Penny Arcade, Apologies, and Decency
(Full Penny Arcade controversy timeline here.)
Jerry and Mike have apologised. Once we acknowledge that, we can ask if it’s an effective apology. For a lot of Penny Arcade fans, Jerry and Mike have succumbed to the never-settling, ever-angry feminists. For some, the apology works. For me and others, the apology is a nice first try, not quite a strike, but a foul ball maybe. If someone apologises, even if it sort of misses the point, I believe that’s when critics need to take a hint and drop the hostility; the apology is evidence the person we’re trying to get through to is capable of some compassion and understanding of the issue and continued hostile engagement with that person is bound to turn them off the subject in time.
This is, of course, unless someone’s apology is strike one, and judging by my Twitter feed, a lot of people are seeing this as more of a fit where the player throws his bat in the air and walks off the field.
But enough with the baseball analogies.
On the matter of threats, both Jerry and Mike did right. I’m glad they called people out, though they should have done so from the start instead of waiting as long as they did. And again, those people issuing threats were on both sides, and each side needs to be deplored equally for that.
It’s not in my interests to fully dissect Jerry’s apology–I’m sure that’s coming–but there were a number of things he wrote that kept it from being even satisfactory. From claiming no conversation is possible on the subject to focusing entirely too much on the first comic, to dismissing rape culture with the statement, “the only people who are pro-rape are rapists.” His explanation of the second comic at least renders him and Mike as clueless rather than outright hateful.
Still, something noticeably absent from both apologies (though there are hints of in Gabe’s) is the responsibility they each carry now for the behaviour of their fans. The threats have been addressed, but the exclusion of critics and rape survivors from PAX, Penny Arcade’s conference, has not, and neither has the issue of the Dickwolves merchandise, specifically the T-shirts that people are planning to wear to the conference in protest.
I’m not satisfied with the apology, and there are more people who are much less happy about it than I am. I’m hopeful, though, that more is coming despite what Jerry and Mike have said, both because I believe they have capacity to be decent people, and because they have responsibilities beyond the apologies they’ve issued, and people like me won’t let them forget that.
I’d like to see Jerry and Mike encourage their fans to throw their Dickwolves merch in the trash, or give a refund for it. And because they’ll acknowledge they can do little more than ask their fans to do that, they’ll decide it would be a great idea to ban Dickwolves merch from PAX and clarify to their fans why they did it: not because it’s an issue of free speech, but because it’s an issue of basic decency.
Filed under: Rape Culture | 11 Comments
Tags: apology, gaming, Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, penny arcade