Penny Arcade! – I Hope You Like Text

Don’t say another goddamn word. Up until now, I’ve been polite. If you say anything else- word one– I will kill myself. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place. From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fuelled by my hatred for you this fear engine will bore a hole between this world and that one.

When it begins, you will hear the sound of children screaming- as though from a great distance. A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bed, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows. As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated. Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin.

I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the Song that ends the Earth.

For people who are as good with words as Gabe and Tycho, it’s amazing how far they have managed to dig themselves into a hole with this dickwolves thing. (A lot less amazing is how almost masturbatorily self-indulgent comments on Shakesville et al seem to be, but then I’ve rarely seen different from there.) It was a funny strip! It was a funny response strip, too, although I can see how that one comes off as insulting. Where they really screwed up, of course, is the t-shirt and the subsequent doubling down, where they unleashed (implicitly, I suppose, but until recently it sounded like they were encouraging it) all the worst that the internet has to offer against the shrill but perhaps less outrageous feminist blogosphere. At least they let off in the end- Tycho’s post certainly strikes an apologetic note.

PS: I find myself quite unable to talk about rape culture without talking about the rather troubling popularity of “rape” as a metaphor for “dominate” in “insti lingo” here in IIT Madras, and that’s going to be a rather long post, so I’ll just leave that for now, except to say that some responses some people here have to the actual occurence of rape serves as a disgusting testimony to the existence of such a thing as “rape culture”.


5 thoughts on “

  1. I think it was Kurt Tucholsky, the German humorist, who said that there is no subject is forbidden to humour.
    In response to that thought, sometime last year, I wrote a play that was one long rape joke (I’ll share it with you if you want to read it). I shared it with my online writing group, and one lady responded to the effect that she could not find any humour about rape tasteful.
    Which was partly my intention – not to offend, but to invoke an uncomfortable sort of laughter – make the audience or the reader laugh while thinking “should I be finding this funny”? Whether or not I achieved that effect is for others to say.
    I didn’t know about this whole Penny Arcade issue, but I caught up on it and find myself on the side of the comic, despite the fact that I think the way the authors dealt with the negative response was remarkably unintelligent. I don’t think it’s fair to say that a joke revolving around rape amounts to trivialising actual rape or propogating a rape culture. How funny something is is an entirely subjective thing. It’s unfortunate that jokes like this act as a trigger for victims of rape, but it’s not the responsibility of the artists to keep them in mind while making their jokes. Most jokes offend some group or the other – who’s to say one type of offense is more or less valid than another? How boring would humour be if it sought to never offend anyone’s sentiments?


  2. Ugh, this whole thing had completely passed my by…

    For me, pandagon sums it up best, at least for the beginning of it all:

    And then it just spirals completely out of control… The whole thing with the shirts _really_ isn’t okay anymore.

    But you’re right about shakesville – I quit reading it because the way people behaved there reminded me of a cult. And all criticism was getting shut down, no matter if it was trollish or not.

    • It was really kind of annoying, because I can see how they’re sounding more than a little horrid (even though they were totally fair when it started!), and I do like the comic a lot.

      • Their first response – the comic they did – would have been completely fine, if somebody had actually accused them of propagating rape. Nobody did and so the spiraling out of control* really began.

        I think it’s still ok to enjoy the good things of Penny Arcade, though. 🙂

        *Which, in my opinion, started with the outraged reaction on shakesville because honestly: it is okay to make jokes where the word rape is mentioned – it all depends on the context. But then again, I’m not a survivor and if even the mention of rape is triggering to some survivors, I can understand why they’re upset.

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