[If you don’t know what this question is about, please disregard it, as I don’t think it’s necessary for people to ‘get involved’ or ‘pick a side’ here]
I haven’t spoken to John in a few years, so no, I wasn’t ‘in on the joke’ (I don’t think anyone was). I’m not a close friend of his or anything — I’ve never met him — but I have always liked and supported his work.
I’ve never had depression or been on medication for any mental health issue, but I am a sensitive person with lots of emotions and I’ve always been all about EMPATHY. I think that’s the message of Scott Pilgrim, that we ought to try to understand each other better.
In short, I feel bad for John because he clearly wrote something from a troubled place, and maybe it was ill-advised, but it seems he was compelled to do it anyway.
I think the whole thing was some kind of weird performance art and I can respect that. The first post was self-directed satire by a depressed person who is annoyed that people give him shit every day. The second post was a weird/bad reaction to all the unexpected new shit he got for the first post. The third post is a straightforward confession of his real state of mind. That’s how I read them.
The unfortunate part is that he did this (from his fans’ point of view) while sitting on a pile of their money. I doubt he’s ever made that much money from his art before, and I assume the level of creator/fan responsibility that comes with big money is brand-new to him. So while I feel that I understand everything he did, I still don’t think he should have done it at that time or in that venue. I think it has probably done immeasurable harm to his career.
I don’t think it was ‘supposed’ to be funny, for what it’s worth. It was supposed to be thought-provoking. People are getting really hung up on the idea of ‘funny’ or the idea that this is a ‘failed joke’. What really happened is a bunch of people got super-offended that a depressed person made light of his own condition, imo. He did it in a way that is facetious or sarcastic or satirical (or whatever you want to call it), but the fact that it confused people doesn’t mean he meant it sincerely.
My response to those who are deeply offended: examine the reasons you are offended. Examine the actions you have taken in response. If you are offended by one or two isolated sentences from this, you may be reading the whole thing wrong. When we talk about ‘context’ we just mean ‘read all the sentences and think about them as a whole’.
If you’re still offended because you think an artist was faking depression and stole peoples’ money, well, you haven’t really put a lot of thought into this, because he wasn’t, and he didn’t. The people calling for a boycott of John or trying to make Topatoco take down his merchandise are deeply troubling to me.
Even if the guy said something regrettable, the extremity of the reaction is more like an angry mob than a righteous crusade. He’s gonna be suffering for this for a long time regardless. I feel bad for him, and I feel bad for his fans, a lot of whom he’s permanently alienated.
[reposted as text because someone asked]