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Illustration for article titled MC Frontalot addresses issues of PAX, Penny Arcade, and rape culture

If you know MC Frontalot, you know of his long association with both Penny Arcade and with PAX. You may also be aware of the shitstorm that ensued from a particular PA strip*, and how many people now feel that it has poisoned PAX, turning it from a welcome and safe environment into a toxic and threatening one. MCF addresses the whole ugly debacle in a very well stated post; it is worth reading. I would be interested in others' opinions of his piece. Is he an apologist? Is he making excuses for people he considers his friends? I don't think so, and it's clear he doesn't think so. But does he go far enough? The full post is on G+ here, and he also responds to many of the comments (scroll waaaaaay down for that).

*Warning: the PA strip that started this whole thing contains a rape joke.

An excerpt from the post:

I know about feeling defensive, and about prizing my hard-won insensitivities. I was not always the fabulous, universally adored paunchy 40-year-old nerd rapper you see before you. Flash back to maybe 1986, a middle school hallway. People tell me that I suck pretty often. Everyone who tells me that I suck, they’re real assholes about it. They want to make sure I know it, and internalize it, so that it defeats me. I have determined that everyone who tells me that I suck is the enemy. I am going to clench my fists and purse my lips and find a way to not let them win. I am going to never admit that I suck, even when my enemies hold me in a headlock and tell me which words I have to recite (little monologues about how shitty and powerless I am) in order to be freed. I don’t care how much it hurts for the rest of the day, for the rest of the week. I don’t care that they make me say it anyway – in my heart I don’t say it. In my heart I scheme, while the words come out, to grow up into someone who is immune from headlocks. To somehow never have to take this kind of shit again.

You know the really pathetic thing about being a nerd? Some shred of THAT EXACT defensiveness is your automatic response to any perceived attack, for years and years after school is over. It’s probably taken me most of my adult life to let go of those feelings. They still flare up when what I perceive as a personal attack seems entirely without justice. I wonder if, when the dickwolves shirts were conceived, those same feelings were flaring up in Mike (I see him a few times a year, at PAX, though I have never discussed dickwolves with him at all, so most of readings of his motivations are just empathy and guesswork). This weekend onstage, he said he regretted pulling those shirts from the store three years ago. I wonder if he’s still holding onto that regret for so simple a reason: because the original joke was fantastic and I know what’s in my heart as regards compassion + not assaulting people + HUMAN DECENCY, and fuck you for telling me how much I suck. And I’m going to keep saying fuck you no matter what, because nobody can put me in a headlock any more, and to back down – ever – might suggest to my enemies that I was wrong about the joke in the first place.

That’s why I think the original joke matters, even though most of the hundreds of people who’ve weighed in on dickwolves point not to the dickwolves strip but to Mike’s twitter snark, his comment thread arguments, the reaction strip, the news posts, and UGHHHH those fucking shirts. Mike, if you’re reading this, I’m begging you: turn your back on those shirts. Do it in public and do it because you mean it, not because you have a responsibility to the company. Take a long look at the haters who love the shirts, and see that they are pushing the hate outward, not shielding reflexively from an incoming barrage. Take a look at the fiercest, most bared-muzzle version of feminism you can dig up, and realize that even when it calls you an asshole, feminism is not the enemy, that it is not putting anyone in a headlock, that it in fact exists to RESCUE half the world’s population from a headlock suffered under lo these several millennia. Mike, you won the Good Art Debate before the strip even posted. The joke in the strip is not rape culture. The mob of guys who wear a Dickwolves shirt as an emblem of How Much They Think Sensitivity To Rape Jokes Is Unwarranted – that’s rape culture. And it’s gross. Realize why it’s gross, and help make it stop.


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