From the Sinfest forums.
I find it fascinating that people seem to think that the only reason we hate Sinfest is because of its politics.
I - Essay Mod - can’t speak for the other mods, because we don’t actually communicate with each other (or even agree on very much. I for one don’t see the point of being trollish, but I’m not going to stop them), but I don’t hate Sinfest because it’s feminist, or even because it’s radical tumblr feminist. I hate it because it’s bad.
Gunnerkrigg Court is a good webcomic, and it’s incidentally far more feminist that Sinfest because it has complex and well-written female protagonists. It’s more gay friendly than Sinfest because it doesn’t treat homosexuality as a joke. It has more minorities than Sinfest, and they’re better written and have more to do than just be Token Black Girl like Clio in Sinfest is. And despite it having way more feminism and way more gayness and way more dark skin, I like it a lot. Because it’s good.
Homestuck has amazingly well-written female characters. An ounce of Vriska is a better portrayal of a female protagonist than anything in Sinfest, because she and all the other females are allowed to be flawed, and therefore interesting. Vriska is a sociopath asshole whose evil is the result of deep-seated insecurity. Feferi is a dumb chirpy moron who’s lazy and makes her boyfriend do anything she finds unpleasant, a trait that leads to her death. Jade’s breakdown when losing her powers is realistically well written. There’s a variety. Half the cast is some shade of gay, and while Hussie’s attempts to simultaneously pander to and mock the SJW movement lead him looking sad and pathetic at times-
(He briefly made whiteness a literal super-power, but changed it after it became a thing, like a pussy)
It’s still better at being feminist and being LGBT-friendly that Sinfest, which has paper-thin characters and a weird homophobic undercurrent.
And while Homestuck has a ton of fucking problems, as I’ve been chronicling, they’re almost entirely pacing related. There’s too much fucking around, and the comic could be amazing if about half of it was cut.
Or what about the evolved and perfected form of Homestuck, Prequel:
Look, let me be uncool for a minute (trigger warning: Totally lame): I got laid off a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been having the best of luck finding a job. This morning, two different places I interviewed with called me back saying they weren’t interested. One thought I had too much experience in technical shit, and that’d I’d bail the second I could find a QA job. The other was a QA job that thought six month’s experience wasn’t worth anything. It was an incredible downer, to be too qualified for anything but a job I wasn’t qualified for. I was really depressed about it. And, with nothing to do but go to my computer and write about webcomics, I read the latest Prequel update.
If I hate Sinfest because it’s feminist, I should positively loathe a story about a girl who’s life is a failure because everything about society is rigged against her.
And reading the latest Prequel gave me the strongest reaction I’ve ever had to a webcomic. I’m shit at those jumpy peg puzzles, and I kept getting it wrong. But between the writing, the interactivity, the music, and the sheer fact that I was in an usually poor emotional state, I empathized with Katia more than I’ve ever empathized with a character in a webcomic before. In any medium, or any story. I kept trying, and eventually I got it, and thus so did Katia. As she felt better for succeeding in some trivial thing, so did I. I didn’t even close the tab, I went straight to job hunting websites and started applying for shit. I combed through job listings, found half a dozen jobs I thought I fit, and applied for them. I contacted a recruiter directly to make my case as the best fit for some SQL DB job.
I felt good about myself, and after going through that days job listing on LinkedIn and Glassdoor, I knew I’d be looking again tomorrow. And maybe if I start getting rejections and feel depressed, I’ll solve that jumpy peg puzzle again, and try some more.
Half an hour after I submitted my last application for the day, I got a call for a phone interview. Maybe Prequel will actually get me a job. Maybe this’ll fall through like so many have in the past. But that interview wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t inspired by some dumb cartoon about a slutty catgirl with a drinking problem.
And that’s specific to me, of course, but this is a story that succeeded at the ultimate goal all stories aspire to. It made me feel something (beside irritation at the shitty writing and missed opportunities, like Sinfest does). I was inspired to go out and do something to try to improve my situation, something I wouldn’t have done otherwise. That’s a success. It’s an emotion I’ve never felt from a story before, even though so many stories try (every day there’s a new “Cheer up!” post on Tumblr).
Prequel is a comic about women. It’s lead is a recovering alcoholic who tries and fails to get her life back in order despite being incapable of accomplishing even simple tasks. It’s biggest secondary character is a lesbian.
And it is the greatest webcomic ever made. These morals are pretty basic, even if I hadn’t heard the “go east to end up west” analogy before. But look how the ghost dude phrasing his life advice in such a stupid way causes Katia to agree with his point even when arguing with his analogy. That’s really fucking clever. This story is a bit more subtle in getting it’s message across than any of those Tumblr comics could ever hope to be. It’s well written, and that’s why it’s affecting. Fucking anybody could write a story of the person who failed a lot and eventually got it right, but Prequel simply does it better.
If Tatsuya was the slightest fraction as good a writer as Kazerad, then Sinfest could be great. Really, it could, even with the same politics. It’s problem isn’t that it espouses feminist themes, it’s that it does so with analogies that make no sense, paper thin characters, and scenarios that either don’t rank in the top 100 issues facing women, or are so ingrained into Sinfest land that they don’t correlate to anything in the real world. And I know there can be better feminist comics than Sinfest because there are. Homestuck, for all it’s pacing flaws. Gunnerkrigg Court. Girl Genius (for all it’s pacing flaws), Narbonic, Prequel. And those are just the one’s I’ve read! I’m still procrastinating on Ava’s Demon and Unsounded, but both of those have gotten off to strong enough starts that I’d be surprised if they weren’t.
And fuck, it’s not like being an anti-feminist comic about fuckin’ bitches and makin’ money is going to excuse you for being shit
(We’re all dumber for having read this)
Penny Arcade has gotten into all sorts of trouble with the Tumblr crowd, and we’ve been hating that more or less full time. When we attack Shredded Moose, we’re not turning on “our own”, because we’re opposed to lazy, shitty webcomics, regardless of creed. It’s bad in the same way Sinfest is bad.
It’s so fucking inept at being anti-woman that it’s mainly useful as something for feminists to pass around and get angry at or laugh at, just the same as Sinfest is so inept at being feminist it makes feminism look moronic.
There’s a reason we pick on Sinfest so much, or at least that I do. Of all the comics we look at, it’s got the most wasted potential. All it does is restate feminist themes in a way that only people already inclined to agree with it would care about. It’s just like a conservative trying to be funny. Unable to look at any issue past a knee-jerk way, it never makes you think, it never changes your mind, it never makes you feel something.
Tats would like you to believe that we hate Sinfest because it’s feminist. But in reality we hate Sinfest because it’s not.