Quite The StormI had other things to write out today, but this story is just too interesting to pass up.
Here's the basic setup: a customer service/marketing person from a company called Ocean Marketing went full-on 'roid rage/douchbag with a customer via e-mail, and the customer sent the e-mail to Gabe (Mike Krahulik) of Penny Arcade.
Gabe posted it, and you can read it here (and you need to, if you want to understand what a gigantic ass Paul Christoforo of Ocean Marketing made of himself). If you're lazy, though, here's a choice excerpt:
Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro. I Don’t have my controller so im gonna cry to the world … Really ?? Hey take that free time and do something more productive. All you had to do was check the like everyone else , people have inquired but you’re the douchiest of them all J
Nothing says "genuine holiday spirit" like a reference to daddy's balls.
Of course, Gabe posting the e-mail is Russell Crowe in Gladiator saying "At my signal, unleash hell." It guaranteed that Paul Christoforo was going to get an Internet ass-whipping of epic proportions.
If you're expecting me to say it was undeserved, you will be waiting fruitlessly. I have a very, very unforgiving spot inside me for bullies, who are a perversion of human nature that has diminished us all. Paul C. enjoyed being the hammer to people who were wholly dependent on him for information--in other words, helpless. Then he found out that he was, in fact, not the hammer. He was the nail, being infinitely pounded.
There's more to this story, including an absolutely bizarre set of information posted by The Examiner (thanks, Qt3), which makes the story considerably more complicated (and possibly fraudulent) than just a random jerk being a jerk.
That was quite a lead-in to the real subject of this post, which concerns Penny Arcade, or rather, the dizzying rise of Penny Arcade. In 1998, they started an Internet comic. Thirteen years later, they have over three million readers, raised millions of dollars for charity, and last year they were in Time's 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
In Internet terms, they're the Beatles.
Thirteen years ago, they were unquestionably some version of the nail. Now, they are the hammer to a degree that cannot be overstated.
Here's my question: do you think they ever get tired of this?
I think one of the reasons it's often so difficult for people who become famous is because the transition from nail to hammer is difficult. Some people are nails, and by nails I mean underdogs. The odds are against them. They lack resources. They must prevail through their will.
When a nail becomes a hammer, though, how does that work? How does an underdog adapt to being an overdog? I can't imagine ever being able to do that in a psychological sense--it would be like wearing a coat that just doesn't fit right.
I'm a nail. I grind like an underdog, I root for almost nothing but underdogs, and I've always been that way, even as a kid. I draw an enormous amount of energy from being an underdog. I have no idea how to be a hammer. I could never adapt to being one. I would fail.
Somehow, though, Mike and Jerry have adapted, and far more gracefully than most. One of the reasons I respect PA is that nothing ever seems to go to their heads. They are who they are, which is who they've always been. I don't always agree with them, but I respect that there are no hidden agendas.
I do occasionally wonder, though, if they enjoyed it more ten years ago than they do today.