So, Pictures for Sad Children
is a webcomic full of wry, self aware melancholy about dysfunctional people. I get linked it a lot but have always found it hit and miss.
The creator recently put up a post on his Kickstarter
saying that he had been pretending to be depressed this whole time because that's just what artists do. Cue many depressed fans who had really connected with his comics feeling betrayed, and many ableist fans rejoicing at a chance to go on about how depression isn't really a thing.
But it was apparently all a joke, which anyone who was friends with him or familiar with his other work would have recognised, so all that outrage was for nothing HAHA TUMBLR
. (The other, much more understandable "ARGH TUMBLR" reaction is to all the people who have been told that it's a joke but are still acting like it was meant literally, and the inevitable death treats etc. ARGH TUMBLR)
This attitude really pisses me off. I'm all in favour of satire and sarcasm (see: the title of this post, the previous paragraph), and not all humour has to be accessible to everyone. But if you tell a joke where it would be really bad if people took you literally, and most people DO take you literally, then you told the joke badly and you are responsible for the consequences.
Sure, there's only so much you can do about overly literal minded people, and it I think it's justifiable to cause SOME pain with art/humour, or we'd never get to use them at all. But having patchy reading comprehension or "not being a true fan" doesn't somehow make a person unworthy of compassion. Afaict most PFSC readers thought this was real, and a great many were deeply hurt. This could have been avoided if he made the satire more obvious, and I can't see any real advantage to being so opaque except...making the joke funnier for the people who get it? Being more effective on the tiny sliver of bigots who got the joke? Woo.
And even if we decide that everyone who doesn't get the joke is a humourless moron unworthy of respect, think of all the bigots who took it as support for hating on depressed people. Not actually being on their side doesn't magically make the pro-bigotry effect go away.
This is not someone's private blog that got taken out of context. It was a public and actively promoted kickstarter aimed at people who read PFSC, and it clearly failed at being clear to it's intended audience.
Since this apparently does need to be said: I'm not saying we should all go chasing after John Campbell with pitchforks, and the people who are harassing him need to step down. I do think he's a bit of a pretentious douche, but to be honest I kind of thought that anyway. Mainly I'm defending the people who are
fans of PFSC and felt hurt from having their feelings dismissed.