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May. 19th, 2012

ZOMG! TENTACLES!

So apparently there's a company that's working on a card game based on tentacle hentai. If you're not familiar with tentacle hentai, then congratulations on making it this far on the Internet without encountering it. Simply put, it's a format of anime pornography where people (usually women, but occasionally men) are attacked by tentacle-y things and forced into sexual congress. It's pretty old news by now, but I remember when it first became a “thing” online. Some people were horrified, some people were disgusted, some people thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and other people thought it was strangely arousing. But now? People have become inured to it, “Oh, haw haw, there's another tentacle hentai thing out- YEAH GO OCTOPUS MONSTER!” Or at least, that's what I thought, until the shitstorm hit the Internet over this Tentacle Bento thing.

I have to admit, I'm actually torn. I find tentacle hentai to be hilarious, and I don't feel threatened by it at all. Actually, Fiend Without A Face is literally one of the most heartwarming hentai stories out there, and it's tentacle porn. And I'm pretty sure the risk of actually being raped by a tentacle monster is more or less nil. I suppose some government experiment could go awry and we'd suddenly be overrun with octopus monsters intent on engaging in coitus, but the last time I checked, real life isn't an eroge, so we should be OK on that front. On the other hand, however, I know that there are some things where it's really risky territory to get into, especially for comedy or satire, and rape, even tentacle rape, is one of those things.

But I have to draw the line at the people who say that playing this card game will make people go out and want to get their rape on. That's the same kind of bullshit reasoning that has been behind every single ridiculous moral panic in history. Video games make people violent! Harry Potter introduces kids to devil worship! Comic books are corrupting the minds of our children! It's this same kind of attitude that leads to censorship, and it's this same kind of attitude that allows people like Michael Pearl to spread their wretchedness around. Tentacle Bento is no more going to make someone go out and rape someone else than Grand Theft Auto is going to make people go out and steal cars and shoot cops. If someone does commit a crime based on some media they consumed, it is safe to say that they had serious underlying issues. It is not as though video games send out some mind-control ray that brainwashes people into killing- if someone shoots their neighbor because they played a video game, they were probably seriously detached from reality as it was. My point is that consuming media makes you into a criminal about as much as standing in your garage makes you a car.

And it's not as though the creators would be selling the game willy-nilly to minors. Video games have rating systems- some ten-year-old cannot just walk into GameStop and buy a game like Call of Duty or Catherine on their own- M-rated games require adult supervision for purchase if the buyer is under seventeen years of age. Now, it's not always the most strictly enforced rule, and there are ways around that (I will admit to being the 'adult supervision' for my younger brother when he wants to buy video games), but overall, the rules were passed to prevent underage consumers from buying things they should not have access to. And the rules are even stricter for the A-O/R18 games- you must be eighteen to purchase those, even if you have accompanying adult supervision. I would think the rules would be pretty similar for a card game like this one- I'm not even sure where you would buy it- the Internet, of course, but how many underage individuals have unfettered access to online shopping? I am an adult, but I live with my family, and it's almost impossible to keep anything I buy online a secret for long, because my brother has an obsession with opening boxes. And if you were to try to buy this game in real life? I highly doubt that Toys-R-Us is going to be carrying it. I can only think of two places it could possibly be sold in a brick-and-mortar store: adult shops and Spencer's. Both of those places are not exactly accessible to impressionable young kids.

Part of the discussion centers around the project-jumpstart service Kickstarter pulling the plug on fundraising for Tentacle Bento. Now, THAT I do not actually have a problem with- it is their website, they can kick off whoever they damn well please. But I also do not think that anyone has the right to demand that a company stop making their product because they (the complainant, not the company) find it offensive. We do have freedom of speech, and that means you can complain about whatever you want until you're blue in the face, but the manufacturers of whatever it is you're complaining about don't have to do a damn thing about it, and can, in fact, tell you to bugger off.

As for my final decision? No, I probably wouldn't play Tentacle Bento. But as a creator myself, a great deal of which could and probably would be considered offensive, I find it deeply disturbing that there are people out there that would silence creators because they don't like what is being created. If that had worked always, then a lot of great works throughout human history would be lost, including very much of what we know of science and medicine, and many great works of art.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not comparing Tentacle Bento to Michelangelo's work or anything, and I'm certainly not saying my writing is Shakespeare, but it seems like in recent times there's been a massive backlash against free expression, from both liberal and conservative sides, and I have to say that the whole premise is very troubling to me. Yes, you have a right to think the product disturbing and in poor taste. But its creators have the right to think it’s the funniest fucking thing ever and to sell it. This isn’t North Korea, folks, there’s enough room for both.

(No, I'm not linking to any of the articles about this game because I know my arch-nemesis is watching them like a hawk, waiting for any trackbacks, and I'd rather not have her drones invade my Lawn. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes.)