Skaianet Systems Incorporated – Humor Changes [2019]

In Janaury 2019, Skaianet Systems Incorporated launched. Homestuck’s tenth anniversary was coming up, and so was its infamous epilogue, which meant some viral marketing was in order. Enter the Skaianet website.

Things went awry, as they always do when it comes to What Pumpkin.

The website is still accessible, as of this writing, but now it It’s a cheeky callback to the original comic and its early days, before the dream bubbles and God Tiers and teen relationship dramas. It’s nice but small.

Secretly, though, the site was filled with easter eggs, including some extensive, insane backstory kept secret from the world all the way until 2019. Most of that has been removed, now, as we’ll discuss in a second. Luckily, it’s been preserved, and you can read it all here. The most insane stuff ever.

And, also, the stuff of major controversy.

(Spoilers, if you somehow care about the plot of some deleted .txt documents that don’t actually affect Homestuck at all.)

Way back in Act 6 Act 3, there was some extremely silly backstory about the rebooted Earth, involving the Insane Clown Posse becoming Co-Presidents and then Betty Crocker taking over the Earth and decimating the entire human population. We all remember this, I’m sure. Or I do, at least. It basically never came up again after the initial mention, and it was just some throwaway silliness.

Well, it turns out that Andrew Hussie created even further backstory that never made it into the main comic, tying together years and years worth of background lore and real history into a mega shitpost where ancient comedians, one-off characters, Barack Obama, and Adolf Hitler are tied together across two timelines to explain the entire family tree of the Homestuck universe and how Betty Crocker managed to take over the world.

It’s that last part that killed it, though…

It turns out that, in the backstory, due to an extremely convoluted set of alternate history events, Adolf Hitler’s entire real-life events were inspired by his hatred of being tormented and teased by Albert Einstein, who is at an orphanage run by Harry Houdini.

So, the extremely dark implications are evident from this one-off joke, indeed.

I must admit, I found it hilarious. All these real-life figures tied together into one really stupid family soap opera, giving extremely personal reasons for real-life travesties, is a good way to belittle and make fun of these people, especially Hitler whose ideology should be belittled at all possible avenues.

My opinion was not common. There was a massive uproar (on Twitter) and the content was quickly removed, with Hussie releasing a big apology that was far more sweeping in tone than I ever expected. A lot of Hussie’s work has not aged well with offensive content, slurs, and general tone-deafness, but this was not an area where I thought that drama was going to ensue. Even Homestuck’s other writers on its games came to call it out.

It went poorly, and it’s a sign of just how much humor has changed over the 2010s. What was once dark satirical comedy became offensive, and something that could have easily passed in Homestuck in 2012 or 2013 became grounds for big drama.

I hesitate to call it “cancel culture out of control” or whatever, but I do think we are in the midst of a big sorting out when it comes to comedy. What’s actually okay, and what’s actually not? It’s not entirely clear, and this is going to continue throughout the 2020s.

All that matters is that this is the canon Homestuck Family Tree now:

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One thought on “Skaianet Systems Incorporated – Humor Changes [2019]

  1. I was just thinking about some joke in an episode of The Boondocks a few days ago, along similar lines. I mean, I bet that if I actually rewatched or reflected more, I’d find WAY more jokes that’d make me stop and go “ugh,” but of course back then, it was considered an all-out every-episode classic. But, damn. “Don’t drop the soap” gags. I’m sure it was considered alright when it aired because of the old Refuge in Audacity principle you see in lots of adult cartoons. They better not re-air it now. Ugh…

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