My younger readers can be forgiven for having a blasé attitude towards music. I imagine it's hard to conceive of a time when it meant something to be a fan of Billy Idol, George Michael, or Madonna. I feel the same way about the Beatles or Elvis; what the heck was all the fuss about?
Things are different now, however, and in a very interesting way. Back then, you could be both offensive and acceptable. Sixth-graders could dress up like KISS and air guitar in an official school production.
Hell, you could sing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" in an official school function.
This was a different age. Public intoxication was frowned upon, but not illegal. You could go to a public park with a picnic and drink a beer. Whether or not a restaurant or bar allowed smoking was up to the owner. Democrats and Republicans could discuss politics together without ending friendships.
It wasn't that there were no rules; the rules were just understood to be flexible. You could break them. You could get in trouble for breaking them. But it was also generally understood that most rule breaking was not a threat to society at large. It was also generally believed that a healthy society could stand to be offended every now and then. Many even assumed that such occasional offense was healthy.
Lonely Island bits are much funnier than the rest of the show.) I will argue the travails of D&D's dark past, where it was assailed by “angry mothers” and decried as witchcraft, are overblown. Yes, some mothers and other relatives did snatch away books and burn them at church meetings. But not in any significant numbers. You can still find first edition books floating around the used-bookstore economy. There was no great purge, and I don't recall Gygax being subpoenaed to appear before a congressional hearing.
The truth is, nobody gives a damn what we do in our little hobby anymore than you give a damn for what model railroaders paint on the sides of their boxcars. Understand that most moralistic condemnation, when it rises to the level of media attention, is mostly just a good old-fashioned shakedown. You and I don't have enough money to make the effort worthwhile.
Most of you have no idea what happens in my games. I imagine some of you would be horribly offended. I am, without a doubt, a "lawn-crapper." So are the guys at Paizo. So is James Raggi.
In the Doom & Tea Parties campaign, most people are assumed to be bisexual, slavery is practiced by nearly every culture, and human sacrifice, while rare, is certainly not unthinkable. Am I making a statement in my game? Not really. These are just tools to create interesting situations for us to play with. Most of these issues are less personally offensive to me than the idea of acquiring wealth and power through home invasion, murder, and piracy. And everyone who enjoys D&D knows that those create interesting situations that lead to fun.
If the stuff I bring up in my games, or that Raggi and Paizo publish, offends you, I shudder to think how you will feel when you discover what your sister was reading when she was twelve.
Art by William Hogarth.