Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Well, Crap.

Do I need to say something about DriveThruRPG's new policy regarding offensive content?

Probably. But I'll keep it short.

As I grow older I find myself tending to become more conservative regarding a number of issues that, in the past, I was uber-liberal regarding. It happens, especially after you have a couple kids and you want to protect them from the insanity of the world that they, at this moment, are totally unequipped to deal with.

Even so, I understand that the best thing I can do to protect them is to provide good parenting, acting as a "gatekeeper" (of sorts) while they're young, and arming them mentally with good information and supplemental education drawn from my own experiences and reflections. Do I want my children to be pack-a-day chain-smokers (as I was for a decade)? No, of course not. But there's little I can do to stop them once they come of age...should they choose that path. The best I can do is model what I consider "right behavior" (I haven't purposefully put anything in my lungs besides air for 14 years), and share my experiences and knowledge, hoping that they'll make decisions that are beneficial rather than detrimental (for themselves and others).

It is unfortunate that there is a market for things that are, well, terrible in my opinion. Check out the documentary Hot Girls Wanted regarding the "professional amateur" porn industry. I disagree with some of the people interviewees that they are simply "fulfilling a market demand;" I believe it is possible to create market demand. But once that demand has been created, it's a pretty tough thing to turn off. The Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s failed dramatically and, as far as I can tell, the War on Drugs is a continued failure after 30+ years of effort. Will banning something "bad" (physically, spiritually) stop people from wanting it? Generally speaking, no. And for many folks, forbidding something automatically ups the attraction of the thing.

I think I can honestly say that, 25 years ago, I would be doing all in my power to buy a book called Tournament of Rapists...just to see what's inside...the same way that, at age 11 or 12, I was doing my damnedest to get a copy of Purple Rain to hear the song Darling Nikki. And in retrospect, I'm glad I did, since the music of Prince is excellent and has led to much enjoyment over the years.

Ridiculously inappropriate.
The same could not be said of 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be. It yielded a couple afternoon's worth of interest before being quickly forgotten, except anecdotally. At least it didn't permanently scar me or transform me into a misogynist. But, then, I had some good core values instilled by good parents...I don't think any piece of artwork (good or bad) could've overwritten my basic "programming."

So...I suppose I'm on the side of anti-censorship. But I'm not about to go all nuclear about it. DriveThruRPG is a private business, and they are allowed to cater to their customer base in a way that allows them to best make money and survive. If hot-button books are a turn-off for the people they wish as their clientele, I think it's fair for them to do some policing on behalf of their target demographic...Reader's Digest doesn't publish the same jokes as Hustler, after all. Having said that, I find myself disagreeing with part of their reaction, namely their intent to:
code more customer-facing options to allow customers to report potentially offensive content to us.
I would think the proper method of gatekeeping would be the way they responded to the complaints regarding Tournament of Rapists: allow offended folks to contact DTRPG and then follow-up with scrutiny (against company policy) and dialogue (when appropriate). Giving the public a "This Offends Me" button, seems a little too prone to abuse and/or overreaction misuse.

And that's as much as I want to say on the subject.


  1. Becoming a dad has made me more conservative on these issues, too.

    Couldn't DTRPG just put that stuff in an adult content section of their site so people who want that sort of thing can go there to get it, and the rest of us can steer clear. People seem to accept that hotels and cable and satellite providers discreetly promote porn, for example.

    I liked a lot of rap back then, but 2 Live Crew was objectively awful by every reasonable aesthetic standard. Unfortunately, they were relatively mild compared to many acts in that genre and others since then.

    The porn revolution is terrifying and disorienting. When I was a teen in the '80s, few teens had seen anything more graphic than a Playboy or an R-rated movie. Now grade-school kids can and do watch porn online.

    1. @ Brian:

      I believe DTRPG *does* have an "adult" filter/setting, and the particular book that set off the controversy was already labeled as such. The objection was that DTRPG would carry something so offensive at all, under any category.