Join 3,380 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The future is all straight, white men?
August 13, 2009 7:44 AM   Subscribe

GLAAD recently published their third annual GLAAD Network Responsibility Index, evaluating networks on the quantity, quality and diversity of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on television. The SyFy (Sci-Fi) channel was given an F rating for their failure of their depiction of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters. In response, the head of the SyFy network promised to be more diverse.

Scifi writer, John C. Wright, is outraged. So outraged he ranted on his livejournal equating homosexuality with necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality.

This comes on the heels of the Scifi racefail by writers Patricia Wrede, Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her husband Patrick, Kathryn Cramer and Will Shetterly leaving many SciFi fans wondering why the future seems so backward.
posted by FunkyHelix (250 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
You forgot Hoshi!
posted by Afroblanco at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Damn. Forgot the John C. Wright rant link. Here it is: http://johncwright.livejournal.com/269139.html?format=light
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2009


"homosex activists". Heh. Repressed, much?
posted by Leon at 7:50 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Racefail"??
posted by Electrius at 7:50 AM on August 13, 2009


Don't be undiverse, get GLAAD.
posted by Askiba at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugly rants from ugly people like Wright and Card speak for themselves and warrant little further analysis — it's the usual Santorum. But I find it interesting that science fiction has its fair share of bigots.

One would think the material would uniformly demand better from its writers, or at least from its readers. When thinking about what constitutes a perfect future, I guess some of these folks just have their own final solutions in mind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:57 AM on August 13, 2009


This seems like an easy fix. Just claim that in the future, all sex is gay sex.

Oh, and by the way, John C. Wright, you can suck my dick.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:00 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, John C Rant really really hates me. And I've never even heard of the guy before today.
posted by hippybear at 8:02 AM on August 13, 2009


Blazecock: I think you can make an argument for SF being an extremely conservative form. The pulps were exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant, with a heavy scent of "manifest destiny in space" about them.
posted by Leon at 8:02 AM on August 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


I know it's BBC but they show Torchwood on SyFy don't they? Not that it makes up for anything, but man there's a lot of LGBT action on that show.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I should comment and link him to my "Why I read slash" essay, the gist of which is, "I read slash because most SciFi/Fantasy is unrealistically straight."

I really have no other comment because, frankly, he sounds like a raving imbecile.
posted by elfgirl at 8:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sci Fi's repsonse will be to add a token lesbian to every episode.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


One would think the material would uniformly demand better from its writers, or at least from its readers.

Perhaps it's supposed to be dystopian fiction? I'd love to hear what mefi's own shetterly has to say about this, but am uncomfortable with callout FPPs.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2009


John Barrowman is the campiest man alive.

Torchwood = Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with aliens.
posted by elfgirl at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


Sci Fi's repsonse will be to add a token lesbian to every episode.

But only if they get to make her a psychotic admiral, which is a thankless job most lesbians take on IRL.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:08 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


This bothers me (and I type this in the full knowledge I'll get lambasted for it) - the entire premise of the "F" rating appears to be 'needs moar gays'.

I'm all for equality; I think that it only makes sense that in the eyes of the law, everyone should be the same (while recognizing that this isn't always the case, depending on the social mores). What I don't agree with is counting the number of screen minutes devoted to an un-closeted homosexual (or whatever group floats your boat) and giving a grade based on that.

Mind you, when someone argues against this puerile rating method by pulling out the same tired bullshit about slippery moral slopes, it provides ammunition to those who argue that more screen time would somehow fix bigotry.

One day, maybe, there will be a backlash against the concept of Them. I hope to live to see that.
posted by Pragmatica at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


John C Wright's wife was just involved in some racefail herself yesterday.
posted by kmz at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2009


Sci Fi's repsonse will be to add a token lesbian to every episode.

A quick skim of the report seems to suggest they didn't evaluate the 'token-ness' of the characters they're profiling. That seems short-sighted.

They should applaud shows like US of Tara, where the son's orientation is not really highlighted and just taken for granted; compared to those that just stick in a hot lesbian somewhere.
posted by Adam_S at 8:12 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, BTW, there are only 4 grades (Excellent / Good / Adequate / Fail). There were no Excellents and these networks also got a Fail: CBS, NBC, A&E, and TBS

the entire premise of the "F" rating appears to be 'needs moar gays'.

But really, GLAAD does just "want more gays". Especially just normal characters doing their thing who happen to be gay.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2009


No matter how right-headed their work might be, GLAAD is one of those orgs with a horrible acronym that I can never really get my head around. Every time I see it I have to mentally confirm it's not MADD or NAMBLA or something else.

On Sci-Fi and failure... Battlestar Galactica bugged the hell out of me when I sat down and watched the whole series in one long nerd out, because the entire show had only two gay characters* (some future)... and those two BOTH turned out to be twisted villains. Both had depth and interesting attributed but the writers seemed to make an effort to turn them into the least-likeable characters on the show. And they died horribly.

Which made me think, WTF was that?

* and their bit-part gay partners, yes. They were also useless and they ALSO died horribly. The Gods hate teh gays?
posted by rokusan at 8:15 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pragmatica: I think the point of things like the GLAAD grades is, real life includes gay and lesbian people, and creating a series or network where those people never appear (or very seldom appear) is bigotry by exclusion. I doubt that GLAAD is hoping that there will be a magic formula wherein every network must have, say, 3.5 minutes of gay character screen time per hour-long show, because with commercials removed, that would provide screen time parity with the incidence of gays in real life. But I do think that they issue these grades to help draw network executive's and show creator's eyeballs toward the fact that it is easy to allow one's general worldview to blind one from the realities of life within the world at large.
posted by hippybear at 8:15 AM on August 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


rokusan: eek! comparing GLADD with NAMBLA? I'm sure you didn't mean what that implies you meant.
posted by hippybear at 8:17 AM on August 13, 2009


Two token lesbians who dress like hetero pornstars and make out for the tittilation of the boys, once an episode. They couldn't lose with that.
posted by idiopath at 8:18 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


They should applaud shows like US of Tara, where the son's orientation is not really highlighted and just taken for granted; compared to those that just stick in a hot lesbian somewhere.

I am supportive of sticking hot lesbians anywhere, actually. The more the merrier.

As for USTA (great show)... I actually don't like the way they over-do the kid's scare-quoted stereotypical "gayness" (his artiness, his emotionalism, his fashion sense, his drama classes), but yes at least within the family it's just a no-big-deal, and they don't do episodes about "dealing with it" or other such retchery.
posted by rokusan at 8:19 AM on August 13, 2009


grrr. GLAAD
posted by hippybear at 8:19 AM on August 13, 2009


Dude, dude, how are going to mention Wright and not link to what is wife got up to a World Con and her subsequent problematic posts on lj full of wonderful nuggets like this:

She said this to me—the person who didn’t notice that one of her friends was Black or that another was Korean (I just thought of him as ‘really cute’) until it was pointed out

A friend from college grew up here. She went to a mainly Black school and married a secret serviceman. It was not until they went to Williamsburg on a sight seeing trip that they realized that she was white, and he was Black.

Although, she did apologize.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2009


rokusan: eek! comparing GLADD with NAMBLA?

No, just comparing their bad acronyms. You even spelled it wrong, perfect example of how it's a BAD ACRONYM.
posted by rokusan at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


John C Wright's wife was just involved in some racefail herself yesterday.

L. Lamplighter is JCW's wife? Wow, they're like a Wonder Twins of intolerance.
*WONDER TWIN POWERS ACTIVATE*
LL: Form of... a white pony that has no idea it's white!
JCW: Form of... uh... a A TIDAL WAVE TO WASH AWAY TEH GAY!
posted by Monsters at 8:21 AM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


Torchwood = Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with aliens.

This was true up until Children Of Earth. Now I just don't know what to think, and I'm still suffering PTSD from having watched the thing.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that Wright and his wife are such raving, blinkered bigots isn't such a shock as is the number of people who comment, thanking them for finally saying what needed to be said for so long. I've never been able to build up a closed, self-congratulatory bubble like that. How is it done? People always call me on my foolishness, and I'd like to know how the Wrights managed to bed the Web to their will and only get comments from people who agree with their narrow perception of race and sexuality.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


The head of Sci-Fi channel has contritely promised to include more homosex in future shows, and to do it nonchalantly, just as if this abomination is normal and natural and worthy of no comment. The shows will not actually come out and say sexual perversion has no bad side effects. They won't actually lie and tell you homosex won't destroy your life. But they will imply the lie. They will play along. It's only polite! It's so tolerant!

it's not always fair or accurate to equate rabid, nuclear-grade homophobia with being a closeted homosexual, but damn if this quote is not gay as all hell

john this is like wearing a shirt that says "i am gay"

this is your gay shirt john
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2009 [28 favorites]


Um, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2009


Now I'm tempted to keep an eye on his schedule of appearances and try to find a way to stand in line to get him to sign a copy of someone else's book maybe something by Delaney, while making out with a boyfriend in line.
posted by hippybear at 8:25 AM on August 13, 2009


Astro Zombie: LJ does have a way to moderate comments before they appear on your page. Perhaps they have this feature activated.
posted by hippybear at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2009


I love how SyFy is aiming for more "realistic" depictions, even as they plan for ever more depictions of OMG LASERS AND GIANT OOZING BLOBS AND FOG MONSTERS AND CRAPLOADS OF CRAZY-ASS INTERGALACTIC SHIT OMG OMG!!!!1!!!111!!!one
posted by Madamina at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm never comfortable with the idea, popular as it is, that homophobia is produced by closeted homosexuals. Unless it can actually be demonstrated, this seems to me to suggest that gays are, somehow, the primary actors in their own miseries, and that real straight people are comfortable enough with their sexuality not to be bothered by gays.

That simply has not been my experience of the world. But, then, people also love to try to make the case that Hitler was Jewish, so, I guess, sooner or later every terrible thing will get blamed on the people who suffered it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on August 13, 2009 [14 favorites]


I am hoping, of course, that future shows will also portray sadomasochism and bondage in a positive light -- we are all looking forward to FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO GOR, I hope.
Well, someone hasn't seen Flesh Gordon.

It's interesting, though: I remember many written SF stories using non-standard sexuality quite often, either to increase the "strangeness factor" of the worlds described or just to titillate with visions that would appear out of place in a regular setting ("hey, it's the future and anything can and will happen!").
On the other hand I can understand that concepts like rishathra or P.J. Farmer's polysexual orgies (Blown, I'm looking at you) would be difficult to compress into a couple of minutes' worth of screen time.
On the gripping hand there should be some kind of logical continuation of current developments, and that would presumably be either one towards more acceptance and openness toward so-called "alternative lifestyles" or alternatively a return to even more puritan, heterosexual tendencies.

Oh, and as to the straight, white men part: I dimly remember an American tv series set in the near future where racial commingling had progressed to the point that purely Caucasian people had become a minority, derogatorily referred to as "blancos". Dang, but I can't remember the title...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


By the way, I'm sure that was not your intention, Optimus Chyme; I'm just expressing my own reasons why I have begun to steer clear of that sort of speculation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2009


Considering that they managed to put on a honky version of Wizard of Earthsea not too long ago, I really don’t have much hope of Syfy being able to handle sexuality with any nuance and without a whiff of exploitation.

Which sucks, because science fiction is a great medium for exploring sexuality without worrying too much about real-world constraints (see: the rest of Le Guin’s writing)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about John C. Wright — he's basically Orson Scott Card 2.0. I can say this because I thought I'd give him a shot and read six of his books. The Golden Age trilogy is, well, your basic orgy of Rand-worshipping libertarianerd shotgunned with some wads of fun Singularity fluff. The fluff, and my interest, wore off after the first book. Just read The Fountainhead thrice and imagine Whuffle, rocketships, cognitive enhancers, and lots and lots of spam/spam-filters.

If you want to get his overview of human sexuality, you want the other trilogy, starting with Orphans of Chaos, which had a more interesting conceptual framework, but again his true nature betrays him with some "charmingly" antiquated ideas about female sexuality that appear to be universal principles, as far as he is concerned. The fantastical conceptual framework did not pay off, either. Hilariously, the third book, Titans of Chaos had its spine misprinted with the same artwork and title as the second, Fugitives of Chaos — way to update that Photoshop file, folks.

What I'm getting at is that Wright is much like Card in that he's not that great of a writer and takes every opportunity to display his cranky stripes; he will certainly have had less impact than Card.

As to Sci-Fi/SyFy, I am not surprised. They get an F in everything; singling them out for this seems overly specific.
posted by adipocere at 8:31 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think you can make an argument for SF being an extremely conservative form. The pulps were exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant, with a heavy scent of "manifest destiny in space" about them.

It really should be like BP said. Thinking open-mindedly about the future is a subset of thinking open-mindedly, period.

But yeah, historically not the case. My guess is it's because historically those most interested in SF are largely well-educated (i.e. probably well-off and therefore not unhappy with the status quo), white men.

If you compared political views of SF writers to writers in general, they are probably conservative. If you compare them to educated white men, they might turn out liberal.
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


John C Wright is pretty moral-panicky about "perversion" for someone who has written at least one book about underage schoolgirls getting tied up, spanked, and groped by older men, and liking it.
posted by ellehumour at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


So outraged he ranted on his livejournal...

Now that's outraged!
posted by DU at 8:34 AM on August 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


From the comments on the Wright rant:

"Battlestar Galactica had a gay character, Felix Gaeta, who openly kisses his boyfriend in a webisode. Later in the series they make a big deal out Felix and his beau being on opposite sides of a mutiny. At one point Adama clearly treats him as next of kin. What more do these people want? If that is not enough to make them happy, nothing will."
posted by hermitosis at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2009


I'm never comfortable with the idea, popular as it is, that homophobia is produced by closeted homosexuals. Unless it can actually be demonstrated, this seems to me to suggest that gays are, somehow, the primary actors in their own miseries, and that real straight people are comfortable enough with their sexuality not to be bothered by gays.

I think that, probably, the ratio of gay to straight homophobes is the same as the ratio of gay to straight people at large. I think homophobia is, like most things, a learned behavior, and anyone can be taught anything. But hypocrisy is much more interesting than garden-variety stupidity, so we remember the gay homophobes.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I do think that they issue these grades to help draw network executive's and show creator's eyeballs toward the fact that it is easy to allow one's general worldview to blind one from the realities of life within the world at large.

If they do, they're fools. Network executives aren't motivated by that, they're motivated by what sells. If SyFy's inner circle thought there was a buck in it, Commander Adama would have looked like Freddy Mercury and punctuated his orders by snapping his fingers, which, according to the criteria I read about, would have probably promoted SyFy to at least a "D".

I understand the motivations, and even applaud them to a certain extent, but quantification of diversity makes me see bugs.
posted by Pragmatica at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2009


Leon: I think you can make an argument for SF being an extremely conservative form. The pulps were exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant

Depending on the topic they are/were writing about, scifi authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven could be considered either liberal or conservative. Certainly all three dipped heavily into gender issues in ways that were not conservative.

In fact scifi as a form was often ahead of the curve with regard to racial and gender equality compared to other genres during the last century.

Also, it's not "exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant" anymore, and hasn't been for decades, since Sturgeon and Clarke broke ground and each wrote black leads in the 50's. Harlan Ellison and his mentor Octavia Butler followed, as did shows like Star Trek in the 60's.

Worth noting that Butler was an African American novelist who incorporated realistic black characters into her books. So are Sam Delaney, Walter Mosley and Steven Barnes.
posted by zarq at 8:44 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Battlestar Galactica had a gay character....

Spoiler: Who was executed as a disgusting pervert mutineer!

Both gay characters turned out to be nasty nasty people who had to be killed. Coincidence?
posted by rokusan at 8:44 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Also, Felix Gaeta? Come on. That's not even trying.)
posted by rokusan at 8:45 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm never comfortable with the idea, popular as it is, that homophobia is produced by closeted homosexuals.

Yeah, that's BS. It may be true in a small minority of cases, but now it's like every time someone makes a homophobic statement, they're automatically gay. Look, I hate centipedes; that doesn't make me a centipede.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:46 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I should also have mentioned Ursula K. Le Guin. Her books often feature leads and cultures that are non-white. (Earthsea, Hainish Cycle, etc.)
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2009


My guess is it's because historically those most interested in SF are largely well-educated (i.e. probably well-off and therefore not unhappy with the status quo), white men.

Nah, teenage boys. You can't sell teh gay to them, by-and-large.
posted by Leon at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


And LeGuin is not African American.
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2009


Torchwood = Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with aliens.

Really? I just added this to my download queue. :)
posted by rokusan at 8:54 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know it's BBC but they show Torchwood on SyFy don't they?

Nope. Torchwood's been exclusively run on BBC America. BBCA also won first-run rights to the upcoming Dr Who season with the next Doctor.
posted by scalefree at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wright is a former Randroid who got religion, managing to lug every bit of his condescending objectivist prickery into the church with him. He used to write books wherein the Bad Guys said things like "Thank God these liberal fools passed their gun control act. Now I can RULE THE WORLD!" I don't know what he writes now that he's born again, but I imagine it's similarly subtle and nuanced.
posted by steambadger at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2009


Torchwood = Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with aliens.

I like to think of it as Cardiff 9021-Who.
posted by scalefree at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pam Noles says it best:

Time will take care of this. With time they will die, because they have no choice in the matter. With time, their white-centered, provincial attitudes about what counts as Geekdom will die with them. With time, a more vibrant, diverse reality-based Tribe will emerge to take your place. It's happening already. Slowly, but it is coming.

I look forward to the coming extinction.

Fuck all you mothafuckas.

posted by Monsters at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I don't agree with is counting the number of screen minutes devoted to an un-closeted homosexual (or whatever group floats your boat) and giving a grade based on that.

There is something to be said for the media acknowledging that GLBT people exist. It's easier to dehumanize people if you don't acknowledge their existence.

Even if the quality lacks, the quantity measurement in GLAAD's index is only one part of that rating, and I think it can be argued that this element is as important as the others, in that it reminds viewers that non-straight people are just as much a part of the human condition as everyone else.

To treat sexuality as a non-issue is to include varied sexualities in programming and — unsurprisingly — not make a deal of it. But doing so requires inclusion, in the first place. And it is lacking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Carrying the homophobe card doesn't make you a repressed homosexual. But a quote like ...
Why is this one vice singled out for awe and reverence and glorification? Why is it that the lack of self control in sexual matters, where self control is paramount, is held to be immaculate and beyond reproach, whereas the lack of self-control when it comes to something trivial smoking tobacco is scorned?
... sure as hell does. It was blink-worthy. It sounds as if he thinks that everyone is just on fire with the urge to get their gay on, and must bravely abstain. As if every placid, pipe-carrying Ward Cleaver, after a couple of wine coolers, is going to wolf out, howl once, then tear their cardigans in half to reveal a leather harness and begin humping the leg of the hairiest thing within reach. That is what repression looks like, the projection of your own urges and disgust with them onto everyone else.
posted by adipocere at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [37 favorites]


>I'm still suffering PTSD from having watched the thing.

I haven't watched it yet because of That Thing Wot Happened.

I am in my Internet Happy Box.
posted by elfgirl at 9:11 AM on August 13, 2009


I'd like to know how the Wrights managed to bed the Web to their will

I can't help thinking and more (and more diverse) bedding might help resolve many of their issues.

posted by EvaDestruction at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2009


I'm joining you in the internet happy box, elfgirl. I've been telling myself that through some weird accident that Torchwood ended last season and what I thought I started to see was just a figment of my imagination.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:18 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


'Syfy'? Wow. Good thing we don't watch TV anymore.
posted by vrogy at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2009


Not meaning to derail, but...

I had no idea where it was going or what it was going to lead to, and by the fifth episode I was nearly rocking to myself in a dark corner. Great story, excellently told, wonderful no-holds-barred television. But egads. I quit BSG after 2 seasons, too. At least I went into that horror knowing it was going to be dark (although I had no idea how much so), but I really wasn't expecting Torchwood to do what it did.

/derail

posted by hippybear at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


People always call me on my foolishness, and I'd like to know how the Wrights managed to bed the Web to their will and only get comments from people who agree with their narrow perception of race and sexuality.

On livejournal, it is very easy for people to moderate access and commenting privileges on their journals.
posted by kathrineg at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2009


Carrying the homophobe card doesn't make you a repressed homosexual. But a quote like ...

Ok, yeah, that's pretty gay.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:27 AM on August 13, 2009


Even if the quality lacks, the quantity measurement in GLAAD's index is only one part of that rating

You think? It really sounds like they are just counting major/minor impressions in the methodology part of the PDF.
posted by smackfu at 9:27 AM on August 13, 2009


In Battlestar Galactica, Gaeta was executed, but I saw him as being portrayed as a guy who basically thought he was doing the right thing and ended up realising that he had made a mistake.

Both gay characters turned out to be nasty nasty people who had to be killed. Coincidence?

Gaeta's homosexual partner ended up as Admiral of the fleet, if only briefly, and ended up apparently living happily ever after at the end.
posted by knapah at 9:28 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a very old tribal instinct for revenge. Doesn't matter the color involved or the creed.
Christianity seems to be the best practical system I've seen for drawing disparate peoples together.


Oh man, so many of the comments on this post are made of fail.
posted by kathrineg at 9:29 AM on August 13, 2009


In defense of BSG (not something I'd do every day), maybe they just had Don't Ask Don't Tell in place. I mean, most of the characters ARE in the military...
posted by hippybear at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2009


Sci Fi's repsonse will be to add a token lesbian to every episode.

I don't know if this bodes well or ill for their Smurfs reboot.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Imagine Greater Gayer
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 AM on August 13, 2009


Battlestar Galactica ... the entire show had only two gay characters* (some future)... and those two BOTH turned out to be twisted villains.

B5 FTW

Also, Felix Gaeta? Come on. That's not even trying

In the original versions of the script, he was Felix Taters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pragmatica: "What I don't agree with is counting the number of screen minutes devoted to an un-closeted homosexual (or whatever group floats your boat) and giving a grade based on that."

I try to think of things like this from a different angle.

to my mind, if you're part of a group that is routinely left out of a given type of story, or a particular medium, or by a particular distributor or vendor of media, then you naturally want to make that clear and speak up for yourself and/or your group. maybe you actually believe that someone should be pressured to include more people like yourself, but it seems more likely to me that you'd simply want people to know how underrepresented you are, and how hungry you are for something that speaks to your issues and lifestyle.

now, as a creator/distributor/whatever of content, you could acquiesce because you feel some pressure and fear repercussions. OR, you could possibly look at reports like this one and think "well, shit, are we really almost completely neglecting to acknowledge that an entire lifestyle exists in our stories? I mean, surely we could strive to be a little more realistic when we're creating whole universes and social systems, instead of assuming that humanity is THAT homogeneous. shit, I bet there'd be a market for someone who actually worked to include and represent an otherwise disenfranchised lifestyle in his work."

that's the ideal, I suppose. I mean, when it comes down to it, how do you tell someone that you feel underrepresented by their work, if not in numbers? discussions like these are always full of kneejerk responses like "well, what about character X? ha ha! your whole point is now null and void because of one character!" so you compile more thorough stats, to pre-empt such nonsense. I imagine that that's really where this approach comes from, and I think that's reasonable.
posted by shmegegge at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


But really, GLAAD does just "want more gays". Especially just normal characters doing their thing who happen to be gay.

I'll avoid spoilers here, but The Wire absolutely nailed this. Major character shows up the in background of a scene at a gay bar. Never mentioned again. Awesome.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:00 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


At least this thread is going better than the Pixar discussion we had recently...
posted by hippybear at 10:02 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like someone, anyone, to explain to me how my culture reached a position where a public entertainment company can be criticized for failing to contribute to the moral decay of the land

What needs explaining, you insufferable jerk, (not that you'd listen) is that it's not your culture.
posted by longsleeves at 10:03 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am hoping, of course, that future shows will also portray sadomasochism and bondage in a positive light

...is there any other way to portray it?
posted by katillathehun at 10:07 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am hoping, of course, that future shows will also portray sadomasochism and bondage in a positive light

Well who would have thought that this asshole and I would agree on something.

Oh wait...
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:10 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As if every placid, pipe-carrying Ward Cleaver, after a couple of wine coolers, is going to wolf out, howl once, then tear their cardigans in half to reveal a leather harness and begin humping the leg of the hairiest thing within reach.

I'm super straight, but I also suspect this may be true.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:14 AM on August 13, 2009


As if every placid, pipe-carrying Ward Cleaver, after a couple of wine coolers, is going to wolf out, howl once, then tear their cardigans in half to reveal a leather harness and begin humping the leg of the hairiest thing within reach.

Anecdotal observation, but one that has been proven itself out fairly consistently in my experience:

The more normal the outside, the more freaky the inside.
posted by elfgirl at 10:18 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sci Fi's repsonse will be to add a token lesbian to every episode.

I disagree, or at least disagree that token lesbians will stay being just 'token'.

Right now SciFi doesn't feel too homophobic because there's nothing to be homophobic towards, but once gay characters start cropping up, even if they are introduced in a 'token' manner, then those undercurrent can be felt. The best way to avoid being called out on your homophobia is to not do anything that draws attention to it.

Sure the lesbian will be side lined or be a neutered sidekick (like gay characters are in most series. I mean, look at the examples SciFi give of their gay characters: NONE of them appear on screen with their lover/partner because the partner's off on some other planet or some other crap like that), but if SciFi has some good writers on board they'll want character development and that means fleshing out even the secondary characters. And if they start developing all the characters other than the 'gay' one viewers will start to smell a rat, same thing if they pointedly ignore the 'gay' side of a character.

I don't like identity politics so I get the artificiality of what GAAD's doing, but just making shows put gay characters out there will (hopefully) make things evolve.
posted by litleozy at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2009


Nope. Torchwood's been exclusively run on BBC America. BBCA also won first-run rights to the upcoming Dr Who season with the next Doctor.

Thank fuck for that.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2009


Honestly, Torchwood bothers me for its slash sensibility. It's certainly not Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as claimed. Priscilla is a film about gay men without any gay relationships (to my memory), while Torchwood just uses gay sex (and sex in general) for titilation. It got a bit better as the series progressed and the writers actually started exploring the Jack/Ianto relationship in more depth.

Dr. Who IMNSHO does it a bit better by having the Doctor and companion run into characters who just happen to be gay, which the Doctor always handles with a shrug, because humans are just especially admirable monkeys to him. The peppering of gay and lesbian characters in the human futures visited by the Doctor feels more welcoming than the rather voyeuristic focus of Torchwood. But that's just my impression.

Of course, neither of which are Sci Fi Channel shows. Sci Fi is a network that I always tune into when I'm at a hotel. While I count myself a science fiction fan, their programming always strikes me as bad to the point of unwatchable, even by MST3K standards. But it could be that I'm just unlucky enough to get access during their marathons of a show like Stargate that has clearly gone beyond the limits of creative exhaustion or bad Baltic CGI horror flicks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This study used to be pretty well-known but since some people are referring to it indirectly and other people are interpreting it as random cattiness, I thought I'd provide a reference just so people know what other people are invoking:
Journal of Abnormal Psychology 1996, Vol. 105, No. 3,440--445
"Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?" Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr, University of Georgia

The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992 ). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

I don't remember if the study's been replicated, but anyway, there you go.
posted by wintersweet at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've been watching Barney Miller lately, and was struck by the fact that one of the recurring 12th precinct regulars was Marty Morrison, a gay man, and, occasionally, his partner Daryll Driscoll. Both were somewhat stereotyped, but, then, everybody on the show was somewhat stereotyped: Polish-American Wojo was a little desnse, Puerto Rican Chano was hot-blodded, Japanese-American Yemana was occassionally inscruitable. But, as was the case with all the characters on the show, Marty quickly expanded beyond the stereotypes to become a fleshed out, and quote sympathetic character, and a fairly big point was made in one episode that Wojo's homophobia reflected the character's small-mindedness:

In this episode, titled "Discovery," it comes out that somebody is harrassing the local gay community by claiming to be a cop by threatening and arrest gay men as they leave gay bars. The guity party is eventually caught because he tries to shake down a cop by accident -- a pretty tought-looking, straightlaced guy. "He thought you were gay!" Wojo exclaims, incredulous. "You! A Detective with the New York Police Force!"

The man shrugs. "Que sera sera," he says.

That episode was broadcast in 1975. 34 years ago. I'd say, if all SyFy can claim is a few minor gay characters here and there on shows like Battlestar Gallactica, they're pretty far behind the times.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Look, I hate centipedes; that doesn't make me a centipede

I don't think that every homophobe is gay, but I do suspect anyone who claims they can't stand something, yet spends their entire life thinking about it.

I hate eating liver, but I don't sit around my house stewing in the juices of my liver-hate.

Nah, teenage boys. You can't sell teh gay to them, by-and-large.

So, you've never heard of Abercrombie and Fitch?
posted by nomisxid at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but /another/ opinionated and self-satisfied speculative fiction author? On Livejournal? With a slavering fan-base ready to jump to his defence? (Good grief, did one of his fans just compare second-hand smoke to blood borne diseases? Yup.)

Don't we have enough of those?

At least GLAAD has a reason for their socio-political pronouncements: they exist solely for the purpose of making Big Statements about the state of LGBT in our public milieu. Whether you agree with one or all of their statements or not, their whole /raison d'etre/ is to raise public awareness and start dialogue.

All Wright has is inchoate rage based on misinformation and a petrified world-view, just like everyone else. He has his straight white male prerogative, and that should just be enough for the rest of us.

All you chicks and fags can sit down now, apparently. "Will and Grace" was your last hurrah, and Wright would be pleased if you took your sinful asses out of the light, please.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What? No PBS?!?

Also, it seems that GLAAD wants a higher percentage of LBGT representations in media than is found in the larger community. By their numbers 6.8% of the population so-identifies but NBC fails with 8% of broadcast time portraying the community. They also discount reality programming stars who are not out as part of the process, which seems strange: where does one's sexual orientation play in the drama that is American Idol?

Seems its not enough just to be gay, you need to also have a t-shirt reading "I AM A MEMBER OF THE LBGT community" to qualify.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2009


Isn't it past time for LJ to go away, or upgrade or rename, or for heaven sakes, evolve.
posted by cashman at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2009


No cashman it's not. The lack of upgrade, rename, or evolving is why we like it.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 10:55 AM on August 13, 2009


LJ is fine the way it is.

Apparently some of the users there need to evolve a bit.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


IIRC current rumour for Who is that the last episode of the RTD run will have slashtastic Captain Jack/Doctor who snogging session.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm never comfortable with the idea, popular as it is, that homophobia is produced by closeted homosexuals. Unless it can actually be demonstrated, this seems to me to suggest that gays are, somehow, the primary actors in their own miseries, and that real straight people are comfortable enough with their sexuality not to be bothered by gays.

I think we're conflating two different animals here. One is the "ew buttsecks" kind of homophobe who either never got over adolescent knee-jerk reactions to unfamiliar things or else was simply raised in a (probably religious, though not necessarily) environment where "homosexuality is wrong" was beaten into their skulls and there it stayed. These homophobes - I'll call them "passive homophobes" for the purposes of this comment, though that isn't entirely accurate - are highly unlikely to be gay themselves, because one of their defining characteristics is that they don't really think about homosexuality unless pressed with the question, whereupon they have an easy goto answer to dismiss the subject and can move on.

The second group - which I'll call "Active Homophobes" because this time the term is entirely accurate - are the ones like John C. Wright railing against the wind that the gayz are destroying society and they have an agenda and oh God can't we all just fight the gay urges and so on, and this red-hot hate, focused with such intensity on this one thing that shouldn't even be an issue, speaks loads about them. These are people who think about gay sex constantly and then flog themselves over it until they have to project their rage outwards if they can even hope to continue their own existence. And yeah, when you're talking about how it's all just a matter of self-restraint like in all other aspects of behaving in society, you've shown your hand. Sorry, John. Just the way it is.

Anyway, the important thing here, then, is that gay and lesbian characters not be marginalized. We can't really do anything about the Active Homophobes except on a case-by-case basis with loads of therapy to determine why they're so full of rage and hate. The first group, however, is likely to change their viewpoints once confronted often enough with the fact that gays and lesbians are people and not some mystical foreign evil to be avoided. These passive homophobes are really mostly lacking in exposure, and their ignorance isn't deeply rooted in emotion. And in those cases, even a problematic character like Lloyd Lee in Entourage is a step in the right direction, because it shows the Passive Homophobes that gays and lesbians are actual people, who do actual things like straights do, that are oftentimes completely unrelated to their sexuality.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno. There are pretty active racists and antisemites, and I doubt many of them think constantly about how much they hate Jews or people of color because they secretly suspect they are semitic or black or whatever.

Again, I myself am just not comfortable making that argument, both because it's rooted in a lot of unprovable assumptions, and also because, to my ears, it sounds like it is making the case that the sort of people who really, really actively hate gay people are ... gay people.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


IIRC current rumour for Who is that the last episode of the RTD run will have slashtastic Captain Jack/Doctor who snogging session.

I hope not. Because I find the series is best when it focuses on reasonably self-contained stories and development. The series is at its worst when it succumbs to fan service, as we saw with a series closing that threw four companions and Jack Harkness into a Dalek plot, and then topped it off with an extra helping of Mickey and Rose Tyler's mom.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2009


Oh I understand that, and I wasn't completely clear beforehand. I don't think that all "Active Homophobes are gay," but rather that there's gotta be something out-of-the-ordinary going on there for that kind of misplaced hate to be so prominent, and that it makes sense for a lot of that to be repression, but of course that won't be the case a lot of the time.

Also, I didn't want to make it seem like the "passive homophobes" are at all benign or even all that passive, but that their ignorance is coming from a different place. In other words, one group hates because it knows so little about the subject of that hate as to allow it to be abstract, and the other hates because they know way, way more about the subject than they can psychologically accept. That's about as far out on a limb as I'm willing to take this, but I think repressed homophobic rage has a distinctive timbre and is pretty easy to pick up on, as in the case of JCW.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:28 AM on August 13, 2009


On Sci-Fi and failure... Battlestar Galactica bugged the hell out of me when I sat down and watched the whole series in one long nerd out, because the entire show had only two gay characters* (some future)... and those two BOTH turned out to be twisted villains. Both had depth and interesting attributed but the writers seemed to make an effort to turn them into the least-likeable characters on the show. And they died horribly.

Which made me think, WTF was that?


Yeah. The treatment of gay characters on BSG wasn't positive (Gaeta and Hoshi hardly count, unfortunately; unless you saw the webisodes (which, surprise surprise, aren't on the DVD), you wouldn't even know they were supposed to be in a relationship, mainly because the webisodes were written and filmed after the series wrapped.)

They also (spoilers ahead!) killed off all of the female characters, main and secondary (except for two of the Cylons, both of whom survive mainly so they can be married to their husbands), vilified and slaughtered all of the atheists, had the entire fleet give up on technology forever, and made the remaining Cylons decide to live that way, too, because not being human is bad. All because -- get this -- the angels want it that way. They might as well have called the last season "Veggie Tales In: God Wants You To Reproduce On His Miraculous Luddite Communal Farm".

And then, um, the show-runners got asked to speak to the UN on a panel about tolerance.

NO I'M NOT BITTER NOT AT ALL WHY DO YOU ASK
posted by vorfeed at 11:38 AM on August 13, 2009 [12 favorites]


I hope not. Because I find the series is best when it focuses on reasonably self-contained stories and development. The series is at its worst when it succumbs to fan service, as we saw with a series closing that threw four companions and Jack Harkness into a Dalek plot, and then topped it off with an extra helping of Mickey and Rose Tyler's mom.

I fear the chances of the last RTD epsiode not being a throw-it-all-in fanserviceathon complete with oodles and oodles of Rose being so very special (oh Rose, so so special, oh Rose...) are zero.

I always liked Mickey though.

Actually to be honest part 1 of the kitchen sink Dalek who was not entirely horrible, even with everyone turning up. It was part 2 where it all went to hell. Which kind of supportss the whole RTD can't do endings theory (see also the last 2 parts of CoE, which while okayish were nothing compared with the super string beginning, and seemed to be partly constructed of stock RTD ending parts).
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the homophobes are motivated by something front. There is a particular class of anti-gay agitator who seems to specialize in showing up at every gay pride event, convention, or fair, with a particular focus on the leather community, to document the hell out of the thing and publish it on the internet with lurid descriptive details about the various perversions he imagines happens when they go home or to the hotel room.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:56 AM on August 13, 2009


What I'm having a hard time picking out is what the standards of the survey were.

I'm seeing a lot of percentages and arbitrary rating terms like "good".

Are the terms:

- Someone LGBT shows up on your show, their chracter, acting, motivations, and depiction as stereotypes means nothing.
- Someone LGBT shows up on your show. They are represented in a positive (i.e. not stereotypical) light.
- Someone discusses LGBT issues or people.
- Or what?

On the whole, I'm pretty damn supportive of the LGTB community. If the rating system is based on simply having LGTB characters in the show, that seems sort of weak. I mean, if none of the characters are LGTB, fine then, they aren't. I'd rather see avoidance of ridiculous stereotyping and mandatory character type inclusion (I.e all shows must have one member of every race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender).
posted by djsparkydog at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2009


Also, it's not "exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant" anymore, and hasn't been for decades, since Sturgeon and Clarke broke ground and each wrote black leads in the 50's.

Hero of Moon is a Harsh Mistress: not white. Main characters of Starship Troopers: not white. etc.

(Also, sexuality of Heinlenn: yes, very orthodox).

The idea that science fiction has always been about white straight men tells me more about the laziness and ignorance of the person making the claim.

Now, if you want to argue the field has regressed, be my guest.

I look forward to the coming extinction.

I am unconvinced hoping for the extinction of white men is a great leap forward.

(Also, I love you vorfeed)
posted by rodgerd at 12:06 PM on August 13, 2009


Also, sexuality of Heinlenn: yes, very orthodox

Well, more Hugh Hefner style hetero swinger than anything else.
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hispanics can be white. Just because you're named Johnny Rico doesn't mean you might not look like Casper Van Dien.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, more Hugh Hefner style hetero swinger than anything else.

yeah, time traveling back to WW2 to fuck your mom is so Hef.
posted by nomisxid at 12:23 PM on August 13, 2009


Gaeta's homosexual partner ended up as Admiral of the fleet, if only briefly, and ended up apparently living happily ever after at the end.

You're right, my mistake. I that guy-who-barely-had-a-name ended up freezing in space. I had the subplot backwards in my head. (Hey, it was the 936th consecutive hour of BSG.)

The two major characters (not their extra partners) were the two I was bitching about, though. Gaeta and the Admiral chick, whatever her name was.
posted by rokusan at 12:23 PM on August 13, 2009


Hispanics can be white. Just because you're named Johnny Rico doesn't mean you might not look like Casper Van Dien.

I thought Johnny Rico was Filipino?

Also, BTW, there are only 4 grades (Excellent / Good / Adequate / Fail). There were no Excellents and these networks also got a Fail: CBS, NBC, A&E, and TBS

One thing I find more than slightly annoying: Why is it always Science Fiction that gets the beat-downs? Theres a bunch of non-genre channels there but why is it that SyFy gets the callout and gets to be representled by a guy who appears to be the trolliest troll that anyone can find? If theres a community outside of academia that spends more time wringing it's hands and beating itself over diversity and identity issues I'm not aware of it - and yet this guy I've never even heard of is somehow representative of SF and how conservative it is? Pfff.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on August 13, 2009


I thought Johnny Rico was Filipino?

You know, he might be. I just remember the characters as having come from Argentina.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on August 13, 2009


Artw: Huh? I wasn't aware that CBS, NBC, A&E, or TBS were science fiction channels.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2009


IIRC he chats with someone in Tagalog.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2009


I wasn't aware that CBS, NBC, A&E, or TBS were science fiction channels.

And they aren't the channel that gets the callout here either.
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2009


The homophobe as closeted-gay idea strikes me as reasonable because they often work from the premise that EVERYONE is attracted to other men, but that most people bravely choose to be attracted to women, while only perverts like gays succomb to their raw animal desires. There is always this feeling that they struggle every day not to cruise rest stops while all the gays are just out there having fun.

I'm not saying I've never had gay thoughts in my life, but I've never had to struggle to not act on what are basically passing thoughts and I think most straights are the same.

Now it may not be the case that homophobes are any more prone to gay attraction than other straights. It may be that because of upbringing and temperment that they obsess on those passing thoughts, which the see as evil then try to make them alien, rather than natural parts of their own identity. So they look for a cause- and you have the 'gay agenda' as an available scapegoat.
posted by empath at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Artw: And they aren't the channel that gets the callout here either.

Well, I imagine it comes from the same principle as critiquing gender representation of Pixar films: we engage in critical discussions of the things and genres we love. There is a fairly strong and well-established fan community around science fiction that I don't think exists for the traditional networks on the same level.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:39 PM on August 13, 2009


Ugh. Yes I know I should have caught up and finished BSG by now... but seriously, saying Spoiler: XYZ happens! is not really much of a warning.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:44 PM on August 13, 2009


I feel your pain, but on a practical note:

do yourself a favor and avoid any discussion here that involves television science fiction. BSG will always come up, and despite their best efforts people will always spoil something for you until you've finished watching it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2009


Wht, Trs Nlsn Hydn hs fnd smthng t btch bt? Wht n ttrly mzng nd nxpctd dvlpmnt.
posted by WCityMike at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, I think there's a whole other strain of anti-gay bigotry that I wouldn't classify as homo_phobic_ at all, in the sense that they have some kind of fear of a gay conspiracy or that they have problems with their own sexual identity. The kind of alpha-male/frat-boy casual anti-gay attitude, which really strikes me more as an extension of misogyny and just thinks of gays as weak or effeminate-- the type that throws around 'fag' or 'that's gay' as a casual slur.

The serious homophobes that construct these elaborate theories around the origin and meaning of homosexuality and believe in gay conspiracies don't tend to throw around gay slurs casually, I don't think.
posted by empath at 12:49 PM on August 13, 2009


Well, I imagine it comes from the same principle as critiquing gender representation of Pixar films: we engage in critical discussions of the things and genres we love. There is a fairly strong and well-established fan community around science fiction that I don't think exists for the traditional networks on the same level.

Oh god, don't remind me of that fucking thread. IMHO that's darkest hours of MeFi material right there. The parallel AskMe resulted in some of the most useful and productive replies I've ever gotten to a question, so there's good and bad I guess.
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2009


I'm working on an adaptation of Brokeback Mountain that is set on the Shackleton Crater. Call me, SyFy.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:55 PM on August 13, 2009


I think the reason SyFy is the topic of this post is that it responded to the GLAAD failing grade by saying that they would try to improve that standing in the future. That statement by the channel management elicited the horrible response, etc.

Whether NBC or any of the other channels responded to their own failing grades remains unclear.
posted by hippybear at 1:02 PM on August 13, 2009


Oh god, don't remind me of that fucking thread. IMHO that's darkest hours of MeFi material right there.

But the same principle applies. Fans engage in critical discussion of gender, race, and sexuality within a genre or body of work out of love and passion, and out of a desire to have the same kinds of discussions that have been taken for granted about theater, literature, and cinema.

To me, saying that RTD doesn't do endings well is a harsher criticism than saying that LGBT people are not well represented in Sci Fi channel programming. But that's just me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2009


Because damn it. I don't expect television writers to revolutionize the way sexuality is represented overnight. I do expect them to give me reasonably tight writing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:29 PM on August 13, 2009


A reasoned response to Wright's screed. (via)
posted by elfgirl at 1:40 PM on August 13, 2009


Ugh. Yes I know I should have caught up and finished BSG by now... but seriously, saying Spoiler: XYZ happens! is not really much of a warning.

I am sorry, but it's been five months, and the entire series has been out on DVD for weeks now. Somebody else already partially spoiled the ending above, there are other major spoilers for the last season throughout the thread, and the ending has been discussed to death everywhere. And I did warn for spoilers, straight-up, at the beginning of the paragraph in question.

If that's not enough, I guess you need to put out a Spoiler Alert. I do wish you hadn't been spoiled, but it's still a bit much to expect everyone to conduct conversations in rot13 five months later, all because you haven't finished the series. C'mon, there's an entire Sci-Fi Channel thread full of spoily BSG comments plus three paragraphs of "blah blah blah lol BSG" and an explicit spoiler warning in front of that paragraph -- that's as "much of a warning" as you're likely to get on any message board. It's not like I posted SNAPE KILLS THE SLED in the middle of the middle-east peace thread.

I was rooting for the Cylons anyway, and I'm still mad about it, so tell you what: blame Cavil. It worked for everybody else.

oh snap that was a spoiler
posted by vorfeed at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the comments, by Mr. Wright.

"I am equating homosexuality with sadomasochism, pederasty, necrophilia, bestiality, and other sexual neuroses."

Has he never heard of informed consent, or does he simply not believe in it?

On the other hand, it's no surprise that it comes up in discussions of SF - SF authors, uniquely, are the ones who imagine our world as it might be. It basically consists of positive and negative wish fulfilment. From Iain Banks' Culture - where more-or-less everyone is trans, to Star Trek, where people of all races, species and civilisations live together in hetero harmony. Clarke had a "well-adjusted polymorph" (bisexual) in 2010 (published in 1982) - never mind the lack of missions to the outer solar system, we're approaching 2010 now and we don't appear to do "live and let live" very well.

I'm totally for imagining the world as it might be, but let's judge people by the worlds they create.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2009


I find the way Delaney handles sexuality in Stars In My Pockets Like Grains Of Sand to be awe-inspiringly excellent.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2009


elfgirl: thanks for the link, but is it really "well-reasoned" to trot out the old trope that gay men are somehow feminized XY humans? Gay men are men, they are not some odd half-breed on their way toward becoming female.
posted by hippybear at 2:07 PM on August 13, 2009


Perhaps the thinking was that changing the network's name from "SciFi" to "SyFy" would be gay enough right there.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2009


Tsk.

If you're going to do that at least mention the wrestling.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on August 13, 2009


Having now subjected myself to the entire screed, I have two thoughts:

1. He really thinks that LDS is underrepresented at SyFy? I'm pretty sure SPeculative Fiction is a required course at BYU by this point.

2. Apparently he's a lawyer in DC. I'd love to rope him into doing a talk at Georgetown Law this year. I'm pretty sure that if you give this guy enough rope he's bound to hang himself.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:40 PM on August 13, 2009


but is it really "well-reasoned" to trot out the old trope that gay men are somehow feminized XY humans

Dammit. I posted that after reading it through quickly, but mostly trusting Caitlin's judgment. She's family, so I assumed... *insert saying about assumptions and asses*

Agreed, that part of his argument is horribly worded. I think I can vaguely see where he was trying to go, but it suffers from a combination of oversimplification and overexplanation at the same time. Somehow, in trying to explain the biological basis of sexuality-as-spectrum, he degenerates into sex-typing of behavior. Not where that ought to have gone at all.
posted by elfgirl at 2:42 PM on August 13, 2009


'I hate gay people... becuase they are obviously having more sex than me!' Jerry Sadowitz
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2009


I'm guessing that RTD's final Doctor Who will having even more fan service than Happy Landings did
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2009


I think it's fair to say that science fiction tends to be more "conservative". But I think that's really a misnomer if you're trying to understand "conservative" in modern political terms. What it tends to promote is the Jeffersonian ideal of self-sufficiency and distrust of authority, and less of "society must be structured this way". And I believe it does this partially because it's required by the market.

As noted above, the primary market for sci-fi is teenage boys. At fifteen, the part of science fiction that I loved best was that it rewarded my rebellious nature. It gave power to the rebels, cast them in the positive light. Much of sci-fi is, in fact, explicitly about a teenager who's being persecuted by the entire establishment.

In that kind of a narrative environment, advocating for universal healthcare or gun control just doesn't work. "As the aliens advanced on Slim, he mentally thanked the duly-elected representative government for rightly and pragmatically outlawing civilian weapon ownership." Yeah, doesn't play so well.

Not that I think writers are being insincere in their libertarianism, mind you. But, that's what it is, not blanket modern "conservatism". And I think that we tend to see it as more conservative than other genres because of the themes and settings it plays with.

For instance, people talk about Starship Troopers as being pure jingoism. And it certainly is pro-military. Except the "military" in question is the abstract idea of service, sacrifice, and duty. The higher-ups are treated quite poorly by Heinlein, while the grunts are universally lauded. It's essentially saying, "you can love soldiers and respect their service while simultaneously hating everything about the war and the politicians". This is a far cry from what a modern conservative would say about the military.

Similarly, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother certainly reads like a libertarian's vision of plausible dystopia. Except that I really, really doubt that Doctorow disfavors single-payer healthcare, gun control, or public transit. It's not about that, it's about technological control and security theater. But if you read it and then try to extrapolate from the content of the book, you might come to assume that Doctorow's a raving big-L Libertarian with a suitcase full of guns and canned beans.

Views on social issues range all over the place in science fiction. Racial issues in written sci-fi are really quite well handled. I've heard it said of sci-fi fandom: If you can accept that an alien or an android is a 'person', it doesn't take much work to accept that a Black man is a person.

But the libertarian themes tend to color people's readings of the rest of it. So they see, "Oh, Heinlein thinks everybody ought to pull his own weight in life, or die trying" and then think, "The people I know who say that now are all closet racists," and conclude that Heinlein must have been racist. He was kind of a jerk who believed in strict meritocracy... and that might look like racism in some lights.

But sci-fi is so bizarre and eclectic that you're shooting yourself in the foot if you try to pigeon-hole it into modern political categories. The positions are far more nuanced than some stupid party line. I assure you that Heinlein was neither "red" nor "blue". And neither the fuck am I.

(Also, sexuality of Heinlenn: yes, very orthodox).

I dunno, I Will Fear No Evil was a pretty frimp scene, all the way around. I mean, the main character does get a body transplant and becomes a woman. And does have crazy gangbangs with his driver and bodyguards. And they talk about having four or five genders, based on what's between your legs and whom you'd like to touch it.

Then you have the polyamorous marriages, in a dozen different forms. The dude must have sat up nights and thought up new ways for groups of men and women to be married. Between Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Friday, we saw quite a number of them.

And then there's the incest. The constant incest. Complete with, as someone noted above, time travel so that you can go back in time and fuck your mother while she was still really hot--and while your child-self is sleeping upstairs. Although it was just before World War I, not II.

However, I will absolutely grant that Heinlein was not especially tolerant of the gays. He didn't seem to have any hatred of them, but did seem to consider it a fetish or kink. And he wasn't especially kink-friendly, either.
posted by Netzapper at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


The fact that John C. Wright considers himself an intelligent, reasoned person is just depressing. I mean, consider his opening:

The Sci-Fi Channel (I cannot bring myself to type the phonetic/stupitastic new version of their name) has recoiled in craven fear and trembling when lectured by homosex activists, who gave the SF channel an "F" rating on their political correctness. Alas, the thoughtcrime! Not enough perverts on TV! The children have to be indoctrinated!

I kid you not.


Really? They recoiled in fear and terror? Did you witness this, or are you just making up shit? Because "responded with vaguely placating comments about being more inclusive, without any real plan to do so" doesn't strike me as an example of a station shuddering in horror.

Homosex? Really? What is the reasoning for using this nonstandard word? It's unexplained, meaning either he is using his own jargon, which is pretty insulting -- like just deciding to call Jews "Hebreezes." I prefer to call people what they themselves want to be called. But he considers them an illegitimate group, and so it is possible he has decided they don't get to name themselves, in the same way we might reject a group of pederasts if they started calling themselves "smiley candy stick people." But a quick Google search for homosex shows the word showing up on a lot of right wing homophobic site, so I think it's a disparaging term that I've never seen before.

"Political correctness" and "thoughtcrime" are meaningless buzzwords, and it is especially galling for a science fiction writing to use Orwell's term for a totalitarian environment where you are expected to police even your thoughts, and can be executed for not doing so, with a gay rights organization pointing out a lack of representation and asking people to voluntarily redress this. Wright either doesn't understand Orwell or doesn't care, and neither of which make him somebody whose opinion demands to be valued.

"Not enough perverts on TV The children have to be indoctrinated!" That's just contemptible. Anyone with a shred of decency would stop reading here, because this is not a statement of fact, but of raving bigotry.

Today is the first I have heard of this author, but I can already tell he is going to self-destruct over time, and it can't happen fast enough. He apparently doesn't actually like science fiction, or the people who are its fans, because they tend to be about as mixed and inclusive a group as you are likely to find, and you don't insure your longevity in a profession by expressing contempt for your fan base.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:12 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think you can make an argument for SF being an extremely conservative form. The pulps were exclusively white anglo-saxon protestant, with a heavy scent of "manifest destiny in space" about them.

From The SF Book of Lists, in the list "Robert Silverberg's Quirks of Famous SF Editors":
A little earlier, because someone suggested that unconscious anti-Semitism might be the reason I was having trouble getting Campbell to buy my stories, I devised the pseudonym 'Calvin M. Knox' as the most Protestant name I could think of, the 'M', however, standing for Moses. Campbell bought the first 'Knox' story he saw. However, he also bought a Silverberg-byline story a week or two later, and when I told him, eventually, the rumours of his anti-Semitism that had led me to invent the pseudonym, he said, 'Have you ever noticed in my magazine the stories of a certain Isaac Asimov?'
posted by The Tensor at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugh. Yes I know I should have caught up and finished BSG by now... but seriously, saying Spoiler: XYZ happens! is not really much of a warning.

Dude, if the word SPOILER followed by a colon isn't enough to let you know you should stop now if you don't want something spoiled.... then you need to stop reading as soon as you see "BSG", because clearly you cannot be stopped!

I have stopped reading things in mid-sentence many times. I hate spoilers, too. Very very much. I thought I was being kind, there! :)
posted by rokusan at 4:02 PM on August 13, 2009


I am unconvinced hoping for the extinction of white men is a great leap forward.

I think it's pretty clear that Ms. Noles is not arguing for the extinction of white men but the extinction of those hold a particularly narrow and judgmental view of humanity based on issues like race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
posted by Monsters at 4:19 PM on August 13, 2009


Oh God, I went to the same college as this guy. How embarrassing.
posted by moss at 5:02 PM on August 13, 2009


**Galactica Spoliers**

By my count, BSG had three homosexual characters and three bisexual characters. Cain was sort of a villain but she was respected by a lot of the characters, a case was made for her within the script and she was not a bit player. Gaeta was brave, very intelligent and not anywhere close to a bit player. He was extremely capable and even post-mutiny was shown to be principled-- you weren't supposed to be cheering when he was executed. Hoshi was made admiral of the Fleet! Had the final mission failed, he and Romo would have been the leaders of all of humanity. He was a trusted, respected figure.

Okay, Caprica, Gina and Diana being bisexual was probably mostly for the omg that's fucking hot angle, but, still, they were not bit players and the Baltar-Caprica-Dianna triangle had some importance in the third season.

I never watched anything else on SciFi, but I don't think it's fair to say BSG didn't at least try to include homosexuals in their world. More importantly, it didn't make a big deal about who was gay, because it that world, it's not a big deal.
posted by spaltavian at 6:03 PM on August 13, 2009


As noted above, the primary market for sci-fi is teenage boys.

According to whom? Not the sales figures. Unless you're meaning those crappy media tie-in novels, I guess.
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on August 13, 2009


What is the reasoning for using this nonstandard word?

To make homosexuality seem vulgar by focusing on the "sex" part of the word, I bet. It's meant to emphasise their view that homosexuality is a sexual perversion. It's a pretty puritan-minded approach, really: Make it seem more distasteful by making it all about sex.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:23 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


From The SF Book of Lists, in the list "Robert Silverberg's Quirks of Famous SF Editors":

Yeah, it was Campbell I was thinking of when I said WASP/manifest destiny. So lets see what the sainted Asimov himself has to say on the subject. It's a long quote, but I think it's worth reading:
"Campbell liked stories in which human beings proved themselves superior to other intelligences, even when those others were further advanced technologically. It pleased him to have human being shown to possess a unique spirit of daring, or a sense of humor, or a ruthless ability to kill when necessary, that always brought them victory over other intelligences, even against odds.

I sometimes got the uncomfortable notion, however, that this attitude reflected Campbell's feelings on the smaller, Earth scale. He seemed to me to accept the natural superiority of Americans over non-Americans, and he seemed automatically to assume the picture of an American as one who was of northwest European origin.

I cannot say Campbell was racist in any evil sense of the term. I cannot recall any act of his that could be construed as unkind, and certainly he never, not once, made me feel uncomfortable over the fact that I was Jewish. Nevertheless, he did seem to take for granted, somehow, the stereotype of the Nordic white as the true representative of Man the Explorer, Man the Darer, Man the Victor.

I argued with him strenuously on the subject, or as violently as I dared, and in the years to come our relationship was to be as nearly strained as it could be (considering our mutual affection, and all that I owed him) over the civil rights issue. I was on the liberal side of the issue, he on the conservative, and our minds never met on that subject."
He goes on to say that the Foundation universe exists because he didn't want to have to adopt Campbell's views (which he found "repugnant") to get a sale, so he sidestepped the issue entirely by writing a human-only galaxy.

Look, I'm not saying Campbell was a bad guy, only that, like SF itself, he was a product of his time. Modern SF has a 80-year history, and over that time it has reflected society around it. Heinlein wrote in a black lead? So what - it was 1965, right in the middle of the civil rights movement. He's just reflecting the culture around him. Find me a black lead in 1930s pulp and I'll be impressed.

[Personally I think Heinlein's views on women were positively antediluvian, and I WIll Fear No Evil is the worst offender. It argues emphatically that the body moulds the mind - decant the soul of an old-school robber baron into a nubile young body, and he'll soon turn into a flighty young thing, just begging to be spanked.]

Even SF's "serious writers" (I'm thinking of names like Moorcock or Bester) were using textual tricks that were, by then, well-worn paths in more literate fiction. Gibson's nihilist dystopia was written about 5 years after nihilism was cool. SF looks, at best, to the present for its inspiration, not the future. That's why I'm arguing that it's (small c) conservative. It's just unfortunate that conservative has two meanings.

[SF is for teenage boys]

According to whom? Not the sales figures. Unless you're meaning those crappy media tie-in novels, I guess.

I meant over the history of the genre, not just today. Sorry if that wasn't clear. There's an interesting discussion to be had here about the slow death of written SF... those "crappy media tie-in novels" are modern SF (well, maybe not the tie-in novels, but the big/small screen is the dominant format for SF today).
posted by Leon at 7:38 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


it sounds like it is making the case that the sort of people who really, really actively hate gay people are ... gay people.

No, but try living in a world where straight is the norm and you're told that you can't have equality in major areas of your life and rarely ever see yourself depicted on mainstream film or television... and not be a little resentful. As queer positive as my LGBT circle is, I can't help but think that this sort of stuff brings all of us down on occasion. And some gays would certainly turn to hating what they are.

Now imagine if you were gay but pretended you weren't or were never even honest enough with yourself to recognise that fact. And this lie that you lead might be sustainable for a good long while, but something on the inside wants to get out. I sort of imagine the end result of that is rants not dissimilar to that written by Wright on his LJ.
posted by crossoverman at 8:29 PM on August 13, 2009


Also, sexuality of Heinlenn: yes, very orthodox

Well, more Hugh Hefner style hetero swinger than anything else.


Yeah, the line marriages and guy-on-guy action were totally hetero swinger.

It might help to read the books you write about.

The homophobe as closeted-gay idea strikes me as reasonable because they often work from the premise that EVERYONE is attracted to other men, but that most people bravely choose to be attracted to women, while only perverts like gays succomb to their raw animal desires.

Really? A lot of it reads to me like a bunch of mysoginistic guys who are afraid gays view men the way the homopobes view women: contempible fuck-toys to be used and abused at their whim.

I think it's fair to say that science fiction tends to be more "conservative". But I think that's really a misnomer if you're trying to understand "conservative" in modern political terms. What it tends to promote is the Jeffersonian ideal of self-sufficiency and distrust of authority, and less of "society must be structured this way".

Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, and Iain Banks would like a word with you. For a start.

(Also, sexuality of Heinlenn: yes, very orthodox).

I dunno, I Will Fear No Evil was a pretty frimp scene, all the way around. I mean, the main character does get a body transplant and becomes a woman. And does have crazy gangbangs with his driver and bodyguards. And they talk about having four or five genders, based on what's between your legs and whom you'd like to touch it.


Clearly I need sarcasm tags.
posted by rodgerd at 8:34 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, and Iain Banks would like a word with you. For a start.

They can have him when zombie H.G. Wells is done with him.
posted by Artw at 9:36 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


After looking through this entire thread, I would just like to recommend looking for "racefail" on Google or the RaceFail09 tags on Delicious.com or Livejournal. The painful trainwreck comedy of those threads is a lot better than reading people defending against the gay intrusion into SciFi. Honestly, I've seen some tropes in the thread here, in John C Wright's post, Livejournal, and various blogs repeated verbatim from ISCABBS, Usenet, and countless forums and BBSes back when people criticized Star Trek for the same thing 10-15 years ago. Overnight my ass...

I'd also like to point to bellatrys on Livejournal for intelligent discussion of some of these outrageous backlash-fests. Nick Mamatas is another source of slightly less rage inducing discussion. From me, all I can give is standing on my chair and screaming "SHUT UP SHUT YOUR DAMNED HOLE!"
posted by crataegus at 10:10 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Personally I think Heinlein's views on women were positively antediluvian, and I WIll Fear No Evil is the worst offender. It argues emphatically that the body moulds the mind - decant the soul of an old-school robber baron into a nubile young body, and he'll soon turn into a flighty young thing, just begging to be spanked.]

I agree with you that Heinlein was not especially progressive in his views on women.

However, I disagree with you in one aspect of your criticism of I Will Fear No Evil: ask any transsexual you know. Hormones absolutely influence cognition. And hormones are secreted by various giblets in the body.

Likewise, if you decanted me into the body of a nubile young thing, I would, I assure you, turn into a slutty (though probably not flighty) young just begging to be spanked. I can't wait until this is possible, personally.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, and Iain Banks would like a word with you. For a start.

I haven't read Le Guin or Banks. But you're certainly right about Robinson being very liberal.

Also, you'll note that I didn't say "all sci-fi is conservative". I said that it tends to be more conservative.
posted by Netzapper at 10:24 PM on August 13, 2009


The biggest obstacle in depicting LGBT people in The Future, science fiction-wise, seems to be that you have to somehow make a big deal about how, ideally, they're no longer a big deal.
posted by Cyrano at 10:24 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't watched all of the abortive pilot yet, but didn't Virtuality feature a gay couple who were (in the little bit I saw) otherwise uncommented on?

Also, they should have included HGTV. Shows like House Hunter-Gatherers and Holy Shit My House Is Worth A Billion Dollars Oh Wait Now It's Worth $2.50 regularly feature gay (and lesbian?) couples and treat them as just as boringly normal as a straight couple.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:39 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with you that Heinlein was not especially progressive in his views on women.

It's impossible to characterize Heinlein's views on anything based on his characters. If you try you'll just end up with a mass of contradictions. Stranger in a Strange Land's Michael Valentine Smith is a libertine polyamorous polysexual, but The Moon is a Harsh Mistress's Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis muses on how gays are sad shadows to be pitied. Across the various novels he appears in Lazarus Long more or less takes both positions at one time or another. Which is authentically Heinlein's true view?
posted by scalefree at 10:51 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey! New season of Project Runway starting next week.
posted by Artw at 11:00 PM on August 13, 2009


It's impossible to characterize Heinlein's views on anything based on his characters. If you try you'll just end up with a mass of contradictions.

Now, I'll grant that you can't determine his views on homosexuality from his characters--they absolutely vary between enthusiastic embrace and begrudging tolerance.

Except, really, across his entire opus, women are treated curiously but consistently. I'm talking about his main characters here, not bit parts. [Also, it's clear he likes personal gun ownership from all of his books. But that's so obvious I won't bother to argue it.]

Almost* universally his female characters are:

1) Bright and witty.
2) Sexually liberated.
3) Competent.
4) Capable of fending for and defending themselves.

and also:

5) Willfully submissive to the men in their lives.

Heinlein pretty clearly respected smart and competent women. He didn't like silly fuckmoppet bimbos. But, he did want his women sexually enthusiastic. And, while he wrote his characters to be able to take care of themselves and think for themselves, he also wrote them in such a way that they wanted to be told what to do. They have every bit as much potential as his men, every bit as much skill, but the vast majority of them give all of that up so that they can be bossed** around by their man.

*I emphasize "almost" so somebody doesn't come in and say, "Dude, here's this one example that's not like what you said". There are exceptions. I'm talking in generalities, not universalities. Also, I've only read about 70% of his opus, so I may be mistaken. But I really do think there's a rule here.

**To be fair, Heinlein had pretty clear views on bossing. And there were plenty of his male characters who were unfit for command, and were told as much in as many words. But his women are fit for command, and then don't take it.

The one glaring exception there is Hilda from
Number of the Beast. She's the only woman in command I can think of. Unless we're talking about all of his women who are "behind their great man."
posted by Netzapper at 11:49 PM on August 13, 2009


Homosex? Really? What is the reasoning for using this nonstandard word?

Perhaps he was reading this.

Or listening to Li-Ann Thio. As you say, it shows up on a few extremely right wing sites in Google.

It's unexplained, meaning either he is using his own jargon, which is pretty insulting -- like just deciding to call Jews "Hebreezes."

That would be Yiddish for Fabric Freshener. When you want your bed sheets to smell like roast beef on rye. ;)

I prefer to call people what they themselves want to be called. But he considers them an illegitimate group, and so it is possible he has decided they don't get to name themselves

Exactly. Typically, disparaging or prejudicial nicknames are used to stereotype a group, diminish their importance and ultimately dehumanize them.
posted by zarq at 6:51 AM on August 14, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: Also, they should have included HGTV. Shows like House Hunter-Gatherers and Holy Shit My House Is Worth A Billion Dollars Oh Wait Now It's Worth $2.50 regularly feature gay (and lesbian?) couples and treat them as just as boringly normal as a straight couple.

Agreed, big kudos to HGTV for that. They seem to feature more male couples than female but I wonder if that's a numbers thing.

Conversely, HGTV have strict gender reinforcement on many of their programs, including two of my favorites: Spice Up My Kitchen and Curb Appeal. I guess it's unsurprising but still, I'd like to see them teach a woman to mix cement without resorting to gleeful "it's like mixing cake batter!" declarations... ffs.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:57 AM on August 14, 2009


Hmm. Tor.com has now directly equated Paul De Filippo disagreeing with them and the fail crowd over whether the Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF flap with the homophobic ranting of John C. Wright. That seems, TBH, a bit off.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on August 14, 2009


Artw, are you missing a few words in that sentence?
posted by kathrineg at 2:53 PM on August 14, 2009


Don't forget HGTV's weird battle-of-the-sexes decorating show.
posted by kathrineg at 2:54 PM on August 14, 2009


Artw, are you missing a few words in that sentence?

It's suffering an extra one due to being caught halfway between edits. Ignore "Whether": Tor.com has now directly equated Paul De Filippo disagreeing with them and the fail crowd over the Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF flap with the homophobic ranting of John C. Wright.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on August 14, 2009


...still, I'd like to see them teach a woman to mix cement without resorting to gleeful "it's like mixing cake batter!" declarations... ffs.

Nthing that. It's highly annoying.
posted by zarq at 3:03 PM on August 14, 2009


OTOH, this may explain all the broken teeth at my birthday celebrations of late.
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on August 14, 2009


That reply linked above is really utter hogwash. Please protect us from our well meaning friends and their biologistical pseudo-science.

Geek Show's Hal Duncans response on the other hand is quite excellent.
...
You claim to want a rational answer, but your alarmist hysteria no more invites a rational response than some medieval anti-semite's froth-mouthed demand to know how good Christians can suffer the "Christ-killers" plotting in their midst, working wickedly in the shadows to exert their evil influence. You complain that you won't get a rational answer but you sound like one whose antipathy clouds all judgement, one whose revulsion is so extreme, their disgust so bound to fear and hate, that it manifests in outright delusion, in conspiracy theories of covert and overt ideological Powers-That-Be, Evil Forces aligned against all that is good and decent. Paranoid fantasies born of prejudice do not invite a rational response. How can society have come to this, you cry, this depth of depravity, this sink of iniquity, that the head of the SyFy Channel cowers before the Elders of Sodom? How can others not see the headlong plunge into filth that will result from this the headfirst dive into acceptance of incest, paedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, fornication, wantonness, sin, sin, SIN?!
You seem incapable of conceiving that Stern could hold to a sincere ethical judgement that "homosex" is acceptable and that the absenting of it from television is a product of prejudice to be countered. You seem incapable of imagining that anyone could hold to this notion for any other reason than that they are a) wicked, b) gullible, or c) afraid to stand their ground. Those of us who hold exactly that opinion are more inclined, to be honest, to the fourth option: that you are d) nutso.
This is not an accusation that you are nutso, mind, merely an explanation of how you come across, offered as basic advice in how to perform the amazing feat of understanding how other people think differently than you do. If you genuinely want to understand how society has come to this, how we can all hold to ethical opinions you consider utterly invalid, then you need to start by accepting that we do indeed hold to those ethical opinions. Honestly, you really want to try and understand why the following is just crazy talk to most of us:
Read on, I think it's worth it.
posted by kolophon at 3:46 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jjust read in the comments:
John Wright said...
"Cut the crap."

Good suggestion. I will follow it. If I take down the offending post, however, I will be criticized for that as well.

Friend, I am not as irrational as you paint me. I will think about what you wrote.

John C. Wright
7:34 PM
And he seems to have deleted the offending post from his LJ
posted by kolophon at 4:15 PM on August 14, 2009


The offending post (for all you who haven't read it yet) can be found in this Google Cache link.

He needs to realize, this is the Internet. Nothing ever really goes away.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2009


John C. Wright: If I take down the offending post, however, I will be criticized for that as well.

I feel for him. These days you can't even say highly offensive things about people, equating them with animal fuckers and necrophiles, without them getting all uppity and pissed off! And then, get this, if you decide to lock the post and delete the comments because people didn't respond to your revolting slurs in a manner you deem polite enough, they criticise you for that, too! And then you can't even delete the whole thing after you realise your page on wikipedia links to it without people criticising you again!

It's a hard life being John C. Wright. Being criticised all the time.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:16 AM on August 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


For the record, I thought that Wright's comments about gay people were offensive as hell. Many of the people he was calumnizing as depraved, degenerate, disordered, etc., are friends of mine.

Also, I'm sorry if MeFi member funkyhelix thinks poorly of me based on something she read on the internet. I suspect my actual opinions about race, gender, sexuality, social policy, and what is and isn't bigotry, are actually very close to hers.
posted by pnh at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2009


Just because at some point, even the Google Cache will expire, and someone will read this article and think, "Hm, what the hell actually was John C. Wright's rant?", here you go:
More Diversity and More Perversity in the Future!

The Sci-Fi Channel (I cannot bring myself to type the phonetic/stupitastic new version of their name) has recoiled in craven fear and trembling when lectured by homosex activists, who gave the SF channel an "F" rating on their political correctness. Alas, the thoughtcrime! Not enough perverts on TV! The children have to be indoctrinated!

I kid you not. Here is the article: http://www.seattlepi.com/tvguide/408807_tvgif28.html

The head of Sci-Fi channel has contritely promised to include more homosex in future shows, and to do it nonchalantly, just as if this abomination is normal and natural and worthy of no comment. The shows will not actually come out and say sexual perversion has no bad side effects. They won't actually lie and tell you homosex won't destroy your life. But they will imply the lie. They will play along. It's only polite! It's so tolerant!

I am hoping, of course, that future shows will also portray sadomasochism and bondage in a positive light — we are all looking forward to FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO GOR, I hope. Love affairs with corpses, small children, and farm animals will also be on display in a natural nonchalant fashion in the new raft of progressive shows, titles such as I DREAM OF STINKY, PEDERASTY JUNCTION, and OLD MACDONALD HAD A SHEEP — but no Mormons, whose moral standing we all abhor. The only good thing about Mormons, as we all know, is their polygamy. That we can approve of. Anything that offends the Patriarchy, we like. Evil is our good.

On a less sarcastic but still supercilious note: I'd like someone, anyone, to explain to me how my culture reached a position where a public entertainment company can be criticized for failing to contribute to the moral decay of the land, and that the criticism would be taken seriously, and the company would cringe and promise to do better.

Someone explain to me by what series of events persons with serious sexual-psychological malfunctions would somehow be awarded the status of moral arbiters, something like priests and confessors and sages — except that the passkey to being a guardian of public conscience in our age is the absence of moral value, not the presence.

Come, my liberal leftist comrades! You openly boast of your superior intellectual power and more profound moral sobriety than we mere working Joes of flyover country (including working Joes like me with a doctorate in law who works in DC). You have anointed yourselves our superiors: that means you are smart enough to explain it. By what logic is the sole and single standard of virtue in your world view an absolute devotion to vice? By what logic is the sole and single sin the sin of having standards of virtue, what you call being intolerant?

Why are you willing to tolerate sexual perversion but not racism? In a world with no standards, what makes a malfunction of love higher on your standard than a malfunction of hate? Is an irrational lust and longing to mimic the mating act with a sex with which one cannot mate, at its root, any more or less disconnected to reality than an irrational fear and hatred of a Negro? How do we know race-hate is not genetic? Look at how scorned and put-upon racists are! Can we spare them no cheap Leftist pity? Why don't we simply call racism an alternate anti-ethnic orientation, similar to hetero-toleration, but different?

I know I will hear no rational argument to defend the Leftist position. They do not deal with rational answers. They have one and only one weapon in their arsenal: ad hominem. They will not answer, but they will sneer. I suppose a person who gave a tinker's damn about peer pressure or public opinion would fear to be sneered upon by these professional sneerers. For those professional sneerers ready to ignore my words and to condemn me as a "homophobe" let me just ask, why Oh why is it that no one has ever condemned me (or anyone of mine) as a "sunderophobe" — even though I condemn divorce more severly than I condemn sodomy, or as an "adulterophobe" — since I don't approve of cheating on your wife either; or as a "pseudophobe" — since I don't approve of President Clinton.

Why is this one vice singled out for awe and reverence and glorification? Why is it that the lack of self control in sexual matters, where self control is paramount, is held to be immaculate and beyond reproach, whereas the lack of self-control when it comes to something trivial smoking tobacco is scorned?

No answer? Well, then. Back to sarcasm:

In other news, Timothy Leary will be giving Sci-Fi an "F" grade for failing to portray drug abuse positively. Castro and Pol Pot will be giving Sci-Fi an "F" grade for their show BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, which portrays the mass slaughter of innocent human beings in a negative light. Dean Martin will be giving Sci-Fi an "F" for failing to portray drunkenness as life-affirming. Don Juan will be giving Sci-Fi an "F" grade for failing to have a show that portrays serial adultery in a positive light — but Don gives BATTLESTAR GALACTICA an "A" for sleeping with robots. Uncle Screwtape reminds me the any form of sex that is sterile and selfish wins the approval of the Lowerarchy.

UPDATE! A reader reminds me that on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA sex with robots is fertile after all: indeed, the whole point of the latter story arc was to produce a human-cylon hybrid. I do not know if this portrayal of the sex act was sufficiently selfish and sterile to please Don Juan — we will see what grade he gives the Sci-Fi channel in the future. What the Lowerarchy wants is to make fornication seem normal and marriage seem abnormal.
You stay classy, Mr. Wright!
posted by WCityMike at 2:08 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just because at some point, even the Google Cache will expire

Which leads me to wonder... His blog was not picked up by the Wayback Machine. I wonder if Google Cache links are picked up by the Wayback Machine?

[On a side note -- at least three times in the past week, someone has linked to a years-old MeFi thread wherein the main link of the FPP was rotted. Is there a mechanism for reporting such things? And what is done in those cases?]
posted by hippybear at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2009


hippybear: "Which leads me to wonder... His blog was not picked up by the Wayback Machine. I wonder if Google Cache links are picked up by the Wayback Machine?"

Nope:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /search
Cache link: http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache...
posted by WCityMike at 4:06 PM on August 15, 2009


Well, you learn something every day. Now I know -- cut and paste it to the Blue if you want it to linger! Thanks WCityMike.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on August 15, 2009


I'm sorry if MeFi member funkyhelix thinks poorly of me based on something she read on the internet.

What, you mean your own words in your own journal which you then deleted to try and cover up that what you said was insulting and racist? That something on the internet? Yeah, I think poorly of you because of that.

I suspect my actual opinions [...snip...] are actually very close to hers.

I doubt that.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:09 PM on August 16, 2009


Also, I'm sorry if MeFi member funkyhelix thinks poorly of me based on something she read on the internet. I suspect my actual opinions about race, gender, sexuality, social policy, and what is and isn't bigotry, are actually very close to hers.
posted by pnh at 12:03 PM


get over yourself and go back to boingboing where you can just "disemvowel" people who disagree with you please
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:24 PM on August 16, 2009


pnh is Mr. Hayden; his wife disemvowels people at Boing Boing. He himself is not a moderator there.
posted by WCityMike at 6:40 PM on August 16, 2009


Yeah, uh, patrick nielsen hayden is quite clearly one of the good guys. He's not exactly nice all of the time but he is good, which is a lot more important, so I'd rather cut him some slack.
posted by Justinian at 9:28 PM on August 16, 2009


He did--rather hilariously--delete his journal in a kerfluffle during which his wife implied that they now have an enemies list composed not just of individuals, but of entire groups of people who may have critiqued him/them.
posted by kathrineg at 6:50 AM on August 17, 2009


Are we a good group or a bad group?
posted by scalefree at 11:19 AM on August 17, 2009


Why, I'm not a group at all!
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:31 AM on August 17, 2009


I think anyone who commented on RaceFail made it to the enemies list.
posted by crataegus at 11:34 PM on August 17, 2009


30+ years after James Tiptree, Jr., and we still have such a limited view of human, let alone alien, sexuality. She's probably spinning in her grave.
posted by QIbHom at 6:55 AM on August 18, 2009


The "racefail" incident is such a disheartening example of uncritical groupthink. That segment of the SF audience is about as liberal as Mao. Mere disagreement on a matter of racial orthodoxy is treated as grounds for mocking and ostracism -- but never, of course, engagement.
posted by grobstein at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2009


Mao? Really? You might as well have gone for Hitler.
posted by kathrineg at 10:20 AM on August 18, 2009


I thought it was more colorful.
posted by grobstein at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2009


Comparing people to a man who systematically tortured and murdered all of his political opponents is always colorful!
posted by kathrineg at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2009


I'll read the comments in this thread in a day or two and may comment then. I've been away from the web dealing with my sister's death. For now, I'll simply offer a link that the ideologues of the racefail flamewar keep out of its history. Under the circumstances, I hope I'll be forgiven for self-linking: writing about race: racefail 09.
posted by shetterly at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2009


Okay, I've followed the links in the main post, though I haven't read any of the comments. (That must wait.) I agree with GLAAD that TV has a long way to go regarding GLBT folk, and I'm glad SyFy is saying they'll address this.

But then, that's always been a concern of mine. I don't remember any gay characters in my first novel, but my second, published in the '80s, had a sympathetic male couple. My first gay protagonist appeared in a 1995 short story about a gay superhero, "Secret Identity" in A Starfarer’s Dozen: Stories of Things to Come, ed. Michael Stearns. I think I've had sympathetic GLBT characters appear in all of my novels since the first. It's simply a matter of making my fiction reflect the world I live in.

If John C. Wright actually "ranted on his livejournal equating homosexuality with necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality," Wright is an idiot and a bigot, but since FunkyHelix did not provide a link to the rant, I'm reluctant to conclude anything.

I also suspect FunkyHelix's agenda, because the link and characterization of Racefail 09 is suspicious. None of the people cited are supporters of a "white, straight future." Since FunkyHelix threw in race, I'll defend myself here:

The protagonist of my first novel was a dark-skinned woman. The protagonist of my second was a dark-skinned man who had to survive among pale-skinned people. When Emma Bull and I created the Liavek shared-world anthologies, we created a vaguely Arabian Nights world because we were tired of reading about white people in fantasy and science fiction. The concern for diversity continues through our work. The love interest in my last novel is a black woman. Emma's last novel presented an American West that was very multi-cultural and thoroughly accurate. Shadow Unit has an extremely diverse cast.

As for Kathryn Cramer and the Nielsen Haydens, these are people who have been extremely supportive of diversity in f&sf. The fact that they published so much of Samuel Delany's work, including "Racism and Science Fiction", should say as much. But the driving personalities behind Racefail 09 are less interested in people's work than in their own ability to take words out of context to suit their worldview. I don't think they do this maliciously; I think they subscribe to an ideology that gives them a simple model for a complex reality.

I'll read the comments here tonight.
posted by shetterly at 12:36 PM on August 19, 2009


If John C. Wright actually "ranted on his livejournal equating homosexuality with necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality," Wright is an idiot and a bigot, but since FunkyHelix did not provide a link to the rant, I'm reluctant to conclude anything.

He's taken it off his site in shame and backlash. So there is nothing to link to.

However, if you'd read the comments, you would have found that WCityMike has posted a copy of the scree.
posted by Netzapper at 1:37 PM on August 19, 2009


At last, time to begin reading comments. First up:

One would think the material would uniformly demand better from its writers, or at least from its readers.

Perhaps it's supposed to be dystopian fiction? I'd love to hear what mefi's own shetterly has to say about this, but am uncomfortable with callout FPPs.


infinitewindow, I say the science fiction that informed my taste--Delany, Zelazny, Bester, LeGuin, Silverberg, Eliison, Russ, even in a few cases, Heinlein--was not white, and was not especially straight. I do remember being a bit surprised by Dahlgren and The Man Who Folded Himself. I hadn't thought you could do that and be published.

Anyone who says science fiction is white and straight has not read the New Wave writers. Or many of the people who came after them: Butler, Varley, etc. Hell, they haven't even read my wife's work. Saying science fiction is white and straight is like saying Americans are warmongers. It's based on evidence, but the evidence does not cover as much ground as the speaker thinks.
posted by shetterly at 8:14 PM on August 19, 2009


Hmm. Haven't a lot more to say, because this discussion is too much about TV and too little about fiction, but I'll go with these:

The homophobe as closeted-gay idea strikes me as reasonable because they often work from the premise that EVERYONE is attracted to other men, but that most people bravely choose to be attracted to women, while only perverts like gays succomb to their raw animal desires

I like that because it suggests a parallel: The antiracist as closeted-racist idea strikes me as reasonable because they often work from the premise that EVERYONE is racist... The validity of racial distinction is a fundamental assumption of ideological antiracists (as opposed to the rest of us whose opposition to antiracism is simply an objection to the pseudoscientific notion of race).

The "racefail" incident is such a disheartening example of uncritical groupthink. That segment of the SF audience is about as liberal as Mao. Mere disagreement on a matter of racial orthodoxy is treated as grounds for mocking and ostracism -- but never, of course, engagement.

grobstein, I dunno if we ever agreed before or will ever agree again, but I was told by someone who stayed out of Racefail that the Racefailers are known as Maoists to more than a few people due to their fondness for speech codes, their cries that any objection to their ideology is "derailing", and their exhaustive documentation that carefully omits anything which contradicts their narrative.

Oh, for funkyhelix and anyone else claiming Patrick deleted his LJ, it's here. Really, it's not hard to research facts if you care about them. I've deleted most of my LJ because Racefail made me realize it was a pain to keep a copy of my main blog: conversations become splintered and redundant that way.

For people interested in the limitations of the antiracism worldview, see the discussion at What's wrong with anti-racism?
posted by shetterly at 9:03 PM on August 19, 2009


grobstein, I dunno if we ever agreed before or will ever agree again, but I was told by someone who stayed out of Racefail that the Racefailers are known as Maoists to more than a few people due to their fondness for speech codes, their cries that any objection to their ideology is "derailing", and their exhaustive documentation that carefully omits anything which contradicts their narrative.

"Mao Tse-tung, who for decades held absolute power over the lives on one-quarter of the world’s population, was responsible for over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader."

"Racefailers" criticized some people on the internet.

Get some perspective.
posted by kathrineg at 9:00 AM on August 20, 2009


By the way, that is from this book, which I recommend to anyone who wants to call people Maoists for disagreeing with them.
posted by kathrineg at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2009


Oh, for funkyhelix and anyone else claiming Patrick deleted his LJ, it's here. Really, it's not hard to research facts if you care about them.

He deleted it, causing TNH to accuse her husband's critics of destroying it. He later reinstated it, which is very easy on LiveJournal.
posted by kathrineg at 9:03 AM on August 20, 2009


kathrineg, the internet has never been about perspective. From my perspective, the Racefailers are desperately trying to promote their agenda by claiming good people are racists. They cry for banning books and boycotting publishers. They are enemies of free speech. And, most bizarrely of all, they attack the people who should be their allies, but in their ideology, the only allies are "white allies" who accept their non-dictionary definitions, so the old guard must be destroyed in order for the new guard to rise. They express their distaste for people by saying they wish they would die in flames or that they could stab them on the street. Calling them Maoists may be an insult to actual Maoists.

When did Patrick delete his LJ? He no longer posts to it. That's a huge difference. You may be conflating him with some of the people who, when mobbed, did delete their LJs.

But, as their selective lists show, accuracy is not a concern of the Racefailers.
posted by shetterly at 3:50 PM on August 20, 2009


Calling them Maoists may be an insult to actual Maoists.

I hope you eventually come to accept that slaughtering people and boycotting their books are very, very different.

No one included your blog post in their summaries because it was irrelevant and no one pays attention to you or, really, knows who you are.

If it makes you feel better, if I ever come across one of your books (not likely) I won't buy it. Because I'm oppressive like that.

When did Patrick delete his LJ? He no longer posts to it. That's a huge difference. You may be conflating him with some of the people who, when mobbed, did delete their LJs.

He deleted it and then reinstated it, but I'm obviously talking to someone with no connection to reality so I have little desire to prove it to you.
posted by kathrineg at 5:53 PM on August 20, 2009


Your defense of that community is that they're actually less bad than Mao? No, no. Rather, you're being deliberately obtuse in your reading of my earlier comment. Leave aside that hyperbole can be a good communication tool. Even on a bone-headedly literal reading of my comment, I am not asserting that the failers are as bad as Mao in any global sense. I said they were "about as liberal as Mao" -- i.e., that they share illiberal attitudes, for example about the values of openness, debate, and explanation. I went on to clarify this with my following sentence, right there in my original comment.

This actually makes a lot of sense, since the kinda post-modern "anti-racist" thinking that the racefail crew seems to adopt and vulgarize is based in part on a critique of Enlightenment liberalism and its values. Think of "color-blindness." Think of critiques of "free speech" based on the theory that only those with entrenched privilege benefit from the absence of regulation. This kind of thought seems to play some role in the intellectual background of the failers, so I think the association is real.

Turns out I was making a lot of sense for a near-Godwin! Too bad everyone's gone but us dead-enders.
posted by grobstein at 7:51 PM on August 20, 2009


I hope you eventually come to accept that slaughtering people and boycotting their books are very, very different.

kathrineg, they both destroy the ideas of people who have been declared to be enemy. You may want to look up "metaphor." Not all metaphorical things are equal in degree. They're only supposed to be similar in kind.

As for whether my post was relevant, I am cited in the Racefail accounts. Leaving out my side is intellectually dishonest, but typical.

Your repetition that Patrick did something which he did not is also typical. Say something often enough, and easily-influenced people will believe it.

grobstein, we continue to agree. "Color-blindness" is a fine example of their failure to understand metaphor, though I do agree with them that the metaphor has problems, for all that they seem to think its advocates meant it to be literal. Which is very odd, given that people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King used similar metaphors, but then, their take on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King is astonishingly selective.
posted by shetterly at 8:28 PM on August 20, 2009


Ahh how our founding fathers would cringe. One of the acts of free speech that defined the separatist movement in the former English colonies was the boycott of English goods to protest taxes. Freedom includes the freedom to not buy goods and services after all. It was also the strategy used by MLK, although it doesn't originate with him.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:26 PM on August 20, 2009


And personally, both sides pretty much lost my sympathies in that whole mob. Bellyaching that people might *gasp* not buy your books during or after an extended flamewar struck me particularly astounding example of entitled cluelessness about freedom of speech and markets. Freedom of speech, as it exists in the United States, pretty much only means that the government can't show up at your door with an order to seize your press prior to publication. (Well, in a few cases it can, but those involve military secrets and eminent threat.) Your customers have the freedom to complain about you, and you have the freedom to complain about your customers. But don't try to bullshit people into thinking that the loss of a sale is a freedom of speech issue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:03 PM on August 20, 2009


KirkJobSluder, I'm a commie; I'm happy when people don't buy my books. Ain't nothing I love more than a library.

But when people talk about boycotting publishers, I get creeped out. There's no freedom of the press when presses aren't free to print what they please.

When people talk about refusing to read someone because they'd heard they were racists, I get especially creeped out. When people talk about trying to get people fired because... well, take a look at Patrick Nielsen Hayden's statement that set the champions of speech codes into a fury. Only fools would think he was making a racist comment. Only fools would agitate for a writing campaign to get him fired. But the fools did all that.

If you can point to MLK calling for censorship, I'd be grateful.
posted by shetterly at 11:15 PM on August 20, 2009


I should make something clear, perhaps: I agree with ideological antiracists that racism is still a problem in the US. But unlike them, I do not think racism and genderism are the primary oppressions. Privilege is privilege, whether it belongs to an Ivy League antiracist or the most old school racist you can name. The ideological antiracists have accepted the fundamental divisions of humanity that racists began promoting several centuries ago, and they've taken that racist model of oppression to create a spherical cow. To them, acknowledging class division or attempting to discuss any of the implications of their belief is "derailing." Perhaps the funniest thing they say is that they don't need to "teach Racism 101." Teaching their ideology is all they want to do. If they wanted to address racism, they would get off the web and out of academia and work in the world to make it a better place. Instead, they complain that there's not enough diversity in science fiction while attacking writers and editors who have been actively promoting the thing they say they want.

Yes, they also attack idiots like John C. Wright. Throw a web wide enough, and you'll snare a few of the guilty with the innocent.
posted by shetterly at 11:28 PM on August 20, 2009


But when people talk about boycotting publishers, I get creeped out. There's no freedom of the press when presses aren't free to print what they please.

Really?

You think that the freedom to do a thing is the entitlement to be supported doing that thing? I take it that you watch Fox News; not 'cause you agree with them, of course, but because you have a responsibility to consume their product. When you go out and have a beer, do make sure to drink one of everything the bar sells?

I've written several certainly unpublishable short stories; I would like 8¢ a word.

Please send money immediately.

If you can point to MLK calling for censorship, I'd be grateful.

Dr. King didn't call for censorship, to my knowledge. However, he did call for boycotts on products and organizations that he believed were acting irresponsibly. So did Hugo Chavez. So have lots of people. Hell, as we speak, I'm personally boycotting Red Stripe lager, as it appears they have homophobic and discriminatory official policies.

I don't think anybody suggested (including the fools you mention) that government goons be sent to arrest the perpetrators. That is censorship. Refusing to buy a product from an organization with which you disagree is not censorship. Asking the organization to voluntarily change its policy is definitely not censorship.
posted by Netzapper at 11:40 PM on August 20, 2009


KirkJobSluder, I forgot to say that I agree there's no glory on either side in a flame war. We all forgot Shaw's advice: "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

Netzapper, I despise Fox News, but I don't call for banning them. (I'm a little appalled by the court case that says it's okay for them to lie when they please, but I don't have any idea on how to regulate honesty in the news, so I'd rather leave room for bias.)

But let's move on from the Racefailers' love of banning and blacklists and attempting to get people fired for speaking their mind; I agree that democracy is messy, and I've taken part in boycotts after researching the facts. But speech codes? No self-respecting writer should sign a speech code. The proper progress of free speech is toward more freedom.
posted by shetterly at 2:57 AM on August 21, 2009


But when people talk about boycotting publishers, I get creeped out. There's no freedom of the press when presses aren't free to print what they please.

Boycotting a publisher isn't denying them freedom of the press. It's denying them a sale. Neither publishers, nor writers have a right or entitlement to sales. And especially these days when a free website can reach a broader audience than a print edition, complaining about the loss of sales as an act of censorship is foolish.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:34 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robespierre expanded the traditional list of the Revolution's enemies to include moderates and "false revolutionaries". In Robespierre's understanding, these were not only ignorant of the dangers facing the Republic, but also in many cases disguised themselves as active contributors to the Revolution, who simply repeated the work of others, or even impeded the progress of the patriots. Anyone not in step with the decrees of Robespierre's committee is said to have been eventually purged from the Convention, and thoroughly hunted in the general population. While it is debated whether Robespierre targeted moderates to accelerate his own agenda, or out of legitimate concern for France, it is known that his policy led to the execution of many of the Revolution's original and staunchest advocates.

Robespierre saw no room for mercy in his Terror, stating that "slowness of judgments is equal to impunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty". Throughout his Report on the Principles of Political Morality, Robespierre assailed any stalling of action in defence of the Republic. In his thinking, there was not enough that could be done fast enough in defence against enemies at home and abroad. A staunch believer in the teachings of Rousseau, Robespierre believed that it was his duty as a public servant to push the Revolution forward, and that the only rational way to do that was to defend it on all fronts. The Report did not merely call for blood but also expounded many of the original ideas of the 1789 Revolution, such as political equality, suffrage, and abolition of privilege. Despite executing a good number of his fellow revolutionaries, Robespierre was still one of them in his theory, even if his practice was questionable.


The FAIL crowd are the Robespierres of the internets!
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on August 21, 2009


Why you can never win with these quota fuckers
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on August 21, 2009


KirkJobSluder, let's take this slowly: you're cool with speech codes? If so, we don't need to talk about the nature of free speech anymore. If no, do you approve of trying to get Patrick fired as a racist for saying that some people are smarter than others, and do you think Tor Books should be boycotted for their racist ways?

Artw, there are some people that not even Twain or Vonnegut could parody. (I hadn't seen that link. I'll thank you for it if my brain stops hurting. But I understand their logic: once you decide someone's the enemy, nothing is more suspicious than their doing something that looks like what you advocate.)
posted by shetterly at 1:41 PM on August 21, 2009


Netzapper, I despise Fox News, but I don't call for banning them. (I'm a little appalled by the court case that says it's okay for them to lie when they please, but I don't have any idea on how to regulate honesty in the news, so I'd rather leave room for bias.)

Increase the cost of lying by boycotting their advertisers. Censorship backed by the power of the state is very different from a boycott organized by concerned citizens. There's a whole range of options rightly available to citizen activists that would be wrong for a government to take because governments have a range of powers not available to their citizens. If you want to take back your culture you have to be prepared to take part in putting your shoulder to the wheel & pushing.
posted by scalefree at 2:59 PM on August 21, 2009


scalefree, in my experience, boycotts work against weak targets, but strong ones survive. I boycotted Dole and Nestle, among others, and they're still going strong, despite doing horrible things for corporate greed. But if you want to start a boycott of Fox advertisers, I would very sincerely cheer you on.

With the warning that the job will be huge. A quick Googling suggests to me that you might pick one Fox hitman for a target, then move on to the next if that one falls. Glenn Beck seems to be losing them advertisers lately.
posted by shetterly at 10:49 PM on August 21, 2009


shetterly: you're cool with speech codes?

I've not said a thing about speech codes, and that's a pretty silly derail.

If no, do you approve of trying to get Patrick fired as a racist for saying that some people are smarter than others, and do you think Tor Books should be boycotted for their racist ways?

The answer to those questions is "no" and "no." The reason why is because the whole thing has become a grudgewank on both sides. Both sides need to chill out, hug their cats and children, and rethink their position when not in open conflict. It's not because I feel that a boycott would violate the freedom of speech of anyone involved.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2009


scalefree, in my experience, boycotts work against weak targets, but strong ones survive.

That's an engineering problem. The ongoing trend towards decrease in transaction cost for group formation and object identification & tagging will make boycotts much more effective; hold your phone up to a soup can & it IDs the brand, checks it against your custom blacklist & whitelist based on whichever causes you support or other criteria like green compliance & gives you a green checkmark or red X. It's all feasible with today's technology. We've only begun to explore the potential of the network society.
posted by scalefree at 2:49 PM on August 22, 2009


KirkJobSluder, declaring something to be a derail is a classic example of attempting to control the debate. When the Racefailers do it, they mean, "Do not discuss the implications we prefer to ignore." In this case, speech codes are extremely pertinent: After Tempest Bradford posted an insult to Harlan Ellison, he responded, thinking she had more attitude than she does, and the result was this speech code created by people who did not know, it appears, that "NWA" is a compliment to people of color who aren't hopelessly bourgeois. The writers of the letter apparently don't know who N.W.A. were and don't know or care that Lenny Bruce and his heirs of all races would not be able to speak so powerfully if they signed on to similar speech codes. It's a very well-meant speech code, but speech codes are wrong, no matter how well intended. The love of controlling the discourse of your opponents is difficult to overcome, but it's a temptation that must be resisted.

scalefree, no matter how slick the technology, there'll always be the problem of getting enough people to sign onto a boycott to make it effective. I'm intrigued, mind you. But I'm also worried about the power for abuse.
posted by shetterly at 3:53 PM on August 22, 2009


Of course I'm attempting to control the discussion by not taking your bait on speech codes. You are attempting to control the discussion by calling me out on something I've chosen not to address and framing it as a yes/no question. Since our disagreement centers on your silly (and inconsistent, if your attitude regarding Fox News is any indication) complaint that other people are infringing on freedom of speech, asking my opinion on speech codes is a change in topic.

I don't think a yes/no answer is possible or reasonable. I certainly see some problems with the CBS code. But I have organizational editorial standards I follow on professional writing that exclude the use of profanity and ethnic slurs except in exceptional cases (quoting George Carlin or Lenny Bruce would be one.) Having such standards is great in some contexts, and inadvisable in other contexts. I run a gaming guild that is pretty open about keeping certain language out of guild chat, and if you don't like it, there are almost 100 other guilds on the same server. I don't think metafilter should follow the same standards.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:52 PM on August 22, 2009


And partly because I dabble in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, it's not clear to me that what's good for the on-stage discourse of Lenny Bruce and NWA is good for other communities, and modes of human communication. Especially in communities that lack the verbal and visual feedback that are normally used to mitigate the potential hostility of those slurs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:41 PM on August 22, 2009


KirkJobSluder, there's an enormous difference between a personal code and a speech code. My personal code is, in general, in accord with the CBS folks' proposal, but that doesn't change the fact that the purpose of a speech code is to restrict debate in a way that privileges its advocates. Or as Lenny Bruce said, "Take away the right to say 'fuck' and you take away the right to say 'fuck the government'." Or in the terms of the Racefailers, please stop with the derail. (Joke!) (Even if it's not terribly funny.)
posted by shetterly at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2009


P.S. I am sympathetic to your point in your last post. Freedom isn't easy, and communities do have a right to close their ranks. I think of ideological anti-racists as a cult because of the speed with which they close themselves off from "derailing," just as religious cults close themselves off from anything they deem heresy or blasphemy.

Hmm. This may be getting too general. I'm thinking primarily of their cries that any acknowledgment of class issues is derailing.
posted by shetterly at 7:53 PM on August 22, 2009


shetterly: Well again, here you go using the word "rights" in places I don't think really works. My employer determines both the content and style of what they publish. If you don't like those guidelines, you can get your own website for $5 a month (or less.) When you participate in the community I manage, you adhere to the rules that I and the other moderators have laid down. If you don't like it, $5 (or less) a month will buy you your own community where you have editorial control. When you participate here on metafilter, you are buying into a speech code. These are not personal codes, they are community codes.

That's how free speech works. The first amendment gives you the right to your own soapbox, it doesn't give you the right to mine. And one of the great wonders of the internet is the ability for communities to develop their own little soapboxes with their own norms of discourse.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 PM on August 22, 2009


I returned 'cause I just came across this, from John C. Wright, which I think is rather nice, given that he's a conservative Catholic.

Uh, KJS, where did I use the word "rights"? Or cite the first amendment? Yes, people have a right to lie and to misrepresent others and to keep troubling ideas far from their thoughts. Hell, I would fight for the right of the Racefailers to do exactly what they are doing.

But I would simultaneously denounce them for choosing to do what I abhor. Here are a couple of quotes by people who would disagree with their principles:

"We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." ~Noam Chomsky

And almost everybody's favorite: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." ~Voltaire

The idea that any of them would call for boycotting a publisher is ludicrous.

Well, it's probably past time to let this drop. I'll check back to see if there's anything I should answer, but I'm very happy to let someone else have the last word now.
posted by shetterly at 8:31 PM on August 22, 2009


Mr. Shetterly,

Everything I need or want to say on the subject is contained in the post links or the comments I've already made. I do not wish to converse with you. Please do not mefimail me again.

Thank you.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:37 PM on August 23, 2009


FunkyHelix, I must say you are consistent, which you may believe is a virtue, though I favor Emerson's take.

If you don't want to deal with me, don't make malicious allegations about me or people I know who are better than you claim. Giving others the benefit of the doubt is difficult, but it's a virtue you would do well to acquire.

If we never have another excuse to meet, I wish you well.
posted by shetterly at 1:47 PM on August 23, 2009


P.S., Funky, since you decided to answer my email publicly, I'll share what I sent you:

Title: don't neglect your comment thread

Message: I was away from the net for a while, so I missed your call out to me in your honky scifi post, but I'm back. If you want to have some fun there, I'm your huckleberry.

Obviously, you prefer to hit and run, but if you'd like to talk about Racefail or racism in science fiction, I'd be glad to. You have a number of misconceptions. For example, replying to pnh, you said:

I'm sorry if MeFi member funkyhelix thinks poorly of me based on something she read on the internet.

What, you mean your own words in your own journal which you then deleted to try and cover up that what you said was insulting and racist? That something on the internet? Yeah, I think poorly of you because of that.

I suspect my actual opinions [...snip...] are actually very close to hers.


I doubt that.


Patrick's probably correct, unless you're even more of a racist than ideological anti-racists claim everyone is. Patrick's a liberal capitalist, a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, and a lifelong advocate of diversity in publishing who has given work to many, many people of color over the years. But it's true that he's more liberal than the Racefail crowd, because he is willing to acknowledge that class has a role to play in oppression. So perhaps he is wrong in thinking that you might share values.

Your ignorance is so extreme that you identified him, Teresa, and Kathryn as writers. They're editors. If you looked at the people they've published, you would be impressed. Well, if you recognized their names, I suppose.

You might follow the link I offered earlier to the Delany article, then check the masthead. You might then go to this Wikipedia article and check the list of founders, and the list of people they publish. I doubt that'll change your belief that they're racists--in your ideology, those who are not for you are against you--but you should be aware that the evidence does not support your claims.
posted by shetterly at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2009


Wow. You're all nuts.
posted by scalefree at 7:12 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


scalefree, ain't no denying that.
posted by shetterly at 7:53 PM on August 23, 2009


My excuse for my half of the nuts, lame as it is, is that I'm tired of ignorant people damning good people as racists. A boycott of Tor Books would harm few people who write about "straight, white men." Target Tor, and you hurt new writers like N.K. Jemisin, recent stars like Toby Buckell, and established writers like Steven Barnes. Even Tempest Bradford admits that boycotting Tor is a bad idea for people who want diversity in fantasy and science fiction.
posted by shetterly at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2009


Another faily boycotty crisis thing here, this time centered around a game based on one of Orson Scott Cards works (which sounds detestable, tbh). Peter David, who worked on the game (as well as being the writer on X Factor) kind of leaps in to defend it.
posted by Artw at 9:45 PM on August 23, 2009


where that game is concerned, I'm completely torn on that very issue as we speak. I've been reading a lot about it today in particular, and ambivalence is pretty much precisely what I'm feeling right now.

on the one hand, I have a long-standing problem with Card. Really, I won't ever buy one of his books again. Not only do I find his personal politics detestable, but his books are all the kind of "ends justify the means" apologies for mass murder and fascism that I just can't do it anymore.

on the other hand, he didn't write this game. and it sounds like a very very good game, and whatever his political leaning may be, he didn't write the game, just the book it's based on.

but what I've read about that book makes me believe that it is possibly one of the most unashamedly anti-liberal pieces of propaganda you could read in fiction right now. terrorists literally start a new "progressive" regime based in NY city and use it as their base of operations to assault the remaining united states. fuck that shit.

but then, you don't get a lot of the politics, from what I hear, in the game. and it looks like it's really good, and made by good people.

so I'm torn. I want to support those guys, and play the game, but I don't want to run around a military complex killing liberals just because I'm the last line of defense between liberal terrorists and the real united states. just wouldn't sit right with me.

still haven't decided, though. at this point, with the metroid prime trilogy AND Batman: Arkham Asylum coming out tomorrow, the game may just get overlooked because there are such other outstanding properties to buy.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on August 24, 2009


I was a bit harsh here when speaking about FunkyHelix and the Racefailers. What saddens me is I share their goals. I just have trouble with their means. They keep saying this shouldn't be personal, and then they make it very, very personal. Delany addressed the subject perfectly in the first paragraph of his racism and science fiction article:

Racism for me has always appeared to be first and foremost a system, largely supported by material and economic conditions at work in a field of social traditions. Thus, though racism is always made manifest through individuals’ decisions, actions, words, and feelings, when we have the luxury of looking at it with the longer view (and we don’t, always), usually I don’t see much point in blaming people personally, white or black, for their feelings or even for their specific actions—as long as they remain this side of the criminal. These are not what stabilize the system. These are not what promote and reproduce the system. These are not the points where the most lasting changes can be introduced to alter the system.

Artw and shmegegge, I don't know Peter David well, and I haven't read all of his work, but what I know of him says he's one of the good guys. (Though, or perhaps because, he's also on the Racefailers' "shit lists".) I understand boycotting Card: he worked hard to make Prop 8 succeed. So I can't argue with any decision anyone makes about buying their game. I'm not a gamer, but the only way I'd buy it would be if I could play a member of the evil leftist army. Maybe a hacker will make that possible.
posted by shetterly at 1:25 PM on August 24, 2009


A surprisingly well handled synopsis of the kerfluffle surrounding the game, including Peter David's thoughts on the whole thing.
"My disagreements with Orson's politics are hardly limited to his views on gay marriage," David told Kotaku in an e-mailed statement. "We are at opposite ends of the political spectrum on pretty much everything. Why, then, did I agree to work on the game? Because among my most cherished beliefs is that, while I disagree with everything you have to say, I will defend to the death your right to say it. [Comic book creator] John Byrne has said no end of vicious things directed at me personally; I still buy his comic books because I like his work. I never, EVER, allow someone's stated opinions to impact on whether I support his work so long as those opinions don't transform the work itself into something that I have no desire to support.

"Shadow Complex wasn't a huge paying gig for me but I took it because I thought the developers were a nice couple of kids, and I found the story of a reluctant warrior being forced to find something worth fighting for to be a compelling narrative. By the same token, all the money in the world could not have gotten me to be involved if the story was something I personally found repellent."
on a side note, or back to the regular note maybe, thanks to this thread I finally went out and picked up Dhalgren, just 10 minutes ago. I had never heard of Delaney until someone had mentioned him on metafilter. the fault is entirely mine, as I've never been very good at figuring what on the store shelves was stuff I'd like and what wasn't. either way, I'm really excited to get started reading this.
posted by shmegegge at 1:33 PM on August 24, 2009


Of course when use a quote that talks about "the right to say 'fuck'" I assume that you are an intelligent person who has chosen that quote carefully. And as the right to say 'fuck' falls under the 1st Amendment and not, say, the 15th.

But, you appear to have a pretty blatant conflict of interest at hand here when you denounce a potential boycott of TOR while endorsing a boycott of FOX News (and on preview of Card). So it seems that you only abhor such economic activism when it might strike too close to home.

I don't approve of a boycott of TOR either because, as you've stated, they do publish works by people of color. But that has not a thing to do with the rights or liberties of TOR or its staff. I don't buy books from Tyndale press. Their liberties have not at all been restricted by my choice to buy a work of Gaiman or Bujold over LaHaye, and I decline to spend more than a minute of concern that his loss of a sale is a political hardship for him.

Of course the other side to freedom of speech is freedom of the press, which includes the liberty of presses (real and virtual) to reject work that does not meet their standards. You don't have the right to say whatever you want in the NYT, in something published by TOR, here on metafilter, or in a private gaming channel.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:38 PM on August 24, 2009


If it's too impenetrable you might want to check out Nova, which is a little more traditional but still awesome.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I must track down that Deep Space Nine episode where Cisco becomes a thinly veiled Delaney.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on August 24, 2009


Making Lists: Mindblowing SF by Women and People of Color - Man, Tor really doesn't want to let that The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF thing go.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on August 24, 2009


KirkJobSluder, you keep leaping to assumptions. If this'll help, I'm a democratic libertarian communist (small initials intentional); I prefer to involve the law as little as possible. The right to say "fuck" is not ultimately about the First Amendment; it's about the moral right to free speech. You may think of that as a God-given right or a freedom of nature or whatever you please. To me, it's simply what's right.

Fox News actively misleads people. I'll happily boycott them. Scott Card promoted Prop 8. I'll happily boycott him. But I won't sign a speech code that criticizes Fox News or Scott Card or anyone's approach to speech. I'll be very careful to explain why I'm boycotting anyone I boycott--there's an enormous difference between opposing ends and means. I will be very, very careful to be sure that I'm opposing their beliefs, not stifling their speech.

The people cited by FunkyHelix are no more racist than Tempest Bradford or the retroactively pseudonymous Coffeeandink. I know them all, to varying degrees, well enough to say that they do not deserve to be lumped in with Scott Card or John C. Wright (who I'm rather liking for his apology now).

I've addressed the people Funky did not know were editors. Now I'll say a little about the writers she mentioned:

Pat Wrede's "sin" was writing an alternate history in which humanity never made it to the Americas. How well Pat did her work, I can't say, because I haven't read the book yet. But if she did anything involving race in her story, it was to save the people who migrated to the Americas from being destroyed by European diseases and war. In her alternate history, the victims of Columbus's heirs are thriving in Asia.

As for me, the keepers of the Feministsf wiki, who are generally on the Racefailers' side, say: His work features strong women characters and people of color; at the same time, he has drawn significant criticism for his public statements on anti-racism, which he describes as "openly critical of the narrow agenda of capitalist antiracists".

My novel, Dogland, is heavily autobiographical: my family was involved in the civil rights struggle, we couldn't get fire insurance because word was out that the Klan would burn us down, I did get hit and spat on and cursed by racists, whose epithets included one I'm proud of today: niggerlover. I take racism and privilege very, very personally. It's why I oppose the Racefailers' ideological approach. Witchhunting does not make the world a better place. As Thandeka said about anti-racists in Why Anti-Racism Will Fail, "They make an erroneous assumption about the nature and structure of power in America." (I agree with her other two main points, but correctly identifying the nature of power strikes me as most pertinent in any general discussion of privilege and abuse.)

shmegegge, seconding Artw's praise of Nova, an earlier work of Delany's. Emma and I are also extremely fond of Babel-17. Though neither of write like Delany, we would not be the writers we are if we hadn't read him. (Which is prob'ly more obvious in Emma's work than mine.)
posted by shetterly at 3:54 PM on August 24, 2009


Gah. Should have mentioned Babel-17 - that one is awesome.
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on August 24, 2009


Artw, my understanding is that what Tempest says at the Tor site is entirely up to her.
posted by shetterly at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2009


Yes, i understand that there is a certain amount of separation of Tor.com from Tor, at the same time this is the fourth article slamming one of it's rivals on an area which they are somewhat shaky themselves, so I kind of have to say hmm. Especially when the articles seem to come with a certain amount of deck stacking and are a little dishonest in places ("hey! Mike Ashley totally could have had more people of colour and women in his anthology of megascale engineering and big stuff hard SF stories, as this list of works almost totally not like that at all clearly shows").

In another article the Tor guys say that they are not asking for quotas - well, a quota sure as hell now applies to Tors stuff, and should they ever fail to meet it i fully expect their feet to be held to the fire.
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on August 24, 2009


shetterly: Sure, if you want to argue from a strictly libertarian perspective, the moral right to freedom of speech goes along with a moral right to free trade and commerce. If I don't like your business practices, I have a moral right to take my business elsewhere.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:32 PM on August 24, 2009


I think the publishers should just ignore the boycott. What are they going to do, stop reading sci-fi?

You want more diverse sci-fi? Write it and publish it yourself. If the market really wants it, you'll make a mint.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on August 24, 2009


I would, TBH honest, buy an anthology based on that Tor.com in a heartbeat - there's some great names there, and the stories that I've read taht are on that list are great too.

I'd probably buy The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF too - again, great names, and I'm kind of partial to that kind of thing.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on August 24, 2009


I mentioned as much on a comment I left on the Tor site, which seems to have disappeared - If I were uncharitable I’d should Boing Boing style Stalinist moderation, but I suppose it could be some kind of glitch, I just thought I’d mention that in case it reappears.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on August 24, 2009


Because I'm really struggling to understand the value being expressed here that I must not only support the principle that my opponents should be free to express their mind without censorship, but that I should put money into their pockets as well. That is all a boycott is really about, regardless of rationale: not freedom of speech but the transfer of cold cash from person to person in exchange for a good or service.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:49 PM on August 24, 2009


KJS, "libertarian" was originally a commie/anarchist position that rightwingers took over and went all Ayn Rand on; a right to free speech does not necessarily go along with a right to exploit your fellows. Apologies if I misunderstand what you mean by "free trade and commerce," because I agree people have a right to trade freely, so long as they also trade fairly and make sure their society benefits as they do.

As for boycotting publishers, that's a way to shut down presses in a capitalist society. Freethinkers judge each book on its merits; Heinlein, for example, wrote some decent books and some that repel me. I'd never say the proper response is to boycott his publisher. I'd just tell people that Farnham's Freehold is racially problematic, but Starship Trooper's POV character is Tagalog. (There's a defense of Farnham's Freehold here that makes me want to reread it; I haven't picked it up since I was fifteen or younger.)

empath, it's easy for publishers to ignore threats of a boycott; that may be why the Racefailers backed down. The people I feel for are the newer writers on the "shit lists". The established ones can shrug, but it's a hell of a blow for the kids who're trying to make it.

Artw, Tor prob'ly should've come up with a name that separated the company and the site more, because the site, last I heard, is meant to be a science fiction and fantasy fan site, not a All-Tor-All-The-Time site. They do very little pimping of Tor's line, and a fair bit of pimping of the work of other publishers. So when you notice trends, assume it's individual writers' obsessions, not a Tor policy.

I suspect you hit a glitch there, not the heavy hand of moderation. But Teresa and her trainees can be quick to silence dissent, so that's only a guess; I dunno what the moderation policy is at Tor.com.
posted by shetterly at 7:08 PM on August 24, 2009


(There's a defense of Farnham's Freehold here that makes me want to reread it; I haven't picked it up since I was fifteen or younger.)

I always suspected it but now I have confirmation that even as a teenager I really was extraordinarily sensitive & insightful. I never even knew there was much controversy about it, the perspective from this review just seemed self-evident to me. Thanks!
posted by scalefree at 7:20 AM on August 25, 2009


scalefree, I think what made Farnham's Freehold controversial was the cannibalism, which is part of the classic racist take on Africans. If Heinlein had left that out, his intent would've been clearer--but the story would've been less powerful. He probably just wanted to show the extremes that can come from dividing humanity on racist/racialist lines.
posted by shetterly at 7:39 AM on August 25, 2009


Regarding the efficiency of boycotts: Why Hasn't the Glenn Beck Boycott Hurt Fox News?
posted by shetterly at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2009


The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Matthew Cheney Interviews Samuel R. Delany
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I might have to track that book down just to read his critisism of The Dispossessed, because I love that book. Everything that, according to this thread, SF supposedly is not, that book is.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on August 25, 2009


Literary science fiction has always been fertile ground for the queer, kinky, and poly. And that certainly hasn't been limited to just slash. I think the problem with the SciFi network is that it's television. The dramatic possibilities of television have often been hindered by aggressive attempts to turn everything into demographic marketing, coupled with a shyness for courting controversy that might cause a loss of sponsorship. And to some extent, this extends to cinema as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw, thanks for that link! The Jewel-Hinged Jaw is amazing. At least, that's my memory of it; Emma and I always had it on our short list of recommended books for writers. Now I'm putting it and The Dispossessed high on my re-read list.
posted by shetterly at 12:11 PM on August 25, 2009


KJS, we agree entirely on lit'ry SF vs. TV SF. The failure to recognize a difference may be the biggest problem with FunkyH's post.
posted by shetterly at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2009


I always suspected it but now I have confirmation that even as a teenager I really was extraordinarily sensitive & insightful.

And so modest.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2009


« Older Jazz pioneer Rashied Ali...  |  San Francisco's Black Exodus.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments