2016 is thus far a very tempestuous but interesting year if you are in the mood for mockery and targets with -8 size modifiers to AC. BellofLostsouls, tabletop gaming news site, is apparently sick of retaining credibility and its audience and thus decides to weigh in on an important topic that no doubt concerns us all!
C’mon 2016. Not 40k. I can buy you making Baldurs Gate; Spears of Dragonspear a political battleground since the Forgotten Realms has reflected a somewhat liberal fantasy mindset for years and Malifaux has a fanbase riddled with troglodytes (from what I could glean from my short perusal of the forums) but 40k has always been a Grimdark Nightmare Distopia of Intolerance and Only War! and driving over refugees with your baneblade superheavy battletank since they will not clear the gate (ref. Bleeding Chalice Soul Drinkers novel by Ben Counter) and an almost erotic fixation on skulls and things with chains in them. Identity politics have as much of a place in 40k as they have anywhere else (e.g none), but surely a fanbase consisting mostly of hairy metalheads and nerds with disposable income sufficient to feed several african families that like games about overmuscled power-armoured super soldiers bolt-gunning daemons and flamethrowering aliens would be a poor target for such a blatant attempt at puritanian pearl-clutching and divisive scaremongering? We shall see.
For this exercise we will go through the statements as they go in what I believe is termed “fisking.” We will ignore the first rambling parts of the article about anime and comics since they are largely irrelevant to his convoluted message.
It Was Acceptable In The Eighties
One of the most difficult problems facing any long running narrative is how values change over time. Reed Richards is a kindly patrician in the 1960’s; those same comics read today make him come off like a borderline abusive spouse. Batman is a darkly gothic hero in the 90’s; in our modern era of sickening inequality, the idea of a billionaire beating up poor people becomes a little more difficult to cheer for. An Imperium made up of exclusively white men is pretty much par for the course in the 80’s, but as we progress through the second decade of the 21st century, it looks more and more backwards.
Ah yes, the classic “omg its 2016 get wif da program wrong side of history” claptrap. This opening paragraph, other then identifying the personal politics of the author in question like a vast, whiny claxon with a dissapointed father makes two assumptions that require further examination.
1. All entertainment must reflect contemporary values only (which would explain why counter-cultural media like his aforementioned Vertigo titles had no success or impact whatsoever. Sandman? The Invisibles? Hellrazer? Never heard of them!).
2. Regressive leftism and PC culture represent the majority viewpoint (which explains why the new ghostbusters was hailed as such a roaring triumph of feminism and no one objected to it in the slightest. In addition, this explains why Spears of Dragonspear did so fucking great).
The opening paragraph is of course, also shockingly misrepresentative of its source material, because progress. Batman does not beat up poor people, he beats up horrible criminals and thus protects poor people from being preyed upon.
So too is the Imperium is not “exclusively made up of white men” (see Atillan roughriders, Salamanders, White Scars, Tallarn Desert Raiders, Sisters of Battle, various female inquisitors, the Gaunt’s Ghost Series, Elizabeth Bequin and so on). This is of course, never enough to the progressive, who will hurl accusations of tokenism in his most hectoring voice whenever these are brought up. He is shocked, nay, outraged, that a fictional universe cobbled together by britts following an exaggerated heavy metal/gothic aesthetic would have the gall to be anything but the multicultural utopia that has yet to actually manifest itself in reality.
And then we come to Slaanesh.
Dear sweet merciful Zeus, what a can of worms Slaanesh is.
One can almost hear the pearls being clutched in limp, immaculately manicured hands.
I mean, it’s easy to see where Slaanesh comes from, especially as Age of Sigmar has completed Warhammer’s journey to ‘Generic Eighties Heavy Metal Album Art: The Game’.
Age of Sigmar is wretched. Thank the Emperor for 30k.
As every model gets so much more muscular, so much buffer, so much more tanned, so much more steeped in the GLORY OF CARNAGE all you need to do is look at the album art for bands like Manowar to see what’s going on.
The naysayers will probably rant about how AoS is the root of this, but that’s bollocks. ‘Warhammer’ has always been rooted in that very specific heavy metal counterculture of torn denim waistcoats, greasy mullets, bum fluff moustaches and band patches that infested the UK in the eighties. Cheesy album art was always a huge part of that culture, and so many of the aesthetic choices have pollinated the look of both Warhammer and 40K.
Other commenters have pointed out that the general aesthetics of fantasy went beyond metal covers in the 80s but for the sake of argument let us accept the above statement as entirely accurate.
And what do heavy metal bands like more than muscled wrestlers wielding swords?
One can follow this line of reasoning and thus infer Warhammer players must then logically also like muscled wrestlers wielding swords. But they are on the wrong side of history dontcha know so who gives a fuck about them?
So obviously, when the nascent Ruinous Powers are being invented, they each tap into a different heavy metal idea. Khorne is every album cover of a generic red demon; Nurgle taps into people like ‘Cannibal Corpse’, what with their addiction to zombie imagery and rotting stuff; Tzeentch is the remnants of 60’s and 70’s psychedelia, where bands experimented with magickal imagery and Slaanesh… Slaneesh is the god of nekkid chicks. Because 90% of getting into a band is the nekkid chicks.
Horribly simplistic reductionary explanation of why some factions have certain aesthetics. Slaanesh is the god of Excess and sensuality is a big part of that, hence the aesthetics. It should also be pointed out many of the models and art have characteristics of both or neither sexes, like for example the Keeper of Secrets. To illustrate;
Thing is, a ‘god of pleasure’ sounds fine and all, but it’s actually a very difficult thing to pull off (no pun intended). In-universe, the Chaos gods are inherently corrupting, and when you mix that with ‘pleasure’ what happens is you get all kinds of Unfortunate Implications. If the god of pleasure is a corrupting power, then any pleasure is potentially corrupting. Sex becomes, by its nature, morally dangerous… which is only a short hop, skip and jump to things like slut-shaming, homophobia, transphobia… And that’s before we even get to ideas like drugs, which, again, is a very dangerous area to look at. Issues relating to addiction require huge nuance, because these are real-world issues that have real-world consequences.
I know. A real person that resembles you or me in broad physical form wrote this. Presumably on a computer that he was intelligent enough to use. Shocking.
Again, he is being either woefully ignorant or deliberately dishonest (why not both?).
A god of excess is not the same as a god of pleasure. Excess is pleasure taken to ridiculous extremes, it is the persuit of pleasure to the exclusion of all other considerations. It represents narcissism, senseless, self-destructive, hollow self-indulgence and depravity. All of the Chaos Gods represent fundamental aspects of existence and all of them are inimical to humankind because these aspects are taken to such extremes. The idea that this concept will somehow lead to the various secular heresies he so carefully outlines is just dumb.
I also find it entertaining that he takes the time to bemoan the portrayal of drug use (which has been proven to have potentially disasterous consequences) because real world consequences, but is perfectly alright with depictions of horrific graphic violence (we all know real-world violence never has any consequences).
Now, I’m not going to get caught up in a discussion of drugs or sex here; the only point I’m making is that these are by nature, sensitive issues: they’re ones that require maturity to discuss, confront, or represent successfully… Which is why I think that maybe they’re ones that are perhaps not best explored through the medium of tabletop wargaming.
Unlike violence? I was under the impression people played Warhammer because they like wargames and guns, not a desire to explore the deeper implications of drug use or sexuality but then again my parents loved me.
For me, wargaming is a fun little game of plastic soldiers. I roll dice, I make pew pew noises, I smile with my friends as we salute the Emperor.
Jesus you make wargaming sound really gay. Clearly depicting drug-use is bad but saluting the figurehead of a fictional theocracy that thrives on murder, constant war, the purging of all discontent, the exploitation of entire planetary populations and the
extermination of entire species is fine. Idiot.
Ideas regarding the pursuits of dangerous pleasures are absolutely worth discussing, well worth telling stories about… But those stories require incredible maturity to avoid selling people’s humanity short, and Warhammer 40,000 isn’t really the place for that.
Only if you are an emotionally crippled lungfish-man. If Warhammer 40k is too triggering for your feelings you should probably find another hobby, instead of trying to ruin it for everyone who is fine with it.
Not to mention, it’s a tabletop wargame that by financial necessity, needs to be aimed at children as well as adults. A faction where you can legitimately joke about how they main pure heroin into the bulbous veins of a noise marines leathebound nine-inches really isn’t appropriate in a game that has always marketed itself at the young. Certainly not enough to justify their inclusion, which is why I think it makes sense to slowly pull the limelight from Slaanesh.
Think-of-the-children! Its okay if they play games about harrowing trench warfare but god-forbid they should see a needle somewhere! Prove that it is harmful or have the common decency to leave the hobby and civilised society while we are engaging in wishful thinking.
Not to mention the deeply regressive imagery of ‘seductive Daemonettes’. And that’s before we even mention the clear homophobic/horribly transphobic stuff that’s going on there as well. Ultimately, a lot of Slaanesh’s stuff, while potentially cool, is clearly going to alienate a lot of potential customers, and I’m not just talking about women here. Plenty of guys I know scoff at GW because of the Daemonette nonsense.
Why are hemaphroditic depictions of a god that per definition would appeal to both sexes transphobic? Because your gender studies class tells you so? Not to mention the whole ‘would eliminate potential customers’ nonsense. I would dare to suggest that the hobby as a whole is probably better off without an influx of hypothetical otherkin that allegedly swoon at the first sign of an exposed boob. I would also suggest that if you are easily triggered, by which I mean that you throw a temper tantrum at anything that does not conform to your weird, deeply dysfunctional and narrow worldview that Warhammer will probably not be to your taste anyway.
So I can see why GW is scaling back Slaanesh where possibly. Exactly like the excessive swearing in ‘Cybercity Oedo 808’, it fails because it fundamentally misunderstands what maturity is. Even taken on its own ‘trying to be disturbing’ terms, Slaanesh isn’t sexy, or seductive, or – most importantly – ‘mature’ at all. What Slaanesh is? Is a collection of embarrassing ideas about sex and sexuality written by a person who’s never experienced any flavour of ice-cream other than vanilla, and who isn’t really interested in understanding the ideas they’re discussing, just describing some weird personal fantasy.
Ascribing social justice motives where sound buisness decision making will do. GW makes decisions based on profit, not your cult-like beliefs. Slaanesh is exactly as mature as the other gods, no more, no less. And people like it that way. I also like the resentful stab at GW for daring to suggest that there is such a thing as sexual deviancy. The dude is probably a furry.
This will be good.
Maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive. The outdated ideas about sex and sexuality – and they are outdated – that Slaanesh represents are simply not appropriate for the game any more. They’re not appropriate for younger gamers; they’re insulting to women, to trans and intersex people, as well as to any man whose sexuality extends beyond five quick pumps whilst thinking of England. The mature response would be to acknowledge this, and avoid the instinct to avoid change. Change terrifies people, especially members of the geek community, who loathe retcons with a passion that could eclipse suns.
Sorry, no. Nowhere in this sophmoric whinefest of an article have you demonstrated anything like maturity. You grasp at straws and concoct elaborate conspiracy theories without providing any evidence. You claim to speak for all women, gays, trannies and intersex (I assume he meant to say Interex, a Great Crusade era human civilisation that was wiped out by the Sons of Horus after botched peace talks in M31) and any man who is several standard distributions away from normal (that is to say, the norm or average) sexual behaviour. Why would you assume that everyone is a thin-skinned whiny pseudointellectual like yourself?
The people are correct to fear retcons, and social justice retcons most of all, since they tend to be done for the wrong reasons (to avoid offending emotional children).
But, in my opinion, Slaanesh shouldn’t be part of things as they are. So how could we deal with this?
We deal with it by expelling socjus losers like you since you are unable to live and let live.
Well, contrary to what you might think, I don’t actually believe we should Squat it. For better or worse, Slaanesh is a longstanding part of things, and it’s would be simply unfair to those gamers who’ve got Slaanesh armies. As well as this, 40K isn’t just a wargame any more; Fantasy Flight Games’ excellent lines of tabletop RPGs enable the discussion of some very mature themes, especially in more investigation-based games like ‘Dark Heresy’. A Slaanesh cult could be an intriguing way for an appropriately mature group of gamers to look at all kinds of ideas to do with the aforementioned sex, sexuality and other adult issues.
If you like exploring deep-seated sexual issues might I suggest Tumblr? Dark Heresy is awesome and about slaughtering heretics (and doing so via investigation and getting executed by your own inquisitor for having seen too much). If you want to indulge in pretentious navelgazing I suggest storygames or the worst of world of darkness supplements.
So what to do? Well, in my opinion, the best solution would be to ‘retire’ Slaanesh as a GW-produced faction and make the army Forge World’s property. If you’ve not read any of FW’s books, I can attest that they have demonstrated time and again that they can do nuance. Not to mention, FW’s models are NOT targeted at children, but explicitly as adult collectors, meaning it’s possible to completely ignore that issue of inappropriateness. GW as a company can completely take advantage of this, having its cake and eating it, and they should. Obviously, this does nothing to overcome the inherent problems of sexist models, or the deeply embedded homophobic and transphobic imagery, but that’s something which can be looked at over time in Black Library books, Forge World supplements, and FFG RPG supplements.
I love the casual way he describes historical revisionism and his crackpot cultural marxist lunacy. Clearly the entire category must be picked over with a fine comb for any signs of badthink. How else will we destroy misoginy for good? We have always been at war with Oceania! What a cunt.
Slaanesh has already been replaced by the Horned Rat in AoS, which clearly shows it can be done in 40K too. To be honest, this is the ideal opportunity to do something exciting and new for Chaos players, giving them a whole new Chaos power to deal with. They could bring back Malal, or they could choose something else to fill the gap more naturally. Either way, it would be a step towards turning 40K into an actual, truly mature environment, and that can only be a good thing.
Hint; Age of Sigmar Sucks! Sensuality and Excess is such a fundamental part of human nature to omit it would be a glaringly dull. The lithe sensuality of Slaanesh is a perfect compliment to the animalistic brutality of Khorne, the twisted and spindly deformity of Tzeentch and decaying corpulence of Nurgle. Perhaps we should remove Khorne too! Think of all the african child-soldiers scared off from playing Warhammer 40k!
In a world where you have literally dozens of miniature wargames to choose from there is no excuse to simply not play one if you do not like it. As a short glance at the comments section reveals, a lot of people seem to like Slaanesh or have no problem with it. As I have previously stated, if in order for you to enjoy a game it is neccesary that you curb my enjoyment, you can fuck off. There are plenty of miniatures games, surely at least one will be able to live up to your bizarre cultural marxist standards.
Progressivism is not maturity. It is the opposite. It is the whittling down of all edges, corners, irregularities, quirks, concepts and ideas that a creature from the protected classes (i.e anyone who is not a white male) could conceivably find offensive until what remains is a sterile hodgepodge of nothingness. It demands, ultimately, that everything confirms to its (vague and constantly mutable) worldview, and anything that does not is evil.
By contrast, entertaintment media, especially media that seeks to provoke an emotional response like horror or grimdarkness, works by finding boundaries or representing a unique artistic or aesthetic vision. By demanding everything conform to your twisted worldview, it is in fact you madam, that is curbing diversity, not I.
We already have a perfectly effective way of measuring the Zeitgeist and what people may or may not find appealing. It is called the free market. If people like something they can buy it. That way, if enough people like something, more of it gets made. If no one likes it, less of it gets made. See? I do not for the slightest instant believe these tales of hordes of lungfishmen and easily offended members of the protective castes standing at the gates of a tabletop game, just waiting to jump aboard the moment the models of one faction are altered slightly. Giving in to this sort of hysterical nonsense ultimately COSTS customers, it does not gain them.
There is room enough on the market for all tastes, all preferences, all aesthetics. There is room in this hobby for both sexes and all ethnicities (excluding Native Americans for obvious reasons). There is no room for pearl-clutching lungfishmen or minority-grievance mongers that will not rest until all that is under the sun confirms to their irrational beliefs.
Co-existence or exclusion Socjus. You are not the majority. You were never the majority. You will never be the majority. You can still repent. Your move.