Edited 10 months, 16 days ago

Poll: Revenge of the Dickwolves: Is Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik in the wrong? (510 votes)

Mike's critics need to grow a thicker skin, no offense was intended. 27%
The original comic was fine, but the subsequent defensiveness and merchandising was tasteless. 54%
Even the original comic was in poor taste. 13%
Both sides are being overly reactionary. 30%
People being publicly "offended" by this amounts to calling for censorship. 13%

Note that I set the poll so you can choose more than one option.

For background, you can see the original "Dickwolves" Penny-Arcade comic in question here, and the "response" comic here.

Finally, here's a recent article from Wired magazine that sums up the whole debate (admittedly from a point of view that's critical of Penny Arcade and Mike Krahulik in particular):

"Why I’m Never Going Back to Penny Arcade Expo"

My personal opinion is that the original comic was actually pretty funny. It didn't seem to be making light of rape exactly, it was more a play on the absurdity of MMORPGs that don't give you a reason to care (or even the option to care) about the "6th prisoner" in a quest that only asks for 5 prisoners, which is kind of a jarring break from the fiction of you playing a hero out to help people.

However, Mike's subsequent responses to criticism were really tone deaf and completely unempathetic, and he made the choice to double down on this stance when Penny Arcade released the dick-wolf shirts in the store (Mike went on to display the same kind of attitude when a debate over transgender representations came up).

Recently Mike made a comment that he wished they hadn't taken down those shirts from the store, which is why the whole debate is being dragged up again.

I really think that this would have gone away if the original response to critics of the comic was "oh, I understand where you're coming from, we didn't mean it to be hurtful", or even just saying nothing at all.

#1 Edited by Quarters (1628 posts) -

I haven't fully kept up with it, but from what I see, the original comic seemed pretty goofy, and not intended to be offensive. As the OP says, it's more a play on MMORPG quests than rape. But, that being said, the snippets I've seen of Mike's defense has certainly been questionable/downright douchey. However, I think in the long run, everyone just needs to chill the crap out.

#2 Edited by TruthTellah (8517 posts) -

@lively I really think that this would have gone away if the original response to critics of the comic was "oh, I understand where you're coming from, we didn't mean it to be hurtful", or even just saying nothing at all.

Mike has admitted as much, and now he's getting criticism from zealous supporters for "backing down". Seems to me that he has simply realized over time that he could have handled things far better. As an adult, he's maturely considering his own potential failings and seeing how he can improve himself for the future.

#3 Posted by Animasta (14648 posts) -

At this point he's 'apologized' so many times that any apology he has now is completely meaningless.

#4 Posted by Hailinel (23846 posts) -

Oh, here we go.

There's not question that Krahulik has a tendency to say dumb things; he strikes me as a socially inept person thrust into the spotlight and doesn't really understand what power his words actually have. He lashes out on Twitter and has demonstrated ignorance. On the other hand, he's not a perfect person; no one really is. I'll admit that I did not take offense to the original Dickwolves comic myself, though I perfectly understand why others would not feel the same way. I also did not find the Dickwolves shirt offensive; the shirt itself does not depict anything sexual aside from the crude name of the dickwolf. It's also not a shirt that I myself would personally buy, but I was never into wearing T-shirts decorated with crass humor.

I understand why the shirt was pulled. However, I also understand that Krahulik can have the opinion that the shirt should not have been pulled, because that's his opinion, and far be it for me to tell him what to think. I mean, what exactly is the purpose of the outrage this time? How dare he not find that shirt the most abominable thing ever? If his critics want to be taken seriously, maybe they should try engaging him in intelligent discourse rather than point disapprovingly while screaming with bellicose fury.

#5 Posted by Hailinel (23846 posts) -

@animasta said:

At this point he's 'apologized' so many times that any apology he has now is completely meaningless.

And people are becoming angry with him for reasons that really aren't necessary, so it goes both ways.

#6 Posted by Slag (3989 posts) -

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.”

The above from the Wired article says my position better than I could.

#7 Posted by Clonedzero (4091 posts) -

God, people need to chill the fuck out. It was a goofy rape joke. Who cares?

It honestly baffles me how offended and outraged people get over such petty trivial shit. I'd probably mock the oversensitive pissants too. It's a god damn internet webcomic.

It's like they patrol the internet searching for things to be offended by and rally against, no matter how pointless it is.

#8 Posted by Lively (298 posts) -

@slag said:

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.”

The above from the Wired article says my position better than I could.

For the record I think comparing Mike to Rush Limbaugh is unfair. Rush Limbaugh is a poisonous, horrible excuse for a human being, while Mike is just kind of awkward, inarticulate, and not completely aware of how his words affect others.

#9 Posted by Ares42 (2570 posts) -

I have laughed at pedophilia jokes, I have laughed at holocaust jokes, I have laughed at cancer jokes, I have laughed at incest jokes. Singling out rape jokes as something inherently bad makes absolutely no sense to me.

#10 Posted by Milkman (16514 posts) -

Oh jeez, here we go.

I'll say this. The joke isn't the issue and it never really was. The response was the issue. So, if this thread could not be a bunch of people saying "IT'S JUST A JOKE CALM DOWN FEMINAZIS!", that would be awesome because you would be entirely missing the point.

If you don't know what I mean by the response, it's all detailed here. And if you want to read a great summary of my personal feelings toward this whole thing and why what Mike did upset so many people, read this. As for Mike apology, he seems sincere which I will conmend him for but at this point, there's been so many apologies that it's hard to take any of them seriously.

Look, Penny Arcade has a problem. On the one hand, they want the freedom to write absolutely anything they want in their comics without being criticized for it and anyone who doesn't like the comic can fuck right off. On the other, they want PAX to be a welcoming and inclusive place especially for sub-groups that have previously not been well-represented in the gaming community such as women, hence the banning of booth babes, and they don't want anyone to feel threatened there or made to feel uncomfortable.

There isn't inherently wrong with either of these goals. On a general level, I think most people would support both. And if they were capable of separating PA the comic from PAX the convention entirely, this probably wouldn't have been as big a deal. But unfortunately, there is overlap between them, and Mike chose to respond to a controversy in one of them with his mindset from the other (probably because he doesn't really have any other way of thinking). The comic received criticism on a handful of feminist blogs but no more. That was it. But rather than attempt to engage them honestly or even just ignore them (everyone saying feminists should simply not read Penny Arcade if they're offended by it is displaying a staggering lack of self-awareness), he chose to antagonize and mock them and his fanbase took up the cause. If you're going to respond the way Mike did to some bloggers criticizing your work, you don't get to tell anyone else to grow a thicker skin.

But even that wasn't enough, he had to make the shirt and then sell it, and then encourage people to wear it to PAX and brag about him wearing his own. Let's be clear about what this signified: It was a blatant "fuck you" to all of the women and actual sexual assault victims who had expressed feelings of discomfort about rape-related humor. No, it was not a banner of free speech or brave and noble weapon to wield against the scourge of censorship; if you have been told explicitly and in no uncertain terms by a group of people that "This joke makes me uncomfortable and here is why" and you proceed to make a shirt embodying exactly that joke then there are only two possible conclusions: 1) You have the short-term memory of a goldfish, or 2) You are deliberately intending to make those people uncomfortable. You have found their weak point and you intend to exploit it. You cannot claim ignorance or naivete as an excuse; you have been informed of how these people feel and you are using that knowledge to your advantage.

And hey, PAX is their convention. They have the right to do that. They have the right to flagrantly disregard the comments of actual women who expressed concern about how it would make them feel to go to the convention surrounded by people literally wearing rape joke T-shirts. They have the right to say that the convention will be just like the comic, a free-for-all for rape-related humor and anyone who doesn't like it can fuck right off, just like they should with the comic. They absolutely have every right to run PAX with the same mindset that they write their comic.

But then they don't get to claim that PAX is inclusive and everyone is welcome. They don't get to say that they want to make sure women are not made to feel uncomfortable the same way they often are at other conventions. They don't get to say that they care about PAX being better than other conventions about this. The dirty little secret that they never realized is that free speech and making people feel welcome are both perfectly noble ideals that are in conflict with one another and if you choose to side with the former in every possible circumstance, even if it means antagonizing rape victims, even if it means alienating women, even if it means going against your own stated goals, then you're not a martyr for free speech. You're just an asshole.

#11 Posted by Animasta (14648 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@animasta said:

At this point he's 'apologized' so many times that any apology he has now is completely meaningless.

And people are becoming angry with him for reasons that really aren't necessary, so it goes both ways.

That's not the point though, it never was (for me). Literally all he had to do for the dickwolves thing was apologize once, in a mildly decent fashion, and let go and we would've all forgot it happened.

But he's still not done talking about it, apparently!

Giant Bomb does not blow up at threads that continually call out, say, the lack of content. Jeph Jacques (of Questionable Content) does not call out people who complain about his substandard art and the fact that nothing ever happens in that fucking thing (I read it anyway). I'm not holding mike to some higher standard, I'm holding him to the standard of any creator who does a majority of their dealings on the internet.

Hell, if Jerry was the 'public face' none of this would ever happen.

#12 Posted by NMC2008 (1231 posts) -

I dunno what the fuss was about other than overly sensitive people being overly sensitive. Everything bothers somebody.

#13 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

The last poll option is at something more than zero percent. There's something wrong here.

#14 Edited by Clonedzero (4091 posts) -

@animasta: Well i can understand him being bitter about the whole thing. I mean he made a funny webcomic that referenced rape in a goofy joke. No biggy. Yet people flipped out and even personally attacked him, saying he's sexist, that he hates rape surviviors and all other bullshit. I'd be pissed about it too.

If you don't like an entertainers entertainment, don't go on a campaign to make HIM apologize for it because YOU didn't like it or were offended. Thats fucking insane. Just go be entertained by someone /thing else. But i guess people feel entitled to stomp their feet on the ground and go "I didn't like this! Apologize now!" It just seems crazy to me.

I'm sure he feels personally attacked from...well all the personal attacks about his character cus he...stick with me on this....made a joke. So i can see why he'd hold a grudge and be angry about it. I would too.

#15 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3555 posts) -

I voted for every answer other than C. I agree to some degree or another with all four other choices.

- Mike's critics need to grow a thicker skin, no offense was intended.

Mostly true. If you don't like the guy, then ignore him. It's not like he's advocating for rape jokes to be put into video games, and he must be stopped at all costs.

- The original comic was fine, but the subsequent defensiveness and merchandising was tasteless.

Defensiveness I was okay with--although he did go a bit overboard attacking his critics--but selling the shirts wasn't such a bright idea. I feel that their choice to pull them so people didn't see them around PAX was probably for the best.

- Even the original comic was in poor taste.

Yes, it was in poor taste, but absolutely no more so than many of their other jokes. Being in poor taste is often the point of PA. Cards Against Humanity is similarly in poor taste.

- Both sides are being overly reactionary.

Yes. It was overly reactionary to take offense to the original comic in the first place, and Mike should have just ignored the whole situation from the beginning. And why was THIS the comic that they were called to task for? There was a rape joke several comics before Dickwolves that no one seemed to notice or care about--oh, and here's another--and there have been loads of jokes concerning some rather offensive topics throughout the comic's history.

- People being publicly "offended" by this amounts to calling for censorship.

Yes. Due to my upbringing and personal opinions, I'm offended by certain words or actions myself, but I'm not about to ask people around me to censor themselves for my benefit.

#16 Posted by Animasta (14648 posts) -

@clonedzero: At some point you have to leave your feelings out of it. Penny Arcade is a business, his actions have directly harmed said business.

Also don't act like he was totally above all the shitty level of twitter discourse. He was just as bad. He's also kept it going, so yeah, I certainly have a lower opinion of the guy because of it.
Also also, saying that the strip poked fun of rape in a goofy way? Some people have problem with the word rape, full stop. Lots of these are rape survivors! Quite a few of the original critics were those people. Are you saying those people should just grin and bear it?

#17 Edited by Barrock (3525 posts) -

"...even though he knew the dickwolves — and the sentiment they expressed — made many potential attendees feel uncomfortable and unsafe."

Oh come on. Dickwolves made someone feel unsafe?

#18 Posted by shivermetimbers (763 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Oh, here we go.

@milkman said:

Oh jeez, here we go.

But as already said, it wasn't the joke that was the issue. Just don't be a dick to criticism, people.

#19 Edited by hinderk (685 posts) -

@animasta: Well i can understand him being bitter about the whole thing. I mean he made a funny webcomic that referenced rape in a goofy joke. No biggy. Yet people flipped out and even personally attacked him, saying he's sexist, that he hates rape surviviors and all other bullshit. I'd be pissed about it too.

If you don't like an entertainers entertainment, don't go on a campaign to make HIM apologize for it because YOU didn't like it or were offended. Thats fucking insane. Just go be entertained by someone /thing else. But i guess people feel entitled to stomp their feet on the ground and go "I didn't like this! Apologize now!" It just seems crazy to me.

I'm sure he feels personally attacked from...well all the personal attacks about his character cus he...stick with me on this....made a joke. So i can see why he'd hold a grudge and be angry about it. I would too.

From what I remember, the initial criticism was a blog post or two. If Mike would have ignored it, we wouldn't be here today. Instead he decided to mock his critics, going as far as to make merchandise as a fuck you to them. I didn't really have a problem with the comic, but I do have a problem with how he has handled criticism. Some of the things he has said to his critics has been way worse than anything in the original comics.

#20 Posted by Clonedzero (4091 posts) -

@animasta said:

@clonedzero: At some point you have to leave your feelings out of it. Penny Arcade is a business, his actions have directly harmed said business.

Also don't act like he was totally above all the shitty level of twitter discourse. He was just as bad. He's also kept it going, so yeah, I certainly have a lower opinion of the guy because of it.

Also also, saying that the strip poked fun of rape in a goofy way? Some people have problem with the word rape, full stop. Lots of these are rape survivors! Quite a few of the original critics were those people. Are you saying those people should just grin and bear it?

No, they shouldn't start trivial pointless controversies over a word or a joke. If you don't like something or you're offended, stop reading the comic, ignore it, move on with your life. Don't force someone to apologize for something so petty. It's disgusting.

#21 Posted by davidwitten22 (1708 posts) -

This drama has become so overblown and such an excuse for webpages to make a post to get views. The fact that people are still bringing it up SO LONG after all of it happened just goes to show people don't know how to "get over it". He reacted really poorly (because he's a pretty shitty person IMO), but people still constantly bringing it up and posting about it and trying to portray him as some "anti-woman, pro-rape asshole" are trying to hard to get their voices heard. Both parties should just leave it alone and move on with their lives.

But that will never, ever happen. Neither side is mature enough to do so.

#22 Posted by Brodehouse (9567 posts) -

I think it's beyond hysterical that a joke in which A MALE PRISONER complains that these horrible monsters rape him is now considered an ANTI-WOMAN joke because it's about rape.

When there are jokes about women getting raped, it's anti-women. When there are jokes about men getting raped, it's anti-women.

Fuck me. It's like I see a glass and say it's half-empty, and then others see a glass and say that's the patriarchy.

#23 Posted by jasonefmonk (350 posts) -

There is nothing in shadow when it comes to comedy or speech, it is necessary that everything be on the table. Personally I found the comic and the dickwolf drawing funny. I've not followed closely so both parties could be assholes. The art itself is tame by stand-up standards and ones own idea of transgression has nothing to bear on it's legitimacy.

#24 Edited by Lively (298 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

I think it's beyond hysterical that a joke in which A MALE PRISONER complains that these horrible monsters rape him is now considered an ANTI-WOMAN joke because it's about rape.

When there are jokes about women getting raped, it's anti-women. When there are jokes about men getting raped, it's anti-women.

Fuck me. It's like I see a glass and say it's half-empty, and then others see a glass and say that's the patriarchy.

My impression of the backlash was more about being "anti-rape victim" than being "anti-women", but rape victims happen to be predominantly female (according to Wikipedia the split in the U.S. is approximately 91% vs. 9%), so you're more likely to hear from women who have been raped then men.

#25 Posted by Animasta (14648 posts) -

@lively: I think it's less that and more that women are more open to say they were raped than guys.

#26 Edited by Hailinel (23846 posts) -

@lively said:

@brodehouse said:

I think it's beyond hysterical that a joke in which A MALE PRISONER complains that these horrible monsters rape him is now considered an ANTI-WOMAN joke because it's about rape.

When there are jokes about women getting raped, it's anti-women. When there are jokes about men getting raped, it's anti-women.

Fuck me. It's like I see a glass and say it's half-empty, and then others see a glass and say that's the patriarchy.

My impression of the backlash was more about being "anti rape victim", and that rape victims just happen to be predominantly female (according to Wikipedia the split in the U.S. is approximately 91% vs. 9%), so you're more likely to hear from women who have been raped then men.

Still, there are people out there that think of rape as a female-victim-only crime, or that women themselves are incapable of committing rape. So when outrage like this comes up, some of those angered don't acknowledge that the character in the comic is a male and paint it as an attack on women. (Not saying that's how most or even a significant portion of people see it. Only that there is a subset of those out there that do.)

#27 Posted by Brodehouse (9567 posts) -

@lively: Except the entire crux of the joke is that the 'anti rape victim' portion comes from the game itself, and forces the player to ignore the suffering victim because hey, quest completed. That's why the joke is funny, it's pointing out a strange result of how MMOs work, and the humor is from how backwards to morality it is.

But no, it has the word 'rape' in it, so therefore it's damaging to women. And it needs to have a trigger warning before it, because what doesn't need a trigger warning before it. I sure hope no one uses the phrase motherfucker without a trigger warning for children raped by their mothers.

#28 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3555 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@lively said:

@brodehouse said:

I think it's beyond hysterical that a joke in which A MALE PRISONER complains that these horrible monsters rape him is now considered an ANTI-WOMAN joke because it's about rape.

When there are jokes about women getting raped, it's anti-women. When there are jokes about men getting raped, it's anti-women.

Fuck me. It's like I see a glass and say it's half-empty, and then others see a glass and say that's the patriarchy.

My impression of the backlash was more about being "anti rape victim", and that rape victims just happen to be predominantly female (according to Wikipedia the split in the U.S. is approximately 91% vs. 9%), so you're more likely to hear from women who have been raped then men.

Still, there are people out there that think of rape as a female-victim-only crime, or that women themselves are incapable of committing rape. So when outrage like this comes up, some of those angered don't acknowledge that the character in the comic is a male and paint it as an attack on women. (Not saying that's how most or even a significant portion of people see it. Only that there is a subset of those out there that do.)

Almost all of the really angry posts that I've seen directed towards Mike Krahulik have associated the issue with women, or with 'rape victims' without referring to gender. I don't think I've seen a single post that was offended on behalf of male rape victims--even with regards to prison rape, which the first comic is pretty much directly referencing--but I have seen several people who have flat out called Mike a misogynist.

So yeah. I don't think brodehouse is mistaken to notice some sexist hypocrisy here.

#29 Posted by Lively (298 posts) -

@lively: Except the entire crux of the joke is that the 'anti rape victim' portion comes from the game itself, and forces the player to ignore the suffering victim because hey, quest completed. That's why the joke is funny, it's pointing out a strange result of how MMOs work, and the humor is from how backwards to morality it is.

But no, it has the word 'rape' in it, so therefore it's damaging to women. And it needs to have a trigger warning before it, because what doesn't need a trigger warning before it. I sure hope no one uses the phrase motherfucker without a trigger warning for children raped by their mothers.

It's worth pointing out that it was a pretty small group who reacted negatively to the original comic, the controversy was more about how dismissive Mike was to the idea that anyone might be hurt by it.

#30 Edited by McGhee (6094 posts) -

I don't have any problem with the Dickwolves cartoon. At the same time, the guy seems like a dick himself. So whatever.

The one thing I'm tired of hearing about is the so-called "rape culture." It's complete horse shit. It doesn't exist.

#31 Posted by GreggD (4477 posts) -

@lively said:

@brodehouse said:

@lively: Except the entire crux of the joke is that the 'anti rape victim' portion comes from the game itself, and forces the player to ignore the suffering victim because hey, quest completed. That's why the joke is funny, it's pointing out a strange result of how MMOs work, and the humor is from how backwards to morality it is.

But no, it has the word 'rape' in it, so therefore it's damaging to women. And it needs to have a trigger warning before it, because what doesn't need a trigger warning before it. I sure hope no one uses the phrase motherfucker without a trigger warning for children raped by their mothers.

It's worth pointing out that it was a pretty small group who reacted negatively to the original comic, the controversy was more about how dismissive Mike was to the idea that anyone might be hurt by it.

He's not a politician. He's not running a state, or a county, or even a city. So why should he have to apologize when his comments didn't directly cause any harm to anyone? It's not like we have to trust him with our money or social issues or rights. He's a fucking cartoonist. I find that to be the incredibly ridiculous part.

#32 Posted by Slag (3989 posts) -

@lively said:

@slag said:

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.”

The above from the Wired article says my position better than I could.

For the record I think comparing Mike to Rush Limbaugh is unfair. Rush Limbaugh is a poisonous, horrible excuse for a human being, while Mike is just kind of awkward, inarticulate, and not completely aware of how his words affect others.

It may be an overstatement, but the way they use their status and followers to bully others they don't like is very similar. Mike definitely has done so far less often when he does he followers can be ruthlessly brutal.

e.g. The Ocean marketing guy. Remember that thing? That dude totally sucked, but Mike and his minions definitely bullied the crap out of that guy. But since he sucked so bad, nobody cared.

I am sure Mike is 100% aware of what he's doing. He may be awkward and battles depression (since I believe he mentioned he takes Lexapro), but he's no fool. He clearly just thinks he's in the right.

And it sucks. Because he and Jerry and Robert Khoo have created such a wonderful thing in PAX and Child's Play, but some dumb stubborness/inflexibility threatens the foundation of good will of what they've built. This whole I won't be bullied anymore mentality he has unfortunately turned him into one. All the great things he has done for gamers doesn't change the fact that what's doing with this dickwolf business is wrong (and really fucking stupid). It's a damn shame.

#33 Edited by TruthTellah (8517 posts) -

@lively said:

@brodehouse said:

@lively: Except the entire crux of the joke is that the 'anti rape victim' portion comes from the game itself, and forces the player to ignore the suffering victim because hey, quest completed. That's why the joke is funny, it's pointing out a strange result of how MMOs work, and the humor is from how backwards to morality it is.

But no, it has the word 'rape' in it, so therefore it's damaging to women. And it needs to have a trigger warning before it, because what doesn't need a trigger warning before it. I sure hope no one uses the phrase motherfucker without a trigger warning for children raped by their mothers.

It's worth pointing out that it was a pretty small group who reacted negatively to the original comic, the controversy was more about how dismissive Mike was to the idea that anyone might be hurt by it.

I think that's definitely worth noting, and that should be the main point here. The original comic was the original comic. Maybe it was in poor taste or fine. Whatever. But his responses throughout have been what made this into a thing. And it was how he couldn't even just "agree to disagree" and instead had to mock those who felt differently and then make merchandise about it. His biggest self-admitted failure has been how he has conducted himself in response to it all, and I'm glad he is putting more consideration into it for the future.

#34 Posted by Lively (298 posts) -

@greggd said:

He's not a politician. He's not running a state, or a county, or even a city. So why should he have to apologize when his comments didn't directly cause any harm to anyone? It's not like we have to trust him with our money or social issues or rights. He's a fucking cartoonist. I find that to be the incredibly ridiculous part.

He's completely within his rights to say what he wants, and no one is making him apologize, but other people are completely free to criticize him and share their opinion with others. What he chooses to do with that criticism is up to him; he can ignore it, he can try to make it better, or even make it worse if he wants to. Criticism isn't the same thing as censorship.

Whether he likes it or not, he's a public figure, and a very powerful one within the gaming community, and all this comes with the territory.

#35 Posted by yinstarrunner (1182 posts) -

TRIGGER WARNING: the following post makes reference to something that references sexual assault. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, or know somebody who has been a victim of sexual assault, this could potentially bring bad memories or experiences to the forefront. If you fear for your mental stability or have some form of PTSD from your experiences, please do not read any further. I am not liable nor am I legally accountable for the bad feelings or panic attacks anyone might feel after having read the aforementioned trigger warning.

Yeah, I thought the Dickwolves comic was pretty funny.

#36 Edited by EXTomar (4487 posts) -

I am not particularly interested in any one opinion on why they do or not do something for fun (go to pax). I'm also not that interested in why someone thinks something is offensive or not. There are a lot of people treating opinions as fact of something when it doesn't appear to mean anything.

#37 Posted by N7 (3573 posts) -

@greggd said:

@lively said:

@brodehouse said:

@lively: Except the entire crux of the joke is that the 'anti rape victim' portion comes from the game itself, and forces the player to ignore the suffering victim because hey, quest completed. That's why the joke is funny, it's pointing out a strange result of how MMOs work, and the humor is from how backwards to morality it is.

But no, it has the word 'rape' in it, so therefore it's damaging to women. And it needs to have a trigger warning before it, because what doesn't need a trigger warning before it. I sure hope no one uses the phrase motherfucker without a trigger warning for children raped by their mothers.

It's worth pointing out that it was a pretty small group who reacted negatively to the original comic, the controversy was more about how dismissive Mike was to the idea that anyone might be hurt by it.

He's not a politician. He's not running a state, or a county, or even a city. So why should he have to apologize when his comments didn't directly cause any harm to anyone? It's not like we have to trust him with our money or social issues or rights. He's a fucking cartoonist. I find that to be the incredibly ridiculous part.

Because people on the internet are the whiniest, self entitled selection of people on the planet. And god help you if you don't appease them and apologize to them and love them and kiss them and hug them and promise them that nothing bad will ever happen again because you learned your lesson about making a joke out of a popular trope in video games.

Now let's all go play Cards Against Humanity and laugh about rape and murder and racism and dead babies.

#38 Edited by stryker1121 (1337 posts) -

@barrock said:

"...even though he knew the dickwolves — and the sentiment they expressed — made many potential attendees feel uncomfortable and unsafe."

Oh come on. Dickwolves made someone feel unsafe?

That's the thing I didn't understand, the 'unsafe' comment. I read the Wired piece and certain participants feeling 'unsafe' was never expanded upon. What the hell does that mean.?

That said, while the joke is something a half-bright junior high student would come up with in study hall, it's not offensive on the face of it...to me.

Problem is,you have people coming out saying as victims of assault,the joke made them uncomfortable, it's a "trigger" and so on. Easy for me to say "get over it," but Mike's response was totally uncalled for. How about not being an asshole and try to understand why a small but vocal minority of people might be offended/hurt? I imagine he got some shit thrown his way about hating women/being pro-rape, but doesn't he have a PR guy to handle that? Mike needs filters now that he's big-time. Talk of free speech and censorship til you turn blue, doesn't make Mike any less of an ass for how he reacted at first blush. He's not a rebel, or some flag-waver for free speech.

#39 Edited by Darji (5294 posts) -

Yes it was a stupid response with all the merchandise but this should have never even gotten so far in the first place. People are way to easy offended. If you don't like it don't read or support it but don't start some hunt. Both sides are at fault in the end but the first fault were people who overreacted at some stupid joke just because it had the word rape in it....

#40 Posted by Sergio (2044 posts) -

It's getting late and I'm tired, so I'm not going to bother addressing the joke and everything that happened afterwards tonight, but I have to ask if anyone else here attended this Q&A?

The reason I ask is because every article I've read that brings up this Q&A states that either "the crowd cheered" or the "audience cheered," neither of which are accurate, as they implied that most, if not all, of the people in attendance cheered. This wasn't the case. It would have been more accurate to say, "some in attendance cheered," but gaming journalism has been about hyperbole and overreacting for over a year now, so I'm not entirely surprised.

I can understand if one was there and surrounded by some of the groups that did cheer, it would seem as if a lot of people cheered. However, it seems most of this belief that thousands in attendance cheered is based on a video where cheering is heard, but the camera doesn't pan to show how many cheered.

I actually did attend this Q&A session. The theater was not full compared to many of the other panels PA had, such as the Acquisitions Incorporated panel. My friend texted me that the place had a lot of empty seats if I was interested, and I decided to go because I didn't feel like waiting 2 hours for Titanfall. I sat in an area where no one cheered on the second floor, and in my minds eye, I can visualize the sections below where there were cheers and even where (generally speaking) the guy who shouted to bring the dickwolves merch back sat.

My friend said he thought that less than half cheered, and I would put it that far less than that did, possibly not even a quarter. I didn't hear any booing. I know my friend and I just shook our heads, wondering why he'd reopen this can of worms, knowing that people would once again overreact. The people around us were equally quiet.

I bring this up because there's this inaccurate depiction of "I was so disgusted that a theater full of men cheered for dickwolves, so this proves that PAX is toxic." It ignores the thousands that chose to skip this panel, and is wrong about those who were actually there.

#41 Edited by joshwent (2105 posts) -

Anyone who's not been rendered ignorant by their politically correct blinders can see that this is am absurdly simple situation.

Mike got upset when he was called sexist for not doing anything that harmed women or rape victims in any conceivable way. I probably would have too. He just sucks at defending/explaining himself, but that is NO reason to pass moral judgements at the dude.

No one was ever harmed by this. No crime was committed (aside from a lot of people missing a pretty well made point about the emotionless grind of MMOs).

Can we move on now?

#42 Posted by Zaccheus (1788 posts) -

I really don't understand what the problem with the original comic was... It wasn't really even about rape, it definitely didn't make light of it. It used it as an emphasis of how horribly absurd MMO quests can be. And once again it was about a imaginary game where an imaginary NPC gets imaginarily raped by a imaginary being... I don't know. It seems absurd to be offended by this. You should be offended by actual rapists not jokes about MMO quests.

I guess maybe this whole thing is more about how the whole thing is being handled than the joke itself.

#43 Posted by Hunter5024 (5534 posts) -

I think the original comic is really funny. Apparently people get offended at things sometimes, and I think that's okay. No ones forcing them to read Penny-Arcade. I'm not some asshole whose going to come in and post that dumbass Stephen Fry quote, but I don't feel like Mike should have had to apologize for making an off color joke on a website that has been devoted to off color jokes for over a decade.

As I understand it the main part of the controversy was how they handled the fallout, which admittedly I didn't follow very closely. Though from what I know about Mike, I imagine he handled it like kind of a jerk. He's obviously not a very socially intelligent person, so personally I don't get riled up when hes acting like a dick, because I think its out of ignorance rather than anything more malicious.

#44 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3733 posts) -

I'm not sure if people, the outraged, understand the original comic is anti-rape... that's the point of it.

The rest can be argued but that cannot. It's about MMOs stupid design and the relation larger moral issues that come into the stupid quest designs.

#45 Posted by Littleg (66 posts) -

@ravenlight said:

The last poll option is at something more than zero percent. There's something wrong here.

It's probably because there's an ocean of difference between asking someone to be considerate of other people's feelings and promoting censorship. I don't want to start any fights, and I'm not suggesting for a second that this is what @ravenlight is doing, but I will say that I'm sick of keyboard warriors who think they're being soldiers for Free Speech by being unrepentant arseholes on the internet.

I honestly don't see what is offensive about the original comic - to me it appears to be recognising rape as the worst possible thing that can happen to a person and, through that, highlighting the peculiarities of certain game structures. That said, I'll wait until I've actually been raped before I tell a rape victim how they should feel about the use of that particular word.

As an aside, pretty much all I know about Penny Arcade is that there's this thing called PAX (which sounds pretty cool and I wish I could go to) and now having seen a few references to this whole brouhaha online. Are all of their comics this gut-burstingly hilarious?

EDIT: I've just read the WIRED article. It's a little preachy in tone, but the final third said everything I wanted to say above and more far more clearly.

#46 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

Donkey Kong supports Ape culture!

#47 Posted by probablytuna (3532 posts) -

The rape joke was unnecessary. The comic would've been as effective if it was replaced by something else. They had to know it would set some people off.

Online
#48 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

The rape joke was unnecessary. The comic would've been as effective if it was replaced by something else. They had to know it would set some people off.

1. by what?

2. You always offend people no matter what you do. No matter what you do you should be able to do anything you want. It is artistic freedom. If you don't like it dont watch or read it.

#49 Posted by golguin (3842 posts) -

Okay, no one say the word rape ever again online. It will still be fine to make jokes about it in real life though because apparently people aren't as crazy in the real world. Rape jokes about men will still be funny though. Especially prison rape jokes.

#50 Posted by AlexanderSheen (4928 posts) -

I've never heard any positive news about Penny Arcade and at this point, I couldn't care less about another Penny Arcade fuckup.