Chainmail Bikini: Controversy!

  By Shamus   Oct 2, 2007   190 comments

Chainmail Bikini is now on strip #8. We’ve just finished introducing Marcus’ character, and as part of that introduction one of the other characters forcefully groped “her”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll just have to read it or skip this.

This whole thing has caused a few people to object strongly to the comic, saying that I’m advocating “rape”. Conan’s fancy tiara, what the hell? I’ve held off responding because I didn’t want to jump in and argue with people before the jokes were finished. Now I’m writing about it here because the forums have finally cooled down a bit and I don’t want to get things riled up again. I don’t want to be a bad guest of FtB, so I’m a little more polite over there. I’m under no illusions about the impact my words will have on our detractors. Everyone has dug in at this point, but as the one who wrote the offending jokes I feel like I should step up and say something about this.

The situation depicted in the comic is actually pretty mild compared to a lot of real stories I’ve heard from players since I started writing DM of the Rings. There are players who have their characters rape (actually rape, not just grope) other player characters. They murder, torture, steal, and otherwise have fun at the expense of others. The story between Chuck and Marcus is tame in comparison. Really, what we have here is the metagame equivalent of a wedgie. We’re talking about comic characters who are themselves playing fantasy characters in a ridiculous world that none of us are meant to take seriously.

I don’t see the problem. This is a watered-down version of stupid stuff people do to each other in real games, all the time. The people who do this sort of thing deserve to be mocked in our comic as much as any other kind of gamer, if not more so. The series of jokes ended with Chuck enduring real-world violence at the hands of his victim for the actions of his pretend fantasy character. I really thought this would silence the critics, as Chuck didn’t actually harm Marcus in any way, but there are still people stamping their feet and demanding justice be done. I’m not even sure what they expect. Should Chuck endure real-world punishment for his in-game actions? Sensitivity training? Jail? Castration? Better yet, why don’t we just write a comic about a group of players who all respect one another in a friendly environment of collaborative roleplaying? Oh yeah! This sounds like a formula for comedy gold, man.

The main gripe seems to be that this series is sending the message that “rape” is “okay”. So let’s clear this up:

1) It wasn’t rape. It was, if we must ruin the joke by being explicit, a bit of boobie-grabbing.

2) It was in no way “okay”. Like everything else in the comic, this is a lesson in what not to do.

3) The perpetrator endured actual violence for his pretend actions.

4) This drama was played out between two pretend males who were pretending to be a male and female in a pretend fantasy world.

But most of all, the next time you think a webcomic is telling you its okay to rape people you should tell the people running the insane asylum you’re living in that you need more medicine.

LATER: Over in the forums, Roxysteve has charged me with racing right to the lowest common denominator.

Yeah. I actually did do that. A bit odd for the start of the comic, and not very characteristic of what’s to come, but there it is. We’re in the Screwing Around Phase of the game, before the players settle down and actually try to play.

At any rate, at least people have stopped accusing us of ripping of KotDT for once.

LATER STILL: Fair warning, some of the comments below get pretty edgy. I’m being more lax than usual, given the topic and everyone’s strong opinions.

AND FINALLY: This comment below is right on the money and has done a great deal to help me see the comic the way our critics are seeing it. Very interesting.

A Hundred!2020202010I bet you won't even read all 190 comments before leaving your own.


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  1. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    So you’re saying its OK to rape people as long as its pretend people pretending to do it and its not rape and you get punished for it and its shown as a bad thing? Fine. If you want to be an apologist for rape, that’s your bag. Rapologist.

    I kid. Yeah, those comments were ridiculous.

  2. Shinjin says:

    A 12 minute youtube example of this joke.

    Not Safe For Work.

    Tom et ses chums! Farador D&D [Part: 1 of 2]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhmUj9QJ9RM

    Tom et ses chums! Farador D&D [Part: 2 of 2]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9FMURHhgzc

    Hopefully this isn’t too inappropriate.

  3. Rebby says:

    First of all, it’s those peoples’ choice to read the comic strip, they don’t have to read it if they don’t agree with it (not saying I agree w/ rape, but its a game…). Second of all, you’re never going to please everyone. There are some people who dig and dig for something to criticize and they just like freaking out about stuff like this. Nothin’ you can do about that.

  4. Dan says:

    Wow, the biggest comedy crime this joke committed was that it wasn’t violent enough. This campaign waited nearly four episodes before flying valiantly off the rails. I think a trip to the hospital, with the DM having to make some quick conversions for the ensuing LARP would have been hilarious.

  5. MintSkittle says:

    I’d invite people to check out the A Team Chronicles at http://www.s-run.com

    There’s a character there that does all sorts of horrible things to her teammates, and finally gets offed by one of the survivors.

    My point being that PC’s who violate other PC’s characters should expect retribution sometime in the future.

  6. I’ve also had a problem with the way your strip has played this out. I think part of my issue is that you let the offending player make semi-reasoned arguments about why his actions were ok, and the only rebuttal was “die fatbeard”.

    Also: dude, you made a rape joke. You didn’t make a joke at the expense of the rapist, but rather made a joke of the process. The fact that this happens not infrequently is not a defense– it’s the reason there are so few women gamers. As a guy who likes dating women who are into games, this is a problem.

  7. Craig says:

    I can’t think of a single campeign I’ve been in where EVERY player wasn’t abused in some way. One player always tried to roleplay the entire party into a standstill, so he was regularly knocked out and carried (he was a gnome) by the other party members. Once, the cleric freaked out and killed an old lady. They made passes at small boys for entertainment. Hmmm… maybe I need different friends…

  8. My reaction to it was that it didn’t amuse me. It’s supposed to be a humor cartoon, or so I was led to believe; I expect it to be witty.

    This wasn’t.

  9. baac says:

    People take this stuff seriously, even when it’s just pretend. What if one of the pretend characters made a pretend racist remark instead?

    I hate PC nonsense, and I’m a novelist and a journalist so I can’t stand censorship, but you poked one of the hives, my friend, even if it was only a gentle nudge…

    Brendan

  10. gedece says:

    Well, shamus, it’s a controversial strip, you can’t posibly expect it not to cause controversy.

  11. Laura says:

    I completely agree with Punning Pundit. There is no in-strip condemnation of Chuck’s actions; there is just Marcus’ anger, which is not the same as a rebuttal.
    The fact that this situation plays out in real life as you have portrayed it makes the whole thing WORSE, not better.

    But really, MY problem with is it that Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it’s not OK to violate people’s bodies like that. (Remember, Marcus’ attack is a headbutt, not a rebuttal!)
    There have been hints of sexism around here before, which have always made me uncomfortable, but they were always small, fleeting, and overshadowed by the quality of your work (and usually way more prevalent in the comments than in your work). I was holding out for this rape storyline to get better as well but your response–which strikes me as more of a knee-jerk reaction than a result of careful thought–I don’t think I can overlook it.
    I’ve taken you out of my bookmarks. I’ll miss you–but the hostility is overwhelming the quality, so I’m going to “choose not to read it.”

  12. Adam says:

    “What if one of the pretend characters made a pretend racist remark instead?”

    Isn’t racism more or less a staple of fantasy roleplaying? Ooh, my character will be deeper and more realistic if he hates elves/dwarves/humans/whatever for no rational reason!

    There’s a serious question…we’re not all that offended by fantasy racism, presumably because there are no real elves around to be offended by the deeply racist comments your dwarven barbarian makes. So, if you were roleplaying a fantasy species with a third sex (like the aliens from Alien Nation, say), would it be less offensive to roleplay sexually offensive acts if that madeup sex were the object of them?

  13. Rebecca says:

    To tell the truth, the comic does strike me as – well, somewhere between misogynistic and a “guy thing,” and therefore of no interest to me. It’s strange too, because I really liked the LotR one and there were no non-player female characters either. I feel like you need, I don’t know, a female consultant.

  14. Rob says:

    Shamus++;
    StupidCommenters–;

    I hate dumb reactionists. If he had a character say “Hey guys lets rape that lady” it still wouldn’t be bad because (here comes the reality kick): IT’S A FREAKING PARODY! Relax. If anything you can read it as the opposite. I.E. The author is saying boobie-groping is innapropriate.

    /rant

  15. nilus says:

    When I first read the strip I said “Wow was that a rape joke”. It could have been seen as a simple groping joke but the last line about “Improved Stamina” seemed to me to cross the line and imply something much more intimidate. Like others have said can’t say in all the years of bad Role playing groups that anyone has forcefully raped another character.

    Honestly the grope/rape doesn’t really bother me. I am honestly just not finding the comic that funny at this point. The jokes just don’t seem that original or all that funny. I loves DMotR so I have decided to keep checking out the comic for the first 10 strips, but if it doesn’t get more entertaining I think I will give up on it.

  16. Baac,
    I didn’t follow the threads on the forum, so perhaps I missed what you’re referring to. Did anyone suggest anything more than that Shamus had lost a reader? If not, I fail to see Shamus is being censored.

    As for your other remark: If the player is playing a racist, fine. Since the player is playing a rapist, I fully expect to see this carried into the game. Perhaps some of his other past exploits will come back to haunt the character. If he’s the sort of uncontrolled barbarian who can’t see a pair of pretty breasts without being compelled to grope, there ought to be an offended woman/husband/father/wife/sister/brother/someone looking for vengeance…

  17. Ann says:

    I wasn’t offended at all by the groping in CMB — in fact, I was snickering. I am female and played AD&D for about 10 years in a mixed group. Since the other woman’s husband was usually the DM, the specific sort of behavior in your comic didn’t happen, but we all knew the potential was there. There was one campaign set in Sanctuary that a couple of playing sessions were spent in rolling up visits to the brothels, via notes and whispers. Made for a really dull game for us two females. Yes, we did deal with it in character, and for a while everyone was angry at each other, but the group got over it.

  18. Shamus says:

    Laura says:

    “But really, MY problem with is it that Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it’s not OK to violate people’s bodies like that.”

    Looks like she’s not coming back, bu this is pretty revealing about where the “OMG RAPE” arguments are coming from. This misses the point by a million miles. This has nothing to do with “groping women”. If you read this and think Chuck would really like to grope a woman, I can’t really help you. I don’t even know where to begin. If you’re going to look at one guy humiliating another guy and call it sexism, and then ascribe that sexism to me… wow.

    Yeah. Please do stop reading. Cripes.

  19. Patriarch917 says:

    Unlike Laura, I don’t expect you to write insightful social commentary in which you teach us how to interact with each other in a respectful and gender sensitive manner. I don’t want the next few strips to consist of a “rebuttal” to the groping, all the other characters explaining to the offender the error of his ways, and Chuck learning a valuable lesson about how to respect women. I expect jokes about gamers and the outlandish things they do, or might do, so I can laugh at them.

    I fully expect you to mine this situation for every possible joke about gender bending, transvestitism, and all around gayishness. I played a half-elf beguiler once, and the whole party decided that I looked sexually ambiguous. It wasn’t part of my character concept, but I went with it and let them roll a d20 in order to randomly determine whether I would be called “he” or “she” by every NPC we met. This is the sort of thing that people do.

    For those offended by this sort of material, I feel a duty to warn you to stay away from things like South Park and The Internet.

  20. Adam says:

    “If you’re going to look at one guy humiliating another guy and call it sexism, and then ascribe that sexism to me…

    I don’t know that ascribing that sexism to you is valid, but the time honored tradition of humiliating a male by forcing him into a female role is sexist by definition. Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything particularly shocking or controversial about it…it’s pretty much how guys interact, which is probably an unfortunate observation, but not one particular to the comic.

  21. Shinjin says:

    Sure, I can see the controversy in the strip. But is it really necessary that each and every strip be a condescending morality play? That seems to be what some are asking for. I know sexual assault is wrong. You know it’s wrong. Shamus knows it’s wrong.

    “Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it’s not OK to violate people’s bodies like that”

    This comment seems to suggest that there is no responsibility for the reader to run the strip through his/her own morality filter to come to this conclusion.

    The point of the strip (IMO) is that it is clear that what the player did is wrong.

    Suppose one of the pretend players decides to role play his pretend character as being in a bad mood. So the character goes and kicks a puppy. Is it really necessary for Shamus to come along and tell us that kicking a puppy is wrong? I don’t know about some people, but I really don’t need my hand held like that.

  22. Downtym says:

    I laughed at the comic. Mostly because it reminded me of things I’ve seen in real life. How is this not one of the classic jokes in D&D? A male player playing a female character is often subjected to ridicule by friends/coworkers/parents/pets/whoever else finds out. Hell, in MMO’s you have the ever-so-lovely term “Mangina” (YOU KNOW THE ROOTS).

    And hey, here’s another obvious stereotype that’s telling: A girl joins the group and all the other players except one have no idea how to act around her or her character. Why? Jesus, man, IT’S A GIRL!

    While it’s arguable that the type of comedy portrayed is “Base” or “Common” the fact is that it’s the exact kind of humor that is found in any gaming group ever. There’s a reason they call it “Common” humor.

  23. Jeff says:

    I agree that this was Not Cool.

    You had a character RP a sexual assault and give the standard rape-apologist lines in response. This, while squicky, could be fodder for a good strip (and not necessarily in a “morality play” style).

    But then you had to go and dismiss the whole damn thing by making the punchline about LARPing. Because we all know that the real problem with sexual assault is all those uppity victims who get upset at being groped.

  24. Maddy says:

    I am a woman. I was raped by a “friend” years ago. It was nothing like what happened Chainmail Bikini. What happened in Chainmail Bikini was funny, and the thought of rape never even crossed my mind. I was surprised as anything to read the comments here.

  25. Ian says:

    Wow…never in my wildest dreams did I even imagine that some people would be so bloody hypersensitive that they’d scream “rape” over that joke.

  26. baac says:

    Pundit: what I didn’t explain properly is a scenario where a pretend character made a real life racist remark, not a crack about elves, etc. (Who we all know are a bunch of pretty boys…)

    You can say ‘It’s the character who said it,’ but people are still going to go ape-poop. And I’m not referring to the appropriateness of the comment or the reactions, just the predictability of the results.

    And the censorship I was referring to was self-censorship. I sometimes find myself removing things from my work because I get too caught up in the reader’s reaction. If it serves the story or develops the character, it should be left and damn the consequences. But because of reactions like Shamus is experiencing, sometimes I cut… Mind you, I get paid by people who have to hire lawyers when I shoot my mouth off, so it’s a different situation.

    B

  27. Jhianna says:

    Ah lovely. I’ve been a loyal fan of DMotR since the early days. I’ve been a gamer (yeah, I’m a chick) for close to 20 years.

    The whole barbarian PC force gropes the priestess PC left a bad taste in my mouth, but I’m not going to stop reading the strip. I usually point out why things like this make me uncomfortable and aren’t enjoyable, give the person the chance to not do it again, then move on if the same things keep happening.

    To you Shamus, it’s obvious that this thing is just a comment on things that go on in other groups (as you pointed out, usually in far worse ways). Can you at least try to put yourself in the other person’s head?

    Been forcibly groped by someone physically stronger than you? The comic pushes all sorts of buttons for anybody who has experienced that or worse in real life. I’ll tell you what I’ve told the countless guys I’ve gamed with: I play RPGs to escape the crap in the real world. I don’t play to be reminded that I’m physically weaker, considerably less powerful than those in charge, and subject to the whims of the cretin sitting next to me. Sure, I can try to prosecute the real life stuff after the fact, but can a guy going to jail scrub out the memories from my brain? Last time I checked, that wasn’t an option.

    And seriously? He gives the excuse “Besides you have to admit she liked it a little bit” and you didn’t expect to get flamed into next year?

    That being said – the barbarian being too commitment shy to form a party was a riot.

  28. Shamus says:

    It really is facinating to see the two divergent reactions to the strip. The line is very clear between the two groups, with almost no grey area. Nobody’s budging, and the two sides can’t even see each other’s positions. (Really, no matter how I look at the strip I’ll never see it the way Laura sees it.)

    There is something fundamentally different in the attitudes of the two groups in how they think about roleplaying. It’s very interesting. I’d explore it some more if it wasn’t pissing people off so much.

  29. Sharpe says:

    Meh, my gaming group had a woman in it who blatantly used her “equipment” to influence NPCs. I suppose my gaming group is sexist now as well.

  30. E_scapism101 says:

    I don’t find assault or rape funny in the least. Which is why I immediately deleted my bookmark to that comic and stopped reading it.

    It wasn’t a good joke Shamus. There are some things that just aren’t funny, no matter how you try to spin it. If that kind of thing is okay in a group of men, it shouldn’t be.

  31. Ian says:

    I think what everyone is forgetting is that this is an act of fiction.

    If someone writes a book about rape do you immediately scream “HE/SHE IS ADVOCATING RAPE”? When someone writes a book in the perspective of a serial killer, do you assume that they advocate murder?

    Get over yourselves. Far too many terrible things happen in the real world for you people to gets your panties in a bunch over what’s happening in a web comic. Sheesh.

    And besides, if you don’t like it, if you don’t agree with the subject matter, do what most logical people would do: don’t bloody read it. It’s as simple as that. No need to subject others to your bitching. Just stop reading.

  32. baac says:

    E_scapism…

    Not to stick my head in the lion’s mouth, but ‘assault’ is the basis of role playing… It’s the very basis of the LotR…

    B

  33. Funny would have been the barbarian getting his butt kicked by his intended victim. Funnier would have been the difference between barbarian’s success/failure being made by the attributes of the Chainmail Bikini. Funniest would have been having the barbarian (the whole party?) showing up in the same outfit next session.

    Having the fat, middle aged, divorced guy sexually humiliate the emo kid? I can’t imagine how that could be funny.

  34. Shawn says:

    The only thing I don’t understand still, is the idea that by showing something we’ve automatically condoned or supported it. Now, I’m biased of course, but I think from Strip #6 on it’s pretty clear that Chuck is being a dick and everyone else at the table is either pissed off, squicked out or annoyed. It’s not like anyone is throwing Chuck high fives and thumbs up.

    Now I realize that some people aren’t going to find the last few strips funny regardless, but it just boggles my mind that because something bad happened, and we didn’t throw up giant neon signs over the last three comics saying “This is bad! Do not do this! Chuck is a bad, bad person!” that we were instead saying “Hey everybody! Tackling women and taking their tops off is awesome!”

  35. Shawn says:

    Ian:

    Clearly, everyone who works on the show Dexter supports and condones serial killing, don’t you know?

  36. Phlux says:

    I’m on your side Shamus. I read those comments over on FtB and couldn’t really believe how out of proportion some people take things. It’s like we’re all conditioned now to experience moral outrage at the drop of a hat.

    I mean come on, Chuck even says it’s “more of a second base kind of thing”. Do an urbandictionary search for Second Base and you’ll realize the extent of the harmlessness involved here.

    It’s inevitable that someone will (if they already haven’t) play the “I/my significant other/my sister/whoever, was a victim of rape/molesting/violence and it’s not OK to joke about it ever, no matter how innocuous” card, in an attempt to score points in an argument.

    My heart really truly and deeply goes out to all those who suffer from such experiences, but in my own humble opinion, when you lose the ability to laugh at something, it has beaten you…the terrorists have won…game over man.

  37. Zincorium says:

    What I don’t get is how the supposed action (which is not even rape, except by the loosest, most frenzied definition) is even relevant.

    One male character is annoyed by another male character who has decided to play a female. This is a gamer stereotype, which is what all the characters are. Some people really can’t get over cross-gender rping.

    Specifically to make the 2nd guy uncomfortable and possibly change characters, the first makes lewd comments and suggestively uses the grappling mechanics. Whoop-de-do. He then gets attacked for being an annoying SOB.

  38. Matt says:

    So does this mean people who “tea-bag” in Halo are advocates for homosexual acts?

  39. baac says:

    Shamus said: “Now I realize that some people aren’t going to find the last few strips funny regardless, but it just boggles my mind that because something bad happened, and we didn’t throw up giant neon signs over the last three comics saying “This is bad! Do not do this! Chuck is a bad, bad person!” that we were instead saying “Hey everybody! Tackling women and taking their tops off is awesome!”

    I think we have to state clearly here that you’re either with the gropers or you’re against them… That they form an axis of groping. We can’t let this stand.

    Clearly, I don’t have enough to do today…

    B

  40. Shamus says:

    Matt: I actually thought about Halo when I wrote this post, and nearly brought it up. I do wonder how the “that’s not funny” people react to that, or if they would classify it as the same thing. Do they consider Halo multiplayer to be a hotbed of murder rapists?

  41. Ping says:

    Yes, the comic strip is just fiction. No, it doesn’t have to have moral commentary and be a deep and life-altering experience.

    But fiction in any form and to any degree must be relevant to real life. Especially humor, or it just isn’t that funny. So I look for parallels, situations I’ve been in, etc. And sometimes, I find them in more painful ways than I expect. I don’t read fiction about sexual assault. My sister doesn’t read it about murder. We both have very specific reasons for this, based on our own experiences.

    “1) It wasn’t rape. It was, if we must ruin the joke by being explicit, a bit of boobie-grabbing.”

    It is still a forced encounter of a sexual nature. Split that hair as finely as you want, but it was still a man forcing unwanted attentions on a woman because he was stronger.

    My reaction to any reference to sexual assault, however many degrees removed from reality, sets off a complicated and long-lasting emotional reaction. For every woman, sexual assault is always a danger. Less so in more liberal and advanced places, but it’s something that I am always aware of when I travel, when I walk up the street from the metro, when I hear strange noises at night. I don’t obsess about it, but it’s always there.

    To me, that’s no joking matter, whether it’s a prop in a joke about something else or not. Because it is such a powerful thing, it overshadows the other jokes the comic strip attempted to make.

  42. Rick says:

    Wow… All these people were initially on board to read a comic about a group of guys getting together in a fantasy world to slaughter things for loot. They were prepared to be humored by situations involving:
    1 – Murder for + items
    2 – Torture for treasure
    3 – Robbing for gold
    4 – Immolation for booty
    5 – for loot
    6 – Etc.
    But suddenly the thought of a fake sexual harassment is off limits. They’ve suddenly drawn a line in the sand. As if they are taking some moral high ground.

    Shamus – I was shocked to see this post as I haven’t read any of the Chainmail Bikini forums. The joke was humorous. It made me chuckle.

  43. Shawn: Are we looking at the same sets of strips? Between strip 4 and 8, the only people I see are: Fat guy, Emo kid, and the DM. In strip 6, I only see Emo kid. There is no one else at the table doing anything it all, let alone being “pissed off, squicked out or annoyed.”

    Perhaps I’m missing something?

  44. Thad says:

    In many ways, Marcus gave up the right to complain when he made his opposed roll. He went with the interaction. He could simply have said “nope, not going there”.

    That’s the difference between this joke here and actual rape: Marcus voluntarily continued the interaction.

  45. Davesnot says:

    Welcome to the same problems movie makers have.. if you’re popular you’ll piss a ton of groups off by telling even a tame story.. they’ll boycot this and that.. call you this and that.. ..if you’re a comic nobody sees.. you can do anything and nobody will care.. until you do something that actually gets picked up by others.. then you’ll get popular and well-liked.. until more popularity comes around… and then the cycle starts anew.

    Welcome to popularity.. a place we nerds will never truly understand… Enjoy!

  46. clodia says:

    *facepalm*

    Just so you know, as a woman who went to a woman’s college and is considered very feminist by those who know me, I’m not offended. You made it clear that the groper was being a dick. Showing actions in your comic is not the same as condoning actions. I don’t think you were condoning rules-lawyering earlier in the strip when one of the players attempted it!

    People need to breathe.

  47. Quanity says:

    I basically agree with Rick (#42) here. I’d like to see the reactions when the comic goes for action. I presume that soon we will be seeing some fights in the game, let’s say with orcs or animals or whatever. Then, according to logic, most of the people pissed off about the groping jokes should go “OMFG, the players are killing sentient beings! They’re killing semi-intelligent semi-humans! So you’re saying that it’s ok to go out and kill animals, especially apes? Curse you, Shamus, you’re a bad person!”
    Things will get much worse if at any point the players will encounter human enemies like thieves or evil wizards. “WTF? Did you just imply that self-administered justice and even death sentence are ok? I hope Satan personally rises from hell to collect your soul!”
    OK, the point is, RPG’s are always fantasy games (fantasy as in imagination, not literature). The reason people play them is because they can act different and do things they can’t do in real life. Same with playing video games. So what the hell is wrong about it when I set a whole town on fire, disembowel all soldiers, rape all women, make a tasty stew of all the babies and eat a live puppy for dessert? If I do this in a fantasy game, would I do it in real life? Probably, and this is a stretch, not.
    This reminds me too much of the whole “video games make kids violent”-debate. And I don’t see the point there either. Really, if people think this is offensive and sexist, then nobody could make fun of anything.

  48. mneme says:

    One reason I think you’re seeing two divergent opinions is that they’re both, more or less, true.

    1. It was clear that you were making fun of players who PVP the crap out of other characters, and ones who can’t deal with other people playing female characters or cross-gender in a mature way (see: aragorn/leg-o-lass). (the fact that it was a “grope” joke, not a “rape” joke was ambiguous early due to the “improved stamina” joke, but made clear in the text later).

    2. The joke was flat. The punch lines weren’t really funny, and the assault was actually over the line (now, if Ms. Chainmail Bikini had pulled out her greatsword while the barbarian was “busy” and done some permanent damage, well, -that- would have been funny).

    3. While it’s not actually an issue, now that you mention it, well, yes, there’s a lot of KotDT in that sequence–from the characters’ bizarre reactions to cross-gender roleplaying to the “in character sexist remark leads to physical trauma” that Knights, by being much more subtle about the issue, manages to pull off in a way this sequence doesn’t.

    I’m still waiting for things to improve, but I wouldn’t dismiss your detractors just because they’re out in left field; sometimes a mixed metaphor is still illustrative.

  49. khorboth says:

    wow. I read through the forums briefly. I’m commenting on this side because registering for things annoys me (personal issue).

    So… yes. The humor was edgy. To me there is only one excuse for that. It was funny. I will never be offended by a joke. I understand that some people have a line of offended past which they can no longer find humor. I don’t have this issue, but the vast majority of people do.

    Shamus wrote briefly about the dichotomy of the group. Perhaps I can help bridge the gap.

    People saying it’s inappropriate:
    Are there no jokes that you think are funny which still manage to offend others? How much warning label do we really need? Should Shamus put “views of the characters are not the views of Shamus Young or any member of the production team” on every strip? Do we need to break character in order to have Marcus calmly discuss the inappropriateness of in-game rape? Marcus is clearly upset with this concept and is trying to teach Chuck not to do it. If it offended you, please remember that it doesn’t offend everybody and that doesn’t mean we condone rape. Shamus didn’t stick to totally G rated content in DMotR, and we certainly can’t expect him to do so in a strip called “chainmail Bikini.” Sometimes it may offend, but have faith that Shamus will bring us more of the bickering and infighting that we have come to love.

    People who think it’s stupid to be offended:
    Have you never been offended yourself? Can you think of no time in your life that someone has made a joke that offended you so much you couldn’t laugh? Try to remember how that felt. Nearly everybody has a line. Shamus hit on a subject that crosses it for many people. Rape really is a serious matter, and many people simply won’t get past that. How funny the joke may be doesn’t enter into it at all. Let me try to demonstrate with some truly tasteless jokes. If you’re offended by Shamus’ strip, or easily offended in general, please stop reading this post now. Seriously, just skip to the last paragraph. I’m about to drop the absolute most offensive jokes I can think of to illustrate my point.

    Q: What’s worse than an elephant with a head cold?
    A: The holocaust.

    Q: What’s better than winning a gold medal at the special Olympics?
    A: NOT BEING RETARDED!

    Did you ever hear of Ku Klux Knievel? He tired to jump over 50 black men on a steamroller.

    A rabbi and a priest are walking down the street, and a little boy runs across in front of them with a baseball. The priest says “we should screw that boy!” The rabbi says “out of what?”

    Ok, how’d we do? How many of these were just so offensive that you couldn’t laugh at them? Is religion no laughing matter? Or race? I’m sure there are worse jokes than these, but that’s not the point. So, if you did laugh at all of them (or just think they’re lame), I have to ask… Would you tell these jokes to your mother? Why not? I hope that this brings some perspective.

    And please DO NOT post your own offensive jokes. That’s not what I’m getting at, and if it degenerates to that I hope that Shamus will remove all of them including mine.

  50. Maija says:

    Hi Shamus & all,

    I’m a female p&p roleplayer, larper by hobbies, and I wasn’t offended by the recent chainmail bikini comics. I think it’s sort of fun and interesting though, to read people’s reactions. Some of it could reflect the frustration of all female players in the vague space of “geekdom” where there we have also lotsa women now who like DD fantasy, read webcomics like Shamus’s, play games like Morrowind and Oblivion, and are constantly being subcategorized by their hobbies into a magical demographic group of (mentally) young, introvert and zit-faced males, by the grace of the sort of target audience a lot of geekery and fantasy stuff are aimed at by game designers and corporations, and therefore they feel uncomfortable sharing sexist jokes within their own sphere, where they already have this image problem imposed on themselves.

    I personally like every jibe at female fantasy stereotypes in this comic, ESPECIALLY involving chain mail bikinis, because I hope comedy will eventually help fantasy as a genre to at some far point in the future to get rid of the incredibly sexist and stupid female “armor” and other stupidities, although you might argue that overhyped sexism is a part of fantasy (if we go into Conan, or back into the target audience catering again :) )

    Just my 2c :)

  51. Lain says:

    First of all: I despite Rape or other humiliating and/ or violent interaction until it is explicit allowed by the submissive partner.

    Second: My name is not George W. Bush and I not ejaculate by developing something like Guantamo with all the funny gmaes happening there every day the last few years.

    Third: For hells sake, this is a comic!

    Fourth: Take this away, it is about a few guys, which play a game!

    I play RPG now for 25 years. I played guys and girls. My female character also get raped. I also played rapists, murderers and someone in my group even killed children, awakens them as zombies and have THEN fun with them.

    RPG can be a way to play with your darkest thoughts and fatasies without real consequences. So why not? As far, that NEVER EVER happens something like this in reality, you can think about and play and fantasy and, if you want, jerk off as long as you want.

    By the way: The most cruel, horrible, brutal sadistic players are Ladies. If you are Master or Player: Beware, when they get unleashed!

    One female player cast “Sleep” to the other player, she was secretly in love and his girlfriend, killed her by cutting her heart out and fulfilled an evil ritual for cursing the poor gal for all eternity.

    Because of the fact, that the player didn’t know – in reality likewise in fantasy – who it was, he really hates me, the DM. Believe me, even in reality this is hell…

  52. gedece says:

    Shamus, feel free to look trhough my posts in FTB (the ones in strip comments 6 to 8). Perhaps you’ll notice in some I was trying to explain the line you mentioned here.

  53. Cineris says:

    I just checked today’s Penny Arcade, and felt like it made my point admirably for me.

    Looks like you’re in good company, Shamus.

  54. There’s been a lot of discussion of why these strips weren’t funny. What I don’t know is why anyone thinks they are funny. I mean, someone must think this his at least worth a chuckle, or else no one would be discussing it. I would love to know what people are getting out of this set of strips…

  55. Jhianna says:

    Well I can say that I wasn’t really offended by the comic. It mostly made me think the entire Chainmail Bikini party is made up of 13 year old boys (emotionally and socially if not physically). But some of the defenses put up on here have made me feel distinctly unwelcome.

    khorboth has a point though – I’m not going to be able to get past rape, no matter how funny you make it. Unless… If I’ve signed up for a no-holds barred, we’re the vilest mofos on the block game – well then, be prepared for retribution after the fact. There were some fun things those Hera worshipers came up with way back when – let’s see how many we can re-enact.

  56. Mordaedil says:

    Overly sexist characters are fun, because they are a release of behavior we cannot really let ourselves be in real life, not because we innermost desire it, but because we have a tendency to want to illustrate the ridiculousness of a situation by acting it out sarcastically.

    If Shamus was for “rape” or violation of personal boundaries, he would likely have written that Marcus starts to cry or that the DM says “your character is now pregnant”.

    Mind, rape isn’t funny. But this was a character we’re not supposed to like, obviously, why else would he go to the efforts of playing an ugly barbarian and violate someone else’s character before they even begin? He’s showing exactly who he is and he’s doing a damn good job of it.

  57. Joe says:

    Okay, one of the primary defense arguments for this “humor arc” (not exactly a story arc) is that people are reacting to a sexual assault in a strip that involves massive killing, while not saying anything about the killing. The argument doesn’t stand up, however, given the premise of RPGs.

    While it isn’t universal, RPGs generally revolve around a group of PCs who operate as the heroes of the story. As such, while they end up getting hip-deep in blood and guts, they are presumed to be doing so for a greater good. They kill inhuman monsters to save innocent people, to prevent greater bloodshed, etc. If one of the PCs immediately jumped up and slaughtered some innocent children or murdered a PC’s girlfriend, for example, I think you’d see many of the same comments here as you’re seeing now in regard to that.

    As if the event itself wasn’t bad enough, the similarity to real life is cemented with the comments at the beginning of #8, “Besides, you have to admit she liked it, at least a little bit.” All too many rapists have gotten off scot-free with this argument, one that attempts to turn a victim of a violent assault to some pathetic whiner who isn’t happy with their “choice” to have sex.

    In any event, let’s say you completely ignore all of that and focus on the humor itself. On some level, the writers and all those who found this amusing, find the idea of one player (at the bare minimum) bullying another by having his character violate the other’s in a tremendously humiliating level, simply because he chose to play a female. So, there’s violent misogyny and emotional intimidation and degradation, and that’s supposed to be funny? At least when bad things happen to Cartman (given the references to SP made repeatedly here), it happens to a hate-filled, greedy, gluttonous, misogynistic, anti-semitic bastard (and generally, because of those traits).

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is funny, nevermind appropriate.

  58. Davesnot says:

    We are getting a warm chuckle remembering past p&p games and the mixed bag of people we played with.. those glorious gamers and all their human flaws.. those were good times and it is fun to remember them.

  59. nilus says:

    But the Penny Arcade strip is funny

  60. Shamus says:

    Punning Pundit: People have said often, “This happened to me in a game once…”

    The humor of any given strip often seems directly proportional to how similar it is to the given reader’s experiences. I took what people wrote about their own gaming experiences, remixed it, and toned the worst parts of it down. Some people are able to see their own game through the absurd CB lens, and laugh at it.

  61. Shamus says:

    nilus: A quick scan of the comments will reveal that some people find these strips funny. Not everyone. Some people find it to be anti-funny, but the joke hit home for some people.

  62. TheBladeRoden says:

    *puts on eyeshadow and films self in front of a blanket*
    Leave Shamus alone! *cry*

  63. Joe says:

    Cineris, I’m not sure how the possible misunderstanding by a parent presuming something bad from something innocent (a common source of humor) relates to this strip at all. In this case, there is gross bullying and intimidation and simulation of sexual assault; the two don’t really correlate.

  64. Aaron says:

    I haven’t subscribed to the forums at Fear the Boot, but just reading this has me in absolute stitches. Is rape funny? Nope, not even a little. Is reading posts about a bunch of people who have read WAY too much into a pretend world about a pretend world? You’re damn right it is.

    Seriously people: GET. OVER. YOUR. SELVES.

    Shamus isn’t advocating ANYTHING. He has flat out told you rape isn’t cool. The comic isn’t about rape. It’s about a couple of (FICTIONAL) idiots who are getting annoyed with each other about their (FICTIONAL) characters. This has happened in my game group before, and will most likely happen again. Imagine that! We play games where we pillage, murder, and steal from other people/races/religious backgrounds. Mention ANY of that stuff and people laugh. Apparently it’s ok to steal, murder, and pillage your way through a game (or a comic) but not rape.

    It’s a comic. If you don’t like it, piss off and go read something that won’t offend you. Good luck finding it by the way. Walk into ANY library ANYWHERE and you’ll find something to offend everyone.

    “Omg! in this book I’m reading, Bobby stole Sally’s bicycle! The author must be a sexist bastard who should be hung from the tallest tree in the land!”

    Shamus, you keep doing what you’re doing man. If they don’t like reading it, they can (and should) go elsewhere. Reading is a choice, just like anything else. By the way, it’s Banned Books Week this week. I’d say the comic has remarkable timing!

    A

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  1. By Closed for audit purposes… : Critical Hits on January 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    […] Webartist Finally, it seems that Shamus of Twenty Sided has hit some very heavy controversy already with his new webcomics Chainmail Bikini. In the last few strips, a male character groped a […]