It’s not often our scene to write up TMZ-style examinations of celebrity opinions regarding current events, but it feels justified in this instance as this is probably of as much relevance to the “Saga of Tentacle Bento” as the sale of the game itself.
Not long after I’d finished writing a post detailing Tentacle Bento’s bereft existence Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade made his support of the product known. You’ll remember Mike has previously received criticism for some of his work which is probably not even worth going into; we know what dickwolves are. We know what he’s had to say about them.
I approached Mike with shock, not necessarily due to his support of the product, but in confusion as to why a man already under scrutiny for his opinions surrounding rape culture would stoke flames even further. He suggested that though I personally don’t appreciate the product, it has a right to exist.
I’ll agree completely; the right to freedom of expression is important. All I am suggesting is that Tentacle Bento is in incredibly poor taste. A game where the object is to kidnap the most girls is protected by free speech, but horrendously indecent. Its existence trivialises the seriousness of rape; that is at best ill-advised. If it were to receive funding and be freely available it only serves to continue a terrible continuation of thought that rape is permissible and entertaining. It completely has the right to do so; it’s just awful that it should exert that right.
In a reply, I flippantly suggested that we couldn’t deny the merit of a game about kidnapping and rape, to which Mike countered with an assertion that, because games trivialise violence and we find them acceptable, rape clearly also serves as a relevant and acceptable place to draw entertainment from.
Though I feel somewhat under-qualified to argue against his point given that I have middling opinion of overly violent games (not from any moral objection, I just find the mechanic of “shoot a man” to be more than played out) I’ve noted suggestions that twitter uses have supplied me with as to why murder is more acceptable:
1) Murder in games is normally justified within the fiction. There’s no justification for rape.
2) Much of society doesn’t view murder as acceptable. We’re still trying to get there with rape.
3) Murder victims aren’t continually reminded of their attack through media.
Mike made a few more comments that aren’t worth much further discourse, then affirmed that his position was entirely one of wishing to fight censorship (while also exerting his right to silence anyone he disagrees with).
I suggested that, as a show of faith that this is truly his position and not that he continues these posts in active support of rape culture, that Mike should donate some money to a charity that supports rape victims. Rape continues to be a serious issue, even if the staff of Penny Arcade would like to defend the freedom of speech, the least they could do would be to support those that have suffered through the reality of what’s being discussed. He responded to this by questioning my mental health.
He then posted a picture of some candy and a video game.
As of this post I am making no plans to attend a PAX.
I might still watch those behind the scenes videos they make of how their comics are written because their process is kind of fascinating, but I’ll be bitter about it.