Update August 7, 2020: In a message to GamesBeat, Earthworm Jim original co-creator Doug TenNapel stated that he had only participated in one brainstorming session on Earthworm Jim 4, and is "open for unpaid consulting" as a friend to ensure the character and story remained consistent.
He also stated that the remarks presented in our original story below were taken out of context.
GamesIndustry.biz reached out again to Intellivision following this and CEO Tommy Tallarico confirmed TenNapel's involvement to be as he stated, additionally noting that the developers would "be asking his opinion from time to time."
TenNapel had been listed as one of the ten original team members that had "reunited" to create the new game when it was first announced in May of 2019, including creating a new watercolor poster for the team to sign and giveaway during its debut livestream, which he appeared in.
He did not appear in the most recent livestream announcement, which did include several members of the original and presumably current team and featured a brief tease of Earthworm Jim 4.
Original story: The studio creating the next Earthworm Jim title remains silent after one of the game's co-creators made a series of racist and homophobic remarks on multiple recent episodes of a podcast he co-hosts with a comic book creator.
Over the course of episodes 54, 55, and 56 of the podcast Audio Mullet, Doug TenNapel engaged in multiple discussions of Black Lives Matter and recent protests by the movement that included a number of racist comments toward and suggestions about the group [CW: Racism].
These included likening Black Lives Matter and its protestors to Hitler, which he did briefly in episode #56 at 5:53 and previously in #55 at 11:05, where at the suggestion of his co-host that there were some well-meaning individuals involved in the Black Lives Matter protests, TenNapel replied, "Hitler was well-meaning, so I don't want to hear about your intentions. He was just 'exterminating rats.'"
To this, his co-host responded that he was referring to "liberal Christians" who were "just trying to make everyone feel better."
"Yeah that liberal Christian guy was putting Jews on trains in France," TenNapel replied. "That's what I'm saying. He was doing it with the best of intentions."
In episode #54 at 6:05, TenNapel said, "The Black culture and Black communities are not doing well. They, too, are still the fallout victim of their own ignorance -- and maybe their own willful ignorance, or fatherlessness, or whatever -- so it's not all whitey's problem."
And in episode #55, beginning around 68:55, TenNapel said this of those affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd:
"All these people rioting and the people against it and the people pro-Black Lives Matter and the people voting for Trump -- no one changed their values in the last year. They've been set. So why are we rioting now? They were given cultural cover to unleash their revenge fantasy. The riots were in their hearts already, and they were given the cultural excuse. They were practically praying that a Black man would have a cop kneel on him so he'd die. Antifa did, Antifa loves exploiting. They were thrilled that happened. 'Thank goodness, now I can take my hammer and bash out car windows along this block.'"
Additionally in episode #55, in response to a reader letter criticizing TenNapel's previous use on the podcast of a homophobic slur (#55, 29:50), TenNapel defended his use of both the mentioned slur as well as an additional racist slur and a derogatory word for women, attesting that their use was no different than using the words "god damn" or thinking insulting thoughts about other people.
TenNapel also called COVID-19 "fake" and "a fraud" on multiple episodes (#55, 3:00 and #56,16:00).
TenNapel was announced in March of 2019 as one of several original Earthworm Jim creators returning to work on a new exclusive entry in the series for the upcoming Intellivision Amico console, alongside fellow creators Tommy Tallarico (also Intellivision Entertainment CEO), David Perry, Nick Bruty, Mike Dietz, Tom Tanaka, and Joey Kuras.
This announcement came following TenNapel's history of controversial remarks, including his deliberate misgendering of a transgender journalist who criticized his work, contributions to far-right news outlet Breitbart, and multiple statements attacking gay rights.
GamesIndustry.biz reached out to both TenNapel and Interplay for comment. Neither responded.
Additionally, we reached out to Tallarico in a private DM for comment on behalf of Intellivision. Tallarico responded by pointing out that the role Earthworm Jim played as a part of the Intellivision Amico's line-up was a small one, noting that the company has been quiet on the game since its initial announcement in 2019, but has shown gameplay for 30 other games for the system since. He added that Intellivision is neither the developer nor the publisher of the game.
"Whether its religion, politics, beliefs, cultures, etc...when we as human beings sit down and spend real time with each other to discuss things...it's always fascinating to me to find out how much everyone actually has more common ground than not," Tallarico wrote. [All ellipses in original.]