Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Penny Arcade is Losing its Cool or How Dickwolves Ruined The Party: A Cautionary Tale About Having Children and Losing Your Edge

Well, my actual website is now fully operational. I assure you, it is quite deadly. A lot of the content from this blog has been copied over there already, not sure if I'll move the rest or not.


Right now we have a couple of articles, weekly columns, bi weekly webcomic. Soon we'll have some videos up there too. So go there... go there now. Add it to your favorites. Share with your friends.

Please... I beg of you. For the love of all that is good, visit my site. Now back to the old and out of date blog you've somehow found:


My final thoughts on the matter here.
Edit: Since some of you are coming in from links and are so lazy as to not check other posts, I thought you might get a kick out of the infamous Penny Arcade comic in question minus the dickwolf rape. It's right here. On this blog. Seriously people.

Despite my best intentions, I feel as though this post will be unable to surpass my previous post in terms of sheer awesomeness, so much so, that I will likely embed the Insanity Wolf image into this post as well.

I'm not 100% sure where to begin with this thing, so I figure I will start it off with a personal experience. A few months ago, I began to vocally complain that Penny Arcade was starting to suck, like, a lot. At one point I clicked through the most recent (at the time) 6 months worth of comics and found that there was really nothing there that was laugh out loud "Claw Shrimp" funny, or "Oooh, low blow to the gaming industry" thought provoking. Nope, instead I found comics that were rarely about gaming, rarely socially challenging, and worse, rarely funny.

On a side note, holy shit, Claw Shrimp is fucking 9 years old. Now I feel old.

A few months ago, a friend of mine sent us a link to some sappy PA news item about Tycho connecting with his mom or something about video games, and how it was beautiful and heart warming and whatever. He also referred to Penny Arcade as "Pennies". We argued a little bit, because I don't go to PA to have my heart warmed. A few weeks later, there was another strip where Gabe yelled at his child for not going outside to play instead of playing video games. We got to the core of the problem, to us, Penny Arcade was ABOUT different things. This friend of mine is a father, and as such, as Penny Arcade lost it's edge and moved into safer, more accessible territory, stopped being about gaming, started being about parenting, and so on, this friend felt like the comic grew with him.

Now, I'm not a father, so maybe I don't get it. To me, Penny Arcade was about being funny, about being offensive, about calling people on their bullshit. One needs just to look at their public feud with Jack Thompson to see how far these guys are willing to push it, I'm sure they got their inboxes flooded with people who supported Thompson, they brushed it off and made more jokes, they didn't compromise, and came out on top. Through those bold moves and continuously entertaining content, they developed one of the most loyal fanbases on the internet.

As the fanbase grew, maybe they started making attempts to appeal to a broader audience, but somehow, it felt very much like they were diluting their content. Maybe it's because they're no longer two single slacker gamers and are now two married, millionaire fathers, or maybe they just ran out of juice, but the PA from today is a far cry from the PA of 5-6 years ago. Sure, they probably have more readers, but one of the big draws for the comic is that they seemed to be writing it FOR me and my friends. We loved their humour, we loved video games, we're opinionated and we're smart and we're offensive, just like them! 3 times a week we'd inevitably be talking about the new strip (we still do now, but more like "Man, this most recent strip sort of sucked...").

So that brings us up to last August, months of crummy Penny Arcades, and then they publish "The Sixth Slave", the now infamous comic where a lowly slave asks the hero to release him from his terrible fate of being raped by Dickwolves. Funniest Penny Arcade in months and it had? Yep, a rape joke, time to flip out.

Now, it might interest you to know that this is not the first time Gabe and Tycho have gone to the old comedy well of rape, they've done it here, here and here as well, and I'll admit, I laughed every time. They're not endorsing rape, they were making a joke, a funny. They made a funny.
From the news items, there was an immediate backlash, Tycho even said:

"Reaction to Wednesday's comic fell, conveniently for my purpose, into two camps: those who found a phrase like "raped by dickwolves" a stunning return to form, and those who felt that we were somehow advocating the actual rape of human beings. It sounds as though we've already satisfied the first camp, but an effort should certainly be made to assuage the latter."

There are two things here that I'd like to talk about. First, the admission that they had fallen from form (and dickwolf rape was returning to said form). It's like they recognized that they were losing some of their spark, and mixing it up a little to get our attention again. Second, I strongly felt as though that second group of people should just stop reading the comic, or maybe they should just start reading the archives until their offended enough to stop reading the comic. Either or. Chances are, if you didn't like joke, you won't like a lot of what you'll find in the archives. So maybe the strip isn't for you.


Move forward to December, and they released some Dickwolves merchandise, in the hilarious form of sports memorabilia (including a pennant!), as though somewhere, somehow, there was a highschool who's basketball, football and baseball teams were separately and collectively "The Dickwolves". I think to think they could be from Fort Dick, California. The Fort Dick Dickwolves. It's a place! Inmates at the Pelican Bay State Prison could be all like "I used to be somebody, I used to be a Dickwolf."

Then, the people who opposed the comic apparently got even more upset, and not two months later, on a Saturday, they pulled the merch from the store. Basically the excuse was that it made people feel uncomfortable and, using PAX as the scapegoat, they didn't want to do that. Not only is this a weak as hell excuse, they've never had a problem making people feel uncomfortable before.

Now, Gabe says he'd never take a strip down, but merch is different. Really? Let's just take a quick look at the merch you're still selling, surely there will be nothing offensive. Certainly not anything sexist, or racist. They definitely wouldn't make fun of religion, again and again.
I'm not saying they should get rid of these shirts, or even that they should bring back the Dickwolves shirts, they can do whatever they want, it's their show. What I'm saying is that by caving to a vocal minority, they've proven that they are indeed losing their edge, they've compromised their creativity and they've backed down in the face of a fight. All of this is completely opposed to what I was under the impression they believed in.

It may be time for me to come to terms with the fact that in 2011, Penny Arcade might not be for me anymore. INSANITY WOLF!

4 comments:

  1. The source.

    http://kirbybits.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/here-is-a-shirt-dickwolves-survivors-guild/

    ReplyDelete
  2. >Losing it's Cool
    >it's
    Go home.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah I totally agree, I keep reading PA, but its mainly stuff i am not interested in, occasionally there is a Gem, but for the most part Meh.
    Its kind of like the Simpsons that way.

    ReplyDelete