Bounding Into Comics Joins the Satanic Panic

There’s a site on the net called Bounding Into Comics, and I should be able to give you a general idea of its editorial slant by quoting a few choice headlines:

Star Wars Hits Grand Slam Of Woke Identity Politics, Casts Black, Lesbian, And Non-Binary Intersectional Feminist Amandla Stenberg As The Acolyte Series Lead”.

“Series Reimagining Robin Hood As A Black Female ‘Gen Zer’ Reminds Us It’s Time For Anti-Woke Re-Imagining”.

“Woke Marvel Digs Even Deeper With Supertrans, A ‘Support Group for Trans Kids with Powers'”

So, yes, this is a site that has very much thrown its lot in with those various redoubtable movements with “gate” and “puppies” as suffixes. Most of the content at Bounding is the sort of material that you would expect, but during a recent (and probably ill-advised) trip to the site, I stumbled into something that raised my eyebrows.

Back in July, Bounding’s founder and editor-in-chief John F. Trent wrote an article reporting on actress Florence Pugh being photographed wearing a somewhat revealing dress. Most of the post is fairly unremarkable, consisting of sub–Daily Mail finger-wagging, and I suspect that Trent published it in an effort to score a point or two against the supposedly “woke” Disney/Marvel (Pugh having appeared in the Black Widow film).

But towards its end, the article abruptly shifts direction and ends up as something that even the Mail would think twice about running. Trent alleges that Pugh “clearly doesn’t respect herself and doesn’t respect others as she eschews the virtue of modesty” before going on to cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And then things get really weird.

Trent takes the opportunity to bring up Father Chad Ripperger, an alleged exorcist whose bizarre anecdotes about demons I’ve covered here. The article doesn’t indicate that Ripperger himself has weighed in on Pugh’s attire – the only citation it provides is a video sermon from some time before the supposed scandal of the breezy magenta dress – but Trent clearly considers Ripperger a relevant authority.

So much so, in fact, that – without a hint of irony – Trent quotes Ripperger to bolster an argument that looking at photos of Florence Pugh in a revealing dress will summon demons:

Aside from the clear teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Father Chad Ripperger notes that actions like Pugh’s lack of modesty and her sharing of the photos could possibly be exposing people viewing them to demons.

He explains, “The demons actually can introduce into our imagination images. Now, they can’t create images of things that we’ve never seen before. They can take parts of those things in our memory and put them together in order to create different images, but they can’t say that St. Thomas says, they can’t say make a blind man see color or imagine color. They have to use something that is already there.”

“This is one of the reasons why I tell people never, under any circumstance whatsoever, whatever, to ever view any pornography aside from the fact that some of it’s being cursed now,” he warns. “The fact of the matter is that once you view it, that material even if you ask for the grace of forgetfulness, God permitting, the demons can use it.”

Remember the Satanic Panic in the 1980s? The time when Jack Chick published a comic tract portraying Dungeons & Dragons as a gateway drug to Satanism, and Phil Phillips wrote a whole book condemning everything from Star Wars to The Smurfs as demonic propaganda? Well, here’s Bounding Into Comics repackaging the same rhetoric for the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is deeply ironic given that an early motivation behind Gamergate was the perception that feminist critics like Anita Sarkeesian were behaving in a similar manner to the likes of Chick and Phillips. But Sarkeesian never claimed that looking at photos of actresses in revealing clothes could lead to demonic attacks.

Screenshot from BoundingIntoComics.com Headline: "Sony Censors Cover ARt for PlayStation 4 Release Of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon maid: Burst Forth!! Choro-gon*Breath"I notice that Bounding has a section devoted to articles on censorship, which includes reports like “Study Finds ‘Video Games With Sexualized Content’ Do Not Cause Misogynistic Attitudes Or Body Image Issues” and “Interview: Developer Of Japanese Video Games Discusses The Rise of Loli Censorship In Anime And Video Games”. However, Trent is not a regular contributor to the section. One wonders if the columnists who chart current events in anime boobage have ever had a behind-the-scenes clash with the editor who presumably believes that they’re opening themselves up to demonic influence.

With Bounding Into Comics, we see a move from supposed libertarianism to outright authoritarianism; this coincides with another shift: one from fighting against something to fighting for something.

Gamergate was framed primarily as a fight against something – namely, a perceived insurgence by “SJWs” into games and games journalism. Although there were certain developers who supported the movement, and Gamergate did to some extent fight for them, this was not the main agenda. However, with the interlocked Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy/Superversive/Pulp Revolution movements, we see something rather different. What started out as a fight against the established voter base of the Hugo Awards – one that was willing to campaign in support of more liberal authors like Annie Bellet – eventually became a self-promotion movement within a circle of independent authors. Similarly, Comicsgate languished as a marginal cousin to Gamergate, devoted to griping about the current state of Marvel and DC, until established comic creators like Ethan Van Sciver jumped aboard and gave the movement something to fight for.

If I may make a further digression, I’d like to point out that Bounding Into Comics is very much a part of the aforementioned self-promotion circle. While a lot of the site is taken up by clickbaity reports on major mainstream media properties, it also has a thick sideline in articles promoting the work and platforming the views of various right-wing creators, particularly those associated with Comicsgate and the Puppy campaigns.

A quick browse of Bounding will reveal article upon article of this type: “Ethan Van Sciver And Jon Del Arroz Rip to Shreds Tom King Batman Comic That Implies He Is a Scared Child”. “Vox Day Announces Chuck Dixon’s Alt-Hero: Q #2 Now On Sale”. “Combat Frame XSeed Author Brian Niemeier: ‘Hollywood Has Psyoped 3 Generations Into Rejecting Their Destiny’”. And so on.

As a typical example, one of Trent’s articles from February 2021 lists “five properties that can replace Star Wars. These turn out to include a couple of major anime series alongside small-press publications by Jon Del Arroz, Brian Niemeier and Richard Fox. In what I seriously doubt is a coincidence, all three of these authors have worked with alt-right figurehead Vox Day.

Bounding Into Comics has every right to cover these creators if it so chooses, of course; but once again, this is all very ironic to see coming from a site with at least some of its roots in Gamergate. After all, one of the recurring accusations that Gamergate made against its journalistic targets was that they had promoted the work of friends – see, for example, the “cronyism” section at the Gamergate site Deepfreeze.it, which is filled with such allegations as “Positive coverage of Porpentine, without disclosing they worked together at Rock, Paper, Shotgun” and “Gave positive coverage to Honeyslug without disclosing his friendship with Honeyslug member Ricky Hagget.”

Were Deepfreeze’s criteria to be applied to Bounding, then Trent would be guilty of cronyism. His article on Star Wars replacements makes no mention of the fact that one of the listed authors, Jon Del Arroz, had written multiple articles for the site going back to 2018. Furthermore, the first of Del Arroz’s articles for the site was a review of a comic from Vox Day’s publisher Arkhaven… a company which, incidentally, had already taken Del Arroz as an author by that point. His project? An adaptation of a story by Richard Fox – one of the other authors spotlighted by Bounding. Round and round the circle goes!

In talking about this, I may have wandered off the topic of Satanic Panic revivalism. But the two phenomena – the rants about demons and the mutual backpatting – are linked, both being the result of the gate/puppy movements shifting from campaigns against to campaigns for. And what Bounding Into Comics campaigns for is, amongst other things, a new Satanic Panic. Note that Brian Niemeier, another author to have benefitted from Bounding’s promotion, is a disciple of Chad Ripperger and likewise believes that looking at porn is connected to demonic activity.

Here we have the legacy of Gamergate, with what were once touted as core principles being cheerfully abandoned to fit the new agenda — a new agenda which, it has to be said, is not too far removed from that of Phil Phillips when he wrote Turmoil in the Toybox. I don’t think anyone’s shocked to see standards for journalistic integrity being loosened now that the gaters have journalists of their own, but I imagine many will be surprised to see Gamergate’s heirs stirring Satanic Panic fearmongering straight out of a Chick tract.

(And yes, I’m aware that Jack Chick hated the Catholic Church. This merely adds to the irony of the situation.)

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