Earthworm Jim maintains a healthy, nostalgic niche in the minds of video-game fans of a certain age, perpetually charmed by the heroic annelid, his lushly animated and bizarre world, and a whole horde of flying cows. But the increased access to creators (and, more dangerously, their innermost thoughts) brought on by Twitter has been rough on the oddball franchise, mostly thanks to the work of the character’s creator, artist and designer Doug TenNapel. In what’s just the latest in a long line of anti-LGBTQ statements and stances, TenNapel recently responded to a critical article about the games by mis-gendering its author—Heather Alexandra, a.k.a. @transgamerthink—on Twitter, and then doubled down, implying that Alexandra suffers from “madness” and that her article was a “passive aggressive hit-piece.”
TenNapel’s views are a matter of public record, especially since 2013, when he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce a sequel to his beloved adventure game The Neverhood. People searching through his past Twitter activity—not to mention his contributions to Breitbart—were quick to find statements attacking gay marriage and gay rights, almost always from the position of “white Christian males are the real victims here.” The disconnect between TenNapel’s opinions and the charms of his work kicked off another of the internet’s periodic bouts of “art vs. artist,” which faded as TenNapel himself receded from the spotlight, retreating to the quiet safety of his role executive producing Netflix’s VeggieTales TV show.
Still, when Alexandra posted her thoughts on Earthworm Jim’s game design on Kotaku, TenNapel wasted little time in attacking her in the most predictable, passive-aggressive way possible, while simultaneously calling for an “open discussion” and end to passive-aggression. He’s since spent the day quoting and retweeting people agreeing with him and telling him how great he is, all in that “I’m happy to have a calm discussion about how wrong and triggered you are” attitude favored by those who actively attack people under the guise of “just telling the truth.”
[Note: Kotaku, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]