“All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.”
From Robert. E. Howard suicide’s note.
In another example of how cultural criticism of popular entertainment is a function of ignorance, egotism, and mental disorders sublimated as ideology, a woman who worked as a marketing representant for a tabletop game based on Robert E. Howard’s Conan mythos has decided to shit on her employers and chastise the game, its source material, the art style, its fanbase, and (while at it) Donald Trump, because nothing says “I’m a well-adjusted person” like using a tabletop game as the tea leaves for whatever retarded attempt at political divination you are trying to make.
There are already a few pieces dealing with this subject, so I’ll just comment a few points that others may have missed. Also, thanks to my natural charisma and psychological expertise, I can diplomatically point at elements around which other people may tiptoe. For example, that the author of that Tumblr piece is functionally insane.
It may seem as if these SJWs are always talking about this or that thing they don’t like, but in fact, they are always talking about themselves and you never learn anything about the subject of their ire. Ideology and ruining other people’s fun are their psychotherapy.
[Spoiler: it won’t work; it will actually make it all worse. When you mold your mind into “trigger mode,” you train yourself into a state of perpetual anxiety. When you live in a cultural landscape where everything (even a stupid game) is a potential danger to the moral fabric of society, you end up like those who believe all electromagnetic radiation is a health hazard, that the air is poisoned, and almost anything is a potential toxin. You end up paranoid, delusional, and hypersensitive.
I’m saying all of this because in her previous Tumblr post she states she has PTSD, and that’s why she defends “Trigger warnings.” Her Conan-Trump post is, in fact, nothing more than a perfect example of embracing, enfolding, squeezing, and kissing the Triggering God. Most commentators (for example, those at this Kotaku piece) answer these SJW articles trying to refute the underlying intellectual assumptions or answering it in a somewhat rational way, attempting to refute the concepts being used (objectification, sexualization, sexism in the source material, etc.) They assume the author of the piece is a rational agent who is just mistaken or ignorant of a few facts. Once these are pointed out, she will realize her mistake. But that’s the problem, the author is not rational: she saw a drawing of a man looming over a naked woman she just saved, and that -for some reason- triggered the memory of Donal Trump saying “grab them by the pussy,” her brain linked both, and then she concluded that the art is making you (yes, you, the player) into the rapist of the story:
To me, although perhaps not to others, it looks like Conan is going to rape her. Oh no, you, say, he’s going to rescue her. Well, why doesn’t she rescue herself? It’s not part of that setting, you say. So, why isn’t she conscious? Why is she naked? Why is she on some sort of rock bed/ altar and glowing, so that we the gamer focus on her physical beauty? To me, she looks like his prize, a reward for his violence with which he can do whatever he wishes- including grab her by the crotch and rape her before she’s regained consciousness. This cover is the scene of or before a rape. And you, my friend, are going to take on the role of the rapist.
I’ll ignore the astoundingly insulting fact that she just called the fans of the game on which she worked rapist-by-proxy.
“To me, to me, to me…” You can almost see in that paragraph the process of her mind breaking down, how it jumps from “why isn’t she rescuing herself?” to “because she is being raped!” and how she start hyperventilating at the realization she is just watching a sexual assault enjoyed by millions of Trump supporters (wut?) That is not how rational minds work, so any attempt at dealing with the intellectual faults of such “arguments” will fail because you are dealing with someone who saw a Conan the Barbarian drawing (something that could have been created anytime during the last 80 years) and her conclusion, the reason she believes her pother is (politically!) relevant, is this:
That same fantasy is promoted by the campaign of now President-Elect Donald Trump. He will make America great again by expelling and/or imprisoning its dark-skinned [does she even know Conan is the dark-skinned foreigner?] enemies and grabbing its women by the crotch. Those men who have vocally supported Donald Trump envision themselves as modern-day Conans, perhaps more clothed and less strapping, but nevertheless warriors of righteousness seeking gold and glory, perfectly willing to, if necessary, spill blood.
The fact that the Conan kickstarter did so well should have been a warning. It should have made us realize how many people are still willing, if not eager, to buy into the racist, misogynist narratives of the early 20th century. How many people are willing to perform the violence against others that they’ve watched or played at. How many people are willing to complacently enable violence and hate in return for a bit of recognition and/or money.
She basically says that playing a sword & sorcery-inspired game is the equivalent of “perform the violence against others.” She is tearing down the barriers between games and reality, like seeing chess pieces as real peasants someone is sacrificing to save an ungrateful monarch (does that reinforce aristocratic mindsets?) That’s psychotic, and it’s not how a sound mind works.
As the title of this post mentions, there’s also the problem that one would have expected that someone who understands (or says she does) the issue of mental illness would be a little more understanding of the work of someone who also suffered a lot in that department. Of course, that would require compassion, a quality social justice barbarians lack.
Robert E. Howard, like many other pulp writers, was not a rich, privileged urbanite who wrote fantasy pieces to enjoy the indirect slaughter of minorities and women (“I’m writing about a white übermentsch killing darkies! Muahahaha! Heil White Privilege!”) He was, in fact, a troubled but brilliant rural man who barely made ends meet thanks to the dozens of histories he churned out at an astounding rate. And these stories were about rugged individualism, his way to escape from the reality he thought mundane and oppressive to his romantic soul. They were tales of symbolic power, with an almost naked barbarian to represent that, well, nakedness against all enemies: human, natural, or unnatural. And he beat all that stark naked because, yeah, why not. Conan didn’t represent privilege but the perpetual outsider or even the criminal, a vagabond in strange lands who overcame all his enemies, not through politics, lies, backstabbing, or privilege (the tools of the civilized man) but strength of character, muscle, mind, and will.
Those were stories written after the Great Depression, printed in the cheapest material possible, a source of escapism and uplifting storytelling for people (like Howard) who had seen the ravages of that Depression. An economic crisis, by the way, narcissistic progressives compare to their hurt feelings:
And this is the problem with these “cultural debates.” Not only are we dealing with mentally unsound people who see Hitler behind every rock and can’t distinguish between their feelings and politics, but with assholes too. If Howard were alive, he’d probably just kill himself again.
Oh, and do you snowflakes know the name of that generation who read those racist and sexist tales with superheroes, barbarians, and warrior princesses, a generation that (like our own) was looked down by the self-appointed intellectual guardians for enjoying filth and unsophisticated art? The Greatest Generation, the generation that survived the Great Depression, beat the Nazis (the real racists,) and then built the most prosperous economy in history, paving the way for the Civil Rights movement.
So, tl;dr version: Fuck off, because here we are making Fantasy, Imagination, and Games great again.
Did that trigger you? Good.