Monday, December 3, 2018

Roleplaying Games As Degenerate Art




It's Happening Again

It appears 36 copies of Elizabeth Chaipraditkul's RPG module She Bleeds (about menstruation and blood magic, for Lamentations of the Flame Princess) were destroyed at a warehouse because someone along the chain decided, unread, that the books were  "disgusting" or "gross".

This is just the latest in a series of incidents where someone in the game industry was offended by a game's content and decided to do something destructive and moral-panicky instead of just opening a dialogue with the creator--just in recent memory it's happened to Blood in the Chocolate, Kingdom Death, Invisible Sun, and Vampire 5e.

Despite constant platitudes about diversity and inclusion, the usual suspects in indie and mainstream RPGs haven't made a peep in protest of a game designer having her work destroyed unsold by people who haven't even read it--not a word from RPGnet, Something Awful, or the Concerned Game Designer Parents on twitter.*

This is because admitting that there's nothing much to fear from RPG books, or even admitting that a woman of color made a book for LotFP, or even admitting that "difficult content" is sometimes made by women, made by people of color, or indeed ever made for a good reason--would require walking back their own rhetoric so far it would be embarrassing, and involve them in conversations that they don't want to have. This post is about why that is and how that happened. 

This is going to be difficult. To write and probably read. Enjoy.


A History of Reactions

“The historical slogan “degenerate art” should still offer occasion to reflect on the freedom of art at present and on the extent to which art, particularly contemporary art, can be considered a cultural asset, a critical authority, or even a provocative alternative proposal to the existing world.” 
-Prof. Dr. Olaf Peters, Institut für Kunstgeschichte und Archäologien Europas, Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Whether they want to or not, the popular arts—tv and movies and assembly-line novels and radio songs and comics and games—fit into art history like everything else. It’s not so much that Look Who's Talking Too and The Hot Chick couldn’t have existed before Stanislavski, or that Madoka Magica only makes sense if it happened after Hokusai and Yoshitoshi, and Warhammer 40k needs to come after 1984 and HG Wells’ Little Wars (though all those things are probably true)—it’s that the creators and audiences that surround the one kind of thing also surround the other. We all experience and enjoy "low" and "high" art.

And--on the creator side--even if we respect the division between low and high as genuine, they are responses to the same history by people who all had to live through it. Though the 20th century’s Francis Bacon made paintings that belong as much to “high” culture as the essays of the 17th century Francis Bacon do, the painter himself had a lot more in common with Kevin Bacon. He may have been a genius, but he still had to deal with chicken nuggets and fax machines.

The point is: even without making an “Are RPGs art?” argument, art history isn’t just something that RPGs can draw on to make illustrations look classy or text sound authentic, art history is something all RPGs belong to. Like everything else in a museum, on TV, or on Instagram, they represent people trying to figure out what to do instead of tend sheep and look at grass. This is culture, so the reaction to games is embedded in the history of reactions to culture.



"Mr. Chairman, the suppression of the people of a society begins in my mind with the censorship of the written or spoken word. It was so in Nazi Germany."

-John Denver,  testifying before the United States Senate's Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee during the Hearings on Explicit Lyrics, September 19, 1985


The term “Degenerate Art” was popularized by Adolf Hitler. He was—like many dictators—a failed artist, rejected from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna twice. Like all racists, he had a lot of ideas about culture, very much including painting, and what I’d like to stress here is the centrality of them to his larger project. History is usually so busy reminding us of the basic incomprehensibility of the consequences of Hitlers obsessions—the millions dead on battlefields and camps—that the basic incomprehensibility of the obsessions themselves is a distant second. The question “Why Jews?” pales next to the question “Why any of this?”.

Yet it did at start in Hitler’s head, with his outrage at the world outside of it: which in his case was Germany under the Weimar Republic. What was that like? Well the economy was going to shit, it was true (they’d just lost a war), but they had jazz, cabaret, Josephine Baker, Bauhaus furniture, experimental music, and girls who wore short skirts and smoked. Hitler was not into it.

A WWI veteran, he bought into an existing theory of his nation’s defeat, popular in conservative circles: the German army had been “stabbed in the back” by its own people. It’s important to emphasize this was not so much a theory that specific and named German Jews or Marxists or labor unions had committed central acts of sabotage in the war, but that these Jews, Marxists, labor unions and other parts of the civilian population had the wrong attitude: defeatist, unpatriotic, selfish, decadent. The dazzling creative, intellectual and sexual ferment of the postwar Weimar Republic just looked to Hitler and his friends like traitors at play. From his earliest days as a rabble-rouser, Hitler railed against all of it. Jazz was “race music”, the new sexual openness was a “sewer”, and the new art was “degenerate”.

Hitler’s attack on entertainments was not an eccentric epiphenomenon of his rise to power, it was not a king’s whim carried out by bemused lieutenants between more important tasks, it was a central feature of the future he promised—a Germany of real German culture as opposed to what he considered Jewish-Marxist values: Darkness, pessimism, neuroticism, abstraction, sexuality, intellectualism, complexity.

Thus began the denunciation of everything from the films of Fritz Lang to the music of Arnold Schoenberg and Louis Armstrong to the paintings of Egon Schiele, and the official adoption of the phrase Entartete Kunst—Degenerate Art.

Hitler didn’t hate modern culture because he saw it as a product of the Jews, he hated the Jews because he saw them as authors of modern culture. He has this in common with every author of moral panic ever after: the world was bad, the art was blamed or the artist was blamed, or there was a see-sawing back and forth between art and artist depending which case was easier to make. This is at the heart of all Degenerate Art theories: accusations that ills of the world can be laid at the feet of whatever art the critic doesn't like, delivered with no proof at all. The ills in question vary with the society doing the theorizing, though violence and women wearing the wrong clothes tend to appear at the top of every list.

Ironically, this idea of avant-garde art as a sign of widespread decadence was invented decades earlier by someone who had no investment in antisemitism or right-wing politics—we know because he was a prominent Jewish socialist named Max Nordau.



The Style

At the end of the nineteenth century, long before the Nazis came to power, Max Nordau--a distinguished community leader and physician--laid out his theory of art and culture in a book called Degeneration. I went into a lot more detail about its contents, effect on the development of contemporary art, and the many, many parallels with modern arguments in RPG land in a long article a few years ago. Although the book will strike any modern reader as completely bananas, it exerted a profound influence on cultural thought thereafter, eventually making its way into the Nazi ideology. Here Nordau proposes a cultural watchdog organization:
"Let the ' Society for Ethical Culture ' undertake to examine into the morality of artistic and literary productions. Its composition would be a guarantee that the examination would not be narrow-minded, not prudish, and not canting. Its members have sufficient culture and taste to distinguish the thoughtlessness of a morally healthy artist from the vile speculation of a scribbling ruffian. When such a society, which would be joined by those men from the people who are the best fitted for this task, should, after serious investigation and in the consciousness of a heavy responsibility, say of a man, 'He is a criminal !' and of a work, 'It is a disgrace to our nation !' work and man would be annihilated. No respectable bookseller would keep the condemned book ; no respectable paper would mention it, or give the author access to its columns ; no respectable family would permit the branded work to be in their house ; and the wholesome dread of this fate would very soon prevent the appearance of such books as Bahr's Gute Schule, and would dishabituate the 'realists' from parading a condemnation based on a crime against morality as a mark of distinction…"
The Nazis took this policy as far as they could: selling or destroying every piece of modern art from the national museums and destroying artists, careers and, sometimes, lives.

Hitler was the first example of a certain kind of coercive cultural fanatic (the paranoid dictator who demands paintings be burned) but Max Nordau was the first example of another, surprisingly common, kind: a more-or-less ordinary would-be progressive, embedded in a liberal society and philanthropically inclined, but with a blind spot the size of a battleship when it came to transgressive art.

While Hitler’s style is echoed by fellow failed-artists-turned-totalitarians like Stalin and Mao, Nordau’s descendants are milder folks, and found further west, including:

-The reformists of the 1920’s who campaigned as hard against pornography as they did against child labor

-Many of the Supreme Court justices who delivered the unanimous decision Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that movies weren't art, thereby ushering in the era of Hollywood self-censorship under the sexist, homophobic, and extremely squeamish Hays Code.

-Estes Kefauver—the trust-busting Democratic congressman who crusaded against organized crime, drug companies and, for some reason, pin-up girls, including Bettie Page

-Fredric Wertham—the low-income-nonprofit-clinic-running, data-about-comics-causing-crime-falsifying psychiatrist that Kefauver invited to testify in front of his juvenile delinquency subcommittee, responsible for the institution of the Comics Code Authority 

-Tipper Gore—wife of environmentalist and former vice-president Al Gore, advocate for the homeless, and advocate against Prince, Black Sabbath, Madonna, Judas Priest, AC/DC and everyone else in the ‘80s who recorded anything worth listening to.


Anyone wondering what this would-be-progressive style of moral panic looks like can watch Gore and fellow album-labeling advocates confront Ice T and Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra on Oprah back in 1990...


Jello Biafra: I accuse you of trying to destroy my career and ruin my right to make a living. (audience cheers)

Tipper Gore: No...

Jello Biafra: And... and for being... operating as a front for people like Jesse Helms, Phyllis Schlafly in order to drive the arch-conservative wedge into the mainstream. Rabbi Cooper, if you think Public Enemy's got problems against Jews, wait till you meet the organizations endorsed in Tipper Gore's book, like the "Back In Control" center. (audience applause) The "Back In Control" center is a group of cops from, I believe, Orange County, who send manuals to police departments and to parents claiming that, among other things, the Jewish Star is a symbol for satan, that high-top tennis shoes and black clothing could be a sign that your child might be turning to heavy metal and should therefore be deprogrammed--if a kid shoplifts or becomes involved in a gang, then, well, it must be the music's fault.

Tipper Gore: It is.

Jello Biafra: To me, practicing fraud like that to the point where doctors who used your video in a Milwaukee hospital told a kid who was treated... came in to be treated for clinical depression that his Iron Maiden T-shirt was the problem, that, to me is the real child abuse. 
(audience applauds)
Oprah Winfrey (over applause): Tipper, Tipper, let's just...

Tipper Gore: Thank you. First of all, that's a very bizarre rendition of what my group is about. We are not right-wing fundamentalists. I happen to be a liberal democrat. We have two...

Jello Biafra: Then why do you speak at Phyllis Schlafly functions?

Tipper Gore: Excuse me, I--I--....

Oprah Winfrey: Okay, one at a time.

Gamers will note the absence of Pat Pulling (founder of BADD, Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) and Jack Chick—key figures in gaming’s first controversy, the “Satanic Panic"--from the list above. This is because Pulling and Chick were cut from a different-, and much older-, mold: they were traditional cultural conservatives, not theorists of degenerate art.


The Theory


There is a responsible, non-fanatical, growing concern over pornography that can't be pinned on outdated images of prudish misfits attempting to Lysol the world. 
-Tipper Gore, Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society

While traditional cultural conservatives lean on received ideologies, usually religious (like: "D&D has magic, magic is the occult, the occult isn’t Christian, so D&D is bad." Or: "D&D has boobs, children aren’t supposed to know about boobs, D&D is bad") degenerate art theorists rely on science—or rather, scientism: the vocabulary of science, with none of the tests, research, or intellectual coherence that would imply. This gives degenerate art theories an appeal to postcollege parents that mere Sunday School pearl-clutching doesn’t have. The traditional conservative caters to the parent’s instinctive fear of putting boobs near children by claiming god hates boobs, the degenerate art theorist caters to the same fear by claiming putting children near boobs will result in whatever new societal terror such parents fear most.

A signal difference is the attitude toward the transgressive art of the past. The traditional conservative might be as mad about Michaelangelo’s David’s junk hanging out as they are about Grand Theft Auto, the degenerate art theorist prefers their targets feel as new and modern as their methods.

Degenerate art theories posit not that the offending work is part of a larger and age-old struggle of moral vs amoral culture, but rather that a new and modern understanding demands a new form of art be treated as unusually dangerous. Hitler only attacked art made in his century.

There are two reasons for this:

-The degenerate art theorist is at pains to present themselves as cultured, and aware there is a proper role for (horror, realism, sexuality, grotesquerie, violence or whatever else they’re complaining about) in art, especially art old enough to be canonized. Hitler was a painter, Stalin and Mao were poets, Frederic Wertham’s wife was a sculptor, Tipper Gore was in a band in the ‘60s and Max Nordau explained repeatedly that sex and violence were fine when Shakespeare did them. People like that can’t very well go full megachurch and stagger around railing against worldly entertainment in general. They are making an appeal across the political spectrum—including to mommies and daddies who may have been in a museum on vacation once—about a specific ill.

-Such a cultured person would logically have to be aware that every single moral panic of the past has turned out to be bullshit and so wants to present themselves as warning the world about something it hasn’t seen before. Just as this applies to the method—using allegedly new ideological analysis or new social science as an alibi—it applies to the target: yes music is always about sex but this Darling Nikki actually has the word “masturbating” in it, yes Texas Chainsaw Massacre was back in 1974 but in video games you play the role of the killer. The target of moral panic has to be described as an escalation or else the question of why no previous degenerate art has resulted in widescale societal chaos arises.

tl;dr The idea is to use incoherent and emotional arguments to separate your moral panic from other peoples' moral panic. Great example of an RPG creator doing that here.

The reason degenerate art panics can cyclically repeat with every new form of media and the pattern’s never noticed is that their architects disown their forebears: modern moral panic theorists are entirely certain their unsupported faith in the corrupting power of pictures of boobs and guns is different from the unsupported faith in the corrupting power of pictures of boobs and guns that puritans of the past had--though they can’t begin to say why. When an RPGnetter claims a product made or championed by a woman is bad for women, they’re glossing over the fact that everyone in the degenerate lineage has made the same claim, Tipper Gore called the people defending Madonna and Cyndi Lauper sexist and Max Nordau complained the protofeminism of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House:

Hence it should be the true duty of rational wives to declare Ibsen infamous, and to revolt against Ibsenism, which criminally threatens them and their rights. Only through error can women of spirit and indisputable morality join the ranks of Ibsen’s followers. It is necessary to enlighten them concerning the range of his doctrines, and in particular concerning their effect on the position of woman, so that they may abandon a company which can never be their own.

This is the key to degenerate art theory’s continuing recurrence: historical amnesia and an attempt to position their outrage as an instrument of a brave new tomorrow, rather than as a tool for the restoration of a gilded past.

Traditional conservativism has a natural antibody: traditional liberalism—never thin on the ground in creative environments (witness, for example, the repeated utter failure of conservatives like RPGpundit to get anything substantive done, ever). Though less common than a traditional conservative critique of transgressive are (which will be preached forever from pulpits of all denominations) degenerate art theory has been far more effective because its the killer coming from inside the house. Degenerate art theory can win a majority by welding would-be liberal parents concerned with a terrifying future to right-leaning voices in the pews, who realize that no matter the origin of their new allies’ beliefs, the practical result will feed their own nostalgia for the harmless culture of an unprovocative past.

Pat Pulling and Tipper Gore may not agree on why Judas Priest shouldn’t be in Wal Mart, but the important thing is: Judas Priest isn’t in Wal Mart.


A Quiz

You might agree that moral panics are ignorant and silly while not being entirely sure they apply in the sphere of recent attacks on games. Well: what arguments have the RPG Drama Club presented that past crusaders against sex, violence and bad language haven't? 

Here's a series of quotes from Tipper Gore and fellow 1980s culture-war parents, politicians, professors and activists on talk shows, during senate hearings, and in books and papers they've written complaining about hip hop, sex, metal, and Dungeons & Dragons mixed in with quotes from the contemporary tabletop RPG Drama Club complaining about contemporary RPGs. See if you can tell which statement was made by which group without googling. Names of products have been excised to avoid giving away the answers by marking time.:

1) “We have a right to freedom of speech in this country and you have a right to _____ that abuse women and that use racism but we have a right to speak out against them" 

2) “The burden is actually on many groups. Individuals must realize their own prejudices and their norms and attempt to develop their own individual skills and knowledge (that’s Level 1 on the Sexual Violence Spectrum), but the community (Level 2) as well as media (Level 5) also have a role to play in. As I said earlier in a quote from the Institute of Medicine “It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior easily when so many forces in the social, cultural, and physical environment conspire against such change.”

3) "Why do you think people should never raise questions about the potential effect of an artwork unless they have solid proof? "

4) “There is a new element of vulgarity and violence toward women that is unprecedented.“

5) "I fear perpetuating gross parallels to real-world problems without the awareness I think those things require. If my ____ do include things that echo real-world things like the killing of innocents, genocide, torture, racism, sexism, or rape, I want to do so with a certain awareness that it isn't just imaginary. That we're choosing what to imagine and glorify...It's the glorification of these acts that bothers me. They're not good acts.”

6) “The violence demonstrates power. Its message is: Who can get away with doing what to whom. And this is a powerful, insidious message to learn. The violence teaches that the powerless people are easy to intimidate….”

7) “American men have a one in one hundred chance of being murdered at some time in their lives. The risk is twice that for non-whites. Shouldn’t those figures make us think twice about glorifying murder and mayhem?”

8) "______ himself, on the other hand, is much easier to condemn, because his choice to aim his artwork at an audience composed largely of young males whose lust for compromised female bodies is not anchored by a strong foundation of respect for women’s meta-level wishes implies that he doesn’t see a need for context in the first place. What should be done about it seems to follow naturally from the idea of context—kick it out of the mainstream, where it’s likely to be misinterpreted…"

9) (on pin-up girls) “And while you argue that the women do not have any responsibility beyond themselves to make this, I still counter-argue that they have the responsibility to consider how what they make will be perceived by others not in their community. "

10) "The message is that violence is normal and ok, that hostile sexual relations between men and women are common and acceptable, that heroes actively engage in torture and murders of others for fun"

11) “Only by rejecting the status quo will we create a market for more positive themes. It’s a big job, but we can do it.”

12) "“…porn actresses who are still 'in the business' are pretty much required to 100% talk positive about the companies, the shoots, the porn itself, the actors, the directors, etc. There have been dozens of actresses who were big in 'promoting people to watch porn, and that being in porn is cool and fun' who, after getting out, were like 'Yeah if I didn't do that I either didn't get shoots, or I got assigned to the abusive ones where they hurt girls'."

13) "…the whole thing just seems to be a childish exercise in cramming as many instances of 'fuck' into the ___ as possible."

14) "It's also naive to suggest that because something has women involved in it, even only women, that that means it can't be sexist. There's nothing hilarious in pointing out that only women worked on something. Certain groups of women, particularly those who have gained power either through performing traditional gender roles (housewives) or have acted in the opposite of them (such as say porn stars), have a lot to lose if sexism is eased or erased in our society. They often become among the greatest perpetrators of the status quo because if society changed, they would lose their power"

15) “If so much of our fiction tells one narrative, it is not the fault of the individuals in the culture for not seeing past that narrative"

16) "The women have no responsibility to represent who they are not. However, they do have a responsibility to themselves to consider how society at large will interpret how they present themselves, because they will, and do, as well as for the population they are choosing to represent."

17) "In fact, we are talking about products primarily written for children, marketed to children, and sold to children."

18) “We know the positive impact that _____ can have you can’t turn around and therefore say we shouldn’t have any responsibility for the negative messages, some of them very serious with stereotyping and racism and say hey that doesn’t mean anything it’s just ____”

19) "…D&D (and anything close to it) is quite a morally bankrupt game. It's about characters who deliberately choose to go into violent conflicts because of greed; it's about performing violence and trickery….being a participatory medium, it's actually much more serious business than allowing children to, say, watch violent movies..."

20)  “…D&D is probably a less ideal system framework for giving opportunities for good parenting. There's just so much in the system that encourages negative things - like the way you are rewarded precisely and only for how many things you kill and/or how much stuff you take..."

21) “Wheres the line between validating and exposing? I think the problem here is you have a lot of _____ that are validating racism, validating celebrating violence”

22) "What happens however today is that people tend to not want to say they say hey well listen if I come out of my bag and say 'Hey I don’t like this then I’m gonna get labelled as a censor and like a conservative, and a crazy person' and they don’t say anything and ____ keep on making their money spreading their evil intent”

23) “…the generation that grew up on heavy metal and fantasy cheesecake pinups airbrushed onto vans is being expected to grow up. They don't like it, and they need someone to blame.

24) "Finally, whether you want to think it or not, the truth is porn IS coloring people's perceptions of sex and love. That one is pretty well established. You don't hear about it because we have this current trend of people abdicating their responsibility to society, generally in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar.

25) “But the sort of people who profit from aggressively marketing _____ have the morals of the marketplace, and the marketplace is the place to get their attention.”

26) "Tipper Gore wasn't seeking to censor music, but just to establish a ratings system for parents to use. Nor did she even lead that movement, she was just a supporter. Now, granted, that did have the secondary effect that it shrunk the market for some music, but also may have increased the sales of artists that got to be sensationalized with a warning label. In any case, just like the issue with _____, Gore was never actually involved with promoting censorship, but regulation. "

27) "There is a difference between wanting to restrain and control and wanting to suppress and censor…they simply protest the forced diet of sexual excess”"

28) "They made me sick to my stomach. Porn's cheap and abundant enough at this point that I don't think we need to keep shoving it into every uncomfortable nook and cranny…Can't see that? I'm sorry. Try harder. Start with your eyes. And pretend you're trying to engage your (real or not) young daughter...”

29) "What children see on the screen is violence as an almost casual commonplace of daily living...Children learn to take pride in force and to feel ashamed of ordinary sympathy. They are encouraged to forget that people have feelings."

Score yourself by highlighting this block of text...

1) 80s: Tipper Gore attacking to Ice T on Oprah

2) RPG Drama Club dude talking to a pin up girl on Google +

3) RPG Drama Club dude on Reddit

4) 80s: Tipper Gore on metal and hip hop

5) RPG Drama Club dude on Keep on the Borderlands

6) 80s: Dr George Gerbner railing agains the A Team, quoted by Tipper Gore in her book Raising PG Kids in an X Rated Society

7) 80s: Tipper Gore in her book

8) RPG Drama Club dude on Hyun Tae Kim, artist on an Exalted cover

9) RPG Drama Club dude talking to a pin up girl on Google +

10) 80s: Dr Thomas Radecki railing against ‘80s music videos, quoted by Tipper Gore

11) 80s: Tipper Gore in her book

12) RPG Drama Club member on Something Awful /tg, complaining about the women on this blog

13) RPG Drama Club member on Reddit, talking about the writing in Veins of the Earth

14) RPG Drama Club member on Google + discussing an RPG thing made entirely by (fellow) women

15) RPG Drama Club member on Google +

16) RPG Drama Club dude on Google +

17) 80s: Tipper Gore

18) 80s: Rabbi Abraham Cooper on Oprah complaining about music

19) RPG Drama Club member on StoryGames.com

20) RPG Drama Club member on StoryGames.com

21) 80s: Rabbi Abraham Cooper on Oprah complaining about lyrics

22) 80s: Juan Williams on Oprah complaining about rappers

23) RPG Drama Club member on Something Awful /tg

24) RPG Drama Club member on Google +

25) 80s: George Will

26) RPG Drama Club member on Something Awful /tg

27) 80s: Tipper Gore in her book

28) RPG Drama Club king Fred Hicks complaining about Kingdom Death

29) Trick question: Frederic Wertham, the comic book censoring  fraud, from back in the '50s

Other than a handful of new phrases coming into style--"shocking" is out and "problematic" is in--the main difference between the old attacks and the new ones is the number of actual RPG designers joining in on them. While in the music business even John Denver could be relied on to see the parallel between calls for "tasteful restraint" and Nazi standards, the mild, moderate moms and dads of the RPG industry frequently seem pretty happy to throw their competition to the wolves--nearly every name up there has a game or at least a failed Kickstarter on their resume.


The Stakes


When people run out of steam defending bad faith and half-baked bandwagon criticism they switch to framing the stakes as nonexistent. This displays a deep ignorance of the economics of independently-created game stuff. 

There's no point in making a criticism unless someone believes it and if they believe it that's one less record, book, picture sold--because of something totally made up. The Dead Kennedys fought their obscenity case to a draw, but the fight basically ended the band, the PMRC's record stickers created a dual economy in the record business where unlabelled music reached a much wider audience because even if kids didn't take the stickers seriously, powerful chains like Wal-Mart sure did, which had a huge effect on underground music. 

On the smaller scale the RPG industry operates on, the stakes for creators are much higher: independent creators can easily be burned by a dedicated hard-core of a few hundred harassers motivated by some imaginary grievance, and even properties with corporate backing are the expendable runt of their patrons' litter: when the RPG Drama Club forgot how to use email and started attacking Vampire 5e's creators online in order to get the changes they wanted, the parent company had to weigh the cost of that ongoing harassment vs the value of a game that, even with great sales, would make almost nothing by video game standards. They decided to give up making new RPG product altogether.

The current wave of organized stupidity won't result in ovens or government bans or an RPG Code Authority, but there will be economic damage--that is, damage to creators ability to create freely and have confidence in their creative gambles. More than once, major creators whose names you'd recognize have told me they're afraid to publish ideas because of potential backlash. This means fewer games and less diverse games--and it means that the ones publishers do gamble on will be less adventurous. And unfortunately it'll take more than rolling your eyes to stop that from happening.
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*Concerned Game Fans on Something Awful, usually so eager to point out sexism when it isn't directed at LotFP:


And there's even some commentary on the book's content...


94 comments:

Shane Ward said...

My only comment thus far is in regards to the concerned fan. That's absolute bs. No company that I know of would burn inventory, especially inventory that they paid for. And to make room? right....

Most companies would attempt to either
1. return the product on the basis of it "not selling"
2. Discount the product.
3. Return the product and have it wrapped in a way that wouldn't show the cover (echoes of Walmart come to mind changing album covers).
4. Try and sell the product at a loss to another local store.

David Oakes said...

Anything in the warehouse on December 31st is product you have to pay taxes on. It is not unreasonable to trash something now if the perceived future value is less than the cost.

On the other hand, we live in a world where people post things just to wind-up Others. Until someone takes ownership of the censorship, this is no different from saying you know a guy who swears his cousin was there when Billy summoned a demon using a spell out of the PHB.

Book Burning: Like Flag Burning, even that has shades of grey...

Zak Sabbath said...

@David Oakes

It looks like you didn't read the post or link to the original report.

Elizabeth's source _explicitly said_ her book was destroyed because it was "disgusting" not because of some random other shit.

If you doubt her or her source: address them and see if your skepticism is warranted.

Alberto Voglino said...

I find interesting and baffling how a specific "gory" and "disgusting" image can be perceived to be more or less "gory' and "disgusting" than another one which pretty much contains the same elements. Is blood trickling down a woman's leg more "disgusting" than, for instance, the scene in Game of Thrones where the torturer cuts Theon Greyjoy's dick? Because both contains blood, legs and genitals, but somehow one is destroyed, the other one televised to millions of people.

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John C said...

Great post, and well referenced as always! What amazes me about the current nonsense is that it’s far less about “the kids” than it used to be. Gore and Wertham and their kind were always crusading on behalf of the children.

With this modern trend, the kids are still mentioned here and there, but more often than not, people seem to be trying to “protect” other adults.

Which just baffles me.

Kabo said...

Well you know what they say, 30 is the new 20. Which I guess makes 20 the new 13.

remial said...

I don't know about disgusting, but I do have a concern. That seems like too much blood running down her legs.

Admittedly, as a male of the species, who has been single for several years, most of my knowledge concerning menstruation is academic.

Anonymous said...

remial, while I think it is artistically arranged red on the picture, in normal circumstances the amount of blood is quite right (especially in first couple of days of the cycle.

remial said...

Anon, fair enough, consider me better informed.
However, not to condone what the distribution center did, one of the first rules that was taught to me when I was learning to play D&D (and other RPGs by extension) was "Don't freak out the normies". I was taught that doing so could result in having my books destroyed, being forced to undergo 'religious educational interventions', and the like. (basically the kinds of things you see in Chick Tracts.)

now I understand that LotFP likes to push the envelope, however, the cover for She Bleeds would definitely fall under the 'freak out the normies' header. (at least in my opinion) Granted it is not the only cover that would do so, just looking at the books on MY shelf, the covers for many of the Exalted source books would fall into that category as well, as would Book of Vile Darkness.

Menace 3 Society said...

@David Oakes

"Anything in the warehouse on December 31st is product you have to pay taxes on."

Bullshit. I have never heard of unsold inventory being taxable anywhere in the world, and I've worked in a lot of different countries.

Kabo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Locke said...

Creat article, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Menace, as it turns out, some U.S. states (Texas, most notably) do in fact tax unsold inventory.

Sounded like nonsense to me but here's a cite:

Anonymous said...

The aforementioned cite: https://taxfoundation.org/does-your-state-tax-business-inventory/

Zak Sabbath said...

@Menace 3 Society @anonymous

Either way, it's a meaningless tangent. The point is that people that are 100% credulous about any kind of idea which feeds their narrative are bending over backwards to invent excuses to explain away a story which paints people like them as a bad guy.

Ro Annis said...

Zak,
1) I just purchased a vintage Japanese Octopussy movie poster. The image of "She Bleeds" is not unlike other 007 posters...There is something insidious and bizarre about the Octopussy poster. It is a comment on our society...a woman with eight arms hovering behind Roger Moore. Holding a gun. Tweaking a button. Maybe there should be blood running down Roger Moore's legs?
2) I am always amazed at the quality and depth of your writing. It takes me forever to write a simple short post. Stop making it look so freaking easy.

Friar Zero said...

Yes it will have economic consequences. That's sort of the whole point of trying to discourage a thing. Humans have always sought to encourage that which they approve of and discourage that which they disapprove of. Pulling a Godwin won't change that fact. Hitler wasn't unique in his desires, merely his capacity for realizing them.

Instead you should focus on trying to address the idea behind the disapproval, which is that representation matters. You are not, and have not by your forum post history, convinced anyone that exploitative images of women and/or graphic depictions of sexual violence should be approved of simply on first principles. The issue is, was, and always has been whether these reductive images and tired cliches directly reinforce a system of patriarchal misogyny. If you ever want to actually change anyone's mind you'll need statistics and data that show there is no link between representation and popular opinion.

Because to say, as you have been, that media cannot contain immoral or harmful perceptions is simply absurd. The practice of studying the implications of what it is a piece of media communicates to the audience is as old as art itself. From ancient greek theatre to Japanese shadow puppets. Humans have always held the notion you seem to find most abhorrent, that art actually might matter. So you need to find a new tact to your argument or confront the fact that art may actually convey meaning.

Welcome to the world outside your head.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

1. Burden of proof is on the accuser

2. "exploitative images of women"
" reductive images and tired cliches"

That's called a begging-the-question fallacy:

assuming the thing you're trying to prove.

3. "Because to say, as you have been, that media cannot contain immoral or harmful perceptions is simply absurd"

I didnt' say that.

You are not allowed to put misinformation in my comments. Please apologize.

4. " a new tact to your argument "

You mean to say "tack".


Friar Zero said...

I will never apologize to you. Even if I accidentally ran over your dog and felt really bad about it. I would never in a million years give you the kind of attention and ammunition you crave with your every breath.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

And this is why no progress ever happens on these things:

Sexism and exploitation are *incredibly* high stakes. These are important issues.

But when anyone tries to parse your beliefs in any detail and goes to the trouble to point out where you haven't been clear you just shut down and revert to personal attacks.

This doesn't help anyone, it doesn't create progress. And the things is: you're clearly passionate in what you believe, so there'd be no actual downside to trying to address simple questions like:

-Can you describe what the difference between an "exploitive" and "non exploitive" sexual image might be?

-Is "cliche" a moral issue?

-When can we and when can we not predict the effect of a work of art?

-Should there be consequences for predicting it and being wrong?

-Do you have an idea about what the difference between your moral critique and those of people int he 80s (et al) who have since proven to be wrong is?

..can't ever be addressed.

No woman or man or any one else who isn't born being offended by exactly the same set of images as you will ever be able to get further than where they started because given the choice to either snark or talk you chose snark.

And why wouldn't you?

If someone reading your remarks came to a greater understanding of the danger you see in images that women in droves have no problem with _I don't think you'd really care_ . If actually helping people motivated you, you'd ,...talk?..be helpful?.. engage, act like a person instead of just a scream on the internet.

The fact is: engagement doesn't help you. And you know that--because somewhere you must be aware you haven't actually thought any of this through, you don't have any answers, you know your position is just primal disgust and instinct and it somehow seems cruel that anyone might want to, like, talk about it and find out why.

So you won't address what the person you're talking to says: because it won't get you personally anything but the pain of having to think about that.

And that sucks: because none of this means you're doomed to be a bad person or deserve all that. Unless you make it so--which you've apparently decided to.

It's depressing

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

You haven't engaged at all--I raised points and you didn't address them.

You can't lie so: erased

Friar Zero said...

I raised points and YOU didn't address them. You can't lie, so can I delete your shitty post?

I suppose I shouldn't expect any better from a rich kid.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar ZEro

You are lying again:

Post the points (and ONLY) the points you believe I did not address.

I will not apologize for having been successful at my job.

Friar Zero said...

Oh yes, defend capitalism, daddy. Tell us all about how the free market is good and why being born to rich parents that can pay for a masters degree is a sign of your moral superiority.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

1. You're not engaging again: you are failing to post the points you say I didn't address

2. I got a loan for my masters (the same loan anyone who gets admitted to a grad program in the US is eligible for) and I went to undergrad on full scholarship. My parents weren't rich. I just got lucky after I graduated and sold lots of paintings.

3. I don't believe capitalism is good or meritocratic, I am just fact-checking you.

4. Again you should apologize for not telling the truth.

5. Repeat: you are failing to post the points you say I didn't address.

Friar Zero said...

1. Why would I bother to engage when you are nitpicking in bad faith from the jump? Points you didn't address? Any of them in my first post. You chose to snipe and snark instead of actually engaging in the ideas. Then you started engaging when I snarked back. This is my people hate you. You are, at best, a troll and , at worst, a classical narcissist.

0.999 You are using "moral panic" to describe criticism of content and context. Half the quiz quotes are perfectly reasonable positions about calling out shitty behavior.

Alpha. Your conflating moral panic and criticism itself. This precludes the idea that media can be harmful. Hell, this precludes legitimate criticism of anything other than form.

Tangerine. Just write like a person, stop with the condescending lists.

7. I never once lied here. I really would not apologize if I ran over your dog. You're too much of a drama llama to be given that kind of ammunition. Next thing you know you would be posting my home address on your twitter and saying "hey, get at this person" or maybe use me as an example of "a bad person enjoys this game so the game is bad". Wait, isn't that the very definition of a moral panic. Explain that one to John Harper, a man you hate for simply not responding to your bullshit tactics on a single forum once years ago.

N. An exploitative image is an image that reinforces a culture of exploitation. Media that shows black men as criminals and rapists. Images that show women as sex objects for men's pleasure. Ones that define rape as the source of a "strong woman" and women's deaths as character building experiences for men.

VII. If you genuinely do believe that the media we intake has no effect on us you are going to have to disprove 50 years of marketing research and the entire field of semiotics. It reeks of idealism which holds the individual as some immune great free will that is somehow completely divorced from material reality.

Also if you correct my spelling one more time I will not only not apologize if I were to ever run over your dog, I would get out and laugh in your face.

"the danger you see in images that women in droves have no problem with "
Ah, yes, the equivalent to "i can't be racist, I have black friends". "Droves" of women voted for Trump. "droves" of women oppose reproductive rights. Argument ad populum is just bad thinking.

"you must be aware you haven't actually thought any of this through"
You are just a font of self-parody disguised as condescension.

Explain to me what is not morally correct with this statement.
"We have a right to freedom of speech in this country and you have a right to _____ that abuse women and that use racism but we have a right to speak out against them"

That is one of your half-assed "gotcha" quotes that prove absolutely nothing. However you seem to be of the opinion that this statement is somehow in any way shape or form equivocal to the crimes of National Socialism. So maybe back up this claim with some induction, deduction, even simple logic will do.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

1. Accusations of "bad faith", "troll" "narcissist": Burden of proof is on the accuser. I didn't snark or snipe.

"Half the quiz quotes are perfectly reasonable positions about calling out shitty behavior." --say which ones those are

"This precludes the idea that media can be harmful. " inaccurate: i am saying that harm must be proved and it hasn't been.


7. "I never once lied here." You repeatedly lied, You said my parents were rich, you falsely claimed i didnt' address your points and you've made several false accusations.

N. "an image that reinforces a culture of exploitation. " That's vague. you're not defining which images called this by critics are exploitive and which are not

VII. ". If you genuinely do believe that the media we intake has no effect on us" I never said that. You are lyig again

"Explain to me what is not morally correct with this statement.
"We have a right to freedom of speech in this country and you have a right to _____ that abuse women and that use racism but we have a right to speak out against them""

What's not morally right is the person they were talking to had not created lyrics that abuse women and the speaker was misrepresenting them.

or are you joining the TIpper Gore brigade? Do you agree Ice T's lyrics were bad for women


Address these points

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Also the studies were erased because none of them were about the music, art or games discussed here and none of them show a connection between that work and the outcomes people claimed.

Please do not cite evidence that bad media cause bad outcomes as evidence that harmless media does.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

And of course, I addressed every point in your first post. This is my response, above, which exhaustively details the reasons your points don't make sense:

"
@Friar Zero

1. Burden of proof is on the accuser

2. "exploitative images of women"
" reductive images and tired cliches"

That's called a begging-the-question fallacy:

assuming the thing you're trying to prove.

3. "Because to say, as you have been, that media cannot contain immoral or harmful perceptions is simply absurd"

I didnt' say that.

"

You didn't make any points in that post which aren't covered there under those 3 responses--you call on me to prove a negative (fallacy), you assume images are harmful without proving it (fallacy), and you state I make a claim I did not make (lie or mistake).

If you don't understand those issues, feel free to ask a question.

Friar Zero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Friar Zero said...

Whoops, need to repost. Damn typo again. Can't have you addressing that instead of my actual points like usual.


"What's not morally right is the person they were talking to had not created lyrics that abuse women and the speaker was misrepresenting them."

So make that argument instead of writing a whole screed that says any and all criticism for content is equivalent to the murder of 6 million jews.

You can't say
"Also the studies were erased because none of them were about the music, art or games discussed her"
and then immediately turn around and say:
"you assume images are harmful without proving it (fallacy)"

You deleted my list of 32 links that prove images are overwhelmingly correlated with harm. Don't worry, I saved them so I can repost them again.

As for the specific games listed, you never went into detail about the images or the specific controversy regarding them. You instead are trying to make a much larger point. If you want to talk about each of those works individually then maybe you should have done so in your blog post instead of trying to prove some grander point about art criticism. So I'm addressing the point you did make instead of the points you "meant" to make.

"Please do not cite evidence that bad media cause bad outcomes as evidence that harmless media does."

Again, that's not the argument you wrote. YOU WROTE that criticism of the moral content of media is equivalent to the system extermination of an ethnic group. Maybe you should write about what you mean instead.

"That's vague. you're not defining which images called this by critics are exploitive and which are not "

Yes I did. Now is it my turn to call you a liar? Or is that rhetorical point scoring trick only for you to make your e-peen swell? I wonder what would happen if someone cut your dick off. Would you be forced to grow a personality?

3. "Because to say, as you have been, that media cannot contain immoral or harmful perceptions is simply absurd"

That is the only conclusion that can be drawn by equating tweets saying "i won't buy this and I encourage you not to" and literal genocide. Are you sensing a theme? You are making arguments now that were never in the blog post. If you want to write a new one where YOU define where harm begins and ends then I would be happy to read it and critique it.

Like every other moral question it is up to the individual to make the decision on how far is too far and then explain that decision to others in their social circle. If their conclusions match up then they will act collectively. This is called culture. It is the method by which people form societies and come to determine laws and ethical codes of conduct.

Your problem seems to be with humans. How dare lowely humans critique my preferred art. How dare they have values that differ from mine. For I am THE MIGHTY PUNK LARPER whose died mohawk and tattoos take the place of a real personality and anyone who disagrees must be crushed lest I look like a mere fallible mortal!

Evidence? Your entire post history in every forum ever. Every tweet where you tell your fans to "get at" the evil disagreer. The insults, the deadnaming, harassment campaigns, and the endless condescension. Don't forget the paranoid ravings where some secret Something Awful cabal is sending undercover agents to embarrass you for your lack of statistical knowledge.

I say it is you Jacob Marley who is the abuser and enabler and if you do not repent your douche ways you will forever to be bound to walk this earth in chains as morally superior people look down their nose at you for being a useless idiot for fascism. Go on now defend Raggi from liking another nazi like Solzhenitsyn. retweet another white supremacist onto your timeline. Make sure to stand up and shout down all leftist criticism of culture and society. How dare those uppity lower classes disagree with you the cis straight white man with a mohawk, the wokest of them all!

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

You've made many points and they all deserve to be addressed and will be.

However, because of what you've written so far, it's unclear whether you are actually reading what you're responding to or are responsive to stimuli or are capable of responding to a simple request to substantiate a claim, which is essential to any rational assessment of someone's views.

So before going on to address all your points (which I will do), let's just test one example.

You just claimed (among much worse things) I was a LARPer. I've never LARPed.

So, you have 2 options:

In your next comment, prove that I did, or...

In your next comment apologize and explain why you didn't tell the truth.

Go.

Friar Zero said...

LARPer as in Lifestylist. Superficial punk. All flash no substance. Doing it for attention. Performative non-conformity. Skin deep personality. No substance. Phoney.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

That's obviously inaccurate, but let's stick to simple stimulit

You claimed I retweeted a white supremacist onto my timeline.

This also isn't true.

So, you have 2 options:

In your next comment, prove that I did, or...

In your next comment apologize and explain why you didn't tell the truth.

Go.

Friar Zero said...

You're right, not retweeted, just engaged with. My bad. Score one for you. Well played. Etcetera.

https://twitter.com/IHitItWithMyAxe/status/1081694920686034944

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Ok, now: Deadnaming.

Other than:

-when I write a trans person working with me a check and they ask me to use a deadname bc they haven't legally changed it,

or

-things I wrote before a person changed their name

I'm unaware of ever deadnaming someone.

So, you have 2 options:

In your next comment, prove that I did, or...

In your next comment apologize and explain why you didn't tell the truth.

Go.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Ok, I erased your post because, like your previous ones it contains a number of factual errors--but it will all be addressed.

Lets start here:

"Whoops, it was your girlfriend who deadnamed, you just promoted the blog post in which she did it"

So in the post I think you're referring to, she called out a Something Awful troll called Mikan and listed their screen names in order to warn their other potential victims. This was not someone who's gender we knew, much less trans status.

Do you have any evidence she knew anything about this troll's gender or trans status?

So, you have 2 options:

In your next comment, prove that she did, or...

In your next comment apologize and explain why you didn't tell the truth.

Friar Zero said...

I'm willing to give you this one because you've done a great job deleting the evidence. Even if this was an honest mistake it fits perfectly with a pattern of behaviour you have in attacking transwomen authors who disagree. Including making a transphobic caricature of one of your criticism in a licensend game product.

Oh, I forgot when you impersonated a member of the RPGnet admin team on reddit and when called on it couldn't even make up a good excuse. Am I forgetting anything else that you accuse others of but do yourself with impunity safe in the knowledge that you're a bourgeois cis straight white guy who will have his mediocrity rewarded irrespective of effort or character.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

"I'm willing to give you this one because you've done a great job deleting the evidence. "

There is none. But again, let's move on to other simple lies to disprove.

Making a transphobic character is a serious accusation, so let's take a look:

There's also a conspiracy theory about one of the two trans characters the Vampire mobile game that Sarah Horrocks and I created. We can address that here as well. Heres Sarah's take--she's trans, cowrote and co-drew the ap and I got her the job:

"

http://mercurialblonde.tumblr.com/post/157525001658

Sarah Horrocks on avery / bailey jay:

It’s odd that I’m being lectured at to what the qualities of a transphobe may or may not be. Getting “actually’d” about transphobia or transmisogny is pretty surreal. It was put to me, whether I knew I had worked with a transphobe or not. Not someone who said a transphobic thing before–but someone who as a condition of their being, they hate transgender people. I remember when the transphobic allegations were first made, because it was during a time when Mandy was super sick, so all of that was kind of happening at once, and of course as a transwoman who knew Zak, I was interested in looking at the allegations. I found them to be dishonest in their representation. And that in conjunction with my personal experiences, which I already outlined concluded that Zak wasn’t transphobic. Also I think the representation of my relationship to Zak has been kind of distorted. He knows me through my comics and comics criticism. He was someone who bought Hecate Snake Diaries Vol. 1 when it came out, and one of the things I rail against in comics is how people only care about supporting fictional diversity and don’t care about supporting real people in these industries. Zak is someone who has constantly supported my work as an artist in a way that I wish more people who gave lip service to supporting outsider voices did. He’s not the only one, but he’s notable in the lengths he’s gone to. So I don’t think it is unreasonable given that experience with Zak, and given the disingenuous way that the allegations about him being transphobic were made–and then given that the same people were misrepresenting the game to my face–like so on side I had people I’ve never met before, hiding behind screennames lying to me, but asking me to believe something that is the exact opposite of the experience I’ve personally had with someone, and an experience that is mirrored by other transwomen who are friends with Zak. You are certainly free to believe what you want–but surely you have to see how my position is a reasonable one, and you can see the logic behind how I arrived at it. (cont'd)

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar Zero

(cont'd)


I think the more logical conclusion is not that Zak is transphobic, but that he has both agreed and disagreed to varying degrees with people who are transgender. Hell, I’ve had arguments with Zak before. It’s actually why I was comfortable working with him, because I knew we could disagree and that he would listen to me, and I would listen to him. I think that level of trust is essential creatively.

The reason I’m talking about this aspect of everything, and not the other harassment charges, is because as a transwoman this particular avenue is part of a very important discussion for me personally. And I’m aware of the basis of those allegations. The rest of it, I’ve found hard to follow, and I’ve tried, but there’s a continual disconnect between what I’m told is behind a link, and what is. And not being familiar with gaming or the people in it, or their competing agendas, I don’t feel comfortable telling people that what they are saying happened did or didn’t happen. Which I think is a reasonable thing for me to do. And hopefully people can respect that.

As for the other, I sent a longer article to whitewolf which I think might get put out at some point, giving my own perspective on the Avery character. But I did want to pushback on your and others discomfort with the character referring to her genitalia. It’s something I tweeted about the other day, but I’ll put it here too, because I think it is important. So I’d say, no one really has the right to tell a transgender person how to refer to or not refer to their genitalia. The Avery character is based on Zak’s friend Baily Jay, who if you follow her on twitter you will see is someone who is very body positive in a way that I find very empowering as a transwoman. So often we are told in conversations like this, to be honest, that we should be ashamed of our genitals. Particularly if you are a transwoman who has not had SRS. You are shamed for that, even though that barrier is largely a monetary one. It is amazing, cisgender people comment on our genitalia constantly, and have no qualms about asking about it, but if we either in real life, or in fiction talk about our own genetalia, particularly if it doesn’t subscribe to how cisgender people would like, then we’re attacked for doing it.
(cont'd)

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

(cont'd)


This shame is actually something that is omnipresent in my own work, and if I can get anything else out in my art, it’s that cisgender people have no right to make transgender people feel ashamed for fucking genitalia, and transgender people should not FEEL ashamed. But it is a connnnnstant. And it’s very easy as a transwoman to just feel so ashamed of your body, in particular your genitalia, that you just shut down and stop trying. But what I like about people like Bailey, and characters like Avery–or just like bad bitch cisgender women who are body positive–is the strength to be like “fuck me? no fuck you”. I want to survive. I want characters who are bold, who want to survive. I don’t want narratives that are about making cisgender people see transgender people as people they should patronize and feel sorry for. We are awesome. We are beautiful. And we’re not backing down. Alexander McQueen once said about the clothes he was making, that he wanted to make clothes that scared men about women. I want transgender narratives like that. Where we are so bold, and fierce, that you’d be terrified to do something as stupid as tell us that we can or can’t talk about our genitalia. And you don’t think with all of these bathroom bills coming out, that I wouldn’t mind a transgender vampire like Avery running around fucking up bigots–I mean what is fiction if not the place for those kind of heroes.

It sucks that people running around saying this game is transphobic is going to run transgender people off the game, because the game itself is extremely inclusive, and it’s actually BY a transgender creator, not just cisgender men trying to profit off of the depiction of one. I mean how many transgender vampires are there even so far in fiction? Let alone on this level of platform?

I dunno. I’ve found the whole experience crazy. I’ve managed to be a part of a work that has united gamergater trolls and people supposedly for LGBTQ rights....

(cont'd)

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

"

It’s also been a bit of a drain on my emotional resources for a work for hire situation when my emphasis is comics. Which is why I don’t plan to work on any more games in the future. It would be one thing to deal with comics over something like this, I know the terrain, I know the people, and I care deeply about the medium. Gaming though? It’s not worth it for me. I’ve lost several days of working on comics already for something that I thought was just going to be like…a game that came out, people reacted to the game one way or the other, and I would just keep going on with my comics work. I didn’t realize it would be days of answering emails, or a mass linkage of my name with the idea that the work I had made was transphobic. If I’m going to get torn down over something, let it be a comic at least!

Anyways. I’m sure something in this lengthy response is just going to make someone somewhere madder. But the transgender issues of this are important to me, and I do care about their characterization, particularly since I think about them every day of my life.

"

Part of the conspiracy theory is also that the character "Avery" is named after the designer of Monsterhearts supposedly to make fun of her--which doesn't make sense since Avery of Monsterhearts and I never had any kind of significant conflict. That was made up by one of the harassers-- Jay Allen (he's usually a video game person, but he began harassing us on the advice of his friend, infamous tabletop harasser and Something Awful goon Paul Matijevic / Ettin and they both invented a story we were involved in gamergate in order to justify it)

.


So: are you saying that

Sarah Horrocks (trans woman and coauthor)

Bailey Jay (trans woman and model for the character, who liked the character, approved of it, and basically, aside from the murder--par for the course for a vampire character--is basically exactly that character who does the same things and jokes about it

and Morgan Altre (trans woman and model for the other trans character in the game) are wrong about the character being transphobic and you are right?

And are you saying that I should have consulted you instead of them when co-creating the character?

Friar Zero said...

Consult me? No. I do however listen to the transwomen in my life who tell me it's insulting. Maybe it wasn't transphobic, that's not for me to say.

Now, are you going to address any of my actual points or simply copy and paste more blogs of your friends defending you?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Of course I'm going to address all of your points. That's what we're doing here, one by one.

So, to clarify:

Do you understand:

a) "Transwomen in your life" tell you the character is insulting while transwomen who collaborated on creating the character and who worked on the project say the opposite.

b) These are transwomen are having an internal conflict that *they can adjudicate among themselves by having a conversation*

c) it is disingenuous to simply repeat the judgment of this intracommunity as if it was objectively true and uncontested among trans people. I did what the trans people i consulted said was right

Do you understand those 3 things?

Please type yes or no.

Again: these are high stakes issues. Trans representation is important. In order to demonstrate you are capable of responding to stimuli and having a meaningful conversation about what is (you claim) an important issue, we need to be able to grasp that when an issue is put to you, you are actually honest and invested enough to respond.

So: do you understand that? If not: please quote and discuss the part you disagree with.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Your other comment has been erased because it contains 2 factual errors. The content of these factual errors will be addressed, however.

However, you need to address points made before introducing new ones.

Friar Zero said...

Maybe we should have this discussion someplace where you can't simply delete half the things I'm saying.

This:
"it is disingenuous to simply repeat the judgment of this intracommunity as if it was objectively true and uncontested among trans people."

Directly Contradicts this:
"I did what the trans people i consulted said was right"

I was also just doing what the trans people I consulted said was right, combatting transphobia in gaming where it rears its ugly head.

There's a larger discussion to be had here but I think we'll get to it eventually. Suffice it to say I think anyone can , through ignorance, perpetuate their own oppression.

So when are you going to cut to the chase and present a cogent counter-argument to my empirically tested and true claim that exploitative images have bad outcomes? Cause all this nitpicking is getting boring af. I know that's how you "win" most arguments, by boring people to death with nitpicks instead of every addressing any criticism to your notion that images magically don't affect the brain that perceives them but can we get this on with?

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

All issues must be addressed. Accusations of transphobia aren't "nitpicking". So we are going to address all of your claims. If you don; want a claim fully addressed, do not make it.

So this is not accurate:

"
This:
"it is disingenuous to simply repeat the judgment of this intracommunity as if it was objectively true and uncontested among trans people."

Directly Contradicts this:
"I did what the trans people i consulted said was right"

"

Because

Burden of proof is on the accuser.

So if one person says something is poison and the other person says its water, the person saying it's poison has burden of proof.

So:

Address that in your next comment.

Why do you weigh the trans accuser more important than the trans accused?

Friar Zero said...

Because negative portrayals of a vulnerable group which still don't even have civil rights guaranteed by the state yet produces bad outcomes for that group. You wrote a trans character being evil, the burden of proof is on you that her evilness is not tied up with her transness. And YOU were the author, a white cis het male with a history of antagonism toward feminism, a demographic that rarely handles trans characters well.

Or are you going to tell me that the material realities of a work have no bearing on the effect of that work?

For evidence on the central premise of this entire disagreement that bad images have bad outcomes see the list of 32 scientific studies that you deleted.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

"Because negative portrayals of a vulnerable group which still don't even have civil rights guaranteed by the state yet produces bad outcomes for that group. "

This is another begging-the-question fallacy--assuming the truth of the statement you are meant to prove.

You didn't prove the portrayal is negative.

Again: trans people you talked to claim it was negative, many other trans people claim it's positive (including the CO-AUTHOR of the game)

Repeat:

Why do you weigh the trans accuser more important than the trans accused?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Again you made personal attacks and lied, so: erased.

Anyway you have two arguments:

-First you were arguing you decided the trans portrayal was bad because trans people you know said so

-You've also given your own account of why YOU think it was bad.

You've combined these two arguments in this statement at the end of your now-erased post:

"I weigh the trans accuser higher because they are capable of making a cogent argument with real world facts and you are not."

So:

Since Sarah Horrocks, the trans co-author, argues the portrayal is positive, you are claiming that your argument (or that of your trans acquaintances) trumps hers.

So: describe why you don't believe her specific argument that the portrayal is positive above is valid. Use direct quotes from what she said. Address her argument.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Anyone can, say, call Donald Trump and asshole, he has provably done wrong.

First-strike personal attacks (ie a personal attack on someone whose done nothing wrong) are not allowed.

Since you haven't proven I've done anything wrong, it is pointless to make personal attacks.

Anyway, again:

"
Since Sarah Horrocks, the trans co-author, argues the portrayal is positive, you are claiming that your argument (or that of your trans acquaintances) trumps hers.

So: describe why you don't believe her specific argument that the portrayal is positive above is valid. Use direct quotes from what she said. Address her argument.
"

Responses which don't do that will be erased. If you have a case to make, make it.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Again: you must

Address

Sarah's

argument

since it directly contradicts yours.

Quote her points and say why they are not relevant.

Random new accusations will not be addressed until you deal with the counterargument.

If you are not capable fo doing that: please don't claim that these issues are important to you.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

Sarah's argument is quoted by me in a multipart comment above. There is a loooooong multi-part quote about the game there.

It has the phrase "(cont'd)" in it if you're having trouble finding it.

Address what Sarah said about the character, use quotes.

Again: you must _respond to the person talking to you_ or your messages will be erased.

Friar Zero said...

I DID respond. You just didn't like my response.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

You've been asked to respond directly to Sarah's counter-argument with quotes.

You have not done that. You just typed what you already said again.

Do that now --or admit you don't actually take any of the issues involved seriously.

Friar Zero said...

My original post:

Okay, since you keep deleting my responses irrespective of whether they insult you I don't see a point in continuing.

Let's Try this one more time:

The character you co-wrote is based on the stereotype that trans women are looking to "trap" men. It's a stereotype that has been used successfully in court as a defense for killing transomwen.

Perpetuating stereotypes, without undermining them, is dangerous. How do I come to the conclusion that unchallenged stereotypes in media cause bad outcomes? See the 32 linked studies.

So in line with the latest shit-test designed to discourage me from ever actually getting to the point. Here are direct rebuttals:

"Not someone who said a transphobic thing before–but someone who as a condition of their being, they hate transgender people."

That's a bad definition of transphobe. A transphobe is one who does transphobic things. Perido. What happens in your heart of hearts doesn't mean anything to anyone but you. Only measurable actions have any meaning or are subject to analysis.

I'm hard pressed to find a single actual argument in anything Sarah said. There was a lot of one-sided description but only one line seems to actually address the question itself.

"Where we are so bold, and fierce, that you’d be terrified to do something as stupid as tell us that we can or can’t talk about our genitalia. And you don’t think with all of these bathroom bills coming out, that I wouldn’t mind a transgender vampire like Avery running around fucking up bigots–I mean what is fiction if not the place for those kind of heroes."

If only that's all the character did. Instead she goes out of her way to reinforce the stereotype of "the trap". Sarah and you, I would love to know what percentage did the actual writing, created a character that is a killer with questionable morality and sanity that uses the reaction to her genitals as means to determine victim. Thus we return to my original point. The one you keep deleting.

Now, I have answered this question and told you "why I side with the trans offended over the trans offender" because of the context of the real world. Now, can we get on with this farce?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Now:

1.
"uses the reaction to her genitals as means to determine victim."

This is one way to describe: she kills people if they reveal they are transphobic. and killing transphobic people is depicted as a good thing.

So it is inaccurate to say this character matches the "trap" stereotype.

2.
All the main characters in the game are vampires (killers) with questionable morality and sanity--it's a vampire game about vampires--and the character's behavior is modeled on a real trans person who wanted to be in the game and liked the character.

You aren't telling the truth when you say this character "goes out of their way" to do anything.

3.

You have abandoned the previous position (quoting you) "I do however listen to the transwomen in my life who tell me it's insulting. Maybe it wasn't transphobic, that's not for me to say."

You are definitively "saying" and you are disagreeing with a trans woman in that "saying". You are saying you accord accusers' testimony more weight because it agrees with your own thoughts. That's ok. You can do that. But at this point you can no longer claim you are simply deferring to someone else's opinion who may have more experience (otherwise you'd defer to Sarah and Bailey and Morgana or assume you have no power to adjusdicate). You are making your own argument and saying you know better than these particular transwomen what hurts trans women. You need to admit that.

4. Since the character's based on admitted Bailey's real life behavior (other than the murder, but including all the other stuff) are you saying this trans woman herself is problematic for flirting with men before revealing she is trans?

Your next response must address these 4 points or be erased.

Friar Zero said...

1. Sure, that's also an interpretation. Especially if you ignore transphobic stereotypes that paint transwomen as predators.

2. There used to be this thing called the masquerade that discouraged wanton carnage. I'm not going to say vulnerable groups can never be villains but it's a fine line to walk.

No, you asked me why am I predisposed to believe the transwomen in my life over the transwomen in your life. I told you my thought process. It's still not my place to decide. I can have an opinion on something while recognizing it isn't my lane to be making pronouncements.

Also, again with the lists? Are you incapable of just writing? Is that why your games are so full of lists?

"you can no longer claim you are simply deferring to someone else's opinion"
Sure I can. Watch me.

"otherwise you'd defer to Sarah and Bailey and Morgana or assume you have no power to adjusdicate"

No, I wouldn't. I would side with the transwomen in my life I actually know and respect over randos. And I would side with those whose criticism is informed by cultural context over the side that says "she's trans so it can't be transphobic".

"You are making your own argument and saying you know better than these particular transwomen what hurts trans women."

So transwomen can never contribute to their own oppression in your estimation? You would make a great politician because you manage to say so much while saying so very little.For example, do you believe the truth of a proposition can be reached through pure logic?

Bailey Jay offers handjobs to randos? I'll keep that in mind.

No there is nothing problematic about flirting with men before revealing she is trans. I wouldn't advise it because that's how a lot of murders and assaults seem to happen but that's the fault of the fucked up world we live in, and no reflection on the moral value of trans lives.

What next, do you want me to answer in iambic pentameter? Interpretive dance? How many more of these do you have before you will address the core argument?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

All of your accusations must be addressed. If you don't want to spend time addressing them: rescind them. Until then, since issues like bigotry, harassment and transphobia are extremely important, it would be dishonest to skip any of them.

So, please: no more exhortations to hand-wave past your accusations and skip topics. We are addressing topics you introduced because they are important. Regardless of what you think your "core argument" is, you've made lots of serious accusations about serious things. They need to be dealt with completely.

Lists help your interlocutor point out where you've missed something.

Please address these points.

1. "Especially if you ignore transphobic stereotypes that paint transwomen as predators."

Not being an expert on whether the positive side of the character outweighed this _possible_ negative, I asked the transwomen involved. And other trans women not involved.

2. " I would side with the transwomen in my life I actually know and respect over randos "

And I feel the same and I did.

Which then brings us to a new question: what have they done to make you trust them?

3. "I would side with those whose criticism is informed by cultural context

Another begging-the-question argument.

We are discussing _whether_ what these women have said is informed by cultural context. You can't just claim they are.

To prove your argument is informed by cultural context you have to prove either that trans ppl in general reject the product or that it has produced harm.


4. "over the side that says "she's trans so it can't be transphobic"..."So transwomen can never contribute to their own oppression in your estimation? ""

Nobody said that. What's being said is that there are trans people (who know more about being trans than you) found the depiction positive and enjoyed it and saw not only nothing problematic about it but saw it as encouraging to them and something different in a good way.

5. "For example, do you believe the truth of a proposition can be reached through pure logic?"

No, observation, for instance, is often necessary.

6. "Bailey Jay offers handjobs to randos?"

Yes, she does. She's said it, I've said that several times: aside from the murder, the character is based on a real trans person's real life. The fact that this (apparently) surprises you is an EXCELLENT reason to depict it: you imagine the lives of trans people are something other than what they are, and many people (possibly including you) are unaware that there are many trans women who exist who have less cautious ideas about sex than you or the ones you know.

Depicting such people and raising such questions does not automatically make a representation good, but it is a positive, and that positive is inseparable from the possible negative you associate with the "trap" stereotype.

A real trans person who is one of the most important people in my life flirts with random dudes and THEN reveals she's trans and then sometimes jerks them off, she's funny and smart while doing it. And she loves horror and the idea of being an avenging vampire. And this surprises some people--and shouldn't. People should be more aware of the world. There's no way to depict this real person without reminding some people of the "trap" stereotype (Bailey was herself memed as the original "line trap girl" online, so you could argue I can't even refer to her without that stereotype being evoked).

However: when dealing with a difficult subject you have to weigh the positive against the negative AND you have to look at real world effects.

7. We know for a fact that several transwomen got real enjoyment out of the game (unless they lied for no reason about liking it in reviews, et al). We do not have any evidence that any person behaved in a more transphobic way.

If you have that evidence: present it.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

Repea:

You're

not

allowed

to lie in your comments. If you do they'll be deleted.

"so not as depicted in the game where there is no flirting, just random handjobs."

The game doesnt' say that.

..


Let's address this repeated and important fallacy:

"
We know for a fact that several transwomen got real enjoyment out of the game (unless they lied for no reason about liking it in reviews, et al). We do not have any evidence that any person behaved in a more transphobic way.

If you have that evidence: present it.
"

You then refer to your "32 link"

None of your 32 links had Sarah and my game as part of the data set. So they are not relevant.

Please address this.

Friar Zero said...

Do I need to put my hand under an electron microscopic to know if it contains neutrons?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

No, but lots of studies saying "We looked at some hands and they were on fire and fire hurts people" does not lead to the conclusion "if Friar Zero says any given hand is on fire, then it is"

Friar Zero said...

So that images can cause harm is settled then? You'll delete this blog post and it's absurd holocaust baiting? Great. I can finally go shit in peace.

Zak Sabbath said...

@FRiar Zero

Images can cause harm, even fictional ones.

That is not the issue at stake. No intelligent person would ever need to discuss that--it's a nonissue.

The issue at stake is:

1. Whether the images that the RPG drama club claim cause harm actually did

2. Whether that harm was unnecessary

3. Whether a myriad of accusations you made against me are true.

So:


"
We know for a fact that several transwomen got real enjoyment out of the game (unless they lied for no reason about liking it in reviews, et al). We do not have any evidence that any person behaved in a more transphobic way.

If you have that evidence: present it.
"

You then refer to your "32 link"

None of your 32 links had Sarah and my game as part of the data set. So they are not relevant.

Please address this.

Friar Zero said...

That's entirely up for debate. I gave you my reasons and what it would take to change my mind. Only transwomen I know and trust can convince me that your character in We Eat Blood isn't transphobic.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

Again:

You're

NOT

ALLOWED

to lie (or post links to someone lying) in the comments. Erased.

1. " That's entirely up for debate"

Yes, and that is the debate we are in the middle of. And so no, if you want to claim these things are important, we are not "done"

Rather than "bringing my defenses to trans people" what you could do is rescind judgment until those trans people have talked to OTHER trans people who disagree and they have had a full and complete debate where all issues are raised.

"Some of those images are of a type that are directly spoken of in some of those 32 links. Images of women with no agency, the damsel in distress, light-hearted descriptions of rape, women as sex objects, etc."

All of those phrase are ague though.

Whether a given fashion magazine image is a "woman as a sex object" is not clear. So that's not a concrete definition.


2. In what way could sexist harm ever be deemed necessary?

Let's say you were reporting on Donald Trumps bad sexist behavior. Let's say hearing about it might upset some people bc hearing about sexism makes them feel anxious--the reporter then would have to weigh the positive of reporting real facts vs the negative of upsetting people.



3. (link)

Your link contains no evidence of me doing anything wrong, just lots of people alleging I did and claiming each other as sources _for things that are recorded_ (so there's no need to refer to a third party account).

The fact the incidents aren't directly linked (despite being available) --or don't match the description-- proves they're false

Friar Zero said...

0.I should disregard what my trans friends say when they say it's a transphobic character just because some trans women I don't know defend it? Why?

1. Should I link you to entire books written by women about what does and does not constitute an exploitative image? Should I link you to Bell Hooks?

2. Sure, I can see that. There's nothing in an elf game that NEEDS to depict rape.

3. I have seen, first hand, you tell your followers to report someone for saying something negative about you. That is harassment. It is an organized campaign of harassment. Definitionally. I have screenshots to back it up taken by me on my computer.

Friar Zero said...

Also
"Images can cause harm, even fictional ones.

That is not the issue at stake. No intelligent person would ever need to discuss that--it's a nonissue."

Yet your entire post is about people who say this are equivalent to the actual factual fucking holocaust.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

0. No, you should not disregard what they say. You should do this:

When they first say it, if you don't know any better, it is appropriate to believe them.

However: as soon as you find out that there are transwomen who disagree, including ones who _made the game_ you should acknowledge that this is not an open and shut case.

At that point, you must _suspend judgment_ until one of two things happen:

Either the disagreeing trans people talk to each other and come to a consensus after all arguments have been debated and all questions get answered
OR
Conclusive evidence that the specific piece of media in question results in provable harm exists.

To do otherwise is to treat transwomen as people whose beliefs do not matter simply because they don't agree with you or bc you don't know them. They are humans, as is everyone else involved in the game, they deserve an innocent until proven guilty like anyone else.

1. No because _none_ of those books mention, say, Carcosa, or any of the other specific works in question. "Sexualized" (or "unnecessarily sexualized") are not well-defined enough for the question of any given works' appropriateness to be determined before the fact. Porn actresses point this out constantly to their harassers.

The argument where art is described in vague general terms was used against hip hop and other musci by your forbears in the 80s. They have since been proven wrong.

You can't just go "A bad image is an image that is unnecessarily wrong". That doesn't offer a diagnostic to individual images, especially int he context of fiction.

2. No, there isn't. But depiction of difficult or disturbing imagery can have positive effects.

Without referring to any specific works, do you agree that, in principle, a work could depict unpleasant social realities in a way that has a positive impact?

3.
" I have seen, first hand, you tell your followers to report someone for saying something negative about you. That is harassment."

Incorrect.

When the 'something negative' is false then the person saying the 'something negative' is harassing me by saying a false negative statement about a human being in public. That's called a smear. They are harassing me.

Reporting that behavior is appropriate. Me asking other people to help report it is anti-harassment activism. It has proven to be effective, it is also the *recommended course of action* for victims of harassment to ask friends to help report in all online-harassment resources I've come across.

If someone robs you, telling people to stop the thief is not harassing them

.4. "
"Images can cause harm, even fictional ones.

That is not the issue at stake. No intelligent person would ever need to discuss that--it's a nonissue."

Yet your entire post is about people who say this are equivalent to the actual factual fucking holocaust.
"

We already addressed this. You're backsliding into already established areas. Please try to remember the points that have been made:

The issue at stake is

Whether the images that the RPG drama club claim cause harm actually did.


As for the Holocaust:

Hitler's attack on culture (and Frederic Wertham's and Tipper Gore's--which did not lead to genocide but were also proved wrong) all used the same arguments. That is the connection.

Please in your response acknowledge that you read this sentence and do not again repeat this false argument.


-
Address these things in your post.

Friar Zero said...

0. "To do otherwise is to treat transwomen as people whose beliefs do not matter simply because they don't agree with you".
Except this isn't a case of denying their rights, it's a case of whether they produced a work that is complicit in their own oppression. Humans do that all the time. Should people in minority communities not be treated like humans?

0.5 "No because _none_ of those books mention, say, Carcosa, or any of the other specific works in question"

Do I, or do I not need an electron microscope to tell whether my hand has neutrons in it? Science isn't an individualist enterprise. Your favorite exploitative image doesn't get to be the exception to the rule.

1. "The argument where art is described in vague general terms was used against hip hop and other music by your forbears in the 80s. They have since been proven wrong."
In what way? Black women still complain about how misogyny is deeply ingrained in the hip-hop world.

"Porn actresses point this out constantly to their harassers."
You might want to do some actual research into porn's influence before defending it carte blanche there, Locke.

2."Without referring to any specific works, do you agree that, in principle, a work could depict unpleasant social realities in a way that has a positive impact?"
Now who is vague? Without context nothing means anything.

3."When the 'something negative' is false then the person saying the 'something negative' is harassing me by saying a false negative statement about a human being in public. That's called a smear. They are harassing me."
Like that guy who called you a bad artist? I see nothing false in that claim. What about all the people who have disagreed with you on the nature of a questionable image that you have harassed? What about all the critics? What about all the fellow game devs who never made factual claims other than they don't like you?

"If someone robs you, telling people to stop the thief is not harassing them"
Olivia Hill never stole your money. Anna Krieder never took your paintbrush. John Harper never pissed in your cheerios. People thinking you're an asshole and objecting to your constant solidarity with misogynist art is NOT harassment. If it was then we could never criticize anything. Not even Stalin could get rid of all criticism and he did a hell of alot more for the world than you ever will.

4.They all used the argument that bad media produces bad effects. A belief backed up by the 32 links (blessed be their name). You don't get to link genocide to criticism and then say the topic is off limits. So either explain to me how Tipper gore killed 6 million Jews or delete this disingenuous trolly clickbait blog post and try again without the childish hyperbole.

Zak Sabbath said...

@friar zero

0. You haven't proven it's complicit. Prove _this_ work did harm now

1. You still didnt address the issue: You can't just go "A bad image is an image that is unnecessarily wrong". That doesn't offer a diagnostic to individual images, especially int he context of fiction.

2. You must answer questions "Without referring to any specific works, do you agree that, in principle, a work could depict unpleasant social realities in a way that has a positive impact?""

I am asking you if a given thing is POSSIBLE. Answer

3. "Like that guy ..."

Link to me calling for someone to be reported that you believe to be illegitimate.

The people you name have all smeared me and other RPG authors with false claims, and smears are not about Cheerios, but are still wrong.

4. The arguments they gave had more in common than "bad media produces bad effects."

They argued that _a given piece of media was bad_ despite _having no conclusive evidence it was_. And in all cases: *the media they sad was bad was proved to not be bad and those effects they predicted did not appear*.

Do you understand the distinction between those 2 concepts?

Friar Zero said...

0. If I am correct in it advancing a stereotype then it did harm. See the 32 links (praise be unto them).

1.Look at the 32 links (peace be unto them) and their methodology for selecting images to test.

2. You wouldn't answer my "vague" questions I'm not going to answer yours. You get what you give homeslice.

3. https://imgur.com/a/hyFDlhi

4. Show me how Tipper Gore was proven wrong? With empirical studies in reputable journals only please.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

0. The point of this discussion is you haven't proved it "advanced a stereotype". There are no reports of anyone who didn't believe that stereotype believing it because of the game.

1. None of them describe how to decide how any of the images that were controversial in RPG land are bad or not. It looks like you didn't read what you posted.

If you disagree, post a quote from one of your links that describes how to tell, in detail, whether any given image is bad or not. One that describes an objective and not subjective standard.

2. I answer all questions but we do one thing at a time. Since you're not answering you have ceased to be able to claim you're acting in good faith.

Your claim these issues are real or important to you is objectively a sham. You will be given one grace comment to answer the question. If you do not: done.

At that point it is obvious you don't have a coherent point of view or care about any social justice issue, because you're refusing the opportunity to clarify your views.

3. "Creepy weirdo" is a first-strike personal attack and that's harassment. Telling people to report such a person is good anti-harassment praxis

4. The violent crime rate hasn't gone up, even though all the lyrical tendencies in music she railed against have only increased.

If that isn't good enough for you--if your contention is:

"I, Friar Zero, am a person who believe Tipper Gore was right and so on the same grounds I condemn the various media that has offended the RPG drama club"

I'm happy to leave it there: you are admitting to being a cultural conservative and you are defending speculative outrage and guesswork-attacks on art based on your cultural conservative view that works of art should NOT be held innocent until proven guilty.

Friar Zero said...

0. That is a matter of debate at which we are at an impasse by reaching the limit of our abilities as cis men.

1. You can decide if an image is sexist or not if it portrays women as without agency or purely as a sex object. Yes, this implies that much of porn is exploitative. As outlined in the 32 links (may their passing cleanse the world). #NotAllPorn

2.In principal yes, it is more than possible. I can think of several works where women describe their assaults that have helped women I know deal with their trauma. What any of this has to do with elfgames is beyond me.

For example Blood & Chocolates Oompa Loompa gang rape joke is entirely in bad taste and has no business being in an elfgame. Giving away a scantily clad and questionably young firl figurine as an incentive to buy a game is treating women like objects for the pleasure of men. I've not heard any criticism of Invisible Sun save that it's expensive. And vampire gets criticized for mocking the mass extermination of gay people while including Nazi code words like 1488. I'm not seeing a lot of room for interpretation.

3. Your definition of harassment is so broad as to include all disagreeing opinion. Opinion of you as a person and your character is still valid opinion.

4. Tipper was wrong about that, sure. Was she wrong to criticize misogyny? It's something black women still complain about in hip-hop and african-american culture.

5. You are redefining the word cultural conservative. Where

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

0. If this surpasses your ablity as a cis man then why did you render a judgment? Why not leave this to trans women to sort out instead of attacking people based on your limited ability to judge

1. How do you determine if someone "has agency" in a fiction? Can you scroll through nude pics of instagram fetish models and decide which of the images show them as "having agency" and which ones don't?

And how does this not violate the "limit of your ability" problem as you are policing women's desires for how they portray themselves?

2. So in every case where you (or any drama club member) claims a work does harm you need to not only _prove harm_ you need to find out if it _does good in the world_.

This goes back to the issue with the Bailey Jay character: we know for a fact there are trans women who see this as doing whatever good can be done by positive representation, we have zero evidence (again) that anyone changed their ideas about trans ppl for the worse due to it.

If a real human being goes "the depiction of (anything) in x game helped me and my peeps think about it more and that helped me" then the mere presence of an objectionable topic cannot ever be considered grounds to condemn a work. This complicates 1, above, considerably.

It's real easy, for instance, to find trans women who have found images of violent body horror therapeutic http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-horror-horrocks.html

3. No: all debate structures admit a person can express a negative belief about someone without making a personal attack.

Instead of "creepy weirdo" a critic can articulate a specific complaint about a specific action, then stick around to defend that accusation in detail. Chucking a persona attack serves no purpose that simply stating a criticism couldn't. Lots of forums ban personal attacks for this reason: they serve no constructive purpose --they just let your friend know yr mad.

4. She was wrong to claim misogyny she couldn't prove. Misogyny is obviously bad.

You can't keep using the same bad tactic over and over: "Wait misogyny isn't bad????" of course it is. What we are debating is _what qualifies as miogyny_ .

Tipper Gore used your same arguments "Madonna's music matches my vague, subjective, definition of anti-feminist speech, therefore it is".

She didn't describe a diagnostic (neither do your links) and she didn't test people exposed to Madonna for ill effects.

The point is you can't claim your argument is good until you can describe a difference between your opinion and hers.

5. If you're now saying Tipper Gore was wrong, you might not be a cultural conservative orrrrr...... I would say that if it wasn't for you blatantly bigoted last (deleted comment)

"
This is what comes from hanging out mostly with porn stars and art directors. You start to think you're the smartest person in the room because you probably were the smartest person in those rooms.
"

While many of your comments second-guess womens' choices by _strong_ implication, in that one you are out-and-out misogynistically calling female sex workers stupid (or less intelligent than you).

There's no excuse for that.

I was very hesitant to assume the Occam's razor solution here: you second guess how Bailey and other porn women choose to represent themselves because you think they've got a false consciousness because they're not as well-informed as you and your Discourse Friends. You feel comfortable dismissing women who are cool with sexualized imagery and their arguments because you casually assume they aren't as informed as you.

I still hesitate. Good people don't assume motive. So: if you have a better explanation than this, please do explain.

Friar Zero said...

0. The same reason you decided to write a trans character.

1. In an image of a woman by themselves, no you cannot determine agency. A fictional woman being posed seductively by a male artist has no agency.

2. Horse shit. Take your idea to the logical conclusion. Everything should have rape jokes in it because someone somewhere might benefit and any benefit is worth any harm. Explain why you aren't a Stalinist.

3. Says the man who called me a cultural conservative.

4.You are arguing in bad faith, you deleted the list of links before you had time to review a single one. To claim that the links contain no methodology without reading them is pure trolling. Again you demonstrate that you are only here to sing to the choir without ever engaging in substance.

5. Are you saying that people cannot contribute to their own oppression? If you read the 32 links you might see that porn has a net negative affect on society. If that is true then that must imply porn stars are acting without either fully understanding or caring about the consequences.

My limit of knowledge was about an edge case that could go either way. We're now in the realm of well documented phenomena. Hands and electron microscopes sonny Jim.

William Morris said...

Hey fake Jews, been a while.

Can you keep your childish degenerate porno filth to your own rat-group?

Wholesome cultured whites are really getting sick of disgusting shitheads like you dragging innocent whites into the sewer with niggers and trannies.

Please stop or we'll have to start assassinating a few big nosed bankers.

Cheers!!

Kyle Traylor said...

Not included in your definition, but present on the same wikipedia page: "In the United States, a cultural conservative may imply a conservative position in the culture wars. [citation needed]." There's also Alan Bloom and Jim Webb listed as possible examples.

Words have divergent, changing, ambiguous meanings which vary by region and culture, and I'm very surprised to see somebody using the kind of tactic typically used to imply "racism" only means personal bigotry rather than structural and systemic discrimination in this way. It's probably more accurate to say you're aesthetically conservative, but that's me being charitable where Zak isn't.

Anyway, say it outright: do you think the trans authors of that game are complicit in their own oppression by writing a predatory trans character or not?

Friar Zero said...
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Friar Zero said...
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Zak Sabbath said...

@Kyle Traylor

since @friar zero said

"If you read the 32 links you might see that porn has a net negative affect on society. "

As you can see from this quote, this statement proves Friar Zero is an anti-porn conservative. Nothing they could ever say could be intelligent or taken seriously after that.

It explains all the other bullshit and shows that Friar, like Willam Morris above, is a crazed bigot--and therefore banned.

So you won't get any more answers out of Friar. Friar, like William, is now banned for openly being a bigot.

To address Friar's last few pts

Applecline/conspiracy theory about "impersonation"-- http://armsinthewronghands.tumblr.com/post/167447123123/timeline-of-the-zak-wars

0. Innocent until proven guilty though, so making a fiction requires no burden of proof. Attacking the author for the moral crime of transphobia doe require a burden of proof

1. By that standard Amanda Conner and Adam Hughes could draw the same picture and one would negatively affect people who viewed it and the other wouldn't (even if they didn't know who drew it) so that's clearly irrational and you haven't thought this out at all.

2. Just because a subject _can_ have a positive effect doesn't mean all creators will be able to achieve it.

Nabokov could write Lolita, not just anyone. So this argument is irrational

3. You made first-strike personal attacks in your first few posts here ("narcissist" etc) and so immediately forfeited the right not to be insulted. Anyone may call you names at will, like your friend.

You've now provably done wrong--like Donald Trump--so cannot claim protection from personal attacks.

4. Just because I deleted them from here (they don't refer to games or 80s music so are irrelevant to this discussion) doesn't mean I didn't read them. They're still in my email.

5. People can contribute to their own oppression. The question is whether you have the ability to decide they are.

And since you said

"If you read the 32 links you might see that porn has a net negative affect on society. "

(when the links don't even comprehensively examine the positive effects of porn or any of the media they attack)

then you've just proved you are an anti-porn conservative and don't have 2 brain cells together.

Bigots are _not allowed on this site_ and since you're a crazed bigot you must leave.

You can't claim to be pro-sex worker and that you, King Rando, know better than every woman in porn what does and doesn't help or hurt them and more than you can tell all people of another ethnicity you know what constitutes "racism" toward them than you do.

You're a swerf, so you might as well be a Nazi, and you and William need to step the fuck off .

Seek therapy.

Bye.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Friar Zero

At the end of the day, you're proposing the following common situation and calling it "progressive":

You walk over to a woman doing a sex act on camera that's exactly what she wanted to do (often in a scene she produced, nowadays) with people she wanted to do it with (after being tested, of course, this is industry standard) OR a woman who is masturbating to that same sex act at home because she was looking for that exact act--and tell them that they are oppressing themselves with the media they're using to get off.

I'm not sure whether you're just a prude who thinks women don't have the right to masturbate because of some off chance what they're masturbating to might damage their fragile lady-brain (and you should make this choice for them) or whether you just don't have a wide acquaintance among women, so you think that the millions of women who enjoy scenarios that you find disturbing don't exist.

Anonymous said...

What scientifically observable benefits does porn have?

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

A simple example:

More than one trans person said that Bailey Jay and other trans performers proved to them that trans people could be sexy and accepted and so it made them less afraid to transition.

Also: Porn encourages lots of hot people who like sex to live near each other and meet. So it encourages orgies and poly- relationships.
And if orgies and open relationships aren't a good outcome then literally nothing is.

Anonymous said...

Anecdotes aren't evidence.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

They are if the question being investigated is in the form "I there any..."

Like "Are there any benefits to having your apartment there?" An observed single incident of a benefit proves the proposition, "Yes, one time I ordered a pizza and it was free because I was so close to the pizza place"

Anecdotes are only not evidence if:

a) theyre not true (in this case they are) or

b) the question is not in a form where its basically asking "does x exist"

The question I was asked was whether benefits exist.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

They are if the question being investigated is in the form "Is/are there any..."

Like "Are there any benefits to having your apartment there?" An observed single incident of a benefit proves the proposition, "Yes, one time I ordered a pizza and it was free because I was so close to the pizza place"

"Are there any police on your block?""Yes I just saw one"

etc

Anecdotes are only not evidence if:

a) theyre not true (in this case they are) or

b) the question is not in a form where its basically asking "does x exist"

The question I was asked was whether benefits exist.

Anonymous said...

How do you way those 2 anecdotes against all the empirical published studies that say porn makes men more misogynist and less sympathetic to rape?

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

two important things:

-The question I was asked was "is there any?" not "please give ALL". 1 accurate anecdote is sufficient to answer an "is there any" question.

-Studies do not conclusively say "all porn makes men more misogynist and less sympathetic to rape" at all. At the absolute most, some studies show that _some_ specific incidents of porn make men who already have some other problem behave worse.

So in effect you're asking "How do you weigh the benefits of books against the fact that some books encourage some bad people to act bad?"

Friar's claim "porn is a net negative" has exactly as much standing as "books are net negative".

Anonymous said...

I asked "what are" not "is there any". Please go back and reread.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

its grammatically ambiguous whether those are synonymous questions or not but if you were trying to ask for ALL the observable benefits of porn (or any genre) then i dont know and neither does anyone else.

what are ALL the benefits of noir? Ealing comedies?

The best i can do is list some and go “there may be others”

Anonymous said...

And the only ones you can cite are orgies? And one person got a better body image.

Are you saying no one has empirically or epidemiologically studied the effects of porn?

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

No—it seems like you didn’t read what i wrote.

i didn’t say anything about how many studies were done, i said those were two of the benefits.

if you need information on studies the best source i know of is Nina Hartley. She’s on twitter you can ask her.