Yeah, I wasn’t going to get into this, but a lot of the debate around it is really starting to get on my nerves.
So, last week the Penny Arcade guys posted this comic. Quick synopsis, a slave comes up to an MMORPG “Hero” asking to be saved, telling the “Hero” about the abuses he suffers which include “being raped to sleep by dickwolves” every night. The “Hero” says that he’s already saved the five slaves required by the quest, and tells the sixth slave to “not make this awkward.”
Shortly thereafter a guest poster at Shakesville posts this response. With which I do not agree in the least, and I will explain after I finish linking you to innumerable posts. I am a history major, this is what we do. We cite things.
The guys at Penny Arcade then post this response. Which is ok, until the last panel when they go for the Straw Man argument about how if their comic made you rape, stop it. Which as much as I disliked and disagree with the Shakesville response(s), they did not actually accuse the strip of doing. And really just makes the Penny Arcade guys look like jerks.
Thing the first: Gabe and Tycho were not making a “rape” joke, but were instead making a joke about the “morality” of computer games, MMORPG or otherwise, wherein you are, as the hero, only expected to be moral to the point that the quest requires. The use of rape in the line “raped to sleep by dickwolves” is pretty obviously supposed to the most horrible thing ever, something anyone with a soul would want to save a slave from, yet, here is the “Hero” saying, “Yeah, tough. I already saved the five slaves I needed to.”
And as someone who has been raped, I can concur, that yes, rape is pretty much one of the most horrible things ever.
Thing the second: Why don’t I agree with Milli A and Shakesville that Gabe and Tycho suck? Trust me, I’ve seen Gabe and Tycho screw up, in the final panel of their response to this, for example. But I don’t feel that this is a rape joke, as in rape is the punchline. Rape isn’t the punchline, rape is a horrible thing people should be saved from. The fact that the “Hero” won’t save the slave because he’s made his quota is the punchline. It’s like if a Red Cross volunteer quit pulling survivors from the wreckage because they’d saved all the people they were supposed to. Or if an ER doc quit in the middle of a life-saving procedure because he’d stitched all the stitches he was supposed to.
Granted, your mileage may vary, and this is something that I have blogged about on my more serious blogs: Sexual Assault survivors are not a monolith. Some of us enjoy gallows humor, and definitely feel it serves it’s purpose in the grand scheme of healing. Some of us don’t. However, as a rape survivor I am fucking sick to death of people, some of whom are also survivors, but many who are not, decreeing that as a survivor I need to be treated as if I’m made of spun glass and merely seeing the word “rape” will shatter me into a bazillion pieces, or, conversely that because I’m NOT made of spun glass surrounding the topic, that I’m doing it wrong.
Look, heroes are supposed to save people. And the fact that in many games your “Hero’s” morality is solely dependent on a fixed number of “good deeds” runs counter to what most of us would classify as heroic in the real world. That is the punchline of the joke.