Aunt Kate (played hilariously by Dom DeLuise in drag), meanwhile, has recently changed her will so that Larry inherits everything. Unless Larry predeceases her, at which point the inheritance goes to all the other Abbotts equally. And someone is stalking Kate’s home in a cheesey werewolf mask, and has already killed one person…
I can’t explain why the show works so well for me. Is it the banter and onscreen chemistry between Gilda and Gene (this was the last movie they made together; mysterious pain she kept feeling during filming was later diagnosed as the ovarian cancer that eventually killed her)? Is it Dom’s hysterical performance as Aunt Kate? Especially the song and dance number Kate and Vicky perform in the music room after dinner? Is it Jonathan Pryce’s delicious performance as the slightly sleazy cousin Charlie? Or Eve Ferret’s vampy turn as Charlie’s girlfriend (and Larry’s ex-) Sylvia?
I don’t know. But I love the movie. My husband always makes certain that we have a copy on more than one of our computers when we go on long trips, in case I wind up in a dismal or vicious mood because things go awry.
Last night I watched it, and I enjoyed it as always. But for the first time I was crying at the end. Because yesterday the world learned that Gene Wilder had died the night before.
I love other movies Gene made. I was ten years old when Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came out. The town we lived in at that time didn’t have a movie theatre. But a mere thirty miles away, just over the border in neighboring Colorado, my grandparents lived in a town that did have a theatre. And I and my sister and Mom all went to see the movie along with my paternal grandmother one summer evening. I loved it, of course. I had read book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a couple of years previously. I remember early on in the movie thinking that they weren’t following the book very faithfully. But once Wilder came out and started playing the mad, bewildering Willy Wonka, I decided that the movie got it right.
I don’t watch this movie as often. Although many people love Wilders’ Willy Wonka even more than I do, my husband had a very different reaction to the film as a child. It gave him nightmares—severe enough that he just can’t watch the show even now as an adult.
And of course I re-watch Young Frankenstein at least once a year. Quoting along and laughing throughout. It’s a brilliant comedy and parody.
The only other of his films I currently own is Blazing Saddles which I hadn’t watched in a long while, so I watched it as well, last night. Gene was good in that, though with not nearly as much screen time as I’d have liked.I love Gene isn so many of his roles: Willy, Dr. FRON-ken-STEEN, Larry, the Waco Kid… We have his movies to enjoy again and again. And we need to remember the sentiment his family expressed in their official announcement, along with the explanation for why Gene didn’t publicly reveal his health problem: he couldn’t stand the thought of even one less smile in the world. He put many smiles into the world. And yes, many of us shed some tears yesterday, but I know re-watching his movies will bring smiles and laughs instead of tears again. Just not today.
Mostly I’ve ignored them. If someone I follow on social media makes a comment ridiculing one of those clickbait headlines I might re-blog it or click “Like.” I don’t have to read the articles or the commentary to know that rather than looking at the actual socio-economic forces at work, the article is just going to make a lame connection between some out of context statistics in a way that will make clueless people of a certain age nod and congratulate themselves on being a better, more mature person those “those darn kids!”
The one that broke me was soap. I kept seeing slightly outraged comments on Twitter about bar soap vs other kinds of soap that I didn’t quite understand. Clearly all these folks were commenting on some article or something that I hadn’t seen. Then I saw one comment tied the term millennials to soap, and I thought, “Oh, no! Now what?” So I had to go find the articles in question.
“Millennials Aren’t Buying Bar Soap and It’s Killing the Industry!” —it really isn’t any more ridiculous than the others, I suppose, but I found myself feeling a little outraged, too. The actual statistics buried in the article are this: sales of bar soap have been going down an average of 2.2 percent per year for the last five years or so, and the vast majority of bar soap that is still being sold is being purchased by people over the age of 60. But the other statistic buried right along in there: sales of soap overall have been increasing over the same period of time at a rate of 3% a year. And the same companies manufacture and sell body wash and liquid hand soap, so there actually isn’t any problem for the industry at all. But they tried to hide even that part by changing the time scale of how they described it.
Before I’d reached the point where the article undermines its own headline, I was already getting irritated because I’m under 60 and we buy bar soap regularly. And let’s be honest, it’s my husband, who is ten years younger than me who buys most of them because he prefers bars. I’m the older one who loves body wash and keeps multiple dispensers of liquid soap next to every faucet in the house. (Not because I believe the myth that soap bars harbor dangerous bacteria; it’s because I’m clumsy and drop bars all the time, and because I like having a choice of scents when I wash my hands or hair or whatever. The shower has four or five different scents of shampoo and matching conditioners and complimentary body washes because I’m a weirdo.)
So it’s ridiculous clickbait you can dismantle in a few minutes. I decided I’d already wasted enough time thinking about it and I should definitely not write a blog post about it. Then, this weekend, I couldn’t look at any social media stream (unless I used the filters that only showed me the tiny subset of those streams being written by people I know personally) without seeing all the backlash. There was a lot of backlash–joke after joke about how clueless Boomers are. Many were at least chuckle-worthy. But I kept seeing, again and again, jokes that mentioned specific ages. It was clear that a lot of the people posting them thought that the term Baby Boomer referred to anyone older than, say, mid-thirties.
That’s how I found myself typing out an explanation about the definition of the Baby Boom, the sociological arguments for why one of the definitions made more sense than others, the economic arguments why yet another definition was better, and so on. The fact is that the whole “generation” thing is a silly mess no matter how you look at it. And I was ranting about why these jokes were as intellectually-shallow to the situation as the original headlines and… and… and…
Of course the jokes are parodies. A parody is supposed to be even more ludicrous than the thing being parodied. Meanwhile, if I posted my mansplaining, I would be even more ridiculous, still!
But, there are a couple of things I do have to get off my chest. One of the academic definitions of the term, “Baby Boomer” puts both myself and my mother in the same generation. And it puts my father in the generation before the Baby Boom, yet he was only 10 months older than my mom. I know we’re a weird case. I was born six days before my father’s 18th birthday. My parents were both 17 years old when I was born. On the other hand, my dad was 34 when my youngest half-sister was born. Going strictly by the arbitrary dates some people use, then, dad was a Silent Generation man who married a two different Baby Boomers, sired another Baby Boomer, and sired a bunch of Gen X-ers.
If you, instead, use the dates on the info graphic I swiped from Price Consulting, well, we spread out a little more, with me landing smack in the middle of Generation Jones, my oldest sister almost getting in the same generation as me, and then the younger siblings all solidly in Generation X.
Any cut-off dates have to be arbitrary.
My childhood didn’t include any of the 1950s. That makes my culturally programmed expectations different than those of my parents’ generation, for instance. My childhood includes the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. That gives me a slightly different impression of the world than my husband who was born after all three. I voted against Reagan—twice! And was close to tears the night he was re-elected. That gives me a different impression of the 80s than friends who were born while Bill Clinton was in the White House.
But, due to a variety of complications (including the fact that my father refused to sign financial aid applications) I didn’t go to university until I was in my mid-twenties. So friends I graduated from High School with came out of college practically debt-free, whereas I had student loans that added up to more than the assessed value (at the time) of my dad’s house or my grandparents’ house. Which means economically I have a bit more in common with the cliché Millennial than my own generation (whichever one you stick me in).
All of which is a really round-about way to get to this: the economy is f—ed up for almost everyone.
Maybe the stereotypical Boomer owns their own home, but not all of them by any means. And even the ones that do are finding themselves being buried under medical bills and the like, can’t afford to retire, and often are trying to help their own kids and grandkids keep their heads above water. Folks a bit younger than that are sandwiched between aging parents or other relatives whose failing health (and sometimes mental faculties) are throwing unexpected responsibilities on them while they’re still trying to get their own kids out of the nest. Folks a little younger still are stuck in jobs they hate, paying rent that keeps going up faster than their wages, trying to explain to their grandparents why they don’t feel the need to own (and try to pay upkeep, insurance, et al for) a car, trying not to be a burden on their parents who they see are spending a lot of time worrying about the grandparents, and don’t see how they’re ever going to get their heads above water to begin with.
And the clickbaiters have succeeded in getting us all making fun of each other. Meanwhile parasites like Donald Trump and Peter Thiel and Martin Shkreli are happily siphoning billions out of the pockets of middle and working class people of all ages, and into their off-shore tax-sheltered accounts.
Maybe we should find a way to unite against the actual enemy?
For several years Dan Savage ran a recurring column at the Stranger called Youth Pastor Watch, where he would publish stories of youth pastors convicted of sexual molesting (usually) underage church members of either gender. And I’ve linked to and commented on the phenomenon of both anti-gay religious leaders and anti-gay political figures who have later been caught up in sex scandals, again, usually involving underage victims. Savage has also frequently said, “If children were sexually molested at Dennys’ restaurants as often as they are assaulted at churches, it would be illegal in all 50 states to take your children to Dennys’.” It isn’t that all religious people are child molesters, but most child molesters find communities willing to turn a blind eye toward their suspicious behavior among organized religion.
A perfect example is the story of former New Jersey Assemblies of God paster Gregorio Martinez: American Preacher Molested a Teen Boy, Then Fled 2,000 Miles. Martinez was convicted of sexually molesting a 13-year-old member of his congregation, and between the reading of the jury’s verdict and the sentencing hearing, he fled the country. For many months no one knew where he was.
A couple of reporters working for the news site NJ.com got a tip, and when they presented it to their editor, he authorized a trip to Honduras to try to catch the guy. Note! It wasn’t U.S. law enforcement who went looking for him, it was a pair or reporters! By the time the reporters located the church where Martinez had been working, he had fled again. But here’s the truly astounding part: the reporters learned that 1) Martinez was given a job at another church based solely on the recommendation of one other pastor—no other vetting was attempted, but even worse, 2) with several church members googled the pastor and learned he had been convicted of molesting children in the U.S., the response of church leaders was to claim it wasn’t their responsibility to report a criminal wanted by a foreign country!
Unfortunately, after he fled, it was discovered that Martinez had molested a 15-year-old boy there in Honduras. Martinez was eventually captured, but only because the reporters from New Jersey filed a lot of stories that got a lot of attention online about their attempts to find him, which shamed the law enforcement people into taking action.
I’ve also posted before links to stories about how many times various churches have lobbied for laws that shield child molesters from prosecution:
- New York Catholic Church Spent $2M Lobbying Against Child Sex Abuse Accountability Laws,
- The Catholic Church is fighting to block bills that would extend the statute of limitations for reporting sex abuse,
- US Catholic church has spent millions fighting clergy sex abuse accountability,
- Catholic Church lobbies to avert California sex abuse lawsuits.
As I said of anti-gay politicians and vocally anti-gay religious leaders many times: “I really don’t understand why anyone, particularly in the media, doesn’t immediately assume that a legislator or prosecutor or governor or preacher who pushes for anti-gay bills has a scandalous sexual secret. I mean, when someone can create an entire web site devoted to chronicling the prominent anti-gay folks who are later caught in a gay sex scandal: GayHomophobe.com, it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the issue!”
It has happened so many times, that I’m getting a little impatient at both law enforcement and the media. Seriously, if the media just moved a few resources into looking into the backgrounds of the most vehemently anti-gay religious leaders, all the evidence indicates that they would find dozens of scandals. Scandals generate ratings, right? I’m at the point of saying that not looking into these guys should be considered a breach of journalistic ethics. I’m sorry, the evidence is fairly clear: the more they preach against queers in the name of Jesus, the more likely they are to be sexual predators.
Emphasis on predator. Real people, often children, are victims as institutions such as these churches and the Republican party enable these molesters. And as I said when I posted one of these weekend updates on a related topic, the sexual dysfunction and community denial and cover-ups are not a bug, they are a feature of the rightwing ideology.
And speaking of nice, loving Christian politicians: ‘I lost. The ni**er won’: Alabama GOP mayor gets racist on Facebook after losing to black candidate. Okay, so not every single Republican is racist, but most racists seem to be Republican.
Speaking of people claiming to be religious, I love this article from the Washington Post: Where in the Bible does it say you can’t be transgender? Nowhere. I’ve done the article one better in past posts and pointed out that the Bible seems to be pro-genderfluidity (or maybe agender?):
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
But then, I actually read the Bible all the way through more than once—unlike most of the people on the anti-gay right.
I didn’t know that at the time. I just knew that whenever damaged books showed up at the used book store, they were sold for a lot cheaper than the others.
If my first copy of The Stainless Steel Rat was a stripped copy, it is highly appropriate, because the star of the book (and its many sequel), was Slippery Jim DiGriz, the slickest conman and thief of the 346th Century.
DiGriz lived in an interstellar society with very high technology that made it nearly impossible for petty criminals to escape prison and “psycho surgery” for long. It took a special kind of criminal to thrive in that society. As the blurb on most of the paperback versions said:
“We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment.”
The book’s written from first person narrative, beginning while Jim is in the middle of yet another insanely daring robbery. Things start going wrong, of course, and it isn’t too many pages in before Jim realizes that the dreaded Special Corps is onto him. The Special Corps is a shadowy agency that was responsible for catching one of the greats, a thief DiGriz admired from affair, Inskipp the Uncatchable… so, of course, when Special Corps hauls DiGriz in to be interrogated by the head of operations, it turns out it’s Inskipp himself. And he has a deal for DiGriz, the same deal Inskipp was offered years ago when he was captured: join the Corps and help catch dangerous criminals, or have his brain altered…
DiGriz was chosen, just as Inskipp was, because DiGriz always planned his heists to very carefully avoid causing and physical harm to any people involved. A few of his previous operations he had even abandoned the heist when it became clear that complications had put people in danger. DiGiz’s first assignment (and the rest of the book) is to try to catch a serial killer.
But this isn’t like a gritty modern bloody serial killer story. The book is written as a light caper, with comedic bits. So the book was a romping adventure story, and far more concerned with the puzzle aspects. The character arcs and interaction are the focus, along with some humor.
It wasn’t just humor. The story explored issues of identity, free will, and what does it mean to be a member of a social species. Jim had always been careful not just to avoid hurting people, but he also always picked targets that were fully insured. He rationalized his existence as providing entertainment or spectacle. He kept security people and police on their toes and in practice. At least that’s what he told himself. Buried in that, along with his eventual confrontation with the killer, were also serious questions about privacy vs security, and control vs freedom.
So it made me think about many things. At different times in the narrative, I found myself agreeing with Jim more than I thought I would. And as I read the book again and again (because it was yet another one that I re-read many times), I found my sympathies seesawing back and forth as I considered the questions. The Special Corps protecting people from sometimes quite serious threats, but they operated in almost complete secrecy, and apparently answered only to themselves.
On the other hand, they had a number of agents like Slippery Jim, who broke ranks from time to time, and demonstrated a willingness to take down the agency if it went too far. Was that enough of to balance things out? In a real world, probably not. And it’s the kind of question still very relevant today.
In my later teens I found the sequels, and after I enthused about them to friends, someone bought me a shiny new copy of the first book for my birthday. The first few sequels cover the next several years in the life of Special Corps (occasionally rogue) Agent DiGriz… and his wife, and their eventual children. Then in 80s Harrison wrote some prequels, showing us events in the life of young Slippery Jim, how he learned his craft and became a legendary thief.
Harrison returned to the older DiGriz for the rest of the series, writing 12 Stainless Steel Rat books total before his death (the last one published posthumously). The Stainless Steel Rat wasn’t the only multibook series the Harrison wrote, but Slippery Jim was the first of his books that I remember reading, and the likable, extremely smart, and capably rogue is a character type that I became very fond of.
The book gave me another way to wrestle with the idea of my own identity. Harrison argued colorfully but persuasively for the idea that the law and customs aren’t always right. Morality and ethics have to come from a sense of empathy and a willingness to do right by people. And those were notions that gave me some more hope, as a closeted queer kid growing up among fundamentalists.
I know in the 90s I used the word with friends and acquaintances of both genders. One butch lesbian friend was very fond of using “Dude!” to mean, “You can’t be serious!” for instance. So even though I knew that the word originally meant (back in the 1800s) a foppish young man who dressed in overly-fashion-conscious clothes and affected a sophisticated manner, and then later had morphed to describe a man from the city visiting the western countryside who was unfamiliar with physical labor and the necessities of life on the range, I thought of it as a gender-neutral term.
But it’s not… Read More…
I was reading this blog post: Constantine or when the imitators eclipse the original about why an adaptation of a classic might be well done, but still seem derivative (and not of its source material). It reminded me of once when I read someone’s post about being disappointed about a Theodore Sturgeon book from the fifties, because it seemed to be a rip-off of the X-men. So I explained that it was the other way around: the original X-men comic book was created more than a decade after the Sturgeon works in question, and the same reason many people called Sturgeon’s stories classics, meant that lots of stories written since then have incorporated (and in many cased improved upon) his original ideas.
Once I noticed the phenomenon, I started seeing it everywhere. A story that had first introduced a particular concept or literary technique is hailed as a classic or breakthrough, but a decade of more later when hundreds of stories, movies, television episodes, et al have been influenced by it, the original pales by comparison.
I think Buhlert, the author of the above linked blog post, is correct that this phenomenon is a big part of why the recent television adaptation of the comic book character John Constantine flopped. But I also think there is more to it than that. I complained at the time that the showrunners had explicitly stated that this John Constantine, unlike the character in the comic books, was definitely not bisexual. And I don’t think the decision was a bad one because I think adaptations ought to slavishly follow the original. Nor do I think the decision was bad merely because as a queer person myself I take queer erasure personally.
It was a bad decision artistically because it was a symptom of a bigger problem. The people adapting the character and the character’s story failed to understand the essence of the character. Constantine isn’t merely a mystical version of a noir detective. While the character appears to dwell in that aesthetic, there is a significant difference. The archetypical noir protagonist is alienated and filled with existential bitterness, striving against random uncaring fate. Noir protagonists (and noir story lines) lack hope. Noir protagonists are frequently doomed because they are manipulated by others, traditionally a femme fatale.
The art style of Hellblazer, the comic series that starred Constantine, was very like a film noir. And Constantine’s cynicism looks an awful lot like the typical noir protagonist to the casual observer. But Constantine wasn’t alienated. Alan Moore, who created Constantine, once said that he was aiming for a character who knew everything and knew everyone; a character who was charismatic and never at a loss for what to do. That made Constantine, in several important aspects, the opposite of a noir protagonist. Constantine doesn’t struggle against random, uncaring fate—he often struggles against supernatural forces that are emphatically intentional in their disruption of mortal life—not at all random.
Constantine cares about people; he’s not alienated, he’s connected. And while manipulation happens in Constantine stories, it is usually Constantine doing the manipulation, rather than being the victim of manipulation. His cynicism comes from observing, again and again, that people he cares about always die. The noir protagonist’s cynicism, on the other hand, is usually the result of being betrayed or failed again and again by people they trust.
For example, in one issue of the comic, the King of the Vampires kills a man that Constantine had hooked up with the night before. When the King asks Constantine if the dead man was a friend, Constantine’s reply is, “He’s dead now, so he must have been.”
Sidenote: It has been said that noir’s roots are irrevocably American. I agree with Buhlert’s assessment that Constantine is quintessentially British, and that he works best in a British setting. And even when his stories don’t have a British setting, he is better when being writing by a British author (in my humble opinion). The showrunners’ decision to move Constantine to the U.S. certainly didn’t improve the chances they would catch the essence of the character.
To get back to my main point: You can have a straight character who has all of those characteristics, but the same sort of shallow misunderstanding of the character which leads someone to say, “we can drop his queerness” also led them to miss all the other things that made Constantine different from the noir archetype. When you combine that with the phenomenon that much of urban fantasy has adopted the aesthetic of the original Hellblazer comics, it just increased the likelihood that what they produced would come out as a bland copy of something we’ve seen a thousand times before.
Not writing about it so much this year was intentional. One benefit of that was that I had fewer vitriolic comments come in on this blog that I had to delete rather than approve. I was a lot less anxious about what the results of the voting would be than I was last year. I’m not sure how much of that was because last year the Hugo voters overwhelmingly rejected the Puppy slate, rather than a result of actively avoiding writing and thinking about them as much.
I am quite certain that at least part of the reason I was less emotionally distraught going in was that I didn’t force myself to read all the way to the end of every entry in short story, novella, and novelette this year. I gave each entry three pages to hook me, and if they didn’t hook me by then, I stopped and put them beneath No Award on my ballot. Reading some of that awful stuff—stories that would have been rejected for poor composition, lack of plot, or gapping logic holes by most of the fanzines I’ve ever been associated with—and getting outraged at the knowledge that such poorly crafted material had displaced more deserving works was a big part of why I was so upset last year.
The works that won this year are great and quite deserving. A couple of them were even things that I nominated, so that was fun.
There was some drama at WorldCon, at least some of it related to the proponents of the Puppy cause. But I also hear that a lot more very cool stuff happened.
I don’t think I want to get into that. And a bunch of what I would like to say has already been said by other people: Abigail Nussbaum observes in Sunday, August 21, 2016 The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Winners,
“The one thing I keep learning, again and again, as I study this award is that, much as it frustrates me, much as it throws up shortlists that disappoint me, much as it often seems stuck in a middlebrow rut, the Hugo is always what it is. It doesn’t take thousands of new voters to keep the Hugo true to itself, because the people who vote for it every year will do that job themselves. With something like half the voters we had last year, we still managed to send the same message: that we have no patience for astroturf; that we have no time for writing that embarrasses the paper and ink used to print it; and that this is an award that can be gamed, but it can’t be stolen. This year’s Hugo voters had no trouble telling junk from serious nominees; they saw the difference between the nominees being used as shields by the puppies and the ones that truly represent their literary tastes and politics. And even more importantly, in the best novel and best novella categories in particular, Hugo voters recognized some of the finest and most exciting work published in this genre in years.”
One place where I disagree with Nussbaum is about the nature of the drop-off in voting numbers this year compared to last, after last year had such a dramatic surge of new voters. Last year’s number of voters was 5,950, which was a big leap from the 3,587 ballots cast in 2014. This year, the number dropped down to 3,130, which is in the ballpark of the 2014 number. However, as many people pointed out, 2014 had an usually high number of Hugo voters. In fact, from 1976 through 2010, the average number of ballots cast each year was about 1100.
So to argue that the voting numbers this year have dropped back to the level before is a bit shaky. Yes, last year after news broke of the Puppy assaults on the award, a couple thousand more fans than usual purchased WorldCon supporting memberships. Based on all the blogging and how they voted, those extra memberships were people coming to vote against slate voting, or at least the worst of the slates. But that the numbers didn’t leap that high this year doesn’t mean those extra fans all gave up. I know of six people who voted for the first time ever last year because of the Puppies, and who also voted this year. That isn’t a scientific sample by any means, but 3130 votes is a lot higher than the pre-Puppy typical number.
Also, last year wasn’t the first year that the Puppies ran their campaign, it was simply the first year that they managed to take over entire categories on the ballot with their bloc voting scheme.
She’s right that it is harder to get people to do something they’ve never done before consistently, but I don’t think that all of us who had never voted before last year are going away.
Then over at WeHuntedTheMammoth.com we have: Fake sci-fi boys cry salty tears over Puppies defeat at the Hugo Awards, which observes:
“[Theodore “Vox Day” Beale] is trying his best to spin the defeat as a victory (“we have the SF-SJWs exactly where we want them at this point in time”) but even the fake sci-fi boys on Reddit’s gamergate hangout KotakuInAction can see what happened. And they are indeed sad little puppies about it.”
The Reddit conversation in question links to this wonderful Guardian article: Hugo awards see off rightwing protests to celebrate diverse authors which observes:
“Another attempt by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups to hijack the science fiction award goes to the dogs, as authors and titles not in their campaign take top prizes.”
And past Hugo-nominee Saladin Ahmed had a couple of good observations on Twitter:
The Hugos went to some very deserving works. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (which won Best Novel) was one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years; it’s hard to describe, but it is a book about a world where apocalypse events happen with great regularity, but it is also funny and hopeful even while commenting on the nature of inequality. And “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (which won Best Short Story) was the a truly delightful take on Artificial Intelligence while being a comment on the human condition. I could keep going on, because oddly enough, my first choice in most of the categories of the ballot were also the winners. They were all really good. To read a good run-down of who won, you can check out this blog: The 2016 Hugo Awards or Fandom 2 : Puppies 0:
“To sum it up, in spite of canine interference, women won or co-won Hugos in nine of seventeen categories. All four fiction categories were won by women, three of them women of colour (plus a man of colour winning as translator). So inspite of the rabid puppies doing their worst, we still have one of the most diverse list of winners ever. And even though a couple of IMO puppy hostages finished under “No Award”, we also puppy hostages winning. Actual puppies, however, lost and lost badly.”
And I could repeat all the arguments I and others have made before of how the claims of the Sad and Rabid Puppies are highly illogical, but you’d have more fun reading the Guardian’s Book Blog where Damien Walter reads and reacts to some of the Puppies’ favorite authors, Hugo awards: reading the Sad Puppies’ pets:
“[T]he Sad Puppies don’t want any of their books to end up on bestseller lists or TV screens. It’s the same frustrating paradigm that British MP Michael Gove hit upon when he said that people were sick of experts, or what Donald Trump plays upon when he rails against “professional politicians”. We’re seeing the Dunning-Kruger effect played out on a mass scale, and the Sad Puppies are just a speck in that wider problem.”
Okay, the Puppies will be with us for years to come, just as we have never gotten rid of white supremacists nor men who want to take the right to vote away from women. But over time, the movements wither. As we’re seeing right now with the upsurgence of the Teabaggers and other Trump supporters, hate can rear its ugly head again. But in the long run, light dispels darkness and love beats hate. All this anger about people other than straight white dudes winning every single award is the dying gasp of a shrinking fraction of the population.
Vox Day and his ilk will keep trying to whip up trouble as long as he thinks it will help him sell books. But I think history is clear that he is going to be appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people. And as Mr. Spock once observed: “Without followers, evil cannot spread.”
Fortunately, there are people actively working to spread good. Alexandra Erin points out that the point of conventions or Hugos and any other awards is about connections and feelings of genuine admiration: WORLDCON: Comedy tomorrow, Hugos tonight. And once again George R.R. Martin hosted the Hugo Losers Party and handed out awards to people and publications that would have made the ballet without the slate voting: Alfie Awards.
This week we had a few sign-offs in the field of news reporting or commentary. I included at least one article about each one in yesterday’s Friday Links. I’d like to follow up on at least one of them today. We begin with a former writer for Gawker writing an op-ed of The Guardian: I was callow, it was unkind, and together we did some pretty ignoble things. So why am I sad to hear that after 14 long years, Gawkerdämmerung is nigh?
In case you don’t know: Gawker started out many years ago as a snarky/gossipy blog that covered “the scene” in New York City, which quite often involved covering other news sites and publications and the people who wrote for them. This was back when founding editor Elizabeth Spiers wrote almost all of the content and treated it almost as a personal blog. Spiers moved on and other people took over. Gawker expanded and changed, becoming, as Joshua David Stein says in the Guardian peace, “bullies.” He goes into a bit more detail, calling Gawker “a fertile ground for many things – ego, fame, alacrity, wit, a quick turn of phrase – but kindness was not one of them.”
I’m not writing to apologize for Gawker nor to say they were justified in what they did (Stein attempts to do that in his article, but I remain unconvinced). What I do strongly believe, however, is that Gawker’s death isn’t anything to cheer about, either. There are simply no heroes in the story of its demise. In 2007 they “outed” Peter Thiel. Thiel is often described as a billionaire investor (though he’s probably not as rich as he claims), but a more accurate description would be, man who got rich by mismanaging other people’s billions in a way that enriched him and impoverished them. If you want to know what kind of person he is, he’s the man who agreed to be Trump’s token gay speaker at the Republican National Convention; it’s harder to get any sleazier that being a gay spokesperson for a convention that adopted the single most hateful anti-gay political platform in the history of the U.S. He’s also one of the guys who thinks that women shouldn’t have the right to vote.
I put “outed” in quotes because Thiel wasn’t exactly closeted at the time. He wasn’t exactly out a proud, because like most homocons he held most out and proud queer people in contempt, but he had gone to no pains to hide his orientation, and was a public figure who regularly sought publicity and was often still trying to get people to invest in his managed funds. Being outed didn’t cause any measurable harm to his reputation. He was in no danger of losing his job, et cetera. Still, he was pissed off at Gawker because of the incident, and swore to destroy them.
Gawker, in just one of the many cases of bullying, published a sex video of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been a public figure, but he was generally retired. He wasn’t the public spokesman for one of those anti-gay/anti-sex organizations campaigning for laws restricting other people’s rights in the name of morality. Which wouldn’t have, IMHO, been justification to publish the video, but could have been a legitimate rationale to report on its existence. But they didn’t have such a rationale, so publishing it was just a puerile bid for clicks.
Hogan sued. And as we now know, he was able to afford to fight it out in courts, refusing all settlements, for as long as he did because Thiel was actually paying the legal bills. Thiel has since admitted that he’s funding several other lawsuits still pending. Hogan won a large settlement (and I’m glad he won; I just wish he had done so without getting involved with a sleaze like Thiel). And the settlement was so huge, that it forced Gawker Media, the parent corporation of Gawker.com, into bankruptcy. Which has left a bunch of people who work for other, less sleazy news sites that Gawker has been buying up over the years, in a position of not knowing whether they still had jobs.
And I want to be very clear here: the other news sites were not run like Gawker, and the people working for them are not complicit in any way with the sorts of sleazy stories Gawker is known for. The other sites were purchased by Gawker to shore up Gawker’s financial position, and were allowed to be run as before so they’d keep producing the cashflow needed to support the business. Which is why Univision, which won the bankruptcy auction, has announced that the other sites will be allowed to keep operating as before. Univision has absolutely no interest in the Gawker.com name or its brand of “journalism.”
It’s not just the Thiel is a sleazy hypocrite and a bully—the real shame here is that he’s used his wealth to completely shut down a news site because he didn’t like their coverage. Gawker’s owner and managing editor, Nick Denton, has been deservedly hung out on a rope of his own making. But the actual executioner, Thiel, is not on the side of justice.