SOTB Presents: Ten Questions with Alison Rapp (@moocowprincess)

A few weeks back, I reached out to self-proclaimed "Disgraced Video Game Criminal" Alison Rapp for an interview. Why? Well, simply put, her story was one that always astounded me and the outrage about it showcased a lot of insanity within our society, predominantly surrounding how we view sex. Well, that and she seemed like a great interview subject and seemed like she'd fit well among my interview hall-of-fame. 

After being properly vetted, the interview was confirmed. But, instead of leading Alison on a crazy ride and/or prying like someone with way too much time on my hands, I took a different approach. I stepped back and made sure the floor was her's. The only thing I really did here was ask some guiding questions. What follows this introduction is the result of our conversation. I hope you enjoy and get to know a bit more about Alison outside of what's already known. Also, I hope you get a chance to learn something. So, with that said...let's get into it.



Speed: For those unaware, who are you and how'd you get to where you are today?

Alison: I suppose the story of how I got to where I'm at starts back in undergrad and grad school. This might sound like I'm telling my life story, but I promise it's relevant! I got some grant funding to research some pretty crazy things—porn manga, sex, all kinds of dirty stuff. Some folks out there might have heard about my undergrad thesis—the one about government criminalization of fiction porn depicting minors (e.g. loli comics, yaoi, fanart)—but I actually worked on a bunch of different topics. It was great! I got to expense hentai. Anyway, I did that and some other work that got me a sweet internship at Game Informer.

When I finished grad school, I was picked up by Nintendo of America, for a spot in their Treehouse, which is like the top-secret CIA part of the company. I was at Nintendo for a little under three years and mostly it was great, but there were some not-so-great things too, and it all culminated in an extremely messy firing that would take a book to explain. Long-story-short, some losers on 4chan and Kiwi Farms didn't like that I was a feminist, made me into a huge PR liability, and Nintendo dropped me because someone said they found evidence I was a sex worker in my spare time.

Lots of people ask if I really was a sex worker, but I never answer, because that's not really the point. They're just asking because they want to feel validated in disliking me, so why give them that? 

Anyway, the whole fiasco ended with me not making friends with a lot of people—losers online hated me already, and then I lost a lot of “progressive” support because my old research on controversial porn blew up. Pretty much all of it was criticism about my feminist politics and thoughts on sex, so now I'm owning it. I model now! I do some other stuff like the occasional writing and talks, but mostly I model. A lot of it is smutty. I figured, if people were going to stuff me in a very tight box, then I was gonna, I don't know, poke some arm and legholes in the box and run with it. 
  
Speed: I'll get right into it. What do you think about folks who don't pay for their "smut?"

Alison: Hey, I've been there. I'm still there! Think about all the hot fanart out there that artists willingly post without a paywall. But after becoming a kind of artist myself, I realized how totally shitty it is to be one in the U.S. There's no systemic funding for the arts here, and obviously the internet's great and I love it, but it's made people forget that it actually costs a lot of resources to produce any kind of art. Most people have no problem paying for books or movies but don't think twice about the “casual” artists out there who are producing the vast majority of what we actually consume on a day-to-day basis.

So, I don't want to make people feel bad for not having money—I've definitely been there. But I think we have an moral obligation to pay people whenever possible when we enjoy something they've made, and I think we have additional responsibility living somewhere so capitalist, because we know even most “professional” artists don't get paid a living wage. So I would like to encourage folks to give the folks you follow money next time they draw something hot or post a selfie and you're into it. Telling your friends about them is great, but exposure doesn't pay the bills and instead just passes the buck to someone else.

Speed: What about folks who are sex-negative and not inclusive when it comes to that sort of thing? I mean, being sex-positive is a "tricky" subject and a titangraph to digest in itself.

Alison: My first piece of advice? I'll tell you a little secret. It's not actually a secret, but few people know this, even though it's talked about widely in sex-positive feminist scholarship. The sex-negativity among otherwise “progressive” people in the U.S. today stems from an alliance between certain powerful feminists and the religious right back in the 1980s. For real! It's well-documented. 

The religious right wanted to criminalize porn, and so did a bunch of powerful mainstream (rich, white) feminists, so they teamed up to lobby for legislation and in the process, totally warped our views on sex for the next several decades. Those views and attitudes persist today. But obviously that wasn't all feminists since feminism is an always-evolving and diverse set of issues, and intersectional sex-positive feminism is really cool and does engage in those tough but fascinating and necessary conversations. So I'd say start there, learning about that. If you know someone who's sex-negative, this would be a good thing to chat with them about.
 
A book I consistently recommend to folks is Bound and Gagged, by Laura Kipnis. It's a look into controversial forms of pornography and the culture and laws surrounding them. Laura is a fun writer, so it shouldn't feel too much like homework.


Speed: This may be a bit of a weird question. But, to you, are some men "born stupid" when it comes to sexuality and self-expression? I mean, are they limited by societal norms or do you think it goes deeper than that?

Alison: I don't know much about brains. I do know that culture impacts behavior. There's some really interesting, admittedly older, research by a guy named George Gerbner. I don't know if anyone's updated it for use in what you're talking about, but he did some really cool work on violent media. He found that consuming violent media makes people believe that the world is inherently violent. Media normalizes it.

That doesn't mean that it causes people to do violent things. It just makes people believe that it's normal. My best guess is that something similar happens with lots of behaviors, though I can't be sure. You know, it's funny—if we were colleagues in grad school, I'd tell you, "hey, that's a good research question." If you find yourself constantly asking questions about things that don't have a clear answer, you might make a good researcher!

Speed: Actually, to expound, where do you see our society ultimately going unless we change our ways and open our eyes to the diversities out there?

Alison: I feel like it's anyone's guess with the current state of U.S. politics. We've got bans on refugees, an attorney general who lied under oath, slashed funding for the arts and poor kids' school lunches, and objectively evil people with a lot of power. The only thing I'm sure of is that white people fucked up. That includes white women. It was people of color, especially women of color, who voted overwhelmingly against Trump. So maybe the only thing I know is that if white people weren't so shitty, we might not be where we are right now.

Speed: What are you doing to enact social change? Feel free to go in-depth as you need.

Alison: Once upon a time I was a real Type A personality and I wanted to change the world. As I've gotten older, and especially after the mess with Nintendo and the angry dudes on the Internet, I've kept my head down a little more.

Getting doxed and having my family threatened really sucked. But I still work on smaller projects. I frequently do charity sales, where I'll sell prints and donate either a portion or all of the proceeds to a charity. Lately it's been a lot of ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the National Immigration Law Center. I like charity sales because they benefit everyone: Charities get money, I sometimes get money, and the people who buy the prints get some good smut.

Speed: I'll get light for a second. What are some of your favorite cosplay moments?

Alison: I cosplayed Ness from EarthBound a few years back. I love EarthBound. Anyway, I cosplayed normal, good boy Ness, and then when next con season rolled around, I thought, man, I really like this character, I wanna do him again. But I didn't wanna do the same exact outfit, so I came up with BadNess. 



I wore leather and smeared fake blood all over my body and my props. So I was walking around the Seattle Convention Center with a bloody bat. It was a real wooden bat! I'm pretty sure they're not actually allowed at the con. But at that point, I was already getting harassed by internet dudes, so it was kind of fun and empowering to have it. I was definitely giving off a “don't fuck with me” vibe. 

Speed: As a gamer, what are you playing at the moment? And why?

Alison: I've been pretty much monogamous with Fire Emblem games for the last two years. They're challenging but still relaxing for me. They're strategy games (think chess, but video games), but the last couple to come out have also had really strong relationship mechanics too. You pair up units, and they become friends or get married and have kids who also fight. And when they're paired up, they're stronger in battle. So it's a strategy game but also a romance game? I just did a panel at PAX East in Boston where I talked about it.

Other than Fire Emblem, I'm working on Breath of the Wild, which is the new Zelda game. I'm a huge Zelda fan; I grew up playing them with my mom, and I'm loving the new one. It's keeping me up late most nights.

Speed: Did you play Final Fantasy XV? What'd you think about the game not including a playable woman character?

Alison: I haven't played it yet, and I initially had no interest in it. The devs kept talking about how it was a game about guy friends, and friendships are different when girls are around, and I was, like, "dang, are y'all still in high school?" I don't have a problem with dude protags, but those comments really turned me off the game. 

That being said, I think I'd like to play it now. I have a lot of girlfriends who played it and made comments about "good, soft boys" and "best friends who are also gay" which means I'd probably actually have a good time with it. I love good, soft 2D boys.

Speed: Finally, where can folks reach out to you and support your causes?

Alison: I have a Patreon! I post lots of smut, and depending on how much you pledge, you also get prints in the mail. I also have a print shop where I sell a select few prints from past shoots, and that's also where I host the charity sales. I'm also on Twitter. I'll warn you now that I tweet a lot about how much I love the gay ice skating anime, Yuri on Ice. I'm sorry.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Alison! How are Jake and Fran doing?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No one hated you because you're a faux-feminist, Rapp. They hated you because you went on Twitter and advocated for child pornography and sex with children. That's why you were fired. You publically said having sex with children- actual, real life children- should be legal. I'm not even taking anything out of context. That's literally what you advocate for, and publically on social media, no less. And you worked around CHILDREN, for fuck's sake. You're unbelievably lucky no one's parents caught wind of the things you've said and that Nintendo didn't want to look like they fired someone over what could be considered an expression of free speech.

    Oh, and this piece of shit site and all those other Rapp supporters who know what she actually said, good job proving that the right-wing bible-thumpers were right all along, you amoral pricks. They said accepting gays would lead to accepting pedophilia, and you stupid motherfuckers prove those sacks of shit right. Good fucking job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It started going downhill when she got involved in gamergate.

    Dont forget what she said about gamers, trying to bring SJW politics into the world.. Gamergate and such.

    "If u wanna have intelligent convos about games, you need to educate yourself on life & intersectional social issues totally outside of games"

    https://twitter.com/moocowprincess/status/690264632066355200

    ReplyDelete