On Doug TenNapel, Bigotry and supporting Hate

Doug TenNapel, co-creator of the beloved Earthworm Jim franchise, is currently trying to fund a new game, Armikrog, a spiritual successor to his cult hit The Neverhood.

It’s not surprising. Ever since Double Fine proved that you can bank on gamers’ desire for retro-flavored projects, other developers have been coming out of the woodwork to try and get their own projects funded and released. And good on them. Kickstarter has proven that sometimes people really do put their money where their mouths are, and that when the chance comes along they’re eager to support something they believe in.

But when you support someone’s project, you’re also supporting what they believe in, whether you like it or not. And when you’re supporting Armikrog, you’re supporting the work of a person who has said some truly troubling things.

Much has been made of TenNapel’s comments on homosexuality and gay marriage. If you’re interested in reading those I suggest you check out this article on Gay Gamer (and be sure to check out the comments, where TenNapel tosses out a sly AIDS joke). If you want to read some other horrible things the man has said, I suggest checking out his work at Brietbart, the conservative website best known for being racist liars. Some choice pieces there include this one, where he tosses off the ACLU as defenders of pedophilia, and this banger where he says that women are happier when they let feminism go and “let men be men.”

He’s also not a big fan of the right to abortion, but I assume you would have figured that out by now.

More than a few people have gone public saying that they will not support TenNapel’s Kickstarter because of his bigoted views. They don’t want to support someone who supports hate.  But just as many, if not more, are willing to turn a blind eye to TenNapel’s hate because, hey, they really really liked The Neverhood.

Okay, now if you too are a bigot who hates gay people, or if you are a men’s rights activist who encourages people to “take the red pill” then yo, go nuts. Support your fellow bigot.

But if you’re not a homophobic, sexist bigot and you still want to back Doug TenNapel, I have one question.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Look, I get that his bigoted hate and his game are (hopefully) unrelated. But when you support a bigot, you’re saying you’re okay with their bigoted views. You’re saying you don’t care that he thinks gays aren’t deserving of equal rights. You’re saying you don’t care that he sees women as accessories to men who shouldn’t speak their own minds. You’re saying that you don’t care about all those things as much as you care about playing a video game. And if that’s how you think, then you have to work on your priorities.

But what about tolerance, you may ask? If Doug TenNapel is being intolerant for his beliefs, aren’t I being intolerant as well? For attacking him for what he believes in? This is certainly a popular train of thought for TenNapels’ defenders, and TenNapel himself LOVES to go on about how he is the victim of religious intolerance for what he believes. For example, on his own blog he once said that someone putting up a “Stop the H8te” bumper sticker on their car (a message against the Proposition 8 bill in California that banned gay marriage) was “no different than calling someone a faggot for believing differently than you” and an example of religious intolerance. That’s TenNapel’s favorite tactic. When someone comes at him about his hate, he lambastes them for “intolerance.”

Let me explain something to you Doug (and every other bigot out there), protesting someone’s intolerance is not being intolerant. No one ever says “you’re being intolerant by disrespecting that person’s views as a racist.” So why are we supposed to be tolerant of someone’s misogyny or homophobia? It’s a bullshit double standard and it needs to stop. There’s nothing “intolerant” about speaking out for equal rights. There’s nothing intolerant about speaking out against someone else’s desire to dehumanize a group of people.

Finally, there’s the argument that we can’t boycott and picket every creator whose political views we don’t agree with, that would be impossible.

Two things. Firstly, this is not political. Equating the right to marriage to the right for a man to take a dump in the woman’s room (itself a horrible, sickening transphobic comment) is not a political statement. It’s a hateful statement. If TenNapel’s only public comments about his religious/political viewpoints were that he voted Republican and that he was against welfare or socialized medicine then I’d probably think he was kind of a dick, but I wouldn’t urge others to cut off their support of him. I’m not a big fan of Tom Selleck’s or Drew Carey’s political beliefs, but I’ve never heard them speak out against equal rights. They don’t believe that large segments of the population are lesser than them, or if they do, they sure don’t say that in public.

Secondly, yes, it’s impossible to boycott or protest everyone whose views you disagree with. We don’t know what everyone believes. The author of my favorite book may be a sexist, racist, homophobic bigot too, but since he hasn’t gone out and made comments about it, I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s not. And even when you do know what someone believes, it’s sometimes hard to boycott their work completely.

I wanted to see Expendables 2 last year dammit, so I sucked it up and dealt with the fact that Chuck Norris was in it, even though he is a despicable human being. To me, watching a movie that he had a cameo in wasn’t justifying or excusing his beliefs. The Expendables 2 was not his creation, he did not direct it, write it or produce it. Hell, he barely starred in it. It’s not like I’m funding his creative vision, I’m just watching a movie that he happened to be in.

But with a Kickstarter, you’re giving your money directly to the creative talent. And when that creative talent hates someone for how they were born, then you’re saying, at least a little bit, that you’re okay with that.


I don’t know if I have a point here. I don’t know if I’m rambling. I don’t know if what I’m saying about all this really matters. I just know that when I see that a man who likes to toss AIDS jokes at gay men who threaten him; that a man who believes women are second-class-citizens; that a man who calls transgender people “trannies” or “men who want to take a dump in the women’s room”; and that a man who says that any act against his hateful bullshit is, in fact, an act of hateful bullshit, is getting support from people I love and admire, it kind of makes me feel like my head is going to explode, and writing shit like this is the only thing that stops that from happening.



I can only delete so much vitriol, comments on this post are now disabled. This is why you can’t have nice things, Internet.

39 Responses to On Doug TenNapel, Bigotry and supporting Hate

  • James says:

    Actually whilst Doug TenNapel is part of the team on this, it isn’t specifically just his project. This is from Pencil Test Studios: http://pencilteststudios.com/

    Also I’m able to separate the characters from the people who thought them up. I don’t give two figs about the people who thought up Sonic the Hedgehog, or Batman or Superman for example, and I don’t need to know about them. I like the characters and the stories for the characters alone. That also applies in the reverse, just because I like a person doesn’t mean I’ll like their work.

    Same thing with Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood/Klaymen – it doesn’t matter to me, who thought them up or programmed, them etc, only that the creators are also behind Armikrog. So since this is the closest thing to those I can’t not support it, instead of regretting it later on for not helping out something that I knew I would have enjoyed just as much as Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood.

    • James Eldred says:

      As on the Armikrog Kickstater page:
      From Doug TenNapel and the creators of The Neverhood.”

      As for the rest of your comment, you just restated everything I said I was against in the first place. So whatever dude.

  • Sam says:

    I resent being accused of supporting bigotry just because I want a sequel to The Neverhood. I try my best to be a good person. I understand if you don’t want to support this project out of your own principles, but please don’t try to pin guilt on me. I am not supporting TenNaple’s views, I am supporting an unrelated project that he and others are working on.

  • tennapel says:

    This isn’t even an article, it is in itself a hateful slander from an uninformed person who wants to remain uninformed. I read the post and wrote James, with his response below:

    you could have reached out to me if you wanted to expand your article from being a one sided diatribe. I’m always open to interviews, and actual quotes from people you’re writing about helps up the journalistic standards. If you ever want to cover the retro-games I’ve actually worked on, I’d be glad to help you out.

    Doug TenNapel”

    James wrote me back:

    I’ve read plenty of your interviews and statements to know that no good would come from us talking and that’s all I’m going to say to you about this.”

    …and now this post has just been retweeted by an editor at Gamespot. So they’ll cover rumor and heresay about my religious views, but refuse to cover the facts and information about my games… at places that claim to be about Retro-games and Gamespot.

    • James Eldred says:

      You’re right Doug, this isn’t an article, it’s an opinion piece. Much like your opinion pieces at Brietbart about how women need to stop “screeching” about feminism; how global warming is a lie; and how abortion is murder. I never claimed it to be news or objective. Nothing I said is slander, rumor or hearsay, they are my interpretations of things you have publicly said.

      Additionally, hate isn’t a religious view.

      • tennapel says:

        Hate is an action not a belief. And I still leave the door open if you ever want to have a dialogue, you can find out for yourself what I really believe. Be well, James.

        • Pony says:

          Actually, there’s two things you can tell ,me that will determine whether or not I continue to support Armikrog:

          1) Do you still think gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry the people they love?


          2) Do you think women should be allowed to make the decisions about their own bodies, whether you personally agree with them or not?

  • John says:

    The definition of being intolerant is “Not tolerant of others’ views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.” So you are being intolerant. Tennapel is right and YOU are wrong.

    • James Eldred says:

      Tennapel is the one being intolerant of someone else’s beliefs and/or behavior. I am responding to his intolerance. You would not say something as stupid as you just did if Tennapel was racist and I was reacting to that.

      But you didn’t even read what I said in the first place, so I don’t know why I’m even bothering.

  • The premise of the article/opinion piece was “stop the hate” by boycotting “haters” yet it was one of the most hateful articles I remember reading. Several paragraphs of angry name calling and finger pointing; at TenNapel and the fans of his work. At the conclusion the author even feels the need to inform the reader that Chuck Norris (of all people) is a “despicable human being”. In the end the author becomes what he accuses TenNapel of being at the beginning: a distributer of hate.

  • John says:

    I read your article. It’s a load of recycled, MSM style crap. Enjoy living in your Mom’s basement, that’s about as far as your writing career is going to get you. Good-bye.

  • Drain says:

    I can’t believe the guy who created Earthworm Jim, a game I loved playing growing up, is such an intolerant bastard. It makes me feel like I wasted many hours of my childhood and later life playing games he had a hand in based off of my fond memories for Jim. No wait…scratch that, I don’t “feel” like I wasted my time on his games, I “know” I wasted my time.

  • q says:

    Calling someone a “homophobic, sexist bigot” because he believes that a same-sex relationship is different conceptually than a marriage is a dangerous abuse of language. It diminishes the power and meaning of those words. You’ve essentially just said that someone who cherishes his gay friends and hires gays people (I know, because I know Doug well) is equivalent to someone who actually hates gay people (like in certain countries, where they stone gays as a matter of religion or policy). I have Christian friends in the military who, despite wanting to protect a traditional marriage (and therefore by your definition are “homophobic”), would nonetheless take a bullet for you anyone of any gender or orientation, defending you from those same people. I understand why people so quickly jump to putting people in a box with a label of “hate”, but really you have to question the chip on your shoulder, and put this in perspective. Perhaps knowing someone a bit deeper would at least let you understand their perspective. Doug has offered you a branch of connecting, and treated you as a human being. You in turn, who ostensibly care so deeply about treating people who are different with equality and understanding, so easily dehumanize a person based on nothing more than hearsay and misinformation.

    I’d also ask that you be careful about conflating racism with same-sex gender issues. Again, you are diminishing the power of concepts, and you may want to consider the offense you cause to many minorities in doing so.

    • James Eldred says:

      Unless Doug emails me and says that he didn’t say the things that he is accused of saying, things that he signed his name after, then I have nothing to say to him.

      And stop saying “traditional marriage” you mean “heterosexual marriage.” Because if you were really up in arms about “traditional marriage” then you’d be just as upset about divorce.

      Nonsense and lies, all of it.

      • q says:

        No. Heterosexual marriage is redundant. You don’t get to redefine language by throwing a tantrum, or demanding your way by threatening to defame someone you don’t know in a public forum. And now your topic is about divorce? I thought this was a post about homophobia and bigotry (topics you know little about if you’re putting this much effort into discrediting someone who isn’t in actuality homophobic or bigoted).

        You don’t seem to want to have a dialogue. Just bully someone who challenges your programming into recanting his beliefs. You know, not supporting someone you don’t agree with is one thing, but this whole post and your responses are just petty and cowardly.

  • ~R says:

    Lol! Love how the reactionaries want to submerge society in an acrylic block and say smugly, “There, now it’s perfect. Everybody’s happy, right? Right?”

    Well, no. The Black’s weren’t happy. Women weren’t happy. Homosexuals aren’t happy. And newsflash: The world is moving on. Marriage for the gays is a done deal. Deal with it.

    • Bob says:

      Actually gay marriage will never be a “done deal” because of the simplest concept in the history of man – Two against one.

  • Bob says:

    Gays have all the same rights that straight people have, so how is it unequal? Gay people can’t get married to their same sex, and neither can I. So if two people of the same sex can get married, I should be able to have sex with a hippopotamus in my front yard. Because even though almost no one wants to do that, I want to, and all minorities should be able to do whatever they want, no matter what kind of perverse exposure the children of the majority will have to suffer.

    • James Eldred says:

      In the pantheon of stupid comments, this is pretty high up there. Congrats. You’re dumb.

      • Bob says:

        This whole article is filled with nothing but stupid comments. As for you, know the definition of words BEFORE you use them, because I’m not dumb, I can speak perfectly. I believe the word you were looking for is ‘stupid’, which accurately describes your behavior and choice of words.

    • Conker says:

      Bob, why is it that folks like you immediately resort to sex as the grounds for your argument? Gays already have sex, that’s not what they’re arguing for. There’s a plethora of reasons why they’d like to be legally married, none of which have anything to do with sexual intercourse.

      By all means, go ahead and pork the hippo out in your front lawn. I certainly don’t care, nor does anyone else (the hippo may take offense however). “Perverse exposure to children…”? Your equating two adults having consensual sex in their own home to you having sex with a hippo on your lawn. Think about how stupid that sounds for a second. Your incredibly absurd false equivalency demonstrates your lack of intelligence. Please, get an education.

      And for the record, I’m not trying to sway your opinion. Your free to it, I’m just pointing out the stupidity in your reasoning.

  • Bob says:

    I don’t hate gay people, I simply disagree with many of their principles. In fact I get along perfectly with most gay people, the only gay people who I actually dislike are gays who are hateful towards people who do not fully support their opinions, and that includes you. Doug TenNapel is the same, he doesn’t hate gays, he simply disagrees with them.

    This has been blown WAY too far out of proportion for far too long. Instead of trying to destroy other peoples work, go out and do something that will benefit you. Instead of beating up on the people who disagree with you, go out and support what you believe in.

    • jerry says:

      They are plainly supporting what they believe in, which is the lack of religious influence over law. It is thanks to people like Mr. TenNapel who more than likely voted for specific recent changes to California legislature that bans Gay Marriage. Christians constantly claim to be a victim of free speech violations but they seem to have no trouble defining who should believe what for others.

      • Conker says:

        My thoughts exactly Jerry. Nobody on the pro-gay side is trying to change the beliefs of Christians. All they’re saying is Christian beliefs should NOT dictate the law. The whole point of a secular government is freedom of religion, and freedom FROM religion. It works both ways, and it protects everyone. The founding fathers were wise enough to distinguish these entities, and foreseeing the dangers of mixing the two.

        What I find ironic is how in-sync these prejudices against gay marriage are with Islam, a religion many Christians claim to despise (as a moderately liberal atheist, I also find Islam ridiculous as well, like most religions). Which also raises the point that secular government also protects Christians (and the rest of us) from things like Sharia Law, if say, a Muslim ever came to significant political power in our country (it’s completely hypothetical, but I guarantee the religious-right would be clamoring a different tune if that were reality, and rightfully so). I would oppose any such nonsense into our laws right alongside other Christians.

        Doug is entitled to whatever beliefs he wants, but they shouldn’t dictate the law, especially when legalizing gay-marriage doesn’t infringe on his rights, or those who oppose it. The utter hypocrisy and shortsightedness of the Christian-right on this issue is staggering at times.

        All that said, TenNapel does keep his religious/political drivel out of the games he works on – they are team efforts after all. Doug is the artistic visionary, not the sole creative driving force. His graphic novels and comics are another story. It’s a shame, because he is a great artist, and a pretty intelligent individual who fails to see past the ignorance of his own beliefs, and immediately goes on the defensive whenever someone points out the flaws in his reasoning.

  • formerfan says:

    Damnit Tennapel; used to be an admirer, but geez, way to cling to a fading zeitgeist. Also way to be weirdly internet petty. I regret that you will someday realize that your odious opinions have eternally tainted everything you’ve ever done creatively.

  • dracobonobo says:

    I’m crushed to have ever liked your work, Doug. I was seriously considering backing your project, but I was informed by a number of people that you’d crossed the line. And the only way to show disapproval is not to send you passionate pleas to change your ways, but to to use the good old American capitalistic tradition of “Dollar Votes”. People that say it’s wrong to not patronize an artist who disagrees with your beliefs are not only complete idiots, but total and complete sell-out tools who won’t stand up for what they believe in because they don’t have beliefs. Doug’s slapped his ugly beliefs on the table, and now I’m slapping mine. And mine is longer.

  • Beck says:

    I’ve been struggling since reading your article and learning of Tennapel’s beliefs. I loved Neverhood and backed Armikrog as soon as I discovered it, but then learned of his views when talking with a friend. On one hand, I do have a distinct urge to back out on principle, but on the other, I do think you’re being intolerant. Not that it isn’t merited; it’s a common paradox.

    You do recognize that this is an opinion piece, but as far as your agenda, you’re attacking not just Tennepel, but anyone who disagrees with you. You rationalize that it’s okay to read the works of your favorite author, but chastise others for still wanting to enjoy Tennepel’s works. There might be a difference in how vocal they are, but how does that change that you’re still effectively supporting “something they believe in.”

    I’m not trying to attack you. Not anymore than I felt attacked by your aggressive “what the fuck is wrong with you?” but I do think there’s a fine line between those intolerances. I wonder if it’s a good thing to ignore the arts simply because we don’t like the creator.

    I’m still backing Armikrog, though I’m not sure I will be for long. The issues you mention are real and important, but an equally valid issue is this: should we allow intolerance, however justified, to make our decisions for us? If so, I’d have never read Ender’s Game. While Tennepel might be more crass, I don’t think he’s any more bigoted (regarding homosexuality, at least) than Orson Scott Card, yet I still credit his books for many personal revelations, and good ones at that.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Conker says:

      I also backed Armikrog, but I’ve long come to terms with TenNapel’s views on life and politics. Rest assured that he’s on the losing side (like many conservative stances throughout our country’s history). At this point, folks like Doug are kicking and screaming foul because they have no other grounds to stand on. They’ve lost the debate, and it’s only a matter of time before gay marriage is legalized nation wide. Deep down, he probably knows it. That won’t change his convictions, but I’m sure it stings nonetheless.They’ll scream chicken little, the sky is falling, our society will crumble, blah blah blah, while the rest of society moves on. It’s happened so many times before. I wonder sometimes if certain conservative Americans actually study history.

      That said, I can separate his art because growing up, he was a huge influence on me artistically. Supporting this project is a way to show my respect, and help out the studio working on it. I respect the original author’s opinion, but I for one see it a bit differently.

  • johnnykaje says:

    For the love of fuck, people. You’re not supposed to tolerate intolerant people. That’s how tolerance WORKS.

    The whole point is to marginalize assholes like TenNapel so they stop doing shit like that, or at the very least keep their stupid opinions to themselves.

    You don’t let bullies pick on other kids because that would be “intolerant.” You put that little fucker in detention away from the other kids until s/he shapes up.

    • James Eldred says:


    • Beck says:

      You’re making tolerance a weapon; that’s absolutely NOT how tolerance works. Tolerance isn’t a tool to try and force people to behave the same as you, instead it’s about accepting someone’s right to be different from you. It’s about recognizing diversity, not eliminating it.

      That said, that’s not the point I was making. I was saying that we shouldn’t allow intolerance to control us. If we turned our backs on art for its narrow-minded creators, we’d have to discount the works of HP Lovecraft, Richard Wagner, John Wayne, and countless others. It’s one thing to support their beliefs and another to admire their works.

      I am coming to the realization that it’s a personal decision. It’s a bit silly to suggest that backing the game is supporting bigotry and hate, but I can certainly understand NOT backing him because of his beliefs.

      • James Eldred says:

        Historical context is somewhat important. If you were going to hate on every historical figure who happened to be an anti-semite, you’d have a pretty damn long list.

        And by supporting a bigot, you’re saying “I don’t care if you think gay people are inhuman, women are lesser than men and that AIDS jokes are funny, I wanna play your video game.” and that’s a problem.

  • Brandon says:

    I’m not gay but I find some of the comments Doug made to be highly offensive because I used to be one of those hate mongering Christians trying to convert all my friends. I got roped into a belief full of ignorance, irrationality and hate believing my eternal soul was in danger. Once I came to terms with the fact my eternal soul wasn’t in danger I started to logically think about why I hate gay people and couldn’t think of a single reason. They had never hit on me, sexually harassed me, picked on me nor were they attempting to directly impact my life in any negative way. They simply wanted the right to love and be loved without being beaten, harassed and oppressed by monsters like me.

    So when some Christian goes off about freedom of speech, religious freedom and “intolerance” toward their own intolerance…it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I denied hating gay people too but secretly I hated their fucking guts. I made all the same excuses and arguments so I KNOW how these kind of people think. When faced with the fact an artist I admire is some hate monger it makes it impossible to enjoy their work much less financially support them. My money is limited and plenty of hate free projects exist. Does that mean I am intolerant? Yes. Should I be tolerant of irrational and illogical people basing their life/actions on complete fantasy trying to tell others how to live? Hell no. You don’t get to use your “religious freedom” as a weapon to oppress others and deny people rights. I don’t have to be tolerant of that anymore than I have to tolerate someone wanting to stab me to death.

    For me it’s not even about the whole gay rights thing, it’s about the complete war on sexuality and freedom of ideas. You don’t have to look far back to see their own culture wars against every culture that doesn’t fit in line with their views. A married man and woman weren’t allowed to have oral sex till the mid 60’s for instance. They keep trying to ban porn, violent video games and other forms of entertainment they don’t like. They caused that one indian woman who didn’t even practice their religion to die because they refused to abort a baby due solely to religious laws/beliefs. I won’t even go into all the potentially life saving scientific advances they are blocking for no logical reason other than “man shouldn’t play god”. Of course right now they see themselves as a victim of some culture war because now they aren’t allowed to tell women, sexually free individuals, LGBT and those of other religions how they should act.

    It’s hilarious really. The bully is now crying victim because they aren’t being allowed to bully anymore.

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