Saturday, November 24, 2007

Assessing Creed

I don’t have much new material to add to this current hullabaloo regarding Ubisoft’s cease and desist order concerning a pornographic comic depicting Jade Raymond, one of the talented individuals behind Assassin’s Creed. People from all sides have made valid points. Ubisoft has no legal standing, the comic falls under free speech, the comic and its creator is offensive, Something Awful has nothing to do with the creation of the comic, etc. However, among the numerous blog posts and comments, something caught my attention.

Holly of Feministe made an interesting observation concerning the artistic quality of the comic. Holly writes:

Sadly, it wasn’t a poorly drawn doodle by a talentless teenager: it was a pro-quality web comic done by someone experienced. (Update: it was in fact a published comic author who made it, see below.)

It’s been brought to my attention that the comic was drawn by Dave Cheung, the creator of Chugworth Academy. I’m mentioning this in part because some might assume the comic was a hasty stick-figure scribble by a middle school brat. But Cheung is a published author who’s well known in some circles; you can buy his latest book on Amazon, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you crave glossy schoolgirl wank material. Plus, the comic is still up on his Deviant Art page. Since he seems to enjoy degrading other creative professionals–enough to have created and posted a congratulatory “Made Jade Cry” achievement on his site–I figured his name might as well be out there too. Of course, he’ll probably just enjoy the negative attention, so please don’t feed the trolls.

Since I wasn’t sure how relevant those details were to the situation, they stuck clearly in my mind. I want everyone to try to answer the following question: Would this situation have been any different if the comic WAS a poorly drawn doodle by a talentless teenager as opposed to a pro-quality web comic done by someone experienced?

I’m no longer a teenager nor am I a talentless artist. But let’s pretend that I am so talentless, that I am unable to draw anything besides snowmen. I made my own rendition of Dave Cheung’s original comic in that artistically retarded snowman style.

Here’s the NSFW original. Compare that to my crappy five minute rendition. It has snowmen masturbating and one getting a snow job. Not sure if that qualifies as NSFW.

So tell me, is the comic more or less outrageous? Does being a crappy artist somehow soften the blow (no pun intended, wait, pun intended!)? I personally think it does discount the subject matter to some degree. Think of what South Park is able to get away with in each episode and then imagine that same episode as if it was done in live action, child actors and all. It’s an unfortunate but inescapable aspect of life that people will continue to judge someone or something based on appearance. It’s unfortunate because it shows exactly how one individual with the same intention as another can be discounted merely due to their difference in technique. It’s inescapable because it’s human nature. It ultimately goes back to one of the main arguments about this topic concerning Jade Raymond: if Jade Raymond wasn’t a woman, let alone an attractive one, perhaps none of this would have happened.

The only other opinion I have on the matter is Ubisoft and possibly Raymond will look worse coming out of it than Something Awful or Dave Cheung. Think of the way the MPAA and RIAA have been suing individuals and shutting down websites. Sure, digital piracy is wrong because the materials in question are owned by the corporations. But the way the lawyers emphasize money and ownership makes it seem that they’re being all the more greedy. Apply this to Ubisoft’s actions. The extent to which Ubisoft is attempting to protect Jade Raymond’s image and reputation makes it seem like said image and reputation is more important than that of anyone else on the Internet. And aren’t we all people that can get just as offended if we found ourselves as the target in a pornographic comic?

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