Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

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Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 14:47

Well, since it was suggested that another thread be made for it...

See, I admit, I'm torn. I fucking love Penny Arcade. I love PAX. I love Pinny Arcade. I think the Penny Arcade Report is great, although I wouldn't say I love it. I think Jerry's pretty fucking swell, and his writing it better. I think Mike's art is amazing.

But then there's Mike. The twitter 'cis' blowup. Fucking Dickwolves. Over and fucking over.

I admit, I've probably stuck with them longer than I should have, and I'm having a hard time not thinking this basic sentiment is right: Quit Fucking Going to PAX Already.

Thoughts, all?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Bebop Man » 04 Sep 2013, 15:09

Humor takes place in a brief imaginary instant and suspends morality for just as long. The joke was funny. People on both sides reacted poorly.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 15:18

It's well past being one joke now. Mike's developed a strong reputation as a sexist, homophobic asshole. Worse, Robert and Jerry have enabled him.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Metcarfre » 04 Sep 2013, 15:29

On the whole, they're assholes, regardless of the particular person or group they've managed to insult or offend. They don't deserve my time or money.

Of course, my particular issue is "calling my favorite podcaster a nerd-hating serial murderer and garnering him serious hate mail for years", but it's all the same thing.

For the guys who popularized the "person + anonymity of the Internet = asshole" meme, they sure don't have any consideration for anyone but themselves.

Also, considering how much of their internal narrative has to do with being bullied in high school, they sure don't have any issue wreaking havoc upon anyone who slights them in the least.

Frankly, I'm kind of embarrassed LRR has shows with them, but I can't say I don't understand it. People gotta eat.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lord Hosk » 04 Sep 2013, 15:45

I think the biggest part of Mikes problem is that he is outspoken and is a very public figure and I dont think he fully understands HOW public he is, or at least how public his voice is.

Everyone knows someone like Mike in their sphere of friends of friends, and most people just avoid him.

On the flip side there are people who live for Drama and seek it out, again in your sphere you know someone like that.

Now you have someone like mike who is opinionated and boisterous, and the person who thrives on drama at the same party, shit is going to hit the fan. The people that love drama seek out public figures like Mike and anytime they say something that can make drama, the drama people make it as big as they can.

I dont think Mike and Jerry are Assholes, I think Mike has a strong personality and that he is human and therefore isnt perfect but when he makes a mistake or offends someone its much bigger than the guy at the party who does the same thing.

The CIS issue is not something he made up or was unique to him. You mean he didnt understand that there is a small sub group of people who dont feel that gender is binary based on biology? when the Vast Majority of the planet is taught their entire lives that gender is a binary result of biology, thats kinda understandable.

This will sound dismissive but I want to put it in perspective. You entire life you are taught that Iron is Magnetic, Iron = Magnetic, You can make iron into steel, you can make iron into knives, you can make Iron into flower pots, but Iron is Magnetic. Now someone says "Why do you think Iron is magnetic, thats not true, see here is this bit of iron and here is magnet, no reaction" you say "what do you mean Iron isnt magnetic its one of the defining characteristics of Iron"

Him continuing on made the situation way worse which is why base on a choice made by him, and robert, and jerry together decided that because he can make bad calls in that type of situation and he is a representative of something much larger than just himself, he wouldnt respond at all to things.

You can think he is a Asshole all you want, you can not support him, or his company or PAX as a whole, fine, but to say "boycot this whole thing because one part of it is bad" is extreme black and white thinking to me which is odd because so many people are upset that he had a black and white mindset.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Metcarfre » 04 Sep 2013, 15:59

If he's going to be in the public sphere (and he is), and he's going to use that platform to express himself (and he should), he should understand there's consequences both positive and negative for doing so. And if that means his business suffers, he should consider that as well.

I hardly call that black and white.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Bebop Man » 04 Sep 2013, 15:59

I'm not sure what are "we" supposed to "do" about it. We can just ignore the guy, right? We like the strip and the expo is fun, right? Take my dad, who has a very '60s mindset and makes lots of irascible jokes. I can choose to avoid certain subjects, just as I can choose to NOT let his opinions influence my own. I can waste my energy trying to change him, or I can just live in perfect harmony with an otherwise nice guy. The whole "Mike thing" is a no-brainer for me, because there's no place to take it from here. What's the point of keeping the hate ball rolling? Force some sort of personal epiphany on this absolute stranger through texting?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby King Kool » 04 Sep 2013, 16:00

Dear God, Hosk, I hope you haven't opened a huge can of worms with that. But yeah, I kinda agree. I consider myself very transpositive, and even I'm not sure I know everything I should know to avoid offense. It seems to be a pretty touchy subject.

I think one problem we're facing is a lack of proportionality and context. Some people act like saying anything can be the worst thing ever, and we sorta need to relax (and this is coming from someone who was legitimately upset by the original comic that started this whole thing).

Maybe I'm playing exactly into the hands of (I hesitate to even use the word) privilege, and I've got some more thoughts on this, but I'm going to probably turn this into a Doom rant, so I'll work out how I feel soon.

Let's just try to talk about this calmly, soberly and without invective. Even if he offended you, to reciprocate it with more emotional reactions and invective is a loop that never ends.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lord Hosk » 04 Sep 2013, 16:07

In the "Quit Fucking Going to PAX Already." article makes the most tangental connections.

"Mike supports raping school girls." No he supported a game about Manga, I dont like Manga, I dont like the very sexualized nature of a large portion of it, which I think everyone knows includes Tentacle rape. That would be like saying you liked the Lord of the Rings is the same as supporting genocide because they exterminate the entire orcish race.

They claim that "PA tried to hush up the sexual misconduct of a enforcer" But the only support they have for that is that a moderator closed the thread and they didnt publicly admonish the person they just "fired" him when it came to light. Do they not understand how large companies work? Does Coke go out of its way to publicly admonish an employee that gets fired for harassing fellow employees? NO, they just get rid of them.

"Mike publicly denies the gender identities of trans men and women, doubles down with bullying" He didnt understand something that MOST people dont understand, in fact much like him, most people dont even understand that they dont understand it as I explained above.

And lastly "And today, on stage at PAX, Mike publicly stated the one fucking thing that PA ever did right— removing the Dickwolves merchandise— was a mistake. " YES, removing it publicly like they did made it a even bigger issue. They could have just not sold them anymore, stuff disappears from stores all the time, but instead they pointed it out which perpetuated the controversy which is what he felt was wrong, you know how I know? BECAUSE THATS WHAT HE SAID.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Jimor » 04 Sep 2013, 16:09

My take: Mike and Jerry are fundamentally good guys who are assholes when it comes to somebody telling them what they can and cannot say. A LOT of artists are absolutists when it comes to this particular subject, and whether or not they use that "right" to offend regularly or never at all, not having it available is like not having oxygen.

If it wasn't rape and cis issues, it would have been something else that they would have offended people with to the same effect. It does not mean they are actually on the wrong side of these issues as much as sensitivity is less of a concern than it probably should be.

That has consequences, of course, but I think it is VERY important to distinguish between somebody who makes mistakes but is still basically on the same side, with somebody who really does have an agenda of hatred (Orson Scott Card, anybody?).

Combine this with a cottage industry of outrage (on all portions of the political spectrum), and it starts to become very difficult to engage in useful conversations with people who are genuinely offended, because those who gain currency by fanning the flames don't want resolutions, they want the attention the controversy attracts to themselves.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lord Hosk » 04 Sep 2013, 16:16

Jimor wrote:
Combine this with a cottage industry of outrage (on all portions of the political spectrum), and it starts to become very difficult to engage in useful conversations with people who are genuinely offended, because those who gain currency by fanning the flames don't want resolutions, they want the attention the controversy attracts to themselves.


SO MUCH THIS!

The original Dickwolves comic was offensive to some people. (not me)

The dismissiveness of the follow up comic REALLY upset people. (including me)

The continued interaction went way over the top, and spun way beyond anything that the comic was. The original comic was not about the dick wolves, it was about how in adventure games you have to do something X times, and when X is done you walk away even though the problem is still there.

This current "uproar" is people trying to not let there be a resolution.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Kapol » 04 Sep 2013, 16:22

Bebop Man wrote:We like the strip and the expo is fun, right?


The issue there is that, by supporting PAX and the strip, people are supporting him. He is one of the owners of Penny Arcade. And I'm sure they make a good deal of money from the cons. Choosing to avoid it due to not wanting to give him money is understandable to me.

However, Penny Arcade isn't just the strip and PAX, nor is it just Mike, Jerry, and Khoo. Penny Arcade is a company that does a lot of things. They hire LRR, Extra Credits, and did Strip Search. They helped ENN and Extra Credits continue on even after they left The Escapist. All of those things I mentioned are things I like. They do Child's Play as well, which raises a lot of money for a good cause. That's all also part of Penny Arcade as a company. And they're things that I feel alright with helping fund.

Thinking about it, it seems similar to chick-fil-a. The owner came out and said something homophobic I believe and there was a massive public backlash. A lot of people came out and boycotted the company. Which is something I respect. But it's a large company that provides a good deal of jobs to people. If the company were to just 'go out of business,' then a lot of people would be out of work. Which would be bad.

This is different in many ways. Penny Arcade itself doesn't have many employees. It hires LRR and a bunch of content producers though. It also makes PAX happen, which provides a good deal of tourist income to those areas I'm sure.

Not that these things are going away anytime soon though. There's enough people who just don't care at all that big corps don't have to worry too much about it. And PAX is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, gaming event, so I doubt attendance will ever be an issue for them.

I guess to me, I think it's fair for people who don't feel comfortable giving money to PA in any way to choose not to and say why. If that's because of how the people and/or a person in charge runs the operation, fair enough. I personally feel PA as a whole does enough good stuff that I do want to help fund that I don't mind giving them my money for things like PAX that I enjoy.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby King Kool » 04 Sep 2013, 16:23

Oddly enough, I sort of liked the response comic. Certainly better than the original comic.

EDIT: This is in response to Hosk's post. Damn you, quick responses!
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 16:28

Lord Hosk wrote:But the only support they have for that is that a moderator closed the thread and they didnt publicly admonish the person they just "fired" him when it came to light. Do they not understand how large companies work? Does Coke go out of its way to publicly admonish an employee that gets fired for harassing fellow employees? NO, they just get rid of them.


The thing is, that one more than anything touches off a huge range of issues, and it may be the single most perfect case of how infuriating Penny Arcade is.

They laud their anti-harassment policy at PAX. But the fact is: It's woeful. It's literally just "Don't harass anyone, or you will be dealt with."

There's no mention of what constitutes harassment. No mention of what 'dealt with' means. (From all reports, it means being expelled from the convention and your pass revoked.) No mention of what records will be kept. Who you should go to if you need to report something. What will be said publicly and what won't.

A good policy would have all those things. It would offer the victim the opportunity to involve the police, explicitly in the policy. It would make it clear what is acceptable. And it would explain the avenues of appeal.

It's an awful, terrible anti-harassment policy.

The biggest con in America, I believe, is San Diego Comic Con. It doesn't have a harassment policy at all.

This is what is so fucking infuriating. PAX does this terribly. And they do it better than most.

There's so much good Penny Arcade does. But their megaphone is so loud that someone like Mike does a tonne of damage in response.

This current "uproar" is people trying to not let there be a resolution.


Bullshit. The current 'uproar' are people trying to hold Mike to account.

Look, my personal take on it is this. The original strip was kind of funny, but the response to the comic was also pretty measured and reasonable. (Note that the original response at Shakesville was more about how the wider culture, and about the reasons why rape jokes have consequences. It wasn't really about the strip at all. Hell, the post name was 'Part 53'.)

Then Penny Arcade took it personally, and they kept digging deeper with every swing of the shovel.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lyinginbedmon » 04 Sep 2013, 16:30

Exactly how are Jerry and Robert remotely part of the problem here? They pretty much couldn't get rid of Mike if they wanted to, he's dang integral to Penny Arcade at this point, but moreover, how are they assisting him?

What Mike does is what Mike does, are we to hold Jerry and Robert responsible for not tackling him to the ground at the instant a bad idea is detected to form in his brain? They're enablers, maybe, but they're not inherently accessories as well.

Maybe there is indeed a problem here, and maybe it is centred squarely on Mike, but that doesn't mean we hold everyone and everything around him summarily responsible alongside him. An individual in power can cause a lot of damage, but that doesn't mean the power was responsible.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 16:36

When he makes a stupid ass comment, they could publicly disagree with him?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby King Kool » 04 Sep 2013, 16:38

Do you do that with your friends?

(not being flippant, I'm srs)
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 16:39

Honestly? It depends. Sometimes. Sometimes not. I'm proud of the former, not of the latter.

I take the point, though, but it doesn't stop the fact that they could, and by not, they are enabling him.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 04 Sep 2013, 16:45

King Kool wrote:Do you do that with your friends?

(not being flippant, I'm srs)


Not "publicly" in this same sense, but then, I don't have any friends as much in the public sphere as Mike and Jerry are. I'm sincerely asking, if a friend of yours says something that you legitimately find offensive or crossing a line, do you not question it?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 04 Sep 2013, 16:49

JackSlack wrote:The biggest con in America, I believe, is San Diego Comic Con. It doesn't have a harassment policy at all.


Also, I stand corrected. Comic Con does have a harassment policy. It is, actually, better in most regards than PAX's. It clearly outlines punishment, for instance.

However, in one regard, it is much, much worse: It's invisible. It's not on their website, it's not on their programme, etc. etc.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lord Hosk » 04 Sep 2013, 16:54

King Kool wrote:Oddly enough, I sort of liked the response comic. Certainly better than the original comic.

EDIT: This is in response to Hosk's post. Damn you, quick responses!



See and that is part of the issue here.

I liked the original, but not the response. And it is ok for us to have differing opinions.

I think its OK for people to get wildly up in arms about rape jokes, I dont think its ok to search someones every word or utterance and imply that they mean direct offense to you because see look right there, there that thing there!

It was a 4 day convention, it was a 90 minute Q and A panel it was a 45 second comment and response from a small number of people in the crowd. Some people are choosing to imply that everyone who attended the 4 day convention are directly supporting rape because they attended the convention and the offended people took that that comment and response to be a support of rape. I was there, there was no Uproar of cheer and support, if you watch that whole video you hear uproar of cheers and support, that was a MINOR response from the crowd and some of those people are acting like it was the primary focus of the event.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Kapol » 04 Sep 2013, 16:58

Duckay wrote:Not "publicly" in this same sense, but then, I don't have any friends as much in the public sphere as Mike and Jerry are. I'm sincerely asking, if a friend of yours says something that you legitimately find offensive or crossing a line, do you not question it?


One of the major problems is that they aren't just friends. They're also business partners. Sending conflicting messages and stirring up problems inside the company as well as outside can lead to more problems in the long run.

That doesn't mean I disagree that they could/should say something. But it's also not as simple as 'my friend said something incredibly stupid and/or insensitive on the internet.'
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lyinginbedmon » 04 Sep 2013, 17:00

JackSlack wrote:When he makes a stupid ass comment, they could publicly disagree with him?

Explain to me how they could do so without making the situation worse?

In doing so, they'd bring light to Mike being apparently a jerk and thus impacted their own PR badly, whilst being largely incapable of removing him from their dealings, and degrade the working situation inside the heart of their company by making a disagreement public.

Would it be noble? Yes. Would it actually do anyone any good? No.

What should they actually do? Keep the light off of it, don't give it credence by acknowledging it, and move past it as swiftly as possible. That way, it does the least harm to the most people. Not harmless, no, because that would require rewriting Mike, but minimal.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 04 Sep 2013, 17:04

Some people are choosing to imply that everyone who attended the 4 day convention are directly supporting rape because they attended the convention and the offended people took that that comment and response to be a support of rape.


While there are some people out there who may feel that way, as far as I can tell, no one
in this thread is saying that any support of Penny Arcade is directly supporting rape. Personally, I would like it if we could keep any criticism focused on specific things that people are saying (on all sides of the discussion).
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Fantazme » 04 Sep 2013, 17:07

I think they could do better than saying that taking down the merch was a massive mistake. To me that comes across as them saying that they never really did anything wrong and that everything they did was okay. The crowd cheering along was even worse though. It's a sad indictment of the culture the world has at the moment. Even just seeing how many people still think that people blew the original controversy out of proportion or are blowing this out of proportion just worries me, in general. The way rape and women are treated in gaming/nerd culture is a massive, massive problem that I don't think you can blow out of proportion. People should be fighting to change it tooth and nail and taking people to task when and where is possible. I don't blame people for boycotting it, although it's not the approach I'd take- I would make as much noise about it and make sure when the next PAX rolls around, as many vendors as putting out the message that shit like this is not okay to counter-act when stuff like this happens. PAX is a massive event and while views like this can be broadcast out, we can also broadcast more positive messages out instead.

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