Monday, November 26, 2007

Everybody Whack Cheung Tonight

The words we use are strong
They make reality
--Wang Chung

What is it about outrage that makes some people just lose their shit and projectile-rant like their head's full of nothing but angry bees? I'm not talking about chronic anger junkies launching into long semi-comprehensible tirades, though that's always something to watch for, I'm talking about sensible-seeming people saying stuff that, if it were turned around and said by someone else about them, or if the rage level were lower, would be picked at and dismissed by the same people who said it... I'd like to hope, at least.

I can only conclude that, in direct opposition to people who claim that their anger and outrage is empowering and vital, outrage actually mostly makes you stupider.

Not that there aren't valid reasons for outrage: even I cringed a bit when I saw Dave Cheung's pseudo-pornographic cartoon featuring video game producer Jade Raymond. (I say "pseudo" since no genitalia were depicted, but sex acts were heavily implied, and that white stuff at the end was not likely supposed to be squeeze mayonnaise.) Understand, I read Cheung's "Chugworth Academy" strip on a semi-regular basis, so I had seen the strip pretty much at its initial release, well before it sparked a brouhaha on some forums here and there.

I took him at his word then, which was that the strip was a satire on the gaming fanboys' wishful thinking regarding Ms. Raymond and whether she'd "put out" for them in some way, posing for photo layouts or whatever. That was his stance before the criticism and after, and I have no reason to believe otherwise.

That said, I think as satire the strip stumbles and fails. Reading the strip by itself does not make it clear that this is a fanboy fantasy, and on its own merits it insults and degrades Jade Raymond. I have to say I don't follow the gaming world, so I don't have any clue about what kind of person Ms. Raymond is, but portraying her as somewhat dim seemed to me to be out of line. And then a satire of fanboys loses its sting when the object of fanboy desire is portrayed willingly fulfilling that same less-than-reasonable desire. How much of a loser can a fanboy be if he's actually receiving some fellatio?

It's hardly a fair satire, and I think the strip is a victim of Dave Cheung wanting to draw a pretty woman in a bikini doing naughty things. I've seen his work in other venues besides his webcomic, and the man does not shy away from porn. In fact, by comparison to other examples of his work I've seen, this strip was pretty damn tame. I also think he has some measure of contempt for Ms. Raymond, though whether that's justified or not I don't think I'm qualified to say.

So, yeah, I see where the outrage comes from. I'm not nearly as put out by it as some folks, but I'm not going to spend a lot of effort defending the strip.

What I am going to do is roll my eyes at some of the responses to the strip. Even justified outrage doesn't excuse losing touch with rational thought. Case in Point:

"Hey, Let's Bring Dave Cheung's Parents Into It!"

Oh, bravo. I'm not sure what this falls under: an appeal to Dave's shame (the supply of which must be limitless, I'm sure [definitely sarcasm]), or some kind of criticism of the job Dave's parents did raising him. On a similar note, here's a blog-reply comment from another person along the same lines.

Unless you are taking them to task for raising him badly, as if it was really any of your business, what percentage is there in dragging Mr. and Mrs. Cheung into it? Do you seriously expect them to do anything to their adult 25-year old son? Do you really think it's necessary to tattle on Dave to them? For what? So they'll scold him personally on behalf of your outrage?

Well, whatever. But I don't want to hear word one from you about any personal anguish Jade Raymond might feel, if you see nothing wrong with riling up someone else's parents and possibly making them very upset so that they can spank their kid for you. You want someone to up and tell your parents about that party you had in your dorm room, with all the drinking and bong hits and inappropriate touching? Think your folks'd be happy to have your dirty laundry aired out at them? Yeah, now go ahead and be that person.

"It's Okay If I Think They Deserve It, Otherwise It's Evil"

Normally I think Dirk Deppey is pretty much on the ball, but every once in a while he muffs one. Twice he's linked to the Cheung controversy, calling him "a dipshit", and "vile little douchebag". Okay fine. But it's hard for me to take Deppey's distaste for Cheung seriously when Journalista's featured the same damn cartoon featuring the Prince of Spain and his wife doin' it doggy style several times over.

Both cartoons are nasty, insulting and sexually-themed, and the only difference I can see is in competency: you know in the Spanish cartoon exactly who the target is and why. Aside from that is the question of whether one target actually deserves it more than the other. While I'm not particularly in favor of European monarchies, certainly you don't choose to be born the Prince of Spain, and I'm not sure that possessing royal blood is in and of itself sufficient call for that kind of abuse.

Maybe Deppey's attitude will soften if Dave Cheung does get sued over the cartoon. Then we can see it repeatedly.

"Stop Being So Free With That Free Speech!"

I quote:
"The predictable defenses have shown up. People can say whatever they want because of free speech! (Wow, congratulations on being lucky enough to have rights. Now stop using them to be an asshole, why don’t you.)"
Sounds an awful lot like another call for "artistic responsibility". I suppose I could go on about how the concept of free speech isn't needed to protect speech you like, etc. etc., but the way this kind of thinking sprouts up repeatedly just makes me tired and sad right now. I bet this person even believes they are in favor of free speech.

I mean, really, people.

Come on.

5 comments:

Marionette said...

I'd be prepared to believe that it was a satire so poor that it entirely missed its intended victims, if I hadn't seen the little follow up in which Cheung revelled so much in having upset Jade Raymond that he created a special "I made Jade cry" graphic.

Anon, A Mouse said...

Oh, I don't think that invalidates my own theory at all. I'm pretty sure that, intentionally or not, Dave Cheung enjoys having created a fuss and kind of likes the idea of a group of people driven to frothing rage over his work. And, I'm also of the opinion that the more people gripe about it, the more openly antagonistic he'll be in response.

So when Ubisoft threatens a lawsuit over his cartoon, I don't think Dave Cheung thinks "oops, I ought to step in and clear things up before they get out of hand", or even considers the POSSIBILITY of apologizing; no, I'm pretty sure that what he's thinking is "Whoo hoo! Look at the monkeys dance! I am important now!"

(Disclaimer: All of this is supposition, based on what I've read from him in the past, I actually don't honestly know anything about what goes on in his head.)

Anyway, it's not like I'm trying to say Dave Cheung isn't a jerk, I just get annoyed when people's responses to someone being a jerk amount to becoming jerks of some kind themselves. What's that get anyone, except more jerks hanging around?

James Meeley said...

I just get annoyed when people's responses to someone being a jerk amount to becoming jerks of some kind themselves. What's that get anyone, except more jerks hanging around?

Well, Anon, as i've recently found out, it doesn't matter what heinous, nasty, vile comments someone makes about you on the Internet, because if you take them seriously you only damage your own credibility (or so I was informed).

So, the next time some feminist comes around to verbally belittle you, just fire right back, without any concern of care. It's the Internet, amnd, and it doesn't matter what you say or how you say it. You aren't supposed to take it seriously. You shouldn't get mad about it, or want something better, just laugh and be as jerkish as they are.

I'm considering creating a little havoc at some folks blogs, since I now know what the ground rules of Internet conduct are. :)

Anon, A Mouse said...

"...it doesn't matter what heinous, nasty, vile comments someone makes about you on the Internet, because if you take them seriously you only damage your own credibility (or so I was informed)."

You know, there are particular reasons WHY I created an anonymous identity for myself with this blog...

I guess you and Scott are dealing with one or two at the moment.

I suppose it would be way too obvious to speculate that the people giving out the above advice are either A) not the people outraged over the insults to Jade Raymond, or B) otherwise not following their own advice...?

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