Friday, May 27, 2016

Kill A Church

"the only Christianity they defeated was the last piece of Christianity within themselves. Which is a very good beginning, of course"
--Erik Danielsson in Black Metal Satanica, 2008


Short Preamble

Today's controversy. Remarkable for 3 reasons:

1-Most self-defeating moral outrage in human history.
2-RPG people are still signing onto it. Morally outraged that a comic book has a cliffhanger.
3-Some of the people reading this still pay attention to those RPG people when they talk about games and will keep doing it even after today.

I've long since accepted that 3 will always be true--there is no level of insane that an Indie game designer can be that people won't be like "Maybe I will give Crazy some attention and money?".

So let's not dwell. These conservatives are crazy, Some of you are still reading them, funding them, inviting them into the larger conversation about RPGs. You will never stop. It makes the world worse for fans online and creators, you don't care. Ok.
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But when the world is dumb: let's at least learn something...

Now fucktheory, who not only is very smart but comes at this--helpfully--from a wider philosophical and radical queer background (non-gaming, non-geek) is addressing the issue of cultural appropriation, but this pretty much applies to all the controversies of online psychoculture. Let's Read:

But this...


RPG examples abound. You must consult ninjas, the dumbest thing ever said about RPGs, etc.







This is an important point. The Drama Club never has a concrete checklist of what "doing the thing right" requires--whether that's use of violence, sexuality, cultural appropriation or diversity. At most they point to examples--which devolves to unbelievable vagueness ("be respectful") or, "Well I know it when I see it". In other words: they the critic get to decide what's morally suspect on a case-by-case basis rather than outlining a set of principles that their own work can be judged by.

Also: outlining principles or definitions (of, say "respectful") would invite discussion and Discussion Is Bad.







The obsession with whether a Cap storyline hurts me as a Jew and descendant of Holocaust survivors and all similar controversies where the Drama Club share a Concern on behalf of numb, objectified marginalized people whom they aren't which is inextricably linked to unacknowledged Contempt for the voices of equally marginalized artists they aren't isn't a condition arrived at through thought. It's just their own anxiety and desire for universal concession to concessions they themselves have made long ago made (there's a reason so many are religious or parents--conservatism is the fear someone else is having fun somewhere), writ large and pointed at anyone who points that out.

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So, ok. Maybe you aren't invested enough in the world being good to click the Unfollow button when faced with The Bad. But at least know how it got that way. At least learn something while you're here at D&D With Porn Stars, even if you never ever ever ever ever do anything with what you learned.

Seeya.
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38 comments:

  1. I can't believe I'm asking this, but could you dumb this down? I'm entirely lost in this and can't tell what you're for or against, save for your introduction.

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  2. I can't believe I'm asking this, but could you dumb this down? I'm entirely lost in this and can't tell what you're for or against, save for your introduction.

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    Replies
    1. Cite the part you don't understand and then ask a specific question.

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  3. I want to send this comic book outrage guy a copy of clockwork orange. Art is art. Even when you don't like it.

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    1. the question is not about what's art or anyone's taste, though. That's a little reductive

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    2. Ok, I'll try harder. I don't think steve rogers necessarily hates jews because we see him punching actual hitler in his actual face then we see him join hydra which is like spectre/cobra/brotherhood of evil mutants super villain club. Its a fictional club for super villains. I don't know how steve goes about his life off panel but i bet its all drink milk for strong bones and DARE. Even if this is overly simplified the premise of the panel article is already dumb. To me its a you can't get there from here situation, full stop.

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    3. ...which is not a moral issue

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    4. Right, its just what you do in serial fiction. Oh no, x did y! Find out what happens next in steve rogers 2! Its okay to be upset because its evocative. If it isn't evocative enough they end the book early. At some point it stops being, "wow this is art that makes me feel stuff!" (Fun)And starts devolve into silly shit, from silly shit in a not fun way.

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    5. but it's never a moral issue and someone who thinks it is is off their rocker

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    6. Right, its just entertainment. Also seems like one of the few ways to mak cap interesting

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  4. Sir Zak, I felt the same way. I am trying to reread this to understand, well anything.
    1) being disappointed in Marvel is self-defeating? 2)cliffhanger, that is the problem?
    3) i have not yet found the connection to the "RPG Community"
    I have not given up, and will read it again
    Thanks, John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "disappointed" ?

      No not at all in any way is "disappointed" the topic here: morally outraged is the topic.

      Or even "morally disappointed". Morally _anything_ about this.

      Are you on the right page?

      It's in the post. Did you miss it?

      As for RPG people that took this seriously:

      If you haven't run into any THAT'S FANTASTIC! You're clearly avoiding people that need to be avoided.

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  5. I don't know. I agree with your critique of the Drama Club, and "cultural appropriation" arguments generally. (I alienated friends by defending J.W. Rowling from those charges recently.) I'm also an Arab-American who thinks many anti-Semitism claims are total B.S. meant to stifle discussion.
    Nevertheless, I think Jessica Plummer's argument is just overwrought, rather than inherently wrong-headed. The "Hail Hydra" panel is a cheap stunt; it's stretching to say it's anti-Semitic, but like all cheap stunts, it lessens the value of the character.

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    1. You are completely wrong.

      It's not "stretching" to say it's antisemitic. It's insane. A person who says that is a lunatic. There is no more anti-semitism in the world before this storyline than after, nor was it motivated by antisemitism. So it fits no possible definition.

      So: anti-semitism is neither the cause nor effect of the storyline.

      And:
      No 'cheap stunt' could ever lessen the value of (seriously) Captain America. One of the silliest concepts ever. And being attached in this way to Captain America ( a product of the government and capitalist tit if ever there was one ) is insane.

      The character has no value that isn't monetary and we have no reason to care about the money--we're not Marvel.

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    2. I'm amused that you say I'm "completely wrong" when we're in total agreement on Jessica Plummer's wrongness, and we're only disagreeing on how wrong she is.

      My comic-and-RPG-loving friends post many articles like hers, and many go much farther than she does. Plummer isn't saying, for example, that Gentiles have no business writing comics because they're part of her Jewish heritage. Lots of folks will say just that, though, when it comes to incorporating African, Native American or East Asian culture into FRPGs. THAT gets me angry, for reasons you and #BDSMDadJoke explain above; Plummer's essay, by comparison, is just garden-variety dumbness.

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    3. I think you're a bit off the mark, when you say the character has no value that isn't monetary.

      He is a piece of cultural capital. A white savior created by two jews to punch Hitler in the face. That has value to white people who are invested in feeling like they're not contributing to the oppression of minorities, nay they are exemplars of punching the oppressor in the face.

      When someone tears down that icon, that they've put an emotional stock in, they freak the fuck out.

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    4. It doesn't matter if it's "Garden variety dumbness" or not.

      It's dumbness and so nobody who accepts or participates in it is intelligent enough to make a useful contribution.

      That's the important thing.

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  6. I have yet to see, in all this furor, a more valuable conversation.

    One about living vicariously. Not just about a Superhero who was created by two jews to punch old Adolf in the face, but about why Steve Rogers was cast in the mold of a Nazi's wet dream of whiteness to do that.

    This needs mined deeper, and NOBODY is having that discussion.

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    1. No matter why CA was invented nor by whom, an adult investing emotionally in him enough to get mad that a story had a cliffhanger which temporarily attaches that symbol to obvious bad things is stupid and means the person who articulated that thing is stupid and all of the people who promote their ideas are stupid

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    2. I agree that it's juvenile to invest the symbol with that kind of emotion, but I'm an atheist who is biased to see that same thing going on in religion.

      I had to go bust out my Geertz to get a better grasp on it. Here is his definition, and I think Cap fits a lot of the criteria.

      religion is "(1) a system of symbols (2) which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men (3) by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."


      It stops short at point (4), and yeah, that's part of what makes it stupid and juvenile. I think there is value in examining why it fits the first three criteria, though. That's a useful lens to look back at society through.

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    3. "When someone tears down that icon, that they've put an emotional stock in, they freak the fuck out."
      They should not have invested in it.

      Quite simply. It speaks ill of them.

      Religion or no, I missed nothing.

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    4. This might be my sociological training talking, because it has given me a bias to look above the individual level, but I think it speaks more ill of the society than the individual.

      We live in an ooh-rah jingoistic militarized culture, so elevating a super soldier to religious icon just sort of makes sense.

      Not good sense,... but it's at least understandable. They invested in it because on an unexamined level, it seemed the good thing to do.

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    5. People acting on an unexamined level should stop

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  7. I've learned that "Zak doesn't like it" = "conservative".

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    1. Indeed, and that is an "unexamined level" of its own, but I'd say it is understandable, given the vitriol he's received from some so called "conservative" quarters. Nevertheless, there is far too much shotgun labeling brushstroke condemnations going on all around, and Zak's point in that regard is well taken as usual, and but the unexplained linking of a clean and clear argument about the inappropriate labeling of a freaking comic book writer to churches, Christianity and conservatism is confusing and seems to undo his own point. Still, he's got us all thinking again and that is always good.

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    2. Then you aren't reading. Cultural beliefs and policies which attribute an importance to pieces of art basically in order to keep then feeling 'safe' and to discourage risk taking by tying fictions to some noncreative imperative are by definition Conservative: a fear based request or demand to color inside the lines.

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    3. @dhboggs you are wholly incorrect. If you don't understand what i've said the correct thing to do is ask questions, not libel me by idioticallly claiming i have an unexamined position

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  8. Interesting to see your response to this. I am guessing that your work as an artist has a lot to do with your point of view on stuff like this.

    All I saw in the post about Captain America was the cultural fall out of Zionist politics, but I tend to look at this sort of thing primarily through the lens of politics and economics.

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  9. I one of your replies you said " an adult investing emotionally in him enough to get mad that a story had a cliffhanger which temporarily attaches that symbol to obvious bad things is stupid" I completely agree. However I have been a consumer of comic books for 47 years. Most of the Comics I got from the first 13 years were not directed at an adult. I agree with you on how stupid her argument is but when you classify that"Adult" you give someone fodder to say Comic Books are for Children no matter how uniformed the unwashed masses are they believe that.

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  10. I one of your replies you said " an adult investing emotionally in him enough to get mad that a story had a cliffhanger which temporarily attaches that symbol to obvious bad things is stupid" I completely agree. However I have been a consumer of comic books for 47 years. Most of the Comics I got from the first 13 years were not directed at an adult. I agree with you on how stupid her argument is but when you classify that"Adult" you give someone fodder to say Comic Books are for Children no matter how uniformed the unwashed masses are they believe that.

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  11. @Andrew Franke "when you classify that"Adult" you give someone fodder to say Comic Books are for Children "

    whether or not it's "fodder" it's an irrational conclusion to draw form my statement and so is of no concern to me.

    I made no statement about who comics are "for".

    If you worry about how your words will be interpreted by people who ignore the literal meaning, then you can never speak at all.

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    1. I guess the problem replying to your literal meaning is that you use hyperbole at times and not a literal definition. If you think your use of Insane and lunatic are literal then I would have to disagree with you.

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    2. Incorrect.
      I do not use hyperbole, it's confusing and sparks unnecessary arguments (as opposed to necessary ones).
      I do 100% believe the people I describe are "lunatics" and "insane".
      They have an unshakeable belief in things that aren't true--that's the definition of psychosis. They possess what is quite literally a psychotic delusion.

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    3. (3rd P is a guess--they are insane but why they are is not obviously always transparent )

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    4. Fair enough if you honestly believe their opinion constitutes insanity. Having dealt with people who are truly mentally ill I choose not to throw those words around lightly less I libel so one with a claim I cannot prove. I am glad for your sake you qualified point three. Regardless we agree, we just use different tactics to get the same points across. You are much more in your face, as I was at your age, I have less energy now for other reasons I wish I had the passion about some issues that I just don't.

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    5. A person who thinks Captain America comic having a plot is a danger to anything OR indicates the creator is a Nazi OR adopts this position temporarily due to some stress reaction

      is

      mentally

      ill

      They aren't necessarily, bad, dangerous or nonfunctional in daily life but they are int he grip of a belief that is not true about the world that isn't based on fact.

      And the fact that people like this find each other online in the RPG community (disproportionately--because they are often isolated people) affects the RPG conversation in a bad way, created unnecessary noise and the illusion in some quarters that these are legitimate concerns.

      The fact that this obviously insane behavior is passed over by most participants (rather than their friends going "you have contributions to make, but please don't attack artists in your current state, you might not be responsible enough to make these judgments") makes getting things done in the RPG community harder and, in many cases, may make those people sicker.

      It's a serious issue. It's not a joke. It's not sniping at people for disagreeing, it's like "What do we do when a person who friendship and politics and common interests bring us together with someone who has a health problem that's fucking up good things for themselves and others?" and the RPG community keeps not addressing it and it results in things like a half-decade long harassment campaign against my players and I.

      So there are reasons to care.

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    6. I don't disagree Zak. You have a much louder(bigger audience) voice, more reasoned out argument on this than I do. Voicing my support for your argument or statement is what I am willing to spend the limited creative energy I have on this issue.

      Like you I am a content creator. It takes most of my creative energy to produce work to publish or contribute to others publications. I am 52 disabled and it takes about 3 hours to get out of bed every morning and int my chair. Not complaining, it is just draining. I have my iPad in bed so I can do work late at nite if I type really quiet because my beloved wife has to be up for work at 5.

      We each choose battles. It end to pick ones I know more about to start off.

      BTW why so you say RPG people are isolated. We tend to be pack animals

      I care or I would not read your column and look for your writings on the net and support you if I didn't.

      I did not come to this Blog because of the Pornstar angle but because of Vornheim. I am glad I have gotten to know a little bit about the characters of these young ladies through your blog too. It changed a very narrow view that most people get when they don't understand things and accept media stereotypes.

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