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NEW HE PODCASTEpisode 83 “Ass Merkins”

UPDATE 4/28/11: Some of you are upset that I’ve taken this position. Let me assure you that I wasn’t trying to just jump on the “hate Scott Adams” bandwagon. I read what he wrote and I thought it was in REALLY poor taste. Sure it may have been out of context or intended for a certain audience, but unfortunately he posted it on the Internet for everyone to see. And regarding the whole “sock-puppet #1 Fan” thing, I don’t think he’s a horrible creep for doing that. Just a regular creep. The mentality of “time to go do my daily defending of myself on the Internet using a different identity” is just a lame, sad activity. I feel bad for him honestly. He might actually be a happier guy if he had a smaller niche audience. Then he really could just talk to one subset of people that understood his comments towards women weren’t as misogynist as they sounded. I certainly know what it is to say something outrageous for comedic effect, knowing good and well I don’t really feel that way. But if I got called out on something like that on such a grand scale I would apologize and move on. Just my thoughts on the matter. Maybe I came off as too harsh. Maybe I’m not familiar enough with the subject matter. I am willing to concede that. I have also toned down some of the language in the post below to be more in line with how I actually feel and less outrageous. I should also point out that all I really wanted to do was use the “posting about yourself on forums” aspect of the story to make a joke about Josh doing the same thing. That’s why over 2/3 of the comic deals with that aspect and not with Adams.

Thanks,

Joel

I guess Scott Adams is kind of like the Michael Richards of cartoonists. If he could have just kept his mouth shut, he would have faded into reasonably likable obscurity. Now we have the unfortunate burden of knowing that he’s a bit of a misogynist, and egomaniac.

These days I don’t find Dilbert inspiring, or entertaining. It’s about as base as comics get (hell, it was nearly impossible to try to mimic Adams’ completely rigid and emotionless drawing style for the comic above), which doesn’t suit my tastes. When I was an adolescent I did look up to Adams, though. He was spreading nerd culture to the masses just as I was learning to take apart computers, and he was able to leave his IT career and turn his hobby (passion?) into his job. Both admirable feats, in my mind.

I even had a newfound respect for him a few years ago when I learned about him permanently losing his voice, then retraining his brain to speak as if he was singing (he had to trick his brain or else it would not let him speak). I just thought that was a cool thing to do, and a nice little story about not giving up, etc, etc. Now I have a harder time respecting the guy. Seems like he’s a little full of himself and reacts poorly when cornered (though, I may have done the same in his place. Who knows?) The safest bet would have just been to apologize and move on.

COMMENTERS: Do you care if a cartoonist is makes seemingly misogynist comments? Would it stop you from reading his comic? Would it stop you from reading mine if I acted the same way? How about a sandwich? Have you eaten? You look thin. Let me make you a sandwich.

HEY! Check out this interview I did for Hollywood Jane.

ALSO HEY! Check out this interview my friend Tom Brislin did for The Functional Nerds Podcast. He does all the music for the HE Podcast and he’s one of my favorite people.

 

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35 Comments

  1. I don't know… if Bill Watterson turned out to be a complete douchebag (I know he's a bit of a recluse, but it's not like he goes out of his way to be a jerk), then I think it would affect how much I enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes. I think the same goes double for webcomics, because we readers do get to interact with you guys and feel a nice fan connection to you in a way we don't have with print comics creators.

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    • But if you look at Watterson, he got out while the gettin' was good, and that makes him so much more "valuable" to me, even if I see 47,000 stickers on the back of cars of Calvin urinating on things, which he doesn't approve of/produce, etc.
      But, I also think Berkeley Breathed is also awesome, and he hawked merch. to the nth degree, but I still find him to be "valuable" to me.
      However, I have had interactions with webtoonists who were douchnozzles, or who stole money from me in lieu of "preordering" their books (not Joel!), and I've just dropped their comic from my viewing rotation.

      I think it depends on how "we" the reader interact with the author on any number of levels that matter to "us".

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    • If I recall the facts correctly (I'm probably not), Watterson recently painted a character from Cul-De-Sac for a fundraising initiative for Parkinson's spearheaded by Cul-De-Sac's creator, who was diagnose. A guy who is will to crawl out of his Hobbit hole to contribute something to a good cause pretty much clears him of being a douche.

      Reply
  2. Dilbert continues to have its moments here and there, enough so that I'm disappointed in Adams. Then again, I've never had more than a casual affection for the strip, so I can probably put those feelings aside on the rare occasions when I happen to read it.

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    • Actually, I may buy his desk calendar with 2+ year old strips every year, in some sort of Xmas reflexive ritual, but I've given up trying to collect the books of his strips, because he punts them out like litters of needy kittens…I don't mind supporting comics I like, but there's only so many copies of repurposed comic compliations I can buy at $18.95+ a pop.

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    • And, I have a collection of his strips that I've clipped out of various places over the year that pertain to my job, but either he, or his syndicate are pretty militant about not letting it be re-posted anywhere other than "official" places that won't let you print them…I just want one comic that makes me smile to myself, not an entire book I'd have to photocopy it out of…because I'm a walking billboard for your stuff since it's all over my desk anyway.

      And now I sound like a bad fan/pirate of creative works…I don't mind buying things from my favorite toonists, within some sort of fiscal/storage space reasonability.
      It's almost the same issue I have with being a Trek fan; I've felt for the past 20 years like I'm just a walking ATM that Paramount/CBS/CreationCon punch for money on a regular basis, regardless of what crap they spit out.

      Reply
  3. For me, You being a cool, down to earth guy is what makes the comic great to me. I can relate to you. Adams' sock puppetry is sad!

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  4. Adams still strikes me as a fairly intelligent man, and I still have a feeling that he was probably fucking with people out of boredom and some kind of social experiment that he was working on for his own amusement. Yeah, he's kind of a dick for it, but it wouldn't be the first time he's done or written something that falls outside of social norms. The thing that probably makes me not as upset as everyone else is that I actually EXPECTED him to do something like that.

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  5. I think I'd be crushed if my image of Walt and Louise Simonson as the kindly grandparents of every comic creator (an image crafted by everyone who has ever met them singing their praises) was tarnished by reports of them being douchey in any way.

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  6. When I heard about all this stuff a week ago, I had just gotten all of my old Dilbert books out of storage and was planning to read them. I picked up Shave the Whales and honestly, I don't find much of it funny anymore. I look at it and see all sorts of problematic things the characters are saying in it and that's sad, because those comic books were some of my favorites.

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  7. I'm curious if any of you are actual readers of his blog. I've been reading it for about a year now, including the one that started the crap storm. From what I've read he's a very intelligent very entertaining writer. I don't think he's an asshole of a misogynist, but if you aren't a regular reader of his I could see why his comments came off so badly. The tone of the article was mostly tongue and cheek and at no time while reading it did I actually think he meant that women were lesser than men. As far as the posting under an assumed name, who cares. With all the negativity of the Internet sometimes you need all the ammunition you can get to fight against it.

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    • Scott?

      Seriously though, I've read the comments he posted (as a fan) defending himself and he really does come off as full of himself. He cites his "certified genius IQ" which is just a d-bag maneuver. He also suggests, much as you have, that you have to be a regular reader of his blog to understand the higher level knowledge he's dropping. I don't buy it. Not saying he isnt intelligent or entertaining (to some). Rather that he's shown a douchey dark side on multiple fronts and none of the incidents read as isolated.

      Reply
      • :-) no I'm not him. I wouldn't say you'd have to be a regular reader to understand the higher level knowledge, it's more that a regular reader would understand the spirit and tone he writes with. I don't know, I guess I'm just surprised how seriously people are taking his pretty clearly joking comments about how women are like children. Sort of how everyone jumped down PA's throat over the whole Dick Wolf thing, clearly they weren't pro rape, but that's how they got portrayed. As far as being a douche bag while pretending to be someone else, I don't know maybe he was. I didn't actually read those posts so I'll concede maybe he was. For me bottom line is that I don't really give much credence to internet comments, so I could care less if people are just posting to their own self interest.

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        • I see what you mean. The Dick Wolf thing does put it into a better perspective for me. A non-regular PA reader might look at that shirt (As many did) and freak their shit right out. Where as I knew the joke and knew it was harmless. Even if Adams isnt a "He-Man Woman Hater," he needs to just come out and say, "Im sorry, I made some mistakes." instead of saying "you guys just don't get me." All of his replies, on both issues, have made him seem like more of creep. I'd rather be wrong, and find out he's a perfectly wonderful human being.

          Either way thank YOU for keeping the discourse civil and respectful. Regular readers of HE know that I exaggerate my points in the comics for comedic effect and Im rarely as outraged on any given subject as my comic counterpart is.

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          • Scott Adams has publicly stated (http://geekfeminism.org/2011/03/25/scott-adams-discussion-thread/) that his intent was in fact to poke fun at the nascent "men's rights" activism. During his self-defense, he said that he enjoys taking ridiculous positions if it will increase discussion, because increased discussion is always a net positive. I don't completely agree with him, and I definitely think it is dickish, but I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his explanation.

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        • Refresh the post to see my updated thoughts.

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  8. Maybe Scott Adams is just Edwin Abbott reincarnated.

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  9. I've read his blog for years, and he talks about this in detail over there. Honestly, I've never been more surprised at HiJinks than I am today, which is totally jumping on the Internet Bandwagon. Usually you're making fun of the people who are uninformed and make this type of assumption but today it's you! Weird.

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    • I agree. Todays comic caught me completely off guard. I also read his blog regularly, so I know what context to put his statements in, it just surprised me to see Joel jumping in on the whole ridiculous affair.

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    • I dont think Im "jumping on the hater-wagon" so to speak. I read what he wrote about placating women, and thought it was a little tasteless. I saw what he was trying to say and I saw how he failed to communicate it without sounding like a jerk. Then I read his response in which he dug himself a little deeper without actually apologizing. Then I read the whole thread that lead to him outing himself as the sock-puppet superfan and he REALLY seemed like a full-of-himself asshole. I am judging him by what HE is putting out there. Not by what other people are saying about what he is writing.

      I don't think he's a monster. Just that he had some really bad calls, being a semi-public figure, and when given the chance, didn't back down and apologize.

      Reply
  10. Nope. I don't care at all. Still always good to know who are jerks, and who aren't. For instance, for entirely unrelated reasons, Orson Scott Card (though not a newspaper cartoonist) is the douchiest douchebag I've ever loved everything the entire collected freaking works of. I wouldn't ever want to hang out with him, or even be in the same room with him longer than to get a book autographed. He's still a genius, though, just not when it comes to morals or not being a dick.

    Scott Adams, on the other hand… I got bored with Dilbert ages ago, it feels sort of… repetitive these days. The Dilbert Principle is still one of my favorite humor books, though.

    Reply
    • Though I realized after I posted that, that I didn't log in, which means no editing, and I should probably have clarified that he seems like a perfectly nice guy, he just holds several extremely strong opinions that are completely opposite everything I believe in, and strongly wants to encourage the spread of those opinions. So, not quite the same, but still.

      Reply
    • Orson Scott Card was my hero. And then I realized what a douchebag he is and honestly, it comes through in his more recent work.

      I could go on for pages, but to save everyone my tirade, I agree, he's a jackoff.

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      • I just read Card's "Pathfinder" like a week ago, and I think it was the best of his, many, many books (a noteworthy fraction of which are on my bookshelf). But I didn't really notice any offensive themes in the story.

        Not that I mean to trigger your aforementioned tirade. I'll just take your word for it.

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  11. Before it actually happened to me, I would have said no, the art and the artist are completely different things. Hemmingway was an ass but that doesn't make his work worthless.

    And then I ran into Scott Kurtz. Used to really enjoy PvP but every time I read anything from the guy I grew to dislike the filter he views the world through. Without getting too personal there's a certain level of insecure ego driven chest-puffing going on over there that I find supremely distasteful.

    And you know what? It wrecked PvP for me. When I read the comic I couldn't separate the art and the artist anymore. Punchlines were being read in my head with that same false bravado the man asserts every time he opens his meatspace mouth.

    And that's when I realized that this goes both ways. I like Penny Arcade MORE than I might otherwise because of the commentary Tycho delivers. Webcomics expose more of themselves to us than syndicated artists. We get a view into their personal thoughts, attitudes, and opinions. The freedom to say what's really on their minds (something very few syndicated dead-tree comic artists have) is what makes their comics so superior, but it makes personality part and parcel with the comic.

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    • ….no comment…

      Reply
  12. Guys, this is what Im talking about.
    http://www.reddit.com/user/PlannedChaos

    The tone of his comments defending himself on Reddit are just… guh. They are really terrible. Again, not saying he is evil, but I probably wouldnt want to be friends with someone like this.

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  13. The alt text on this comic made me snort with laughter… which caused someone to pop up their head on the other end of the cubicle farm to ask if I was ok and/or what was so funny.

    As a Fancy Bastard, I'd love to see what sites didn't make the cut… or what other sites Fancy Bastards can come up with for Josh to be posting his self-love on… wait a second… that didn't come out how I meant it. AUGH. You know what I mean.

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  14. Honestly, I fully back your original comic and your original position. I think the people getting upset with you for having that opinion need to chillax themselves and I don't think you needed to explain yourself OR apologize.

    Also I must be a tech idiot because I couldn't link my twitter account to comment with it :(

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  15. Yeah the idea of using a sock puppet as an actual random fan seems lame. But what about an evil sock puppet used to trash the artist as a means to start a flame war? :) Everyone loves a comic feud don't they? I bet someone has already done the evil sock puppet thing, what do you think? Great comic btw.

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  16. Another factor to add to the discussion– I don't know much about Adams' specific instance of neurological damage, but these things can have severe effects on people's personalities, especially in terms of ability to self-censor and determine social appropriateness. It's quite possible that his abilities in that area have been a bit impaired, in which case I'd consider any off-color remarks or actions to be instances of disability rather than douchery. I'm not saying that this is the case, only that we should consider the possibility.

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    • Ooh, that's a really interesting idea.
      Like this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage
      He got a railroad spike through his head and fully recovered, except that then he was suddenly a jerk.

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  17. BTW Joel, I always see you justifying and apologizing for the Lo-FiJinks, which jinks' style I personally find charming. Maybe they remind me of the comic strips I read as a kid or something. It's interesting to see you feel the same way about others' stripped-down style.

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    • cant say I remember ever apologizing for them. I wouldnt do them if I didnt think they were good.

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  18. I've enjoyed Dilbert in the past but this will probably color my impressions of any Dilbert I might read in the future.

    Reply

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