Wednesday, August 18, 2010


There was something of a furor earlier this week over this Penny Arcade strip.

The reaction was pretty much what you'd expect from knee-jerk reactionaries desperately trying to find the next thing to be outraged about. Rape is a bad thing, Penny Arcade made a 'rape joke', so they're making fun of rape victims…so I'm going to go be outraged on the internet.

When I first heard about this, I had the same reaction Mike Krahulik (the strip's artist) had.

This is the strip you're taking exception to? After everything Penny Arcade has covered over the past ten years, 'raped by Dickwolves' is the line you get offended by?

As Mike himself said:

"What surprised me most about some of the reactions to our Dickwolf joke was not that people were offended. But that this was the comic that offended them. In each case the emails I got started with something like "I've been a long time fan" or "Been reading the comic for years..." and then they go into how this particular comic really bothered them.

I just don't understand that. Did the comics about bestiality, suicide, murder, pedophilia, and torture not bother them? Or how about the fruit fucker? I mean, we have a character who is a literal rapist. What comic strip have they been reading all these years?"

It appears that people are perfectly fine with 'offensive humor' as long as it doesn't personally offend them. It's like me laughing along at a TV show when they make fun of Mexicans or Asians and then getting seriously bent out of shape when the same show makes fun of British people in the same way.

My attitude is, and always will be, either everything is fine to make fun of, or nothing is. You can't laugh at a joke making fun of one subset of people and then complain when your own falls into the crosshairs.

However, the thing that actually makes me laugh about all this is the knee-jerk reactions. Most people get about as far as 'Penny Arcade makes Rape Joke' and instantly decide to be offended. The truth is that the strip didn't make fun of rape victims, and it wasn't even a 'rape joke'. The joke was making fun of online RPGs.

If you've never played a game like World of Warcraft, you'll find yourself doing a lot of quests that sound like "Go collect x number of items", "Go kill x number of monsters" or "Go rescue x number of people"…and because multiple people are doing the same quest at the same time, there will be more items, monsters or people to rescue than you need to complete the quest.

The joke is that when you first start to play a game like that, you might roleplay a bit. If you have to explore and dungeon and rescue five slaves, you may stop and rescue a sixth or a seventh on the way out because, well, that's what heroes do. Once you've been playing an MMORPG for a few weeks (and done an ungodly number of quests), you're only interested in getting the quest finished for the experience or reward…and roleplaying kinda goes out of the window.

That's the strip's joke. You have a big heroic character that storms a castle to rescue enslaved orphans…but once he's rescued the number he needs to complete the quest, he just leaves the rest of them where they are.

It's not a 'rape joke', it's not making fun of rape victims and rape victims are certainly not the butt of the joke. The butt of the joke is the MMO genre for creating universes where supposed 'heroes' will enter a dungeon to rescue exactly five people…and walk straight past other people in need of rescue because they've already rescued enough to complete the quest and get their reward.

Sure, mentioning that the captured slaves that the hero is refusing to rescue get 'raped to sleep by Dickwolves' is in bad taste, but it's there to make the 'hero' look worse and highlight the contradictory nature of an MMO hero. Plus, 'Dickwolves'? Can anyone take that seriously?

Sure, you can cross your arms and say rape is never, ever funny under any circumstances…but all humor is offensive to someone. In all honesty, if you get rid of every joke that could potentially offend anyone, there's just about nothing left.

Either everything is okay to make fun of, or nothing is.


asdth said...

I am offended, sir.

Pär Larsson said...

I am also offended. And your website vaguely smells of elderberries. That fact that you are presumably British just seals the deal - you are quite probably a bad person.

ANIMA BOY said...

People are retards. If you have no sense of humor then get out!