the blowback everytime, and that means standing up for the dickwolves...

See, I can understand a defense of the original comic, but when your reaction is to stand up for the dickwolves you've gone off the rails.

Describing the moderators of an Internet forum as making something "verboten" is the new Godwining.

I think that's still the old Godwining.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just wanted to pull out a quotation from the wired article that really hit home for me.

Cartoonist Rich Stevens of Diesel Sweeties reached out to WIRED when he heard we planned to report on the PAX incident. “It’s just so disappointing to see people I’ve known since we were all new and broke turn out to be such tone-deaf, old man bullies. He’s Rush Limbaugh with tattoos. I could get over the original comic if they’d just moved on or apologized, but they had to make merchandise out of rape just to poke back at people and then encourage fans to wear it to a convention that supposedly has pro-woman policies,” said Stevens.

“It’s like he never got the point of growing up having been bullied as a kid. You’re supposed to get older and not repeat it … I wish more people in our field would be open about this, but I think there is a lot of social and economic pressure not to be… I really want to let them know that not everyone in webcomics is scared to stand up to them.”


I think part of the reason Penny Arcade grew so quickly is that they talked openly about being bullied for liking nerdy things, and worked to create spaces that were supposed to be open and accepting. That's always been part of the reason behind PAX in my mind. So it's incredibly frustrating to see them so obliviously bully people who also like nerdy things, but aren't exactly like them.
posted by heathkit at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


I continue to support Penny Arcade. Mike has acted like an ignorant jerk because he is one, but he is learning, through exposure and fatherhood, how not to be one. It's an interesting process to watch, but painful because his blunders reach millions and then he is publicly humiliated, though it is probably more accurate to say he humiliates himself. Characterizing him as a hateful mastermind of social manipulation is probably about as far from the truth as it gets. He's an ordinary, ignorant suburban white guy with anxiety issues, and most of his mistakes, from the handling of the dickwolves thing to the complete ignorance of transexuality (feels different from transphobia to me), are a direct consequence of that and the larger trends of mass communication being revolutionized in the last decade, etc. He should be more familiar with those who do not share his privilege — a pedestrian fault that has been magnified many times over. At any rate, that's my interpretation of things, and why I will continue to support them.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:13 AM on September 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


Ok, finally found Krahulik's thing from the whole Ocean Marketing fiasco when he was high on his horse and feeling the badass:
The reality is that once I had posted the emails I didn’t have the power anymore. The Internet had it now and nothing I said or did was going to change that.
...
I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets and even bigger bully and maybe that’s me in this case. It’s the same thing that happened with Jack Thompson. It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a shit about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.
It's like saying "once the bullet is out of the barrel, it's not up to me to stop it." Yeah, sure, that is definitely a fact. But you pulled the trigger, dude.

I'm not going to say he's a "hateful mastermind of social manipulation" but goddamn if he doesn't know exactly what sort of power is in his hands, and goddamn if he doesn't know exactly how he can (mis)use it.
posted by griphus at 11:17 AM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's your prerogative, BLF. I'll save my support for people who don't regularly act like raging, bullying, marginalizing assholes with rooms full of rape fans cheering them on. Because I feel like even if assholery can be explained, it's still assholery.

Also I love Christine Love and her work more and more every day.
posted by NoraReed at 11:19 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am so fucking done with people pissing and moaning about being bullied nerds. Childhood sucks for everyone, you profoundly less than a hell of a lot of people, get the fuck over it.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on September 5, 2013 [29 favorites]


I literally can't think of any other reason for why he would even bring up dickwolves outside of the fact that he knows they'll get press.

Because he is still angry about it. It's that simple.
posted by maryr at 11:20 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mike has acted like an ignorant jerk because he is one, but he is learning, through exposure and fatherhood, how not to be one.

I wish I could believe this, but his apologies have just become so rote and passionless that they ring totally false. The only thing that I seem him learning is how to word his apologies in as thin a veneer as possible, which is bolstered by the testimonials of those like Emma Story who know him quite well. If you skipped over her quotes in the Wired article, please go back and re-read them.

I am so fucking done with people pissing and moaning about being bullied nerds. Childhood sucks for everyone, you profoundly less than a hell of a lot of people, get the fuck over it.

As we've seen with the increasing call-outs of rape, harassment, and bullying behavior in the traditional nerdy communities (SF&F, skeptic/atheist, hard science, philosophy, etc.), it seems like the lesson learned by a lot of those who were bullied was how to be bullies themselves rather than to empathize with other victims.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


As we've seen with the increasing call-outs of rape, harassment, and bullying behavior in the traditional nerdy communities (SF&F, skeptic/atheist, hard science, philosophy, etc.), it seems like a the lesson learned by a lot of those who were bullied was how to be bullies themselves rather than to empathize with other victims.

This is, in other vectors, frequently called the cycle of violence.
posted by Errant at 11:29 AM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


From PA Today:
I sort of see PAX like I see my children. Yes I helped make them and yes they have a lot of me in them but they can be better than me. They can take the good stuff I have and leave out all the bad. Like my kids, PAX makes me want to be better.
I can believe that he sees himself as flawed, and occasionally wrong. I can continue to support the good parts, without supporting the bad. I won't do it automatically anymore (to be fair, I haven't since before Dickwolves incident). But, goddammit, I'm going to keep sending toys to children's hospitals. I'm going to keep hoping there's at least one more outlet for indie games. I'm going to periodically browse through a couple months of strips that at least tangentially relate to the nerd I was, even if I'm not still that nerd.
posted by DigDoug at 11:29 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


it seems like a the lesson learned by a lot of those who were bullied was how to be bullies themselves rather than to empathize with other victims.

Well yeah. It's a Geek Social Fallacy that nerd-friendly groups are this all-accepting all-loving safe space where you can be yourself and everyone is totally cool with that. Look at the whole Fake Geek Girls thing or the way PC gamers sneer at console gamers or any of the other tribalism that runs rampant through the space and the biggest impression I have is that people really just want a place where they can be the in-group and shun the outgroup. Nerds aren't enlightened, empathetic social creatures, in fact, they usually have underdeveloped social skills and lack of empathy across the space, especially towards non-young white middle-upper class males, is all over the place.

The irony is I feel much safer taking my wife to a sporting event, home of the much-loathed "jocks", than I ever would taking her to a gaming convention.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:30 AM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


This whole story has exploded again because of journalism like :

"And then on Monday at PAX, in front of an audience of thousands, Krahulik told business manager Robert Khoo that he regretted pulling the Dickwolves merchandise from the Penny Arcade store — merchandise he had created as a “screw you” to rape survivors who had had the temerity to complain about a comic strip"

You compare that to the actual Krahulik quote; a quote which has been posted in this thread at least twice, and this seems like a dangerously liberal interpretation of what was actually said.

It's like people are saying "OK - enough is enough. I could forgive the rape apologea and transphobia, but when you dare say " I absolutely regret everything we did after that comic. I regret the follow up strip, I regret making the merchandise, I regret pulling the merchandise and I regret being such an asshole on twitter to people who were upset.", then that is a step too far."

I seriously don't understand why this latest addition to the story changes any part of the narrative at all. I don't understand why this interview has made everything so much worse that we're only now having to say "Fuck these guys".
posted by zoo at 11:32 AM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


learning involves doing differently than before. i'm not seeing much evidence of that. i hear him talking about learning, but it's the show part that he really falls down on.

and it would be easy to take the good and leave the bad if he figured out some way to create a filter. i support so much of what they have done, but he's not leaving out the bad, he's just asking us to overlook the floater in the otherwise delicious and well made punch.
posted by nadawi at 11:33 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good will and the benefit of the doubt have some limits.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


this story exploded the second he said that he regretted pulling the merch. he didn't say he regretted the rest until just a few minutes ago. media isn't the problem, it's his inability to stop picking at the scab.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


zoo, to be more clear - the article you're complaining about came before his apology. it was not a reaction to it.
posted by nadawi at 11:36 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


A somewhat pre-Penny Arcade response

Although comparing Penny Arcade to Sinfest in this instance is pretty ironic.
posted by GuyZero at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I seriously don't understand why this latest addition to the story changes any part of the narrative at all.

Agreed. And that's why I flagged this one. Because Behemoth is right, the original comic is a central issue in both these linked articles, irrespective of whether Edidin wants to hand-wave it away by talking about it a bunch and then adding, "whether or not the strip was offensive isn’t really relevant at this point." Sorry, WIRED, but intelligent critical reading doesn't allow the writer to raise a bunch of hotly debated issues and then frame subsequent discussion in narrow and favorable terms. Ironically, that's kind of the point of the quoted comic in the first link.

If you want a joke better than “why did the chicken cross the road” you have to put something at risk.

That's a valid perspective, but it's not generations removed from Paula Deen saying a joke has to come at someone's expense.

South Park has been misogynistic at times. (Citation.) I don't have a problem calling them out for that, but I also don't think it automatically disqualifies the substantial body of satire they've produced. And I don't have any problem with a comic strip producing satire on Tuesday and then on Thursday asking why the chicken crossed the road. I see no contradiction with bouncing between high humor and japes. And in fact, that's been Jon Stewart's defense any number of times. When he was called out on Crossfire ten years ago, his response was that his show airs on Comedy Central. "The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls!"

If we're talking about Penny Arcade's various offenses, that's just a rehash. It is stupid to argue that because Krahulik referenced an old offense this week, it's now relevant to open a broad discussion about what an asshole he is (that's literally the word used in WIRED) but out-of-bounds to rehash the offense he mentioned. It becomes especially stupid if the broader argument being made is also that specific instances of positive actions somehow become irrelevant. It's like the authors are establishing rules on how to have an unfavorable discussion, then patting themselves on the back when the discussion goes unfavorably.
posted by cribcage at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


You compare that to the actual Krahulik quote; a quote which has been posted in this thread at least twice, and this seems like a dangerously liberal interpretation of what was actually said.

Nope, the Wired article is entirely correct in the timeline. Krahulik is saying he regrets it now, but the fact that he kept on doing it over and over and over again is rock-solid evidence that he was doing it for the reasons stated. What he posted today is responding to that, not the other way around.

On preview, basically what nadawi pointed out.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:39 AM on September 5, 2013


Man, I wish people would just stop fucking going to PAX and get over it if that's what they're into. Or straight up say that what they're into is criticizing PAX for not being perfect and exactly what they want, and that they're never going to stop mentally being at PAX.
posted by jacalata at 11:39 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


nadawi: "this story exploded the second he said that he regretted pulling the merch. he didn't say he regretted the rest until just a few minutes ago. media isn't the problem, it's his inability to stop picking at the scab."

Yeah, and I think that kinda goes back to what a couple people have said: he just has no idea how to react when people get shouty at him. He can't figure out that having people shouting at him because he stopped selling his stupid sullen fuck-you of a shirt is a different kind of yelling than being thoughtless and inconsiderate. It's all just overwhelming NEGATIVE INPUT and there's no distinction. Kinda sad.
posted by boo_radley at 11:44 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I went to PAX East I felt much more uncomfortable after I stepped outside where I might accidentally look a native Bostonian in the eye.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:45 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Making eye contact is just rude.
posted by maryr at 11:46 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't even know much (or basically anything) about PAX or Penny Arcade but follow these threads whenever this guy does something crappy. I assume he just does this for the attention. Not that he needs attention from people like me. So I don't know.
posted by sweetkid at 11:46 AM on September 5, 2013


You can really only say "Penny Arcade is mostly a force for good" if you're willing to write off certain harm done to marginalized groups as OK in aggregate because of the work they've done for other groups. It's sort of a blind, privileged thing to say. I know that they do good work, and I've supported them before, generally by giving to Child's Play. But I'm choosing to, in the future, give my charitable money to other organizations, ones whose fame doesn't prop up misogynists and transphobes.

I seriously doubt that the people who've been at the wrong end of PA's bullying army of misogynistic nerd assholes feel like the fact that PA does a lot of other good work feel like that justifies the treatment they've received.
posted by NoraReed at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


not only can he not figure out how to react, he can't leave well enough alone. he did not have to bring it up, and if he was going to bring it up, he could have done so more carefully (which isn't his strong suit, so he probably should have just left it). pretty much every single reaction to PAX i saw pre-panel was "what a great and fun time!" and then instantly after the panel it was "uh, wtf??" no one would be talking about dickwolves for the last few days, and there certainly wouldn't be an article in wired where personal and professional acquaintances are taking him to task, without him bringing it all back up.
posted by nadawi at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am so fucking done with people pissing and moaning about being bullied nerds. Childhood sucks for everyone, you profoundly less than a hell of a lot of people, get the fuck over it.

Yeah! Stop crying and be a man!
posted by Gin and Comics at 11:49 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


They want to write whatever they want and not worry about the blowback everytime, and that means standing up for the dickwolves, even if some people don't think it's funny.

This, to me, seems to be the crux of the problem here. He wants to shout and whine when people find something he said or did offensive and scream "censorship". He absolutely has the right to free speech in this country. However, I also have the right to be offended by the things that come out of his, or his characters, mouth. My disgust and revulsion at his hateful words is not censorship by any stretch of the imagination. No one is stopping him from being a misogynistic, transphobic bully.

There are ramifications for the things you say and it seems that the boys at Penny Arcade really need to learn that lesson.
posted by BrianJ at 11:50 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


jacalata: "Or straight up say that what they're into is criticizing PAX for not being perfect and exactly what they want"

What a weird notion. If I give PA a certain amount of trust when they say "hey, we've learned from the past" why wouldn't I get upset when they're like "HEY DCICKWOLEVES AGAIN"? They're not being criticized because they're not perfect, but because they're apparently not being honest about learning one lesson around one issue that's haunted them for years now.
posted by boo_radley at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I admit I'm a fan of these guys. They make me laugh. I especially enjoy listening to their podcast where they chat for an hour or so and make a comic strip.

So I'm biased, but I also think I've listened to them and heard their side of things a whole lot more than most people here, and in my judgment, this sentiment that a lot of people are expressing is wrong, in fact completely backwards:

As has been said, the PA guys always seem sorry that people are mad at them, not that people got hurt.

Mike is upset about people getting hurt (when he realizes that it has happened). He's also upset at himself for saying stupid things and about the ill will he's created toward things he loves like PAX. What he's not upset about, what he stubbornly refuses to care about, is that people are upset at him or don't like him or whatever.

When you've been bullied, learning to ignore certain kinds of criticism is a survival skill ("You're stupid. You're fat. You're ugly. The stuff you like is stupid. The stuff you draw is stupid.") When people have talked to Mike and said stuff like, "The dickwolves shirts make me feel like it's not safe to come to PAX" he's been pretty empathetic and responsive about it. When people have tweeted at him, "You're a sexist asshole!" he basically turtles up and doubles down.

So it's really just the opposite. When he sees people saying, "We really don't like you and what you're saying," his response has been to give those people the finger. When he sees people saying, "Look at how you're hurting people," his response has been pretty contrite and repentant.
posted by straight at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


GuyZero: I'm far more perplexed why people have such a strong attachment to such a piece of cultural ephemera. It's an amusing web comic, but these guys are hardly Watterson or Schultz or something.

PA was one of the first big web-comics, and it was topical for a certain group o fgamers and geeks. For people who followed them from the beginning, it was fun to watch their style mature, even if their sensibilities didn't. And now it's big enough, either by way of general fan-dom or also through Child's Play and PAX, that it has its own momentum.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:53 AM on September 5, 2013


Although comparing Penny Arcade to Sinfest in this instance is pretty ironic.

I'm not sure I understand that (despite reading that blog post you linked). Did the Sinfest guy do something particularly dickish? Or is it that Sinfest isn't really that small of a web presence anymore?
posted by backseatpilot at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2013


he tweet that seemed to finally shut him down was: A Funney Joke: Go to Mike Krahulik / @cwgabriel ‘s house, Literally Murder His Wife and Child #jokes #funny #murderwolves, which seemed to be a straight-up parody of the dickwolves thing and

And speaking of the death of parody, are you really saying that a tweet calling for people to "literally murder his wife and child" is parody? Would you regard it as parody if anyone else was the target?

marginalizing assholes with rooms full of rape fans cheering them on

Ow! My eyes! The rolling! It's too much rolling!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


When he sees people saying, "Look at how you're hurting people," his response has been pretty contrite and repentant.

Apart from the whole "criticism is censorship" BS.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:55 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


FTB, did you miss the part of the tweet that said #murderwolves ?
posted by maryr at 11:56 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That comic with the punchline "it's not for you" introduced the characters Twisp and Catsby. They were originally meant for that one-off joke about how creators immunize themselves to censorship by making their works incomprehensible or unpalatable. But the fans liked those characters, and they came back again and again. You can buy posters of them.

Mike and Gabe have long been caught in a feedback loop of irony. Their fans never appreciated it when they were sincere--there was blowback every time Gabe said he liked something. At this point I am not confident that they even know how serious they are at any given time.

Perhaps it's an occupational hazard.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:57 AM on September 5, 2013


I'm not sure I understand that (despite reading that blog post you linked). Did the Sinfest guy do something particularly dickish? Or is it that Sinfest isn't really that small of a web presence anymore?

For the last several months all Sinfest does is run strips about male privilege, rape culture/misogyny, etc. I like it fine, but it's about as ideologically subtle as a hammer to the skull.
posted by GuyZero at 11:58 AM on September 5, 2013


That is not a new feature to Sinfest.
posted by maryr at 11:58 AM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ow! My eyes! The rolling! It's too much rolling!

What do you hope to accomplish with comments like this? I mean apart from letting those of us who are bothered by this know that our discomfort amuses you?
posted by KathrynT at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Well at any rate comparing their relative fan base sizes is not exactly the most relevant comparison in this particular instance.
posted by GuyZero at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2013


When he sees people saying, "We really don't like you and what you're saying," his response has been to give those people the finger. When he sees people saying, "Look at how you're hurting people," his response has been pretty contrite and repentant.

The problem is that this keeps happening. You can only apologize for doing basically the same thing so many times until it becomes apparently that the apology has no weight to it, even if he's genuinely apologetic.

It's like if a person cheats on their partner and say "I'm sorry" each time and maybe even means it. What is the apology worth if the act continues?
posted by griphus at 12:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's also so reactive to the first half of the "We really don't like you and what you're saying" that he never gets to the bit about what he is saying.
posted by maryr at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2013


I can't help but think of the contrast between Krahulik, who perpetually attempts to justify and old joke, and Gottfried, who famously bombed with an ill-timed 9-11 joke, but recovered by telling a different joke, one that pushed a different set of offensive buttons.

The cost of doing edgy and offensive humor is that you're going to offend people. If a joke falls flat and gets booed (the initial criticism came from a regular fan and reader, about a specific strip), you move on to the next joke. Explaining or justifying the joke never works, and if creators have learned anything about the internet, it turns out that attacking your critical fans doesn't work either.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


He has a serious problem seeing his critics as "bullies"

When someone throws a rock at a battleship and the battleship fires back... The battleship is the bully.
posted by French Fry at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's all I thought I wanted from the PA guys. I wanted them to try and better themselves.

They never seem to do that.


I thought the "some clarification" post from Gabe/Krahulik does exactly this. He still says he's a fan of the original Dickwolves comic, but he continues -- "Would we make that strip today? Knowing what we know now and seeing how it hurt people, no. We wouldn’t."

OK, he doesn't quite get why any joke including rape as part of the context is not a good joke, and he's focusing on the absurd MMO/RPG quest element ("sorry guy, I already saved 5 people, that's all I need to do, so I won't save you"). But he goes on to outline what happened, and how they could have made things better at each and every step (though there is a weird comment about the second strip being "a knee jerk reaction and rather than the precision strike back at our detractors that we intended, it was a massive AOE that hurt a lot of innocent people").

It ends on what I take as a pretty positive note:
I sort of see PAX like I see my children. Yes I helped make them and yes they have a lot of me in them but they can be better than me. They can take the good stuff I have and leave out all the bad. Like my kids, PAX makes me want to be better.
This doesn't undo their past actions and comments, but to me, it's a damned good start. Though as gripuhs noted, it only counts for something if they actually do better from here on out.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


it only counts for something if they actually do better from here on out.

And it's not the first time they've said something like this -- and it has thus far not been followed by doing better. At what point do we stop nodding and giving them credit?
posted by KathrynT at 12:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm far more perplexed why people have such a strong attachment to such a piece of cultural ephemera. It's an amusing web comic, but these guys are hardly Watterson or Schultz or something.


Adding to what filthy light thief says, back in the days where it was E3 and video game magazines and the gaming industry was pretty terrible, PA was like a voice of sanity, a rallying point. It was a place that showed gamers having a voice and being able to say, "This is our industry and it should be the way we want." Ever since, PA has had a leadership role in the 'good' side of the gaming industry, and they have done a lot of good things with it, like PAX. A lot of the frustration now is about PA's leadership role: it's not all about fannish ties to ephemera, it's also kind of about popular control of an artistic medium.
posted by bleep-blop at 12:04 PM on September 5, 2013


I got the impression Sinfest is growing up and making comics about stuff Ishida would've dismissed early on. It used to be sort of shitty about those issues, right?
posted by NoraReed at 12:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Penny Arcade isn’t just an unfunny comic strip, it is FUNDAMENTALLY lacking in humor.

I don't know why people, including in the first article linked, feel like if they don't like how PA is handling this subject they must also insist PA is terrible and unfunny. I think it ranges from unfunny to absolute hilarious and occasionally insightful about gaming and gaming culture. If you don't care about gaming and gaming culture it's not, of course, going to do anything for you.

None of which says anything about their actions during or after the Dickwolves incident. Which is exactly my point.

I am so fucking done with people pissing and moaning about being bullied nerds. Childhood sucks for everyone, you profoundly less than a hell of a lot of people, get the fuck over it.

Not really an appropriate response, nor really know exactly what happened to these folks as children. Denying their experiences is no better than their behavior in denying the experiences of others.
posted by Justinian at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


are you really saying that a tweet calling for people to "literally murder his wife and child" is parody?

Yes. I believe it's a parody of the original dickwolves-related tweets, and their blithe tone-deafness as they mentioned things that were triggering for many of their readers. I'm reasonably certain the tweet I linked was not an earnest attempt to incite murder.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I got the impression Sinfest is growing up and making comics about stuff Ishida would've dismissed early on. It used to be sort of shitty about those issues, right?

That's been my impression. If you go back through the archives there were a lot of unironic pimp hats.
posted by device55 at 12:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


One externality of getting older is occasionally taking a bullet to the things you once loved. Penny Arcade, Orson Scott Card and Dan Simmons are recent, personal examples. I sometimes wish I didn't know what I did about them.
posted by tehjoel at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That comic with the punchline "it's not for you" introduced the characters Twisp and Catsby. They were originally meant for that one-off joke about how creators immunize themselves to censorship by making their works incomprehensible or unpalatable. But the fans liked those characters, and they came back again and again. You can buy posters of them.

But Twisp and Catsby pre-date dickwolves by several years, fwiw.
posted by ish__ at 12:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem is that this keeps happening. You can only apologize for doing basically the same thing so many times until it becomes apparently that the apology has no weight to it, even if he's genuinely apologetic.

Well, there's the issue that the spin on this latest episode has been about the most uncharitable it could possibly be.

Mike: "When have you ever made a mistake, Robert? Uh...never? I guess your advice during the dickwolves fiasco didn't solve the problem or make everyone happy."

Internet: "Gabe says removing dickwolves merch was a mistake! He can't stop talking about dickwolves!"
posted by straight at 12:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]



Well, there's the issue that the spin on this latest episode has been about the most uncharitable it could possibly be.

Mike: "When have you ever made a mistake, Robert? Uh...never? I guess your advice during the dickwolves fiasco didn't solve the problem or make everyone happy."


If he considers at all that pulling the merch somehow isn't infinitely better than not pulling the merch, it indicates a fundamental unwillingness to even try to understand what "the problem" is/was.
posted by juv3nal at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not even sure how that's spin. I mean, he literally brought it up out of the blue, wholly unprompted, and said "I think that pulling the dickwolves merchandise was a mistake" in those exact words.
posted by griphus at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, there's the issue that the spin on this latest episode has been about the most uncharitable it could possibly be.

Mike: "When have you ever made a mistake, Robert? Uh...never? I guess your advice during the dickwolves fiasco didn't solve the problem or make everyone happy."


Wow, way to spin it yourself. Actual quote:
You know that I don't hold grudges, like I can be incredibly mad and then fine the next minute, as long as I get it out. And I feel like we got this out, so I'm not mad about it anymore, but, I think that pulling the dickwolves merchandise was a mistake.
Dickwolves were not mentioned prior, and this statement was followed by loud cheers from the audience. Seems like the Internet had this one right.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


He has a serious problem seeing his critics as "bullies"

I doubt he feels bullied by anyone, but I wouldn't be surprised if he still has filters from when he was bullied that make it extremely hard for him to hear certain kinds of criticism.
posted by straight at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2013


Mike has acted like an ignorant jerk because he is one, but he is learning, through exposure and fatherhood, how not to be one

Oh God, he's a living Adam Sandler movie. Is that not punishment enough, I ask you?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:28 PM on September 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


I doubt he feels bullied by anyone, but I wouldn't be surprised if he still has filters from when he was bullied that make it extremely hard for him to hear certain kinds of criticism.

That's an excuse, not an explanation.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:28 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd say it's an explanation, but not an excuse. He's wrong, but that might be part of why he's wrong.
posted by straight at 12:32 PM on September 5, 2013


I don't think the new age of enlightened, progressive, social justice internet has been very kind to these guys. I remember encountering penny arcade in high school, and they were unapologetic legit nerds who had zero social graces, and embraced it. Nerds who were unabashedly not intellectuals in any way, shape, or form.

Like most people, they found their niche and never left it. They went through some hard times and only by the narrowest of margins became successful, getting screwed repeatedly along the way. They've never benefited from any kind of higher education or exposure to perspectives outside their own. Considering most of my nerd friends from that time period are now reddit libertarians and borderline pedophiles who don't understand the need to stop saying nigger, faggot, bitch, and gay as their go-to pejoratives, I have to say that the progress Mike & Jerry have made is nothing short of incredible.

Sure, they're nothing close to where Sinfest is these days, but Tatsuya Ishida's progress has really been an edge case.

I have a lot of sympathy for these guys because I sure as hell was never exposed to this sort of thing, despite being a fairly active person in intellectual issues and the liberal arts, although my formal education is all in applied biology, accounting, and medicine. Considering I made it through medical school without ever hearing gender identity as anything other than a psychological disorder that needed a psychiatrist, not an endocrinologist, I have to say that considering what they were given, they are doing remarkably well, and far better than the majority of Americans, even those who should damn well know better.

I think the internet should give more credit rather than the standard hate machine picking a target of the day, even if it is in the service of ideals such as acceptance. Being rude and hateful and refusing to understand the limitations of others, even in the service of a noble ideal is not inherently noble. It's shitty behavior and it begets more shitty behavior.

Like the saying goes, be kind to everyone, we are all fighting our invisible demons.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 12:35 PM on September 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


I wouldn't be surprised if he still has filters from when he was bullied

I feel as certain as I can be that this is absolutely the case. However, that's not an immutable fact. That's something he can work on; that's something he can learn not to do. If he chooses not to, we as fans can definitely hold him responsible for that choice.
posted by KathrynT at 12:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders, Mike doesn't say in that quote why he thought removing the merch was a mistake. The internet has offered plenty of uncharitable speculations about why, whereas the spin I put is based on what Mike himself said in his follow-up about what he meant.
posted by straight at 12:37 PM on September 5, 2013


There's a really important element to all this that I think is getting glossed over a bit, and that's the venue. Krahulik didn't say this in a print or video interview. He said it at a panel in a room full of people, mostly men, most of whom cheered wildly. I was in the room a few years ago when he started drawing the dickwolf, and it was a room full of people, mostly men, most of whom cheered wildly.

And, to be clear, the cheering then was absolutely a "yeah, fuck those people who can't take a joke". Again, I was in the room. I know what the atmosphere was, and I know what Krahulik's amused smirk at the time meant. He was shit-stirring, he knew exactly what he was doing, and he knew exactly who he was doing it in front of. I have no doubt that the atmosphere at this panel was similar.

There is a contemporary backlash in gaming culture against what is perceived to be the constant and forced refrain of inclusivity. The violent reaction to Anita Sarkeesian is one example. The comments on this article are another example. Those people are cheering because their hero is saying that doing what the critics wanted was a mistake, and that he wishes he hadn't. Remember, when they did pull the shirts and pennants (pennants, for fuck's sake), there was a lot of blowback from these same people, who were extremely disappointed in PA for bowing to the thought police or whatever.

So it's not just that he's an unreconstructed pile of privilege. It's that he is consciously playing to the audience who cheer that part of him. You think he didn't know what kind of reaction he was going to get, in that room, with those people? You're fooling yourself. He doesn't get to pander for plaudits from the MRA wing of gaming one minute and then apologize to everyone else later, once the adulation's died down.
posted by Errant at 12:40 PM on September 5, 2013 [48 favorites]


He doesn't get to pander for plaudits from the MRA wing of gaming one minute and then apologize to everyone else later, once the adulation's died down.

Or once the Internet noticed his conniving smile.
posted by kalessin at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2013


kalessin, thank you for that link to Ring Theory. In my opinion it's the best thing in this thread. Maybe it should be common sense, but it's not. Thank you, again.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mike doesn't say in that quote why he thought removing the merch was a mistake.

Khoo mentions that it was because he though it meant they were "engaging" critics, a notion that was not argued or disabused by Krahulik despite the fact he was part of the conversation.

The internet has offered plenty of uncharitable speculations about why, whereas the spin I put is based on what Mike himself said in his follow-up about what he meant.

At no point in his follow-up does he say why he thought it was a mistake, just that he regrets it as of today. Why he doesn't do so is highly puzzling, and since he's offered at best a implicit agreement with Khoo, that doesn't really help his case.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:47 PM on September 5, 2013


I don't know how PAX is now, but I was an Enforcer at the first PAXEast and the range of behavior I saw on the part of attendies was all over the place. There was one dude wandering around soliciting hugs from everyone, male and female. I had to let him know folks were finding this creepy, even though he was asking first.

He asked to give me a hug and I let him. Afterwards, he said "that wasn't so creepy, was it?" And replied "First off, this is New England and any contact beyond shoving someone who is blocking the steps onto the T is creepy. Second, you're a big dude and though I'm not as big as you, I'm not that threatened by you, especially considering I have two other Enforcers watching my back right now. Not everyone here has my size or backup. Think about that. Hugs are supposed to be nice and comforting, right? Looming over folks who might not want to be touched is about as uncomfortable ad you can get. You're doing more anti-hugs than real ones. So stop."

He wandered off and I didn't hear anymore complaints about weird huggy guy anymore.

Oh, and I totally abused my Enforcer badge power as well. I was playing in a WotC "Hey, you used to play Magic? Why not play in this low stakes casual tournie and see what's up?" tournament. (I suspect they had a shorter name for it) Two teens who were obviously frequent players (one was jazzed about pulling a Jace) started ragging on another player's deck after the event started, pointing out how poorly constructed it was. The player was at first open to some deck advice, but it turned teenage mean and awkward real fast.

I pulled out my badge and tapped it on the table, saying how they seemed to know an awful lot for a casual tournament and maybe they'd be happier playing in another format? They got the hint and backed off. The other player placed higher than me in the tournie.

So I'm not sure what I'm saying here. I think that there are good actors, people who want to make conventions like PAX welcoming to all. There are bad actors too, either jerks or the hopelessly unaware, who end up working against that goal and it makes me sad when one of the founders of the event does stuff to give them more of a voice than they ever deserve.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


Transcript of the complete section of conversation, by me. I removed some 'like' and 'ah', and omitted some cross-banter that seemed irrelevant to the dickwolves controversy. The whole interview is viewable, it starts at about 22:00 and goes to 24:30.

Khoo: I know the three of us have a really great working relationship; probably the best given the circumstances that we were thrown together in, given our personalities, it really is sort of a dream scenario, I couldn't have written any better. Is there anything that you wish that _I_ would do better, or anything that you resent me for doing or saying...

Krahulik: This is honesty time?

Khoo: Honesty time, yeah, absolutely.

Krahulik: You know that I don't hold grudges. I can be incredibly mad and then fine the next minute as long as I get it out. And I feel like we got this out, so I'm not mad about it any more. But, I think that pulling the Dickwolves merchandise was a mistake.



Khoo: Clearly had I known the.. the following steps that would follow after that move... I would have never brought it up to you. 'Course I wouldn't have. I did not know... I mean, I don't want to say like, all right, well, because of this, this happened and people said this, I said this, you said that... Clearly, it would have been better to just not say anything. And that's sort of our policy on all these types of things now.

Krahulik: Now, yeah

Khoo: It's just better not to engage. And in fact, pulling it was, in a way..

Krahulik: a way of engaging

Khoo: A way of engaging. And then you ACTUALLY engaged, which was just.. but that was a direct result of pulling. And I totally agree.

Audience member: BRING IT BACK

Holkins shakes head, says "yeah..." in that not a chance kind of way

Khoo: No, that's a terrible idea. You're fired.

Holkins changes the subject. Dramatically.


My interpretation is that he was answering the question "What did Robert Khoo do that I resented", and that was what he could think of. It's hard to say what else he thinks about the entire issue.

posted by contrarian at 12:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, Krahulik was clearly directly responding to Khoo's question. Presenting that as bringing up the Dickwolves thing out of the blue seems disingenuous.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


What do you hope to accomplish with comments like this?

To make clear that I think describing this roomful of people as "rape fans" is so silly that it makes the speaker seem like a ridiculous person.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:57 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I actually went to PAX this year and there were a creepy amount of "free hugs" people. Almost all awkward young men. I really wonder who thought that shit was ever acceptable?
posted by lattiboy at 12:57 PM on September 5, 2013


There are people who were offended by or hurt by the joke in the strip and rather than just let it go we decided to make a second strip. That was a mistake and I apologize to this day for that strip. It was a knee jerk reaction and rather than the precision strike back at our detractors that we intended, it was a massive AOE that hurt a lot of innocent people.

Emphasis mine. When someone criticizes something you've said, it doesn't make them a detractor! It means that they were listening to what you were saying to begin with, so they were probably... a fan. Or they have a reason to be following your work, at least. I mean, if someone thinks you were racist, and you don't think so but there are enough voices out there saying so to make to actually want to address the issue, is the reaction going to be "fuck you, people of color?"

The entire line in the apology where he says he regrets _everything_ is even more awkward. Rather than saying, "hey, I guess I learned something here," he's basically saying "I regret I ever stepped in this shitpile, even if I don't regret any of my own actions"
posted by mikeh at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2013


Greg nog: The rules on this are not super complicated. Talking about rape or murder in general terms is not a threat (though it may be upsetting). Talking about a fictional charcter being raped or murdered is not a threat. Even saying "Someone oughta rape/murder so-and-so" is just barely not a threat (though it could contribute to a threatening environment). But once you're publicly saying "Let's go to so-and-so's house and rape and murder them", it becomes a concrete threat, no matter how clever you think the hashtags are. When you're defending behavior that you would find totally unacceptable were it directed against someone you cared for, you should take a deep breath and re-examine what you're saying.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is not to me disingenuous to say "Hey, this upsets me." It is not the case that those of us who are upset go around looking for causes that upset us, taking quotes out of context and getting somehow unnecessarily upset just so we can turn around and say "Hey, this upsets me."
posted by kalessin at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2013


To the people who are supporters of Penny Arcade, Mike and Jerry,

You're supporters of them which means you consider yourselves friendly to them. You may even consider yourselves their friends. I am going to take it as a possibly overly optimistic given that you are more emotionally mature than Mike. It is because of those two facts that I point this out: you are terrible friends.

If you aren't there explaining to him why he should be apologizing, stopping talking and trying to make a real change in his behavior, you're bad friends.

If you aren't pointing at the people who loved him, supported him and left because of his behavior, you're bad friends.

And if you aren't threatening him with a kevin smith-to-jason mewes quality shunning, you're bad friends.

It might seem like bad form to compare his addiction to misusing his influence to heroin and you're right, it is. Power addiction is much worse than heroin addiction.

Be a good friend and get him to shut up.
posted by Fuka at 1:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I said everything I think about the original hoo-ha in the previous thread back in whatever year that was. What I wanted to say *this time* was that it always amazes me how people are so willing to show up and vociferously argue on behalf of a side that embraced the moniker "team rape". It's like Paula Deen supporters— you have limited time on your hands and you prioritize defending that? What the hell?
posted by norm at 1:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


describing this roomful of people as "rape fans"

I think once they self-describe as "Team Rape," the leap from there to "rape fans" is pretty slight. More of a hop, really.
posted by KathrynT at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


I actually went to PAX this year and there were a creepy amount of "free hugs" people. Almost all awkward young men. I really wonder who thought that shit was ever acceptable?

There were a number of them at DragonCon too. I think they may be standard at any big con. I, too, find them creepy as hell... but I also don't engage them. I always see them as incredibly socially awkward and naive guys who I guess believe the conviviality of a con makes it acceptable. And, honestly, people DO hug them.. men and women. I wouldn't be surprised if Burning Man has them as well.

All big sort of conventions like this seem to have this (possibly unintended) underlying creepiness.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you're defending behavior that you would find totally unacceptable were it directed against someone you cared for, you should take a deep breath and re-examine what you're saying.

That's very good advice that you should be following.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:06 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


What should I have called them, TFB? Rape culture fans? Fans of attempting to intimidate and trigger rape survivors? Fans of the Twitter feed called "Team Rape"? Rape joke afficianados?

Alternatively, do you have any reason why I should care that a PA apologist thinks I'm ridiculous? I already know that the majority of gaming culture thinks caring about sexual assault and survivors of rape is ridiculous; that's why I would never join an MMO or get XBox Live. Because mainstream gamer culture is still totally OK with throwing around rape-related jokes and insults without considering how that might affect survivors.
posted by NoraReed at 1:07 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Greg nog: The rules on this are not super complicated.

I had no idea there were rules! Wow
posted by Greg Nog at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I actually went to PAX this year and there were a creepy amount of "free hugs" people. Almost all awkward young men. I really wonder who thought that shit was ever acceptable?

I vaguely remember an early episode of their Penny Arcade TV thing, where the two main guys were addressing a crowd, and one guy in the crowd gets up and starts talking about how they inspired him to overcome some challenge or another, and it got emotional, and Jerry walked out and hugged him. Is hugging perhaps a thing in PA culture?

(It was a weird scene, too, like Jerry had just watched that Ellen Degeneres stand-up special where a similar thing happens at the end and thought, 'hey, I get to do the audience hug thing!")
posted by jbickers at 1:14 PM on September 5, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard, do you not see the irony that policing the language used is exactly what caused this in the first place? Krahulik's insistence that his ideas are fine, that he's not a rapist or misogynist, and that it's just language are exactly how he defended himself for a long time! He missed that in concentrating on the language and not the meaning, he adopted the meaning for himself and his cohort. You can't say that these people adopted the symbol in defiance to show it had nothing to do with rape. People adopted the symbol as a fuck you, as a "strike at detractors" to throw it in their faces.

The message was "we don't care if it implies rape, if it does, then we're for rape, fuck you guys, go team rape!"

So yeah, they're team rape. If you don't want to be Team Rape, then don't throw things in the faces of the very people who feel those things are associated with rape
posted by mikeh at 1:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]




krahulik knew about the panel ahead of time. krahulik knew the purpose of the panel was to discuss a lot of deep issues. he had a choice to bring up dickwolves, even as an answer to a question. and once brought up he had the choice to say, "well, while i still find the joke funny, i think everything we did as a team after the initial strip is something that i regret - while i regret my part in it the most [list things he regrets], i guess i also think you involving yourself in the creative side of the merch was a mistake and something we wouldn't repeat now." but that's not what he said. it's not disingenuous to judge him for the words that came out of his mouth at a planned event. he did not have to discuss dickwolves at all and if he felt he needed to he could have done so much more carefully.
posted by nadawi at 1:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Krahulik was clearly directly responding to Khoo's question.

I agree. I think it reads more like Krahulik was answering the imagined question, "What did I do that made you the angriest?" versus, "What did I do that was my biggest mistake?"

It's still implied that the overall lesson from the dickwolf days was "don't engage," which is not as gross as the idea that they should have kept selling the shirts, but it's still a little gross. I think it's also telling that Krahulik took the question in that direction anyway, like he's still pretty blinded by his feelings and oblivious to how it comes across. Plus of course the silliness of him bringing it up and making it a Thing again in the context of trying to tell someone their biggest mistake was bringing it up and making it a Thing again.
posted by bleep-blop at 1:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This tweet from Monica Ray made me think that the environment at PAX could be described as uncomfortable.
posted by Quonab at 1:19 PM on September 5, 2013


Greg Nog's twitter has death threatened me literally millions of times I have proof *pulls out a tangle of tree roots* This is my skull he did this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


KathrynT: "Team Rape" was not an identifier, it was a hashtag

It's an active Twitter handle.
posted by KathrynT at 1:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's still implied that the overall lesson from the dickwolf days was "don't engage," which is not as gross as the idea that they should have kept selling the shirts, but it's still a little gross.

I think it's very gross, because the initial, balls-out engagement of making a fuck you T-Shirt and selling it isn't acknowledged at any time as having been a form of engagement. Only the negative reaction is characterized as engagement.
posted by kalessin at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]



mikeh: I'm afraid I'm not following what you say about policing the language here. Gabe's point was never that "saying things isn't a big deal"; if it had been, he'd be wrong. His point was that they never, ever said rape wasn't very bad, or that people should be raped. Their detractors thought the appropriate response was to literally call for their murder and that of their loved ones. That's not policing language, that's two very different statements.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


[TFB, this would be one of those situations where you're making it All About You, and we need everyone's cooperation to let the thread breathe a little bit. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine I have a coworker who finds my vintage coffee mug from Coon Chicken Inn (google it if you're not aware of their imagery and logos). I find it kind of ironically funny, but my coworker asks if I can stop using it work because it's not cool and kind of racist.

In response, I start wearing a Coon Chicken Inn shirt on casual Friday, put a Coon Chicken Inn sign in my office, and talk about how I love fried chicken. Because I'm not racist, I have black friends. I never said that racism isn't very bad. I think racism is horrible. But for some reason, I'm now overly invested in this merchandise.

I'm not defending anyone who took it too far on twitter, but saying "team rape" in itself isn't advocating violence and you're saying they're the same.
posted by mikeh at 1:23 PM on September 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


wow, where was all this outrage in the tosh.0 thread? it's almost like threats only matter when they're made towards men!
posted by elizardbits at 1:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


Quonab:This tweet from Monica Ray made me think that the environment at PAX could be described as uncomfortable.

Unless it was about them finding her food, helping her through the crowds because she is short, gave her time to rest, or any other number of things other than violence to her person. She sure hasn't posted anything on her twitter to indicate anything nefarious happening.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:26 PM on September 5, 2013


There's a newish Forbes writeup from this morning - not factual reporting but commentary:
PAX Problems: Censorship and Sensibility In the Penny Arcade
posted by kalessin at 1:28 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


wow, where was all this outrage in the tosh.0 thread?

Who or what is tosh.0?
posted by Nomyte at 1:29 PM on September 5, 2013


God even the best case scenario here is awful. Like the lesson those guys WANT you to think they learned from all this was "don't engage"?

Seriously? Ignore when your friends tell you the thing you're doing hurts them? Just keep plugging away because otherwise that's censorship of your art?

That doesn't even hold up from a business standpoint.
posted by danny the boy at 1:30 PM on September 5, 2013


Our thread on tosh.0.
posted by kalessin at 1:31 PM on September 5, 2013


Unless it was about them finding her food, helping her through the crowds because she is short, gave her time to rest, or any other number of things other than violence to her person. She sure hasn't posted anything on her twitter to indicate anything nefarious happening.

Okay, maybe I've become overly suspicious of things.
posted by Quonab at 1:31 PM on September 5, 2013


Monica Ray

on preview: yea, I think you are. It's probably about the fact that as one of the artists signing and selling her work in Bandland, she had a team of enforcers helping her out all weekend.
posted by jacalata at 1:32 PM on September 5, 2013


In my defense, she did post a really awkward picture. But that was probably just an isolated thing.
posted by Quonab at 1:35 PM on September 5, 2013


Who or what is tosh.0?

You're one of the lucky ones. Don't find out.
posted by jbickers at 1:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Their detractors thought the appropriate response was to literally call for their murder and that of their loved ones. That's not policing language, that's two very different statements.

No, their detractors were trying to point out that Mike's actions had led to some of his fans making rape threats. When he waved away that concern, someone responded with the, "How would you feel if you and your family were receiving threats?" tweet.
posted by straight at 1:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not just a hypothetical tweet, but a tweet designed pretty cleverly to enjoy the same flimsy excuses Krahulik was making about his own badly-formulated and poorly-defended joke.
posted by kalessin at 1:39 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


jacalata: "Monica Ray

on preview: yea, I think you are. It's probably about the fact that as one of the artists signing and selling her work in Bandland, she had a team of enforcers helping her out all weekend.
"

She was one of their Strip Search (...) candidates too, wasn't she? Minor celeb status, sort of thing?
posted by boo_radley at 1:41 PM on September 5, 2013


Helping to escalate an issue to the point where someone you view as a "detractor" or enemy says something that is genuinely repulsive and then painting yourself as the victim in the entire thing is not a really good strategy for winning arguments.
posted by mikeh at 1:42 PM on September 5, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Ow! My eyes! The rolling! It's too much rolling!"

ThatFuzzyBastard: "To make clear that I think describing this roomful of people as "rape fans" is so silly that it makes the speaker seem like a ridiculous person."


It's not that people on team rape don't care you think their actions are actively making the world a worse place to be in. They're proud of it.
posted by danny the boy at 1:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a woman, and I have never noticed it getting more hostile towards women or anything other than a safe environment. Am I just blind? Because the way people have been writing about it post Gabe's comments, it sounds like magically overnight it has become one of the least. I find that incredibly hard to believe. PAX for me has always been the friendliest, chillest, and most safe of the "big" cons. Now in almost no time at all it isn't?

Ill preface this with the fact that I'm a dude, but lots of my friends go to pax every year, and a significant portion of them are women. Probably about half, actually. Around 10 people I meet up with/run in to/show up with every year.

All of them have had the same experience as you, and I've had specific conversations about this sort of thing at cons with them.

I might be missing the point here, but this strikes me as turn the outrage up to 11 tumblr bullshit on that specific front. I don't disagree with anyone aghast at what they've said and done(I'm in that boat, tbh) but this is total "OMG THE GUYS WHO RUN THIS PLACE ARE ASSHOLES NEVER GO THERE PLS RETWEET~" chik-fil-a or even some small local business style.

Pax isn't suddenly some unsafe place or something, no. There's been a few incidents that have happened there which have gotten a bunch of coverage I honestly feel, by people who have a bone to pick with PA.(the enforcer stalking thing, the whole deal with notch's party, etc). Freaking 50k people go. If that's the "fail" rate it seems like they're doing pretty ok.

And for what it's worth, I've heard(and seen first or second hand) of some weird stuff and people including myself just getting creepy vibes at Sakura con which is large, and happens in the same convention center as PAX that I've just never gotten or heard of at PAX.

"Don't support these assholes by paying to go to that shit" is a valid statement. "Pax is a hive of scum and villainy and unsafe" isn't.

It's one thing for someone to say that they personally were uncomfortable, felt unsafe, or something messed up happened to them there. To declare the entire event unsafe is a much higher bar to clear though which would need to involve a lot more evidence of some kind of systematic failure to deal with this sort of shit.

The enforcer thing is toeing, and possibly straddling that line. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. But for now, lots of my friends went this year and had a great time. The place just isn't the hive of scum and villainy some people seem to want it to be so that it can fit in to the slot they're making for it which is something like "evil lawless molester zone on the level with the worst colleges that bury harassment and claims of problems and are just unsafe for anyone but straight white dudes". It's just a very tumblr SJ warrior reaction, as I said. Like the knee jerk "a new target to destroy with our Internet hate machine!" Thing. They find something that has just enough outragey qualities of being against any of their views and then pour in hyperbole and start smashing it.

As a side note though, everyone I know who goes thinks the PA guys are assholes. That's a pretty widely held view. It's a lot like enjoying music by a band where one or all of the members are assholes. They've absolutely lost that battle with a shitload of people who go to PAX, likely forever.
posted by emptythought at 1:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could have sworn I remembered a lot of people with problems with Daniel Tosh in past discussions but I could be wrong. I'm not sure I think it's a great parallel regardless. Not only does Tosh not run a huge empire that includes conventions, he seems to have the sense to shut the hell up when taking one on the chin for his shenanigans. He's not changing his material but then it doesn't seem like MK is either. At least Tosh doesn't apologize in between offenses, wasting our time and giving apologists material for "no no, he really means it THIS time!"
posted by phearlez at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2013


Errant: There is a contemporary backlash in gaming culture against what is perceived to be the constant and forced refrain of inclusivity. The violent reaction to Anita Sarkeesian is one example. The comments on this article are another example. Those people are cheering because their hero is saying that doing what the critics wanted was a mistake, and that he wishes he hadn't. Remember, when they did pull the shirts and pennants (pennants, for fuck's sake), there was a lot of blowback from these same people, who were extremely disappointed in PA for bowing to the thought police or whatever.

That's my take on it. PA's response to criticism was to frame the dickwolf as their "don't tread on me" symbol of free gaming speech (which never was threatened to begin with). This was a bigger problem than the actual strip. In context, the dickwolf was a criticism of how game designers construct moral choices. Once it was adopted by people who harass and threaten women in the "community" it became irrevocably tainted.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


this strikes me as turn the outrage up to 11 tumblr bullshit

there is no polite way to respond to framing like this. maybe you could make a comment about the actual things being said either in the article or in this thread instead of slagging off tumblr or whatever the fuck.
posted by nadawi at 1:52 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm too knackered to make a reasoned point about the main issue... but I will say I do kind of live in fear of being approached by a 'Free Hugs' guy as being a True Englishman I might not be able to shout 'Get away from me!' quick enough before I was struck rigid by social embarrassment.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The difference between Tosh and Mike K is that Daniel Tosh is not trying to be the figurehead of a "family friendly" convention with many thousands of attendees.

The brand dissonance between penny-arcade and PAX is deepest in these moments, a great deal of the material of Penny-Arcade is totally unsuitable for PAX, but especially insane shit like the dickwolves merchandise.
posted by French Fry at 1:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The enforcer thing is toeing, and possibly straddling that line. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. But for now, lots of my friends went this year and had a great time. The place just isn't the hive of scum and villainy some people seem to want it to be so that it can fit in to the slot they're making for it which is something like "evil lawless molester zone on the level with the worst colleges that bury harassment and claims of problems and are just unsafe for anyone but straight white dudes". It's just a very tumblr SJ warrior reaction, as I said. Like the knee jerk "a new target to destroy with our Internet hate machine!" Thing. They find something that has just enough outragey qualities of being against any of their views and then pour in hyperbole and start smashing it.

You're engaging in the exact same hyperbole and misrepresentation that you're accusing people of here. It might help to read the many articles linked in the OP and throughout the thread that point out the problem with attending PAX where this exact kind of thing is rebutted.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:55 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Satire is designed to hurt people. It is weaponized comedy. The moral question has to do with who the satirist is trying to hurt and why.

An English Lord in Ireland would be foolish to complain to Jonathan Swift that he was offended by A Modest Proposal. Hurting the Lord's feelings was deliberate, and his tears would have been delicious to Swift. Forget hurt feelings, though; that essay was intended to cause material damage: to bring social scorn down on its targets and build political support against their economic interests. Satire is successful when it hurts its targets emotionally but only ultimately successful when it destroys their respectability and exposes them to widespread public scorn and condemnation.

Let's never hear "just a joke" again. Satirists should always be prepared to drop the comedic mask and straight-up condemn their target, keeping the mask up only if that is advantageous for attacking the target more efficiently.

The question is why Penny Arcade thinks rape victims should be treated like baby starvers.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [23 favorites]


When people are outraged about a very popular artist making statements about "regretting" pulling his pro-rape merchandise from his store, maybe it's less that they're looking for attention and more that popular people endorsing rape just sucks a whole lot of suck.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's very interesting to me that we had a full-on love-fest the other day for The Onion, a comedy outlet that routinely does stuff like this, which IMO makes the dickwolves strip look incredibly tame.
posted by jbickers at 2:15 PM on September 5, 2013


The equation I keep seeing in this argument is that rape victims and other trauma victims and their supporters are somehow harming freedom of expression by expressing their feelings and reactions to jokiness about rape and other forms of assault.

I don't agree with that perspective, but that's how it's been presented to me.
posted by kalessin at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Onion, a comedy outlet that routinely does stuff like this

The Onion joke is told in satire that is sympathetic to the victims. The dickwolves are not quite as clear. Also the Onion tends to be better at making apologies that are not shitty and at sticking with them.
posted by kalessin at 2:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


When the onion made an offensive joke on twitter that crossed the line while missing the mark (mixed metaphors are the bull's knees) they apologized sincerely and immediately. Comedians (of every type) offend people all the time, the non-assholes just know how to respond: like human beings.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


JINX fuck.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also not to put too fine a point on it but the Onion is funny something like 88% of the time more than PA. And by PA i mean me. :(
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2013


The question is why Penny Arcade thinks rape victims should be treated like baby starvers.

The joke wasn't originally about rape victims. That is, until they started putting it on t-shirts to demonstrate how humorless rape victims were about the whole thing.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Onion joke is told in satire that is sympathetic to the victims. The dickwolves are not quite as clear.

You don't think the strip is sympathetic to the sixth quest victim? Really?
posted by jbickers at 2:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


A joke about how horrible it is that women are so frequently raped is a joke that targets rape culture.

A joke that makes light of rape in the middle of making fun of video games is arguably reinforcing the notion that rape is a casual thing. Following that joke up by insulting all the people offended by it and selling t-shirts with the rape part of that joke on it is absolutely reinforcing it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


A joke that makes light of rape in the middle of making fun of video games is arguably reinforcing the notion that rape is a casual thing.

Did you also think the joke was making light of slavery?
posted by jacalata at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know who all this makes me feel sorry for? Dick Wolf.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:23 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


You don't think the strip is sympathetic to the sixth quest victim? Really?

In the dickwolves strip, rape is used in a spot that could have been filled by a variety of other things. Rape gets used in spots like that a lot. Whereas the Onion's article would have been a completely different article if you swapped in something else.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dick Wolf has pretty much made a living out of rape as a prop though.
posted by jacalata at 2:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't think the strip is sympathetic to the sixth quest victim? Really?

I do think the strip was sympathetic, but I found the apologies insincere, passive aggressive and insulting, and I found the T-shirts outright reprehensible in their total disregard for people's feelings which were then very clearly stated.

There was really no refuge to claim ignorance, certainly not for 3 years, certainly not to this point. To me, the entire thing is pretty demonstrative of Gabe's lack of empathy for victims of this sort of violence and it sadly led others to expose themselves as not giving a shit.
posted by kalessin at 2:25 PM on September 5, 2013


I don't disagree with anyone aghast at what they've said and done(I'm in that boat, tbh) but this is total "OMG THE GUYS WHO RUN THIS PLACE ARE ASSHOLES NEVER GO THERE PLS RETWEET~" chik-fil-a or even some small local business style.

What's wrong with not wanting to give money to assholes? See also: Chick-Fil-A, Ender's Game.

Pax isn't suddenly some unsafe place or something, no.

Has anybody been saying this? The whole fucking point is not supporting something run by assholes.
posted by kmz at 2:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is hugging perhaps a thing in PA culture?

Yeah, it seems to have become de rigueur during the Q&A panels that at least one of the audience members will ask if they can hug Mike or Jerry.

I will add that in addition to the panel with Khoo, the first Q&A panel also featured at least three audience members asking about or expressing approval of dickwolves (here's one). One audience member asked if there would be a dickwolves trading pin, to which Mike replied, "I will tell you that we are not making any dickwolves merchandise because that would be wrong and inappropriate." But his tone of voice is a colossal dog whistle to the audience that he doesn't believe what he's saying (and the audience gets the real message). The audience member then follows up with a request for a hug, which...I don't even know.
posted by jedicus at 2:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


People we like (Louis CK, etc) tend to get a pass or at least a view in the most sympathetic light when they make rape jokes. People we don't like get neither of those things. That may be human nature but it's something we should probably be careful of.
posted by Justinian at 2:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you also think the joke was making light of slavery?

I think the joke uses slavery as the crux for its joke. The humor comes from the way video games trivialize the suffering of a character and make it into an objective to do and cross off, rather than treating the subject with any weight whatsoever.

If video games so trivialized rape – quests where you have to stop 5 women from being raped in an evening or something – then you could make a similar joke about rape. But games generally shy away from rape, at least as far as actual gameplay is concerned.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:27 PM on September 5, 2013


You don't think the strip is sympathetic to the sixth quest victim? Really?

The strip, yeah, probably. I wonder how the sixth quest victim feels about t-shirts lionizing his torturers, or about why the creator of both wouldn't put, say, him on a t-shirt.
posted by Errant at 2:27 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


People we like (Louis CK, etc) tend to get a pass or at least a view in the most sympathetic light when they make rape jokes. People we don't like get neither of those things.

I disagree. I think that the reason Louis CK's joke was passably funny and not as triggering or insulting was that it was told from a different perspective. Instead of making light of rape itself and implying that folks who were horrified should get over themselves, it was making fun of the rapists and the culture. This, to me, is much, much better than the former.

This is why I gave Louis CK a pass. But I can only really speak for myself. Have a look at the Silk Ring Theory link I made upthread. It sort of systematizes why joke direction and intended audience really matter in this kind of risky comedic landscape.
posted by kalessin at 2:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


for me, the supporting rape culture stuff is what happened in nearly every response and action thereafter (besides removing the shirts from sale), not the original strip. i'm not trying to discuss the strip or say it wasn't bad or that people who disagree are wrong - just saying that whether the initial joke made light of rape or not, every thing following it was absolutely punching down to retain power. comparing it to the piece in the onion doesn't make any sense except for they both deal with rape.
posted by nadawi at 2:31 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do think the strip was sympathetic, but I found the apologies insincere, passive aggressive and insulting, and I found the T-shirts outright reprehensible in their total disregard for people's feelings which were then very clearly stated.

I believe Jessamyn was clear that there was not to be a rehash of the discussion of the strip.
posted by phearlez at 2:32 PM on September 5, 2013


I apologize, but I wonder why you quoted me instead of the person asking me about the strip.
posted by kalessin at 2:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]



People we like (Louis CK, etc) tend to get a pass or at least a view in the most sympathetic light when they make rape joke


I don't much like Louis CK, partially because of rape jokes and other sexism. I never got why he gets a pass on those things.
posted by sweetkid at 2:33 PM on September 5, 2013


Ill preface this with the fact that I'm a dude, but lots of my friends go to pax every year, and a significant portion of them are women. Probably about half, actually.

Some of my best friends are women.

All of them have had the same [positive] experience as you, and I've had specific conversations about this sort of thing at cons with them.

Your experience is not representative of everyone.

It's one thing for someone to say that they personally were uncomfortable, felt unsafe, or something messed up happened to them there. To declare the entire event unsafe is a much higher bar to clear though which would need to involve a lot more evidence of some kind of systematic failure to deal with this sort of shit.

Unless you can prove your experience is widespread, I won't believe it.

How much more terrible behavior needs to be condoned or swept under the rug before people are allowed to draw their line in the sand? Why do you feel comfortable blithely declaring that "Pax isn't suddenly some unsafe place or something, no," while simultaneously telling the people who do not share your opinion that they need to keep silent, or at least use terminology that is less offensive to you?

It's actually really quite all right for people who have had extremely negative experiences with/at PAX to tell other people that they feel it is an unsafe environment, that they do not feel comfortable attending, and explain to others why they feel that way. I am loathe to accept the notion that there is some invisible threshold of Really Serious Awfulness, and everything that doesn't clear the bar is just business as usual. Ideally, problematic behavior should not be allowed to progress that far; ideally, it should be dealt with long before we reach the level of systematic failure.

Unfortunately, it is already a pretty clearly systematic failure. This is not an isolated incident, and the awful behavior is flowing down from the top. I understand that it stings to find out that something you love and passionately support has the ability to hurt others, but it is absolutely not "turn the outrage up to 11 tumblr bullshit" for those who have been hurt by PAX/PA to speak out. I'm glad they did.
posted by divined by radio at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


The target of that Onion article is not female joggers or rape victims. The target is the idea that rape culture is natural and inevitable.

Female joggers went on to say that those who are not killed during their morning routes will go on to be ogled, shouted at, and sexually harassed for the remainder of their days, thereby fulfilling their own role in the timeless saga of existence.

Yesterday I saw a version of that sentiment expressed seriously on Metafilter on the "teach naked" thread. Some people think harassment is a natural feature of human relations because cavemen. That idea should be ridiculed as a way of eradicating it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't see much dissonance between the PA guys being assholes and the PAX even itself striving to be inclusive and family friendly. That's so often the case with these things that I'm kind of surprised at the surprise. Show me a con of any sort and 90% of the time I'll show you some assholes involved in organizing it. Show me a piece of art aimed at children and 90% of the time I'll show you some assholes involved in creating it. And so on.

I mean Disney for god's sake. Disney! Full of assholes! Created or was involved with much of the greatest child-friendly stuff in history!
posted by Justinian at 2:35 PM on September 5, 2013


But Disney hides the assholes well. Penny Arcade glorifies and defends the assholes.
posted by kalessin at 2:36 PM on September 5, 2013


The target of that Onion article is not female joggers or rape victims. The target is the idea that rape culture is natural and inevitable.

This, and kalessin's comment, are exactly what I'm talking about. We can virtually always find an interpretation which makes the joke okay. And people usually do so for people and outlets (the Onion) that they like. They don't do so for people and organizations they don't like. Our attitude affects our interpretation.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are those who are so mortally offended by the entire saga that they want Gabe drummed out of the industry Marge Schott-style, that his statements about rape and transism should be career-enders and everything PAX-related should disappear in a puff of shame. And it's not like some people's careers HAVEN'T been shuttered for similar things.

People who wanted a mea culpa for Gabe's transism comments arguably got at least one. People who want full recantation for the entire Dickwolf Saga have gotten most of it, but they will never get the one piece they want the most -- a flat-out statement from Gabe that The Strip was wrong to produce in the first place. Because he doesn't believe that, because he doesn't believe The Strip was intended to trivialize rape, and because he believes in his heart of hearts that the whole controversy over it was overblown and there is fault on both sides. It is just not going to happen.

Should that not happening cause PAX to close its doors for good? Some believe so. That's an opinion. But anyone who's still following Gabe and PAX at this point has lost the right to look surprised. By now, this scorpion is holding up a sign that says "Hi, I'm a scorpion" before anyone picks it up. The outrage seems to be more about "Why are they still allowed to even HAVE this convention?" than what he's said there lately.
posted by delfin at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's because I live in L.A., know many people in the industry, and had some tangential work with media companies in the past, but Disney doesn't hide the assholes. There's a reason they're called "The Rat" here.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2013


I tend to agree, delfin. People are never going to get what they're hoping to get out of Gabe. It's just not going to happen. So the question is whether the rest of what PAX has to offer is worth dealing with that. If people decide it isn't that's a perfectly legitimate choice. But acting surprised at Gabe being Gabelike is exactly like the frog being surprised when the scorpion stings him.
posted by Justinian at 2:40 PM on September 5, 2013


I don't much like Louis CK, partially because of rape jokes and other sexism. I never got why he gets a pass on those things.

I don't think he actually does get a pass (nor do I know who hands them out), but... Because?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


i don't want him to fail professionally. i want him to stop bringing it up and stop acting like a victim when he gets the very predictable reaction. he created the storm this time. i say again, fucking no one would have been talking about dickwolves today without mike opening his mouth and saying dumb ass shit.

and if you don't understand the difference between satire aimed at rape culture and a lazy joke defended to insane degrees i'm just not sure what to tell you.
posted by nadawi at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Justinian: This, and kalessin's comment, are exactly what I'm talking about. We can virtually always find an interpretation which makes the joke okay. And people usually do so for people and outlets (the Onion) that they like. They don't do so for people and organizations they don't like. Our attitude affects our interpretation.

Most of the criticism I read was willing to give the original strip a pass as an ill-conceived and dumb joke. At least until PA turned around and made it into an explicitly anti-feminist joke with the followup and merchandise.

delfin: There are those who are so mortally offended by the entire saga that they want Gabe drummed out of the industry Marge Schott-style, that his statements about rape and transism should be career-enders and everything PAX-related should disappear in a puff of shame.

Please wake me up when any of them actually make an appearance.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's a shame this man in his 30s who is highly influential will never use his position responsibly. I mean, that is what people are wanting out of him, but his blogging is mostly "this is what I think" with no room for feedback or reasonable discussion.

"Gabe being Gabelike" implies that as a white man in my 30s, it's fine if I continue to act the way I did at 25, in regards to my friends, family, coworkers, and people I talk to on the internet without any learning, changing, or growing.

I mean, unless you're implying that men in their 30s have the learning potential and social skills of a scorpion.
posted by mikeh at 2:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


> There is a contemporary backlash in gaming culture against what is perceived to be the constant and forced refrain of inclusivity.

This, seriously. Against my better judgement I occasionally wade into gaming news comments and threads out in the wilds, and it seems like there is a vocal majority that is just incredibly angry that games might ever not completely pander to them. Someone literally said "all social change recently has been for the worse."

Obviously PAX hasn't become poisoned overnight, but I'm sure that having that group of people suddenly highlighted by them cheering is jarring. Even if he was completely innocent in his intention, it's obvious what meaning they were cheering for.
posted by lucidium at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


So um... it seems like we've taken a turn into serious hyperbole here. I'm not really thrilled about the implied judgements of my character but I know you can't please all the people all the time. With respect to the Forbes article I linked, I think it has some pretty interesting discussions of Gabe's impact on his own brand and on how that impact may play out in the near future.
posted by kalessin at 2:48 PM on September 5, 2013


I went to PAX last week. Want to know how many fedoras there were?

143 Fedoras, I counted.
posted by hellojed at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [32 favorites]


I mean, unless you're implying that men in their 30s have the learning potential and social skills of a scorpion.

I'm implying that Gabe appears to have the social skills of a scorpion. I don't see why that must imply anything at all about men in general. All people are not the same.
posted by Justinian at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2013


I went to PAX last week. Want to know how many fedoras there were?

143 Fedoras, I counted.


I still believe this may be the evil summoning spell that brought the words to Gabe's mouth.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


just incredibly angry that games might ever not completely pander to them

this reminds me of the amazing response by bioware to a commenter who said To summarize, in the case of Dragon Age 2, BioWare neglected their main demographic: The Straight Male Gamer.
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
[...]
The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here.

And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
posted by nadawi at 3:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I mean Disney for god's sake. Disney! Full of assholes! Created or was involved with much of the greatest child-friendly stuff in history!

I don't want to give Disney my money either.

Which makes for a personal dilemma when Pixar movies come out.

And now there's Star Wars.

/twitch!
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:02 PM on September 5, 2013


When we're having discussions about the discussions about the discussions about the discussions about the implications of ideas possibly held by someone who may or may not interpret already-controversial events, actions, and decisions of considerable subtlety as described, I begin to question the productivity of the thread.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:06 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but we need a referendum on whether a proper motion has been seconded to make a motion regarding that question.

I call on Captain Teague, keeper of the Pirate Code!
posted by delfin at 3:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do... do people who wear fedoras not realize how it makes them look? The last guy who looked good in a fedora was Harrison Ford circa 1980.

I have a terrible time reading social cues and even I wouldn't get caught dead in a fedora.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alas that I have only one favorite to give.
posted by Eyebeams at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2013


What kills me about the issue, more than anything, is that they:
-Made a comic that (accurately) skewers the entertainment industry for using issues with emotional resonance and moral implications as a lazy, minor sidenote to the hero's journey. At this point, they are on the same side as their eventual critics.
-When faced with some criticism of the comic, rather than explaining their intent, they immediately double-down, and in fact undermind their initial point!
-They then do the EXACT THING that they initially criticized in the comic - use issues with emotional resonance for lazy entertainment while disregarding moral implications.

I used to be fan, but every time this comes up I question whether they actually understand their own art. Even if they dropped the issue, I'm not sure I could ever actually trust them as having more than a superficial understanding of the subjects they're writing about.
posted by Benjy at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Do... do people who wear fedoras not realize how it makes them look?

I believe Uther Bentrazor had the best explanation of the place of the fedora in these circles.

Heh. +3 Fedora of Fashion.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're ruining the pork pie hat too now. No headwear is safe.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on September 5, 2013


143 Fedoras, I counted.

I would like to propose the collective noun be a "Perspiration of Fedoras."
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:26 PM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


In defense of Fedoras: I briefly dated a guy who wore a fedora and I've never seen him be anything but a nice guy. Like, an actually decent human being, not a Nice Guy. So yeah, we didn't date long, but I'm pretty sure at least one of those 143 PAX fedoras was not pro-dickwolf.

(That said, the fedora was definitely a turn off. Ugh.)
posted by maryr at 3:28 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm implying that Gabe appears to have the social skills of a scorpion.

Then it's reasonable to question whether those skills are adequate to the needs of an organization that's has become about more than just a snarky comic strip about gaming. (This is something we question about a fair number of corporate and organizational spokescritters.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're ruining the pork pie hat too now.

What, it didn't take enough punishment from third wave ska?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


CBrachyhynchos: I think they could definitely benefit from the skills of a publicist, yes.
posted by Justinian at 4:05 PM on September 5, 2013


When I was in high school I decided I wanted a fedora because of Indiana Jones and film noir. Luckily, my noggin is so big that by the time I found a fedora big enough it looked more like a cowboy hat than anything else. Dodged a bullet there.
posted by brundlefly at 4:10 PM on September 5, 2013


I found myself in Seattle, at the same time as PAX.

I pointedly avoided it, but also didn't want to make some noise about this choice - I thought others make the case better, and I don't know if I help being another voice.

On Sunday, one of my friends who has a booth at PAX (I won't embarass him) messaged me and said he had a pass around if I wanted to stop in. After much silly internal argument, I decided I wanted to see my friend, more than to boycott PAX entirely. So I went in, got the badge, chatted with him.

I then went around the entire show floor in a fast loop, to get a look at the current state of the art in independent and corporate games, and understand what's big in the world right now. As a computer historian, I figured I might as well get some benefit from observing something I was in anyway.

I shook one developer's hand for doing a pretty neat idea. I bumped into Christine Love's booth and re-iterated my respect for her and we both talked a little about the weirdness of being in PAX, considering. I otherwise ran through the place, bought nothing, and left within an hour.

I later found out things had blown up. Again. Because of Mike.

I regret going at all. It doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand sense, and I am glad I got that glance at contemporary gaming industry, but I didn't need to be there.

Here's the thing, which I'm sure others have said better:

Mike wrote a mighty fine "clarification" on his site. It's good text. It has the craft of writing as your buddy holding a beer and explaining why he did the stupid thing, and that he really has gotten past it and will be better.

I don't believe it. Not a word.

Mike's plan to 'not engage' with controversy is a meaningless plan. It depends, utterly, on Mike being capable of recognizing he is in a controversy, or that he is responding to something in a controversial manner, and having the self-control to step back.

I don't think he has that. I don't think it's in his toolbox.

So I will not make the mistake of letting myself be weak and going to a PAX again just because I got a free pass to it. It's not an organization I can support, even being the person in the crowd.

If you need me, I'll be elsewhere. XOXO Fest is coming up - they're trying to do right thing, and I'm attending. MAGfest has my adoration - I love going to it.

I stopped reading Penny Arcade years ago. It's an OK webcomic made by people who don't deserve the attention they get. As if to make it worse, they now support and co-opt Scott Kurtz, another toxic personality not worthy of the attention he gets.

It's just terrible. There's so much better life out there to live. I'm going to live it.
posted by jscott at 4:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


Some of my best friends are women.

You're really pulling this shit out on me? What relevance does this line even have to what i actually said? other than, as someone else put how i said, slagging on me... what does this actually have to do with my statements? I often hear this carted out rightfully when someone is called out for their shitty behavior often with relation to sexual harassment or awful jokes and defends themselves by saying they have friends who are women/black/etc so they can't be a bigot. Seriously, take this beyond a one line quip or you're simply shitting on me and turning to the audience for applause.

Your experience is not representative of everyone. ... Unless you can prove your experience is widespread, I won't believe it.

Once again, you're turning guns and ammo tailored for calling out actual harassers and apologists against me simply because i said that many people have a perfectly fine experience at PAX, and it isn't some sheisty nightclub where harassment is routinely ignored.

How much more terrible behavior needs to be condoned or swept under the rug before people are allowed to draw their line in the sand? Why do you feel comfortable blithely declaring that "Pax isn't suddenly some unsafe place or something, no," while simultaneously telling the people who do not share your opinion that they need to keep silent, or at least use terminology that is less offensive to you?

Where and how did i actually say this? I feel like that is an extremely uncharitable reading of my words here. The entire premise was that there's a lot of smoke for a very small fire. That fire shouldn't be ignored, and i'm in no way trying to "Sweep it under the rug". I'm simply saying that a lot of people have a perfectly fine experience and that the issues that have happened there are getting megaphoned and trumpeted all over the place simply because they're issues that usually get ignored, or rugswept. It's not so much that this is out of proportion(because it's Fucked Up Shit, i don't disagree with that) but that it's being universalized.

Any time someone says "these few people had a shitty experience, therefor everyone should look out/probably will/etc" it makes my eyebrow pop up.

It's actually really quite all right for people who have had extremely negative experiences with/at PAX to tell other people that they feel it is an unsafe environment, that they do not feel comfortable attending, and explain to others why they feel that way.

Which brings me here. What bugs me is that these cases are getting written about and pushed down the line through layers and layers of people who will now tell you it's some den of evil when they have no personal experience in the matter. That's really what bugs me.

Really though, i'm a bit offended at how you chose to read my post and represent what i've said here. Nowhere was i calling for anyone who had a shitty experience to shut up or phrase it in some more acceptable way. Is "i have a bunch of friends who had a totally cool experience who are in the subgroup of people who would be effected by this type of harassment" that fucked up of a statement?

I just get the feeling that "Me and everyone i know had a good time and nothing bad or weird happened"(which is actually a post i could probably dig up on one of my friends blogs if i looked) isn't a juicy story so no one wants to hear it. It's a lot like how a negative restaurant review can get massive attention, but 10 positive ones are comparatively ignored.

Whatever though i guess, i can see which way the winds blowing by how many favorites people are getting for shitting on me.

Has anybody been saying this? The whole fucking point is not supporting something run by assholes.

Check out the post i quoted. She references hearing about it, but it's generally been a thing swirling around all over the place that it's "one of the bad cons that's not safe" now. I don't have any specific links, but i definitely encountered it a couple times before this FPP. Especially when that "quit fucking going to pax" blog post was first making the rounds through social networking a few days ago.

Oh, and to all the people telling me to RTFA i read both of these posts before. This wasn't shoot from the hip commenting without reading. All the "frequently exclaimed buts" and what not address supporting them monetarily or lending them legitimacy, not so much the actual safety of the convention which hasn't even been a real topic of discussion or thing being attacked.

All i was addressing was those claims that this was a widespread universal thing and the con is unsafe, and i got freaking knackered for it.
posted by emptythought at 4:12 PM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Their detractors thought the appropriate response was to literally call for their murder and that of their loved ones.

There is literally no record of "literally" used as "figuratively."
posted by klangklangston at 4:15 PM on September 5, 2013


The question is why Penny Arcade thinks rape victims should be treated like baby starvers.

How about: because they obviously don't see it as punching down to rape victims; they see it as punching up to wowzers.

Next up: have they stopped beating their wives?
posted by Amanojaku at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Did you also think the joke was making light of slavery?"

I totally missed the slaver t-shirts on PA. Did they pull them?
posted by klangklangston at 4:27 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


In any event, the first link, about the death of satire, makes some excellent points, especially regarding the inversion of victimhood that comes with mass communication opening up to minorities. It's something that I see a lot at work, which is generally right wing loons trying to pretend they're the hurt party when they can't discriminate against, say, trans students any more.

And I think it applies in this situation fairly well, especially with the notes about how normative privilege works.
posted by klangklangston at 4:29 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Come on, they're not libertarians.
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


All i was addressing was those claims that this was a widespread universal thing and the con is unsafe, and i got freaking knackered for it.

that is absolutely not all you were doing even if it was your intent. your dismissive tone of the critiques and the broad brush you used to lump them together without engaging in this thread or with the post at all is why you got the response you did.
posted by nadawi at 4:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


At PAX last weekend I attended a panel on community management. One of the questions from the audience was about handling problematic language, and a panelist said that she had zero tolerance for using "rape" as a gaming term. All of the other panelists agreed, and the room broke out into applause and cheering. It felt good.

Then I got home, and read about this.

I am really torn. Krahulik is pretty clearly a straight-up asshole, in my opinion. On the other hand, I've been to PAX for six years now and have always found it to be seriously inclusive and uplifting. (That is my own experience of course and not anyone else's.) There is also no other large convention as affordable and open to players and indie devs, and frankly no other large one that would let people like me in under a fansite media pass.

So I 100% respect people who don't want to go to PAX or don't want to support it. I just.. am confused about what I will do now.

Also, this blog post by Ashly Burch of Hey Ash Whatcha Playin is great.
posted by jess at 5:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Justinian: "This, and kalessin's comment, are exactly what I'm talking about. We can virtually always find an interpretation which makes the joke okay. And people usually do so for people and outlets (the Onion) that they like. They don't do so for people and organizations they don't like. Our attitude affects our interpretation."

Who the target of the joke is is not incidental to the quality of the joke itself. That being said, we've done rape jokes on MeFi before, and this is much less a thread about a rape joke per se as a prolonged poor response to a rape joke and the culture surrounding that response.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The odd thing for me about the clarification post is that it really doesn't address the harassment that was directed at a whole bunch of people, almost exclusively women, many of them rape survivors, and the extent to which it was largely ignored by Penny Arcade right up until the threat against Krahulik's family (which, while clearly satirical in intent, is also a bullshit debating tactic - master's tools, master's house), and then continued to be ignored again after that.

Even the pulling of the merch, and indeed the putting of the merch onto the store in the first place, are described in terms of "debate":
In hindsight all this did was open the wound back up and bring on a whole new wave of debate.
This seems just weird. I can just about believe that someone, or rather two people (the words would be by Jerry Holkins, generally seen as the voice of reason of the two for reasons that remain slightly obscure to me), could imagine that this strip could have functioned as a "precision strike back at our detractors" - although a "precision strike" targeted at a group of people many of whom were rape survivors that basically just kept saying the word "rape" is maybe a little ill-advised regardless. But to frame this kind of abuse (trigger warnings - a slide from Courtney Stanton's data visualization of the abuse she received) as "debate"? That's a stretch. The debate really wasn't the bad part.

I would have been more impressed if the clarification had specifically said "I regretted the pulling of the merch, and the placing of the merch, but in particular the pulling of the merch because in the post explaining why it was being pulled I hinted that this had been forced upon us by a minority of vocal, largely female protestors, which apparently gave some people the idea that they should do things like register a @teamrape Twitter account and go buck wild. We shouldn't have launched the merch, but we definitely should have done a better job of explaining why we pulled it."
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:38 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


143 Fedoras, I counted.

I would like to propose the collective noun be a "Perspiration of Fedoras."


Maybe we should refer to the wearers as fedophiles.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:59 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


This, and kalessin's comment, are exactly what I'm talking about. We can virtually always find an interpretation which makes the joke okay. And people usually do so for people and outlets (the Onion) that they like. They don't do so for people and organizations they don't like. Our attitude affects our interpretation.

But not all "interpretations" are created equal. I see this response come up to a lot of media, and I think it clouds any honest discussion about an artist's intent or motivations. You can compare two different works that deal with the same subject and of course evoke all kinds of interpretations of the message there, but not all of these interpretations are going to stand up to scrutiny, regardless of ideological bent.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I get this idea that 'oh, you find a way to make The Onion and Louis CK acceptable but beat down on the poor defenceless PA guys for the same thing' except it isn't the same fucking thing. It doesn't have the same depth of thought, the same directionality. I say this as someone who wasn't impressed by but understood where they were going with the first comic. It was the same league as The Onion, not by a long shot, and thus does not deserve the same treatment or interpretation.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The difference between Tosh and Mike K is that Daniel Tosh is not trying to be the figurehead of a "family friendly" convention with many thousands of attendees.

No, the difference is that Tosh made a "joking" threat of rape, and Mike K was the recipient of a "joking" threat of murder. Mike K never threatened anybody. That is a very big difference.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mike K never threatened anybody.

Mike made apparel, for sale, that celebrated the rapists in the original strip. Aside from how tone-deaf that was to their original point, it could be seen as threatening by a lot of people.

The tweet to "literally murder" his family can be seen as threatening, too. But that was kind of the point.

(the words would be by Jerry Holkins, generally seen as the voice of reason of the two for reasons that remain slightly obscure to me)

Lack of competition.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


First they came for the fedora, and I didn't speak out because I'm not into Fred Astaire cosplay.

Then they came for the porkpie, and I said nothing because I can't do a Gene Hackman impression.

Then they came for the sombrero, and there was no one left to speak for me. Should I start wearing a fez now? As far as I know it's only time lords appropriating that so far.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


and phil fish
posted by nadawi at 7:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Posts like this are why I work in an office instead of writing or doing comedy.

Which isn't really a big deal, but I wasn't up for the... hassle/drama/whatever.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:56 PM on September 5, 2013


The aforementioned Scott Kurtz appropriated the (gaming) fez a long time ago for comedic purposes, but as nadawi mentions, "Fez" has a certain fishy smell nowadays.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:02 PM on September 5, 2013


I'm not even sure why I wandered in here. I go to the open letter article and I read

"Robert said that contrary opinions shouldn’t be listened to. This is literally the subtext of what they said."

And I just blank over the phrase "literally the subtext". Both sides are being so hyperbolic that I'm imagining a far-flung civilization where the fight goes on but the original why is lost. I go now.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:06 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Great, now I'm reduced to top hats like I'm a cut rate stage magician.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


And I just blank over the phrase "literally the subtext". Both sides are being so hyperbolic that I'm imagining a far-flung civilization where the fight goes on but the original why is lost. I go now.

Well, the original why in this case is that Christine Love is both a woman and trans, and doesn't feel safe or welcome at PAX because of things Mike Krahulik has said, but also doesn't feel like she can afford not to go to it for professional reasons. And she feels further that if he is going to start retracting previous commitments not to raise contentious issues for the good of PAX, as he appeared to have done with the Dickwolves merch, that further damages her sense of security.

Adverbs aside, that doesn't seem wholly complex.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's always newsboy caps!

My friend Larry Harnisch who writes the LA Daily Mirror blog has an ongoing series about the appearances of newsboy caps in various classic movies. So I have a special place in my heart for them, even if I don't think I can get away with wearing one. I usually go with the baseball cap (frontways round) or a beanie in not-hellfire summer time like it is in SoCal right now.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey Ash Whatcha Playin uses "gay" as an epithet over and over, and when called upon it they were pretty dismissive, so her take on this situation means very very little to me.
posted by waraw at 8:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


if he is going to start retracting previous commitments not to raise contentious issues for the good of PAX

This is exactly the kind of thing they could use a publicist or something for. Someone to tell them "don't fucking mention dickwolves or anything related to dickwolves! Just don't do it!"
posted by Justinian at 8:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey Ash Whatcha Playin uses "gay"as an epithet over and over, and when called upon it they were pretty dismissive, so her take on this situation means very very little to me.

I'm guessing that's what she means by: "We all make mistakes. Fuck knows we’ve made a lot of mistakes with Hey Ash — I still bitterly regret all of them — but we are lucky that we were educated gently but firmly, and were simultaneously encouraged to continue. Your friends, your loved ones, and people you don’t know — they are going to mess up. I am going to mess up."
posted by Amanojaku at 8:39 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


OnTheLastCastle: "Posts like this are why I work in an office instead of writing or doing comedy.

Which isn't really a big deal, but I wasn't up for the... hassle/drama/whatever.
"

As opposed to the rape threats, stalking, sexual harrassment and whatnot people who criticise PA get?

Don't get me wrong, the bullshit creators wade through to be creative with a presence online is abysmal, but this post? These criticisms? They are not the problem.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:12 PM on September 5, 2013


Wait, did I somehow manage to upset someone by saying I purposefully avoided areas that might upset people? I... what?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, did I somehow manage to upset someone by saying I purposefully avoided areas that might upset people? I... what?

I think the issue is more general statements which don't really engage with the topic at hand. For example, cribcage could have made that comment about people looking for reasons to be upset in every thread on MetaFilter, pretty much. And quite possibly has. Likewise TFB's latest derail - it has nothing to do with Penny Arcade, although I guess at least it is contributing more than when he was talking about Penny Arcade (which is to say, nothing).

So, it really has nothing to do with the topic - which means it's pretty much inevitably a derail. Which at least ties back in, I guess, because the derail is a time-honored tactic for people seeking to avoid discussing unpalatable concepts, or to prevent others from giving voice to their own concerns - for example, when Mike Krahulik said that he was not going to listen to anyone who used the word "cis".
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


OnTheLastCastle: "Wait, did I somehow manage to upset someone by saying I purposefully avoided areas that might upset people? I... what?"

I thought I was clear - the issue you seemed to raise was that this post (i.e. the criticism levelled at PA) was why you don't personally create. My point was that criticism and critique of one's work is part of creating and we've seen (on numerous occasions recently) where the nuanced and responsible posts above would out of place in the slavering vicious horde of trolls. And that any criticism, particularly of PA but at this point it is any criticism that delves into gender, race, trans issues or whatever, garners a response that cannot be in good conscience called criticism or critique.

"These posts are why I don't write or do comedy" is different to "I am afraid of offending or hurting people so I avoid creating humourous work". I mean, that's it's own kettle of fish wherein it's apparently impossible to tell the difference between something funny and something offensive so we all want 'what's brown and sticky' level jokes. But what you said did not mention anything about your fear of upsetting people.

And Jesus, wouldn't it be nice if I were doing this for fun, rather than actually being offended or upset. That would be fucking brilliant because I wouldn't be a rape victim who left a beloved hobby behind because I just couldn't take another faceless fucking dickwolf threatening me with his dick.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, the difference is that Tosh made a "joking" threat of rape, and Mike K was the recipient of a "joking" threat of murder. Mike K never threatened anybody. That is a very big difference.

See, Tosh mocked an audience member who didn't like a topical joke about rape, and made a joke about that audience member being raped. Maybe that's been forgotten. Mike Krahulik, after some people voiced their problems with a joke referencing rape, built up the rapist characters in his own joke. The original joke doesn't really matter any more, because it's become personal -- the original comic, or joke, is lost in the fray. Like Daniel Tosh, he's created an antagonistic portrayal -- an image that assaults his supposed detractors.

I don't care if the man has the intellect of a rock. Outside of a knee jerk reaction, telling people you would rape or implying you associate with their rapists is a fucking horrible move, whether you're a scorpion or you were bullied or whatever else we bring to this, metaphorically. And his long-term strategy is "I wish I'd never stepped in that," not "I fucked up."
posted by mikeh at 9:38 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, TFB, can you just realize that so many people want Krahulik to just realize that he can stop being a dick and he could easily be an ok guy? I have no idea why he or anyone thinks he is repressed or oppressed or whatever the hell people are going at.

Literally, what people are fighting for is the ability to make certain types of rape jokes. This is your last stand, where you are advocating.

Even Justinian has said the guy just needs to stfu about some stuff.
posted by mikeh at 9:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't believe I feel the need to stand up and say this but yes, even though I know the T-shirts were partly produced to celebrate freedom of expression my overarching interpretation of them was that they were an enormous fuck you to people like me who gave a shit about subtext and took the trouble to say so. In that sense I took that as both engagement and as a threat. I wouldn't be surprised if I were not alone in that interpretation given the editorials I saw then and that I see repeated now.
posted by kalessin at 9:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, that and that a Twitter user with the handle @teamrape organised a flash mob at PAX East 2011, where people with their dickwolves shirts could gather.

Apparently they gathered 15-20 people. On the plus side, that's a tiny number of people (although there were certainly people who wanted dickwolves shirts but couldn't get hold of them in time). On the down side, that's 15-20 people who looked at an appeal by a twitter account called @teamrape and thought "yeah, that seems like a good use of my con time, and a cool guy to hang out with". Which wow.

(@teamrape sprang back to life this week - at first excited and, although I haven't checked, I imagine at this point quite crestfallen.)

Certainly, the semiology of the shirt had become complicated by then - which may have contributed to Gabe's decision not to follow through on his earlier statement that he planned to wear his shirt to PAX.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a shame this man in his 30s who is highly influential will never use his position responsibly.

I guess this is my only real disagreement with what some people criticizing Krahulik . I agree that making those shirts with a rapist mascot was a terrible thing to do, and turning a deaf ear to the people who had received rape threats from his fan base was reprehensible. And no matter how charitably I interpret what Mike said in this interview, I don't see much evidence that he really gets how people could have been hurt by either of those things.

But the Penny Arcade guys have already used their influence to try to curb some of the worst parts of gamer culture. The fact that the largest gaming convention in the world doesn't allow booth babes is a pretty significant step. And if you look at the kinds of panels they have, their prominent support for stuff like the AbleGamers foundation, Mike & Jerry's willingness to speak candidly about their seeking help and medication for mental illness they've each struggled with, they've done a lot of good, progressive things.

Furthermore, I think Mike & Jerry have shown empathy for people who have been hurt or marginalized and that there is hope Mike may develop some better understanding of this issue. And if he does, he's in a position to influence a lot of people in the gaming community who desperately need more empathy and understanding for these kinds of issues. I see the Penny Arcade guys as a bridge somewhere between progressive gamers and the uglier side of gaming, and I'd hate to see that bridge get burnt.
posted by straight at 10:40 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The pattern seems to be that they only do this kind of good, though, if they already have and recognize some sort of stake in the injustices they seek then to right. In contrast if it's pointed out to them that they're possibly perpetuating the problem then the situation is consistently polarized in an extremely negative and combative way and the battleground is made an extremely hostile environment for any kind of dissent.

I grew up knowing that doing this kind of thing to what otherwise might possibly be or become a reasoned debate is a graceless way of handling what would be obvious to everyone else is a huge ball of insecurity. I don't think it's unreasonable to hold Mike and Jerry to a similar standard. Nor is it unreasonable to ask why they don't, can't or won't hold themselves to a standard of consistency.

Also if it's a human failing there are services available to the rich to manage that sort of thing. They're called PR. You let the PR people handle the tough questions and you keep your trap shut.
posted by kalessin at 10:49 PM on September 5, 2013


I feel like a refresher course is in order.

Penny Arcade make a comic strip about the ridiculous and arbitrary moralities of RPGs, especially persistent online ones, which invoke real-world horrors like rape to motivate the player but prevent the player from addressing the ultimate causes and even most proximal ones in order to solve the problem. (This is, to my mind, a fairly worthwhile criticism of morality systems in modern RPGs, even if presented somewhat inartfully.)

In response to the notion that, by invoking a clearly fantastical and extreme certain of rapine torture, they may be a) triggering people for whom the scenario is not so fantastical; b) inadvertently reducing a very real problem to a secondary punchline, they respond with a second strip about how they're not rapists.

Then -- this part is important -- in response to the growing controversy, they make T-shirts and sports pennants -- from a couple of people who have vociferously and frequently opposed organized sports as "jock stuff" -- which highlight and celebrate a heretofore unseen and barely referenced creature whose only identified purpose is rapine.

That's where team rape from: they fucking made league pennants celebrating it. If the original comic was about how horrible it would be to be that sixth, passed-over slave, every single action since then has been to glorify the most visible emblem of his continuing torture. Why? Because when they glorify that creature, people cheer.

Do you genuinely believe that if he had drawn a picture of the sixth slave extemporaneously, as he did the dickwolf, he would have gotten the cheers that he did? Do you think if he'd done so, the crowd would have recognized the victim? Or do you think they constructed a scenario in which an unfortunate person is repeatedly brutalized, and then never made mention or even have that person a name, all the while making merchandise celebrating that person's violator?

That's rape culture, right there. The dickwolf has become an emblem. Does anyone know the name of its victim? Do they? Despite the fact that more people have seen in the strip the slave than the dickwolf who is only barely mentioned, do you know who that slave is? If not, why does his rapist get a fucking sports pennant while he is, at best, the setup to a punchline? Why would the creator of both of them care more about the image of the violator than of the violated, who has never received an extemporaneous drawing, who has never been glorified or immortalized as emblematic? Why does everyone read a comic called "The Sixth.Slave" and only think about how funny the image of that slave's rapist is?

Rape culture, motherfucker, do you see it?
posted by Errant at 11:31 PM on September 5, 2013 [43 favorites]


I think Mike is a really talented artist who should basically never speak publicly about anything but video games.
posted by empath at 12:05 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ooh, Errant done and posted what I agree with. Because I think the original blowup wasn't that bad, but the reactions to the blowup (and indeed subsequent reactions to subsequent blowups) are where all the problems lie.

I had friends (male and female) who went to the local PAX here; I had friends who declared that they would have gone, but thought they couldn't out of disagreement with the PA guys and their behaviour. I appreciated, and listened to, the opinions given for the whys and why nots on both sides. I can definitely say I appreciated those discussions more than being told that if I went, or if I didn't actively shun Mike and Jerry - perhaps with an email telling them, because they'd surely not notice otherwise - that I was a bad person.

I don't think Penny Arcade is like Chik-Fil-A, actively donating money to influence the government in ways I can't condone. Their influence is smaller than that. It's the same as gamer culture as a whole - I reject a lot of it, but that doesn't mean I can't have the little bits I enjoy without feeling like that makes me Team Rape.

So go or don't go to PAX, read or don't read the strip. I don't mind being told why you've made those choices. I'd just rather not be told I have to follow your actions or be a bad person. I don't think that level of hectoring is useful, as cathartic as it may be to write.
posted by gadge emeritus at 12:37 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey Ash Whatcha Playin uses "gay" as an epithet over and over, and when called upon it they were pretty dismissive, so her take on this situation means very very little to me.

This is the first i've heard of it, and it's a bit troubling. It's honestly something i hadn't even noticed, which i guess speaks to a blind spot i may have. It's also concern inducing since HAWP seems to be pretty much universally liked and supported in all of the "people who aren't neckbeards who are at the very least fairly lefty/social justice minded and play video games" circles and sites i roll through.

But in the context of this thread it's like really? Me and several other people say something thats remotely supporting PAX and get dismissed for various reasons. Someone comes back and goes "Well Ash had a not completely negative post about PAX and PA" and that gets dismissed too seemingly without even reading it because nothing crosses a high enough bar to be worth considering as anything but a rote, in line with everything else "lol fuck those guys"

Seriously, go read that post. It's good, and it makes a good point that everyone seems to be completely dismissing when it comes to launching this huge circlejerk and linking back to the "quit fucking going to pax" blog post again.

mainly:

Some feel that boycotting PAX is the only moral option left to us. Others feel that the only correct answer is to continue to attend, and fight for a voice — that if we boycott, we’re missing essential opportunities to spread the right messages.

The second option of "be the people there who aren't dipshits and change it through osmosis" is being completely slam dunked in to the dumpster by a lot of folk. PAX sells out every year. You can vote with your dollars, but there's tons of people who want to go but can't. They're getting those dollars regardless, and this isn't strictly some "well someone else will buy it" fallacy since there's a legitimately limited amount of tickets. As it stands, the convention itself is pretty good and nearly all the content and social interactions you'll have and see there have nothing to do with PA.(in before someone links back to that "why the fuck" blog post again and points me to the bubble part)

Like it or lump it, like that post tried to shove people away from, it's the big game convention now. So big that it spawned sub-conventions in other locations. It's not some decided force of evil like walmart yet, and is still kinda in the formative stages. It hasn't even been around for ten years! The people cheering at that panel mentioned above are the force that can make this shitty or not shitty.

I'm starting to really get the feeling though, that there are some people who don't want to hear anything but straight shooting condemnation without any wavering of anything that even remotely touches PA. And those people seem to really be bunkering down in that position. And i don't think that's a good position to approach a discussion about much of anything on, unless you're saying it about freaking child abuse or something. "A convention about games started by a couple guys who made a comic, who do a few things there in the corner of something 50k+ people go to" is a bit murky of a place to make that decisive of a "cross this line at all and your an asshole and i'm sticking my fingers in my ears" stand at. It sure is getting, like gadge emritus said, like it's "side with me 100% or your part of team rape" when it comes to any conversation about this.
posted by emptythought at 1:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fuka: To the people who are supporters of Penny Arcade, Mike and Jerry, [...] I point this out: you are terrible friends.

If you aren't there explaining to him why he should be apologizing, stopping talking and trying to make a real change in his behavior, you're bad friends.
If you aren't pointing at the people who loved him, supported him and left because of his behavior, you're bad friends.
And if you aren't threatening him with a kevin smith-to-jason mewes quality shunning, you're bad friends.

[...]
Be a good friend and get him to shut up."

Hi. I'm not actually friends with Mike or Jerry. I've never even talked to them in real life. I have been a longtime PA fan and have gone to PAX since 2005. In PAX, I found an incredibly warm, welcoming, and diverse environment, and have made connections there that have changed my life for the better in immeasurable ways. I was there this past weekend, reflecting on how nice it is to be reminded of the joys of play and community even as I grow older and somewhat distant from gaming, when I heard about Mike's comments in the panel. I was floored, once again it felt like, with upset that's been building up for years and a discomfort I'd never been able to express and has taken me quite a while to work through.

I sent quite a personal and what I hoped would read as sincere email to both Mike and Jerry yesterday. I won't go into the very personal details of the email here, or the email response which I did receive from Mike.

I had actually been trying to write my thoughts down, first in a reflective/therapeutic way, then as brainstorming for a blog post to express my feelings of disappointment and mourning for the PAX that was. I think at some point I felt that whatever I wanted to say didn't need to be said to the world at large, but to Mike and Jerry themselves.

Before I sent the email, I did spent a lot of time revisiting what had happened to date, and what was being said on all sides. I wanted to look at this from multiple angles and at least try to counter my own assumptions. This is a really excellent resource for that: The Pratfall of Penny Arcade - A Timeline. As with the FAQ in that tumblr, I'm reluctant to outline my "a/s/l and place of employment" as a way of establishing any motives on my part. I'm not personally connected to PA or directly involved in the gaming industry, and I'm not sure why I even felt I had any stake in this. I'm just a fan. Any bias, blindness, or privilege that can be ascribed to me I can accept.

I'm overly ruminative, to an unhealthy degree I think. And I think in this instance, part of overcoming that for me was identifying and facing the major cognitive dissonance I was feeling. I admired the PA guys. I'd been to their panels. I think what draws (drew?) many people to them is that they can seem sincere, and kind, and empathetic. Yet they've acted in antagonistic, inflammatory, and hurtful, even harmful ways. This is hard to reconcile, and the discomfort I found was really aimed at myself. I want to show good in my actions, be inclusive, open-minded, kind, loving and empathetic, and being a fan of PAX and of PA seems directly at odds with that. Really, I need to come to terms with myself. It's this sort of sentiment I aimed at PA. I didn't do this to publicly put them down or in their place. I did it for me, so that whatever the response (or non-response), I could begin to recalibrate myself. You would think that getting over disillusionment with people you admire doesn't happen to you after childhood, but I guess not, in my case.

I'm not Mike or Jerry, so I can only draw on my own experience and perspective. I think, and maybe this is woo-woo, I don't want anyone to feel hurt or to remain in pain, if they can move towards love. Not the PA guys, not the rape survivors and critics they hurt, not trans people, not that person down the street who always seems to scowl at me as I walk to the bus each morning. But you know, this is really hard. It's something I feel like I'm aiming for, but I'm just as quick to anger, and rage, and reaction, and assholery at times. I'm neither too young nor too old, but even I can tell this is going to be a lifelong process of aiming for the ideal version of myself, in a life that is both too short yet such a stretching journey. I can't imagine what that journey must be like for anyone else.

Part of what I did say to Mike and Jerry that I feel comfortable sharing (and hopefully they would be with me doing so) is along the lines that I imagine they also want to be good people and have ideal versions of themselves, not out of line with the qualities I want for myself. That meaningful connection and growth in the response to criticism is hard, but absolutely worth it. And, paraphrased, that I would hope one day they can move closer to being the people that I could reconcile with the values I want to see in the world, without compromising their artistic integrity. Not for others, but for themselves. I did offer suggestions they could look at as to where they could get started. And I tried to treat them, like Fuka said, as a friend, to whom I would offer the same talk in a similar situation, and who might have that same talk with me.

Mike posted this today. When I contacted him to thank him, he mentioned that my mail helped him. To what extent in a sea of other possible emails of all different tacks and tones, I don't know. I like to think that he's maybe sitting with his discomfort too, and really trying to figure out what he wants to do about it and how to get there. That's a process, and sometimes a very long one.

I could be cynical about what was said. I don't fault others for being so after all the hurt and anger. But the choice I'll make for myself at this time is to accept his words, imperfect as they are. We're all vulnerable; I presented myself as much to PA and I would like to think that I can accept vulnerability as presented in return. And that I can be self-aware enough to set my own boundaries as to what I want from PA and how I perceive them. Mainly, I want to point my compass towards love, and guide my actions that way. I completely understand that others may not and cannot feel the same, and will have to govern themselves accordingly.

Incidentally, before Mike's post this morning, I reviewed the email conversation. (Overly ruminant!). I wanted to compare against Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I haven't read but which Wikipedia appears to tell me I got most right on. Not that I want to be manipulative; I really do feel like this is the way I want to engage people, even as we disagree. But wow, that's really neat.

This is so very long, and I'm sorry. I wish Mike the best of luck on his journey, as hard as it can and will be. Hell, I wish myself luck in this. I hope other people can find their peace as according to their values.
posted by orbit-3 at 1:34 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted, let's try to make this go better. As usual, metacommentary belongs elsewhere.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:26 AM on September 6, 2013


Thank you, orbit-3 for doing the work. I personally found a lot of comfort in what Gabe articulated in his "Some Clarification" post. I think overall that post was a lot better than anything we've seen before.

On the other hand, I've seen him do this kind of thing before - seem to get it and then be an outrageous asshole about it in the near future, so I guess we'll see.
posted by kalessin at 7:58 AM on September 6, 2013


I also want to clarify on what I see "a gigantic fuck you" (my words) as not just engagement as a threat. Also I apologize in advance if this infringes on jessamyn's boundary - I don't know where to look to get an encyclopedic knowledge of what we've discussed before. I broke this up into a separate comment in case it does cross that line and needs to be deleted.

But the reason I see "a gigantic fuck you" as a threat is that as a victim of constant bullying as a kid (over gender issues, (dis)ability issues, race issues, nerdiness issues, etc.), I know that the gigantic fuck you as expressed as I have seen Gabe express it is very dismissive of my importance and experience and perspective and is precisely one step away from the kind of bullying where no holds are barred, you know you, the bullying victim, are going to lose and it's really a dice throw whether you'll see your brains dashed all over the porcelain fixtures in the bathroom a la Ender's Game. That gigantic fuck you is almost always a prelude to violence. Which is why, for instance, even a 15 - 20 person dickwolves flashmob is so blood chilling for people like me.

And I posit, for people like Gabe, a victim of bullying as a child himself. This is one of the reasons it's so damned disturbing to see that gigantic fuck you COME from Gabe.

The difference is, now he's got a posse. And I don't. Not at PAX. Which is why going to PAX is for me now not possible. Because I don't have a career that depends on it (so I don't have to be there) and I'm not stupid. I won't knowingly put myself in directly harm's way and within physical reach for potentially enjoying the possibly physical penalty for crossing Gabe's posse.

This is, incidentally, along the same spectrum, but nowhere near as scary to me, as what victims of much more violent abuse also experience in these situations. This is why "rape culture" is for me a very personal and very real concept. It's not just a nebulous phrase that has no concrete meaning in my life. It is a descriptor for a very real, very scary, very disturbing pattern and slide down a slippery slope that ends in me beaten up and weeping in a dumpster or an alley or maybe just mercifully dead. Or, worse, the same experience for one of my friends or loved ones or even a stranger.

Imagine for a moment what it's like as a victim of abuse to find that your only connection with a stranger is an experience like that. And then tell me rape culture is in my imagination.
posted by kalessin at 7:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to really get the feeling though, that there are some people who don't want to hear anything but straight shooting condemnation without any wavering of anything that even remotely touches PA. And those people seem to really be bunkering down in that position. And i don't think that's a good position to approach a discussion about much of anything on, unless you're saying it about freaking child abuse or something. "A convention about games started by a couple guys who made a comic, who do a few things there in the corner of something 50k+ people go to" is a bit murky of a place to make that decisive of a "cross this line at all and your an asshole and i'm sticking my fingers in my ears" stand at. It sure is getting, like gadge emritus said, like it's "side with me 100% or your part of team rape" when it comes to any conversation about this.

I really don't care who attends the conventions or reads the comic. I'll click through to it myself, if a trusted source sends a good recommendation.

Apologia about team rape and the PA authors' actions that encouraged team rape to harass women in the community the authors were attempting to build is another matter. I'm not going to picket the convention or DOS their website. I will remind people each time that Mike sticks his foot in his mouth, that he was wrong to pose it as a freedom of speech issue, and wrong to let the dickwolf become a mascot for anti-feminist harassment.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:00 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


emptythought, I'll respond to what you asked me to respond to here, but I'm really not interested in creating an internet pissing match, so if you'd like to continue the conversation, please MeMail me and I'd be happy to discuss further.

What relevance does this line even have to what i actually said? other than, as someone else put how i said, slagging on me... what does this actually have to do with my statements?

Earnest question: Why else would you feel the need to acknowledge the gender of you or your friends? I'm having trouble imagining any other reason that you would point out that some of your friends who enjoyed PAX were women, and further specify that women actually make up "a significant portion" of the group -- "probably about half" of ten people -- unless you believe that their gender lends them or you an increased air of legitimacy. Why else would it be relevant to note that at least at least a handful of women support your position? At least a handful of women support my position, too, insofar as I thought it was quite disrespectful for you to wave away others' concerns by using "Tumblr" as shorthand for "does not activate my personal outrage meter, and thus is not a Real Problem." It's almost like different people believe different things for different reasons, including reasons we might personally feel are unlikely, invalid, or even inconceivable.

"Well, my friends are [x], and they don't have a problem with [xy]" is a textbook example of appropriating another group's experience to justify your own ends, i.e. "some of my best friends are women," and I really don't see how either of those phrases are materially different from the otherwise rather left-field assertion that you "have a bunch of friends who had a totally cool experience who are in the subgroup of people who would be effected by this type of harassment."

It's disingenuous for you to insist that you received the response you did "simply because [you] said that many people have a perfectly fine experience at PAX," as that's very clearly not the case. No one has said that people are not allowed to have a good time at PAX or enjoy reading PA, so it's a little weird for you to act like speaking truth to those (imaginary) folks was your main impetus, but I digress. It's worth noting that "Tumblr" and "Tumblr social justice warrior/SJW" have morphed into the web-savvy leftist equivalent to "politically correct." It's an abbreviation of "there are more important things to worry about, and I am certain of this because I don't find it upsetting in the least," and it scans like nothing more than a request to dial back the parameters of the conversation to whatever degree would allow you to feel comfortable deciding a reasonable objection could conceivably be made.

It's bad form to declare that other people are engaging in "turn the outrage up to 11 tumblr bullshit" because they take a given issue -- in this case, only the most recent entry in a long series of insults and slights -- much more seriously than we've chosen to, particularly when the chances of our being personally affected by that issue are negligible at best. The whole "I don't care, why do you care?" thing gets spattered all over the place in any thread that dares to examine a specific instance as it relates to a consistent pattern of disrespect aimed at any marginalized group, whether it's here, 'Teach Naked,' or the Chelsea Manning thread. It redirects the flow of conversation back to the unaffected group, and that underlying assertion is really the crux of the myriad issues with PA/PAX: it doesn't hurt me or mine, so it doesn't/shouldn't/can't hurt you or yours, at least not to the degree you claim it does.

One of the most painful lessons a self-proclaimed ally can learn is that our carefully gathered progressive bona fides mean absolutely nothing in discussions about social justice, particularly when it comes to discussing mistakes that are made, often repeatedly, by people and organizations we have long considered to be fellow proponents of equality, safety, and inclusiveness. It's especially hard to acknowledge that we mean well, but occasionally step in it big time and find ourselves passionately defending the side that just so happens to maximize our own comfort and unexamined privileges (!).

I understand being miffed when someone uses language we think should be reserved for Real Bad Guys for us instead, but if you are not a member of any group that has been insulted, dismissed, or derided by PA or at PAX, if you have yet to receive an onslaught of abuse for daring to speak up about their undeniably problematic aspects, and if you were not present for the situation that inspired the second link in the FPP, I'd recommend taking a step back before you get comfortable objecting to sentiments held by people you've decided have "no personal experience in the matter." I'd also recommend decoupling "people who disagree with me/my opinion got some favorites on MetaFilter.com" from "people are shitting on me and turning to the audience for applause."

And finally, I don't participate in social media or social networking at all, so I'll take your word for it that those sites are overflowing with damnably ignorant and tilde-flecked tirades about how everyone must reject PAX/PA immediately or risk being called out as rape apologists, but the only person who said "Pax is a hive of scum and villainy and unsafe" here is you. Twice.
posted by divined by radio at 10:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


The second option of "be the people there who aren't dipshits and change it through osmosis" is being completely slam dunked in to the dumpster by a lot of folk.

Well, I know it is by me. Because I'm not the person lining my pockets by virtue of the event, the repeatedly crappy person is. You can say that makes me crassly greedy because I'm not willing to pay - via admission dollars or eyeballs for advertisers - for the privilege of trying to undo the rot that starts from the head. But I have finite time and money and would rather use them to make progress than just try to sweep back a tide.

And that's the bigger reason why I don't have any interest in helping to be the light in the darkness with regards to PA/PAX. A hundred of us could band together and go be the change we want to see in the PAX and we're still not going to overcome what happens when the top of the pile sends a repeated message to the problem children that they are good, right, and untouchable.

I'm glad PA does good and I admire Child's Play. Their no-booth-babe policy is a nice one and I like the message that sends. But gaming has a huge problem and this inconsistent crappyness from folks at the top hurts progress. The PA team may mean well and eventually come around to the right side of things, but what do you think the WOO DICKWOLVES folks take away from a "we shouldn't have pulled the merch" and subsequent clarification?

I think they are overall emboldened. Maybe less so than if there'd been no subsequent follow-up. Maybe more emboldened with vicious anger because they just think Those People Made Game Apologize, but they know - having heard it from his mouth spontaneously - that he's really with them.

Anyone who doesn't feel that way is welcome to go to PAX. You're right that the tickets will sell no matter what. But so long as Mike's mouth is READY-FIRE-AIM he's going to be using the authority people assign him to be a problem, and it's a problem that can't be offset simply by showing up and not being shitty. You could walk the floor and approach people every moment of the day and you can't approach his influence.

So given that, why wouldn't you play the zero-sum-game that is your own personal money and time such that you're encouraging other non-problematic events? As you say, It's not some decided force of evil like walmart yet, and is still kinda in the formative stages. It hasn't even been around for ten years! So the sooner there's a push for other choices the sooner that non-problematic stuff has a chance to instead become ascendant.
posted by phearlez at 10:37 AM on September 6, 2013


In response to the notion that, by invoking a clearly fantastical and extreme certain of rapine torture, they may be a) triggering people for whom the scenario is not so fantastical; b) inadvertently reducing a very real problem to a secondary punchline, they respond with a second strip about how they're not rapists.

This is innaccurate. They responded with a strip saying "we hate rapers, and all the rapes they do. Seriously, though, rapists are the worst." The tone was somewhat eye-rolly regarding the possibility that someone might think their strip promoted rape, but it is simply not true to say the strip was about "how they're not rapists." That turns this into another round of "it's not who you are, it's what you say," which doesn't apply.

In response to the notion that, by invoking a clearly fantastical and extreme certain of rapine torture, they may be a) triggering people for whom the scenario is not so fantastical; b) inadvertently reducing a very real problem to a secondary punchline

It's worth noting here that the Shakesville column about the strip said "But unlike Gabe killing Tycho so he doesn't have to share a video game, a slave being raped is a real thing that happens in the world every day." This is not true, though. If you're talking about the crime in general terms, then people killing each other over video games happens all-too-often. If you're talking specifics, no one has ever been raped by a dickwolf. It's this sort of messiness---that the rules seem to change when talking about Ash or Louis CK, for example--- that makes it seem like people are looking for a reason to start a fight with PA. When a person is being attacked for doing something lots of other people are praised for, they are reasonable to surmise that the attack is not for the stated reason.

Why else would you feel the need to acknowledge the gender of you or your friends? I'm having trouble imagining any other reason that you would point out that some of your friends who enjoyed PAX were women, and further specify that women actually make up "a significant portion" of the group -- "probably about half" of ten people -- unless you believe that their gender lends them or you an increased air of legitimacy.

Becasue the previous statement had been that PAX was an unsafe space where the harrassment of women was encouraged. If the statement had been "a woman was harassed at PAX", then "I know a lot of women who weren't" would be irrelevant and weird to bring up. But when the statement is "women are harassed at PAX", then what proportion of women becomes a significant question. It's standard political hackery---Rush Limbaugh sees a white kid being beat up on the bus and starts ranting about "In Obama's America, white kids get beat up on buses"---using a single incident as a synecdoche and then getting huffy when someone suggests it's not broadly representative.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's this sort of messiness---that the rules seem to change when talking about Ash or Louis CK, for example

For some reason you are leaving out the understanding that the grey levels of CONTEXT are important in determining the rules. I believe you have heard about context from a number of authors, including me, but you seem to indicate that to you, context does not matter.

In this, I cannot find foundation or grounds for finding, cooperating on or building a bridge with you. If you are intent on ignoring context in the evaluation of relative merit, I apologize but I will not engage further with you.
posted by kalessin at 10:46 AM on September 6, 2013


Even Justinian has said the guy just needs to stfu about some stuff.

EVEN ME!
posted by Justinian at 10:47 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you're talking about the crime in general terms, then people killing each other over video games happens all-too-often.

Oh, FFS. Something like 250k-300k actual and attempted rapes or sexual assaults reported every year, and that's a statistic that's both wildly underreported (to the tune of 50%+) and supposedly improving. I doubt there's been even a tenth of that number murdered over video games in their entire history. There is a 1-in-6 chance that someone you know has been the victim of an attempted or actual rape or sexual assault, and if you know someone in their twenties it's a 1-in-4 chance.

Talk about messing with statistics and definitions.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Becasue the previous statement had been that PAX was an unsafe space where the harrassment of women was encouraged. If the statement had been "a woman was harassed at PAX", then "I know a lot of women who weren't" would be irrelevant and weird to bring up. But when the statement is "women are harassed at PAX", then what proportion of women becomes a significant question.

No it wasn't. Here's the first appearance of the word 'safe':

It’s sad, because when PAX first showed up, it felt safer than a lot of other gaming cons. No booth babes. Less antagonism towards women. I went to PAX east two years ago (after the dickwolves incident, but after the merch was pulled) and I was thinking of going again this year as a way to meet up with some east coast friends. I’m reconsidering it now. Other cons have gotten better about creating a safe environment and PAX, if anything, seems determined to get worse.

When someone says they personally feel like things are getting worse for XYZ reasons then you're welcome to respectfully engage about whether XYZ is true or what other alternative explanations there may be for it. Saying "these other people don't feel that way" is a de-ligitimization of that perspective.
posted by phearlez at 11:02 AM on September 6, 2013


For those who are hard of emotional hearing/sympathy and do not see that my comment about gigantic fuck yous as coming from the heart and being marginally triggering and difficult for me to write, I would like to say that this discussion is not, for me, a simple one with easy points and comparisons to make. It is not a simple one of point, counterpoint and quiet contemplation.

As with many subjects that I have a deep emotional, personal stake in, that cut close to a set of physical, an emotional traumas that I experienced as a child, there is part of me inside that experiences this discussion as a gibbering, crying, socio-/psychopathic overstimulated and undercomforted lunatic just begging for me to stop engaging, stop talking, just go and leave and heal up so I get to stop thinking about it. It's tempting because trying to be articulate about something that can spook me so bad is very tiring.

It is a measure of my loyalty to this topic as well as my respect for and hopes for Metafilter as a whole that I continue to contribute or participate in any degree. And it is a strong measure of the respect for the moderators and the community as a whole that I have that I have kept my language and emotional pitch in my comments as reserved as I have.

You can bet that if I find myself actually triggered or if I find that I cannot politely respect those boundaries, I have a therapist for that. I will take my panicked rage somewhere else and likely not return to this discussion. So I'm not posting this as anything like a flouncing. But I do want to note that the dissent I see for the idea that we should treat survivors kindly by not making rape jokes along with the really obsessive search for detail about when it is ever or will it be acceptable to make rape jokes is fundamentally disrespectful and extremely difficult for me to reconcile, both with my own emotional response and with my general respect for Mefites in general as well as for the community at large.

Finally, I know that I am actually a pretty light victim of the kind of dynamics that rape culture sets up within our culture to ostracize and actively harm victims of bullying, rape and other forms of abuse. I imagine that this tension that other would-be posters who are also survivors may also be experiencing might be preventing them from participating in the discussion.
posted by kalessin at 11:06 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


tehjoel: "One externality of getting older is occasionally taking a bullet to the things you once loved. Penny Arcade, Orson Scott Card and Dan Simmons are recent, personal examples. I sometimes wish I didn't know what I did about them."

Mkay, what did Simmons do?
posted by Samizdata at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2013


It's this sort of messiness---that the rules seem to change when talking about Ash or Louis CK, for example--- that makes it seem like people are looking for a reason to start a fight with PA.

Huh? People have criticized Louis CK. Plenty of people in this discussion have also stated that the original strip wasn't that bad, but the response to criticism was.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


jbickers: "It's very interesting to me that we had a full-on love-fest the other day for The Onion, a comedy outlet that routinely does stuff like this, which IMO makes the dickwolves strip look incredibly tame."

Well, we may make jokes here about a lot of stuff, but none of us have deadlines and fans expecting a constant stream of content.

Satire+deadlines+fanbase wanting constant new content = some content that hurts people.
posted by Samizdata at 11:19 AM on September 6, 2013


"EVEN ME!"

Uh, when the guy who rewrote all of Latin jurisprudence tells you something is over the line, you listen.

Unless you're the black plague.
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 AM on September 6, 2013


Samizdata: I won't editorialize because, perhaps my opinion of this piece is just too narrow, but suffice to say I wasn't super-thrilled with it... October 2012 Message from Dan
posted by tehjoel at 11:26 AM on September 6, 2013


It's this sort of messiness---that the rules seem to change when talking about Ash or Louis CK, for example--- that makes it seem like people are looking for a reason to start a fight with PA.

Let's be absolutely clear about where I'm coming from. I have been reading PA since 2000, when I discovered it in college. I have looked up to those two for years, and after my best friend killed himself, I took a lot of solace in going back through their archives and seeing the way they had turned their own best-friendship into a lasting and fulfilling career. Before I changed jobs last year, I worked in the game industry in Seattle for ten years, and many of my friends still do. Before this year, I had been to every single PAX in Seattle, starting with the very first one. I used to have prints of my favorite PA strips up on the walls of my apartment. I'm in an episode of their reality show. If I'm not the definition of a core fan, I honestly don't have any idea who qualifies.

Not only do I have no reason to pick a fight with PA, seeing them fuck up like this breaks my heart. Those guys have been my guys, for years and years. This is personal to me, because this is my culture, and those guys are my peers and frequently my spokespeople, and PAX was, for a long time, the immutable fixture on my calendar. People don't call me on Labor Day weekend, because they know where I am, or at least where I'm supposed to be.

But the people they're fucking with right now are my friends, lovers, family, peers. They're not fucking with some corporate monolith cynically manipulating the industry. They're not fucking with the monstrous decay of free speech. They're fucking with us. I've talked before about being there when Mike started drawing the dickwolf, but what I haven't mentioned is that my ex-girlfriend, a rape survivor, was sitting next to me. It didn't trigger her, but we both stared at each other and said, what the actual fuck. Because that sneer, that cheer, those were aimed at her and people like her, and people like me. Try to imagine that for a minute, that your heroes are taking aim at your girlfriend because she thought their joke was in poor taste and ill-executed. She goes to a panel to watch her favorite web cartoonists draw her favorite webcomic, and finds herself in a room where a thousand idiots cheer the image of a rapist monster with multiple dicks for multiple violations, drawn specifically to tell people like her to go fuck themselves. Can you imagine what that might feel like?

I'm not picking a fight with them. They keep picking a fight with me and my friends, and for no other reason than Mike still feels like he's a bullied little kid who needs to hit. He has to grow up. It's not on us. It's on him.
posted by Errant at 11:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "Great, now I'm reduced to top hats like I'm a cut rate stage magician."

It's all about the berets, baby! Military and OH SO EURO too!
posted by Samizdata at 11:54 AM on September 6, 2013


Mkay, I am going to put this out there and y'all can do what you want with it.

People do learn and change.

I will say, at one point in my life, I was trans-ist and alternative lifestyle-ist. (not sure of the right word). Not in a hater or violent way, but in a mocking way.

I have met people and had experiences in my life that have made me evaluate my positions and even myself.

For me, it took probably around a quarter century, truthfully.

My positions have changed and I accept that. I am now happier with myself than I have been. My new outlook on things have led me to experiences I treasure and people that I am lucky to have met.

Maybe, just maybe, we accept people can be idiots in a lot of ways but that they are waiting for the experiences to happen to make them change?

Barring that, I am recruiting a posse for my asshole days.
posted by Samizdata at 12:05 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Samizdata, we absolutely can, but I'm not sticking my neck out for another beating in case it turns out that Gabe and the Team Dickwolves only have blood on their minds. Who do we nominate to test those waters?
posted by kalessin at 12:09 PM on September 6, 2013


kalessin: "Samizdata, we absolutely can, but I'm not sticking my neck out for another beating in case it turns out that Gabe and the Team Dickwolves only have blood on their minds. Who do we nominate to test those waters?"

Fuck it. I suppose I can take one for the team.
posted by Samizdata at 12:47 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about this last night, and I was wondering if it might have something to do with the way that the Penny Arcade community existed for however many years before Twitter. I was never a part of it, but it was an insular forum community where the strip runners were the leaders, and they had a cult of personality built up around them.

In a forum or BBS environment, if you say something that's offensive (unless it's directly offensive to your core group) then it's unlikely to leak outside. If a small faction of your forum members are offended, then they're probably going to be shouted down by the majority and you have the freedom to ban them otherwise.

When you move to Twitter, which is much more like a real conversation out in public space, then if you say something offensive, you have to answer for it. The urge in a forum culture (especially where you're the moderator) is to insult, deride and shout down the opposition. Anyone who's spent a significant amount of time on a forum can probably agree that's common way to deal with dissent.

Trying to do that on Twitter is a nose-dive strategy. Any group with any sort of community presence (and women's and trans' rights groups certainly have this) is going to be able to match you word for word, and apart from that, there is no boundary to the conversation. Your exchange on Twitter can be Storified and embedded across blogs, Facebook pages, and other forums.

In both of these cases it seems like Krahulik is dealing with this situation like he's still on some closed-door forum that doesn't have open boundaries to the general web.
posted by codacorolla at 1:01 PM on September 6, 2013


Here's an anecdote that I think is relevant to the question of whether it's time to write off the Penny Arcade guys.

MC Frontalot writes an article in which he talks about his friendship with Mike & Jerry, his intention to continue playing at PAX, while laying out his perspective on what they've done wrong an why it was wrong.

In the comments, a guy claiming to have yelled out "bring them back" when Mike spoke about pulling the merchandise from their store writes:

That was absolutely beautiful, and actually changed my mind about the Dickwolf shirts.
Internet confession: I was the one who yelled "bring them back". I didn't do it because I hate feminists. I didn't do it because I hate women. I did it because I felt like those shirts were a justified "fuck you" to a section of humans that were rallying, unnecessarily, against a good joke. I didn't know how wrong I was until right now.
Thanks for helping me straighten that out in my head.

posted by straight at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Thanks straight. That's really good stuff. And it was cheery for me to read that MC Frontalot gets part of my experience. It's good to hear validation that MC Frontalot not only gets it but also understand that his position is one of privilege. That that privilege informs his perspective and enables his ability to find and focus on the humor in the comedy.

The thing that bothers me (not about MC Frontalot's piece but about my wider experience of this whole controversy) is that I am actually an avid video gamer. I have played a lot of useless, amoral-in-toto sidequests and I get the mechanic of why humor about the perpetually unrescued NPC is funny. But it's not enough that I'm a gamer and it's not funny enough to overcome my objections to the other content in the joke.

And PAX and PA (to some extent) is all about inclusivity except when it's not. And to me, that notness line keeps getting drawn just before I get in the in-group, mostly because I have the stubbornness to not cave and actually speak up when I experience something wrong or I can see something wrong coming.

So I get it with both barrels. Not only do I get to be traumatized and to vicariously experience loved ones' trauma, but I also get to be excluded from my own avid gaming community. By the folks who don't get it. And sometimes that's really a lot to bear. I'll pull that quote and quit writing about it because I think MC Frontalot does a better job. Note also I'm not a survivor of rape, just beatings and bullyings. I'm not trying to steal anyone's thundering suffering, just to sympathize.

MC Frontalot talks about that too:
But just as surely, there were readers who understood the joke thoroughly and still felt discomfort – or much worse. It is a complicated thing to grasp without direct experience, that for those rape survivors who still suffer PTSD, just reading the second panel might produce a genuine injury.
posted by kalessin at 1:50 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't really feel right responding to this in private when you're essentially publicly calling me out. You don't have to respond to me again, but i really just want to take my piece i started writing as a PM and post it. I'll give it a rest after that though, and i don't expect you to respond either DBR

Earnest question: Why else would you feel the need to acknowledge the gender of you or your friends? I'm having trouble imagining any other reason that you would point out that some of your friends who enjoyed PAX were women, and further specify that women actually make up "a significant portion" of the group -- "probably about half" of ten people -- unless you believe that their gender lends them or you an increased air of legitimacy.

Because i felt like i was in a catch-22. If i state my opinion then why the fuck does my opinion matter? I'm not in any of the groups that have felt harassed there. And yet i have quite a few friends who don't go on MeFi, but were voicing this and previous years about PAX/this entire debacle online and off. I basically wanted to state "there are people out there, not hypothetical people, not people i'm making up just to support some bizarre argument who disagree with the tidal wave of hatred that's going on here specifically in relation to pax, and shaming anyone who goes/saying they're just using weak excuses to justify it"

So yes, i think that i have no legitimacy because my personal opinion doesn't matter in this situation since i'm a guy. The best thing i can do is shut down the guys i see being assholes to my friends or random women at shit like this.

It just bugged me that the drum beat had grown to such a roar that everyone was passing around that "why the fuck are you still going to pax" blog post and high fiving eachother.

It's bad form to declare that other people are engaging in "turn the outrage up to 11 tumblr bullshit" because they take a given issue -- in this case, only the most recent entry in a long series of insults and slights -- much more seriously than we've chosen to

I think a lot of people are misinterpreting the meaning i was trying to convey with this, possibly out of a lack of familiarity with how discussions can flow back and forth on that site. This is a legitimate concern and not what i was hoping to convey.

My issue here was that i can't escape the feeling(mostly outside of MeFi, honestly, but we were talking about the general reaction to this) that a lot of people are simply hopping on the bandwagon after reading two paragraphs of story about what's happened and reposting stuff about how PA and PAX are horrible without even knowing more than a few lines of text about the situation. If you or anyone else wants to read that as overly dismissive, go ahead i guess. But i think that there's some serious dismissiveness and kneejerkery going on across the fence on this. That, is really what i was getting at with those lines about it being a tumblr-esque reaction. I never say anything that at least should scan as a reference to political correctness as anything but sarcasm.

It's worth noting that "Tumblr" and "Tumblr social justice warrior/SJW" have morphed into the web-savvy leftist equivalent to "politically correct." It's an abbreviation of "there are more important things to worry about, and I am certain of this because I don't find it upsetting in the least," and it scans like nothing more than a request to dial back the parameters of the conversation to whatever degree would allow you to feel comfortable deciding a reasonable objection could conceivably be made.

Which is how i ended up here, where and when did i say i expected people to reframe or dial back the conversation? I'm not trying to get overly prescriptive here and go "see i didn't say those exact words", i just don't even see where i implied that unless you're getting at some sort of "well saying this is implicitly that" territory. I outlined the reasons i was comparing this to the type of behavior i saw on tumblr when i was very active there for a reason. The general SHARE IF U AGREE mentality of picking up opinions about something and running with them without much consideration because "hey that person i agree with/like is shitting on this thing it must suck!"

I also never said i didn't think this was an important issue, as horseshit behavior at and by the operators of the biggest gaming convention says and means a lot to the perception of and realities of gaming as a community in general.

It redirects the flow of conversation back to the unaffected group, and that underlying assertion is really the crux of the myriad issues with PA/PAX: it doesn't hurt me or mine, so it doesn't/shouldn't/can't hurt you or yours, at least not to the degree you claim it does.

And i just couldn't see a way of framing my point that wouldn't set off this fire alarm for some people. Does that mean it's a shit point? i'm not sure, i have to sit down and think about that more. The reverse of this that "this affects me, so everyone like me should be afraid of it affecting them to the same degree" always seemed like an equally fallacious argument however, which was the crux of my point and my post. It's the sort of logic like a product recall. If one persons laptop bursts in to flames and their blog post gets a ton of attention about it, it doesn't mean that all the identical laptops out there are now goign to burst in to flames and burn peoples houses down. And i see a lot of that if>then connection happening out there around this issue right now. Calling out that, perceived by me(and some of my friends! which is why i brought that up!) hyperbole is what's really getting me smacked here. If that's a shit point, or lots of people feel i shouldn't be bringing that up because it's too similar to the "sit down and shut up" they get from the type of people who shitpost on reddit, then the whole thing falls apart... and i don't really know what to say.

THAT SAID, i like your post a lot. It really made me sit down and think about how i approach and enter these conversations. I pretty much came in here to air grievances that no one on MeFi had yet even brought up or challenged(which is freaking stupid, but i irritatingly even to myself saw the thread inevitably going down that road) and seem to have in general phrased and framed my opinions about this in a way that set off a lot of peoples asshole alarms.

It still bugs me that a lot of people would look at my post and go "oh look, he's framing this remotely like an asshole lets assume he's an asshole and attack what he's doing as if it's typical by the numbers assholery" like how people addressed me even mentioning having talked to several lady friends about this.

One of the most frustrating, long term problems in my entire life is being misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's not that it happens to me every day or constantly, but it happens often enough that it's always a painful thorn in my side. This is not the first, or i'm sure the last time that i'll be standing somewhere going "dammit, that's not what i meant at all. i'm not even sure if we disagree in the way you think we do".

I was going to respond to other stuff in this thread, but i really think i'm just going to hang it up now unless someone responds to me and wants some kind of constructive response to a question they pose.
posted by emptythought at 2:02 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


It still bugs me that a lot of people would look at my post and go "oh look, he's framing this remotely like an asshole lets assume he's an asshole and attack what he's doing as if it's typical by the numbers assholery" like how people addressed me even mentioning having talked to several lady friends about this.

One of the most frustrating, long term problems in my entire life is being misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's not that it happens to me every day or constantly, but it happens often enough that it's always a painful thorn in my side. This is not the first, or i'm sure the last time that i'll be standing somewhere going "dammit, that's not what i meant at all. i'm not even sure if we disagree in the way you think we do".


Everyone is doing this to each other in this thread. It's only lately that it seems like we're really reading and listening to the messages we are sending back and forth. You know on the one hand I'm sorry it took so long and on the other I'm unsurprised and on the third I also feel a little bit like "why bother?" But the answer is because we may find a way to build bridges, get past the initial resistance to real understanding and communication and make some gold out of the shit.

That's why I always try to be in it for the extremely long haul, despite discomfort. Because it's often worth it.

Thank you for thinking a lot of it through and trying to come out of it to the other side. I really appreciate it.
posted by kalessin at 2:24 PM on September 6, 2013


And i just couldn't see a way of framing my point that wouldn't set off this fire alarm for some people. Does that mean it's a shit point? i'm not sure, i have to sit down and think about that more.

Yeah, pretty much any time someone is saying "something bad/scary/unsettling happened to me," it is a really, really bad time to say "But it didn't happen to me/my friends/other people!" It doesn't make it feel any better to be the person it happened to - very much the opposite - and it doesn't do anything to contextualize the experience, especially in cases where it's of a type that is chronically underreported and diminished.

Sure, most people have had good experiences at PAX. That doesn't mean there aren't systemic problems that could stand a thorough examination, and it doesn't mean there isn't risk for some people, even if there's no risk for you personally. And especially since there's little or no risk for you personally, you're not a particularly good person to try to evaluate that risk on behalf of everyone else.

That said, I do appreciate your sincere and thoughtful engagement. It's frustrating to have people respond to things you didn't intend to say, and maybe didn't actually say, just because you're saying things that closely resemble what lots and lots of other people have said in the past.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


My issue here was that i can't escape the feeling(mostly outside of MeFi, honestly, but we were talking about the general reactions) that a lot of people are simply hopping on the bandwagon after reading two paragraphs of story about what's happened and reposting stuff about how PA and PAX are horrible without even knowing more than a few lines of text about the situation.

I get this - feelings are feelings, and they are valid as feelings. In the absence of meaningful data on what a person might understand about a situation, though, all one really has to go on is how accurate individual reports are. I have seen people, here and elsewhere, misreading - I feel - various parts of the historical record, whether through ignorance or malice.Mike Krahulik himself is saying that he has apologized before, and may well feel that he has, but in the absence of supplementary evidence it is hard to know when he feels this happened - and what form the apology took, and to whom.

Misremembering happens, and it happens from all sides of the argunent. Our feelings may encourage us to prioritize the visibility of some of those occurrences over others, and that is something I think it is worth keeping in mind when we look at the evidence.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2013


"Yeah, pretty much any time someone is saying "something bad/scary/unsettling happened to me," it is a really, really bad time to say "But it didn't happen to me/my friends/other people!""

"Aw, man, my mom's got cancer."
"Well, I know plenty of other people, some of them moms, and none of them have cancer."
posted by klangklangston at 6:29 PM on September 6, 2013


Someone comes back and goes "Well Ash had a not completely negative post about PAX and PA" and that gets dismissed too seemingly without even reading it because nothing crosses a high enough bar to be worth considering as anything but a rote, in line with everything else "lol fuck those guys"

I did read Ash's post, before I commented. And yes, I'm glad she makes references to past mistakes, tho I wish she weren't vague about what they were. I had this exchange with them a few years ago about it, which ended with Ash saying "Show clearly wasn't for you, then. I mean, we could pick on black guys if you'd prefer." Yeah, no
posted by waraw at 7:40 PM on September 6, 2013


Another thing that occurred to me.

Let me start by remarking that I totally understand this as a personal feeling:
feeling(mostly outside of MeFi, honestly, but we were talking about the general reactions) that a lot of people are simply hopping on the bandwagon after reading two paragraphs of story about what's happened and reposting stuff about how PA and PAX are horrible without even knowing more than a few lines of text about the situation.

But this is not a charitable interpretation of other people's experiences and participation. So if you can't escape that feeling, the code here is that you should probably take a break until you can. Or find some other way of getting through that feeling to the point where you can speak constructively and get beyond it.

Honestly when we come to discussions where there are arguments and pitched feelings I think it feels a lot like this for almost all of us. I certainly get to feeling like that when it seems like I'm going around in circles explaining and re-explaining and explaining again the same fundamental points I thought I made 5 comments ago.

I think part of assuming good intent is also assuming that other people are as frustrated as you and that other people have put as much into the conversation, heart and soul as you have.
posted by kalessin at 10:22 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine posted some of her thoughts about a possible boycott of PAX here. In particular: if you want a boycott, it has to be for a specific, achievable goal, and if you want to kill PAX be *very* careful about what might replace it. For all that Krahulik is kind of a dick, PAX itself is a huge improvement on industry shows of the distant and not-very-distant-at-all past.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:21 PM on September 7, 2013


(er, I hope that's not a bad linking - please delete it if it is. She states it better than I can and she has more of a dog in the PAX fight than I do[1], so I linked to her rather than restate it all at length with circles, arrows, and links to examples of a current "MALE GAMERS ONLY" ad campaign that is happening RIGHT NOW on websites...
[1] I went to the first PAX East for a day, and it was okay but not worth the throngs for me.)

posted by rmd1023 at 12:31 PM on September 7, 2013


I'm not sure if folks are calling for a boycott. Or if they are they haven't been in threads I've participated in. Most of the threads seem to get individuals deliberating on whether or not they feel good continuing to participate or contribute. And some deliberate and feel okay about it and some deliberate and don't.

I personally want to see the writing and enforcement of PAX and other inclusivity statements have enough teeth that Krahulik remembers to mind his manners and if he doesn't that someone within PA or PAX or whatever has the ability and wherewithal to actually hold him accountable to changing his ways or shutting the hell up.

To me, the whole thing from the public reaction to The Sixth Slave was handled in about as poor a way as I can imagine. It made me and a lot of other folks directly feel unsafe to be around Krahulik and his posse, and I am not particularly swayed by platitudes because I've seem him apologize before and then within weeks or months turn around and make it considerably worse. I consider him a loose cannon and I won't feel safe until he is secured and he knows it.
posted by kalessin at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2013


rmd1023: "A friend of mine posted some of her thoughts about a possible boycott of PAX here. In particular: if you want a boycott, it has to be for a specific, achievable goal, and if you want to kill PAX be *very* careful about what might replace it. For all that Krahulik is kind of a dick, PAX itself is a huge improvement on industry shows of the distant and not-very-distant-at-all past."

Here at PAXAUS there weren't booth babes but the ladies at the World of Tanks booth were pretty damned close, from the reports of my friends.

Mind you, my four-year-old is pretty determined to play World of Tanks when she's older, and she wasn't even there, she just saw the flyer.

They've made some steps, but they aren't going to keep making them without pressure - that's what most of their work has shown. I just don't know how effective our pressure is since most of their realisations have come from personal circumstance. That's why it's a good thing that 'inner circle' people are speaking up.

I also think there might be a bit of fuzziness on the boycott term itself - I didn't go because I do not have the emotional energy for cons of that size in general, least of all with the probability of dickwolves (even if they can be identified by their shirt). It's not a boycott, it's a choice based on their actions. Calling it a boycott is a bit of an overstatement but I think it happens because there isn't a neat term to say "their actions mean I will not support their thing" that doesn't come with the implication that you want to see them run out of town.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:20 PM on September 7, 2013


Here at PAXAUS there weren't booth babes but the ladies at the World of Tanks booth were pretty damned close, from the reports of my friends.

They got criticized for it by both Mike & Jerry:

A lot of times we’ll say “no booth babes!” and they’ll say “okay (Krahulik imitates them chuckling).” And then when they get here we’re like “hey, put some clothes on,” and they’re like “what?! I don’t understand”. It’s a constant thing that we have to work on.’

‘They think we don’t mean it,’ Holkins added, ‘and they’re wrong.’ He believed that exhibitors treat booth babes as part of a ‘checkbox’, a list of things and features to have when exhibiting at conventions. There’s an assumption that’s it’s become a requirement. But it isn’t necessary. ‘It’s like, motherfucker, you have a tank! That’s plenty. I don’t have to see a tank and a leg.

posted by straight at 3:53 PM on September 7, 2013


A lot of times we’ll say “no booth babes!” and they’ll say “okay (Krahulik imitates them chuckling).” And then when they get here we’re like “hey, put some clothes on,” and they’re like “what?! I don’t understand”. It’s a constant thing that we have to work on.’

‘They think we don’t mean it,’ Holkins added, ‘and they’re wrong.’


I wonder whether the two of them have thought about exactly why such folks might believe that PA(X) says one thing but won't back it up with action?
posted by phearlez at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a great, comprehensive essay that covers a lot of the factors going in to the negative reaction and has some smart things to say on the skip-PAX-or-not question.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2013


A more cynical person than I might think that the current PA storyline and tales of its fandom are at least in part a ham-fisted attempt at damage control. ("Look at our art, our story, and its response" it begs, "we're so female-friendly!" But you know, their actual actions aren't.)
posted by infinitewindow at 8:15 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]




I don't get how a site that covers stuff like GTA and E3 decides to boycott PAX which is much more progressive, even given the worst of what Krahulik has said and done.
posted by straight at 8:07 AM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


RPS: To boycott PAX or not boycott PAX?
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on September 19, 2013


Ah, I see you have it covered.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on September 19, 2013


A follow up to the RPS post mentioned above.
posted by Gelatin at 6:32 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The PAX site itself has recently posted a more comprehensive update to its safety and security policy. This was one of the constructive suggestions I offered to PA - an anti-harassment policy amended to be "unambiguous, inclusive, and comprehensive" - in my email to them a few weeks ago. For me at least, in the context of the actual dialogue that took place somewhat offline (or at least in private), this is a step in the right direction, and one that shows some actual willingness to thoughtfully address and grow from criticism. Baby steps.
posted by orbit-3 at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2013


One of the Cards Against Humanity dudes posted his thoughts on the whole thing recently.
posted by sparkletone at 8:54 AM on September 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, I babysat that Cards Against Humanity dude once or twice. He went to elementary school with my little sister and lived around the block from us.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:21 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't really know anything about who was behind Cards for Humanity and now I've been spending time on his blog and I'm intrigued.
posted by sweetkid at 9:59 AM on September 20, 2013


I thought sets of it just grew in unattended corners.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2013


well that's just ridiculous.
posted by sweetkid at 10:08 AM on September 20, 2013


restless_nomad: So, you were an influence, I guess? Well done!
posted by rmd1023 at 10:47 AM on September 20, 2013


"I thought sets of it just grew in unattended corners."

I don't know if it's still true, but for a long time, he had the PDFs out there for anyone to print out and use.

But, kinda prompted by this (as well as playing with both homemade and bought sets), I'm gonna go buy one, because they really are pretty great.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2013


(Also, I wish I could find people who would play werewolf with me, since even all my mefite friends find it too dorky, and it's much more fun with people you know.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on September 20, 2013


OH you mean werewolf the party game, not some weird thing where you hairily pursue people through the woods and bite them.

(presumably)
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on September 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, you were an influence, I guess? Well done!

My little sister probably should get the credit. She actually carpooled with him, and her sense of humor is much, much closer.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2013


Metafilter: not some weird thing where you hairily pursue people through the woods and bite them.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: it's much more fun with people you know.
posted by sweetkid at 12:05 PM on September 20, 2013


I'll play, but only if I can sing "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" the entire game.
posted by maryr at 12:32 PM on September 20, 2013


"OH you mean werewolf the party game, not some weird thing where you hairily pursue people through the woods and bite them."

Meh. I'll take what I can get.
posted by klangklangston at 12:37 PM on September 20, 2013


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