Tuesday, June 20, 2023

PMF May Contain Horribly Sexist Phrases like "Sorority Babes" and "Cat Women"

PLANET MOTHERFUCKER ruffled some feathers over on the official MORK BORG discord. Don't get me wrong, I also got to talk to some cool people over there too, but I seemed to strike a nerve with a few scolds who really needed to let me know that the game is bad and wrong. 

PMF has a history of rustling jimmies. A writer at Bleeding Cool got some heat from their editor when they did an article on it years ago. Someone else was asked to change the name to PLANET MELONFARMER when they ran it at a convention. Aaron Zirkelbach, editor on an edition of Swords & Wizardry, wrote me an email comparing the first edition of PMF to a shit he took, but declined to let me post the content of his message on my blog because he was afraid of how people would react if they could see his behavior firsthand. 

This time the kerfuffle started when I posted the following work in progress: a random table for generating a b movie title that would also serve as the inspiration for writing a PLANET MOTHERFUCKER adventure:

A few things on this table were objected to by a handful of denizens of the MORK BORG discord: "Sorority Babes" was judged to be a horribly sexist phrase, as was "Cat Women" (???). "Of the SS" caused offence. I was informed that "old" works, such as b movies and Big Trouble in Little China, were inherently "problematic." 

The grumpiest objector provided some "helpful" revision suggestions:

Anonymized because I don't support harassment or dogpiling even if someone is being a rube. People who have a problem with me never seem to do this.

I have a couple notes on the above:

1) "Just to give you food for thought" is an amazing dork-ass version of "I'd like to speak to the manager." I used to think letting this stuff roll off my back was the way to go, but we're living in an era where someone with a grudge got C. Derick Miller fired from his job for writing a "gross" novel, people tried to paint Gretchen Felker-Martin as a criminal over Manhunt, and somebody called Andrew F. Sullivan an "eco-fascist" due to the ecological themes in his latest novel. And I won't ever forget what "concerned citizens" did to Isabel Fall. Now it feels like you have to push back against all the little self-appointed moral guardians, even in extremely minor cases like this one.

2) Each of those suggested changes fuckin' blows. Absolute dogshit, baby-brained stuff. Trade the flavorful "Sorority Babes" for the vanilla-ass "Cultists"? You've got to be kidding me. Look to WotC or Paizo if you want pure milquetoast. 

Also, what's up with changing "Of the SS"? Clearly "Of the SS" is meant to describe the bad guys of the scenario--if you think we should never depict real-world villainy, I don't know what to tell you. Inglorious Basterds is worth seeing just to watch fascists die horribly. Fuck Nazis. I can't be any more clear than that.

3) I'm fine with the game not being for everyone, but come on, PMF does not hide what it brings to the table. The game has the word "Motherfucker" in the title. The cover has a woman in a bikini straddling a fuckin' missile. PLANET MOFO does not engage in subterfuge or subtly. 

The thing that surprised me is that this pushback was coming from a segment of the MORK BORG community, but as a friend pointed out, it shouldn't have. As she noted, despite the elements of grimdark misery and pretenses to brutal violence, MORK BORG does seem a little "smooth down there," if you know what she means. It's all Thanatos, no Eros. 

The attitude looks like this: Violence? Yes. Depicting a misery-laden apocalypse? A-OK. Drugs and Satan? Sure. Alluding to sex as either the intimate act or biology? Hold up, you can't do that! I'm not even talking about role-playing sex scenes--do what you want at your own table, I'd rather not with my pals, and PMF doesn't ask you to do this--I'm talking about the game noticing that sex is a thing that exists and has a ton of cultural baggage attached to it.

It's a stance I see a lot of nerds adopt these days. Ironically, despite the blasphemy that MORK BORG often revels in, some of the game's fans assume a stance that is essentially and deeply ProtestantBy which I mean: ambivalent about depictions of violence, horrified by any mention of sexuality, full of hypocritical pieties, giddy at the prospect of castigating others, and steadfast in the belief that their preferences carry moral weight.

While this handful of pearl-clutching fellas (and they all appear to be guys, according to their bios) perform their sensitivity to each other for approving reaction emotes and generally speak for women instead of to them, I'm over here busy packaging up copies of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER to send to the women who bought the thing. 

Food for thought, innit?

To state things bluntly: PLANET MOTHERFUCKER is an exaggeration of all the weird violent and libidinal shit that lurks in the dank bargain basement of the American Dream. It's a tongue-in-cheek critique through the lens of b movies, trash culture, shlock, and outrageousness. It's a fun excuse to gather at the gaming table with people who aren't shitheads and get loose with the dark side of America's atomic levels of ridiculousness. Uptight Good Boys are less likely to get that because part of what the game has in its crosshairs is them

Find out what all the fuss is about: buy a copy of PLANET MOTHERFUCKER today! This is a game by and for sickos. Squares and goons need not apply.