12-28: updated the fifth paragraph and added a sixth paragraph after new information was revealed.
On Christmas day of 2022, a whole bunch of extremely talented artists collaborated together to celebrate RWBY, the FNDM and, of course, the third-sexiest winter holiday. By each drawing one (or more) RWBY characters in their own style, the artists created a gorgeous collage named #RWBYHolidayBash that could put all other fandoms to shame. By doing so they also completely divided the RWBY community and pissed off a bunch of people on the internet.
By all accounts, the majority loved the hundreds of cumulative hours that were put into this incredible collaboration piece, but then there were definitely quite a few disgruntled commenters, that hated the piece for various reasons. Practically all of them had to with how the characters were drawn. As in, they were showing too much skin, were posed in a way that was too suggestive or were drawn with exaggerated and oversexualized proportions. Other concerns about sexualization of fictional minors were raised, however, those only seem to apply to Ruby and even that is questionable (Rooster Teeth avoids giving any definitive answer on Ruby’s age, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Anyone familiar with the RWBY art scene, could take a look at the long credits list, or at the visual artist guide and immediately notice that quite a few artists have drawn, or are known for drawing, not safe for work (NSFW) images. Their style, refined over the years to best suit their careers, is clearly visible here. And a collaboration of this scale naturally included some of the most well-known artists in the community, most of which are known for doing NSFW art. A quick check shows that out of 11 artists featured with at least 10,000 Twitter followers*, only 3 don’t do NSFW art. It’s quite clear that the RWBY fan-art community really enjoys their risqué drawings, but obviously it isn’t to everyone’s tastes.
While I won’t feature the backlash that the drawing received (you can see plenty of that in the quote-retweets yourself), the response to the backlash is worth mentioning. While some just straight up engaged in internet flame wars that’d be worthy of the console debates of the early 2010s, the artists met their critics with general bewilderment and amusement. The artist who drew Yang and Jinn in the colab, lulu_chan92, even posted a hilarious drawing mocking the absurdity of the entire situation. Later on, further accusations of villainy and evil-doing were thrown around, like lying to the other participating artists about not including NSFW creators – a rumor that was quickly disproven by one of the organizers, Keith.
But the drama did not end there, of course. The moderators of /r/RWBY, the second-biggest RWBY community in Reddit, removed the image, since it was breaking their NSFW subreddit rules. According to subreddit moderator Kazehh, the designs for Jinn, Yang, Sienna, the Malachite twins and Willow specifically broke the rules. Additionally, the artists organizing the event did not contact the subreddit moderators beforehand. So, naturally, the same piece was uploaded to the biggest RWBY community on Reddit, /r/RWBYNSFW. The comment section is filled with people mocking the other subreddit moderators for their seemingly prudish behavior.
After the article’s publishing even more allegations came out. This time Keith is accused of transphobia for not including the canonically trans May Marigold, even though the artists themselves chose the characters. The other massive accusation thrown towards Keith was… uh… him shipping/drawing Weiss with his OC? Since when is that a crime?! Hopefully these critics won’t find my AO3 account!
Right now, the RWBY community is more divided than ever – especially on the art front. This art controversy almost immediately follows another, which we poked fun of in our previous article. While the artists don’t seem too shaken by the reception, with Keith already planning and inviting artists for a new collaboration, the extensive hiatus has definitely put the FNDM in a much more aggressive mindset. I really can’t take any more heated discussions of Yang’s breast size relative to her breaking spine. I just need Volume 9 to come out and have people call each other names for liking or disliking that instead.
*I know Twitter followers aren’t a great way to measure popularity of content creators, and that I chose quite an arbitrary number, but it was an easy base-line to set.