Head Geek is Head Creep
September 27, 2017 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles is stepping back from his website after sexual assault allegations have come to light. More women have come forward. This comes hot on the heels of Devin Faraci's re-resignation from Austin's Fantastic Fest. Faraci had been dismissed from the Alamo Drafthouse's blog Birth.Movies.Death last year after allegations regarding his own conduct were made, but was apparently brought back into the fold quickly afterwards. /film has perhaps the best available rundown of these events and the issues facing the Drafthouse and Austin film community going forward.
posted by yellowbinder (196 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
You know.. just once I'd like for a geeky institution not to be infected by this crap. I'm less embarrassed to admit to being a geek because of the obsessive awkwardness and more by this. Who knows, looking at my past, I might be guilty of the same sorts of things if I had "power" and hadn't quite glommed onto how big the problems actually were.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:46 AM on September 27, 2017 [35 favorites]


God damn it all, Alamo! What a fucking betrayal.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


just once I'd like for a institution not to be infected by this crap.

Sorry not trying to do a "fixed that for you" but we all need to see that the cycles of abuse are pervasive EVERYWHERE.
posted by sammyo at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2017 [52 favorites]


And another nerd paradise collapses around a missing stair.
posted by xyzzy at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2017 [63 favorites]


It.Ain't.Cool
posted by chavenet at 9:55 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


The site has been irrelevant for years. The comments (now disabled) on articles are dominated by users who hate Knowles for (as they see it) absconding with their money after a crowdfunding fiasco. The site's writers were barely ever paid, and Knowles' terrible writing is full of gross middle-school grade innuendo. This is a terrible but utterly unsurprising coda.

Meanwhile, apparently the organizer of SXSW thinks it's all fine.
posted by selfnoise at 9:55 AM on September 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Jesus god, just once I would like for there to be some famous dude who does not turn out to be a serial sexual harasser/assaulter. It is not, in fact, that difficult not to grab women (or men; not like only straight men commit assault). You don't have to be some kind of titan of morality not to assault someone.
posted by Frowner at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2017 [97 favorites]


I'm actually surprised, now that I think about it, that it has taken this long for the guy who wrote the infamous Blade II review* to be revealed as a dude of nonconsent. But then, I haven't thought about it -- I haven't thought about AICN since I was on dialup. I remember the day I was done with him. It was when he had an absolute shitfit about the casting of Matthew Lillard as Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. It was more than awful, more than tiresome -- it was sad. A child's screaming. No scoops, I thought, were worth this.

The guy was in the right place at the right time to catch the rising tide of the internet. It was inspiring, then, that a person with disabilities and no Hollywood connections could make himself heard this way, just by putting in work. But there was nothing else that inspiring about him. When Bill Cosby went down, it broke a lot of people's hearts, but this is not, I dare say, going to do that.

----
* google it yourself, advisedly, NSFW and NSFL
posted by Countess Elena at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


i'm still so bummed about the Alamo news, and it's crazy, when i look back, I got into BMD when it was BAD, and I got into BAD after Faraci split from CHUD.com. And I only found out abt that site from the11thhour.com, which was probably way ahead of its time, being a movie/tv site run mainly by women and for women.

i need to find me alternatives...
posted by cendawanita at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's like the term "nerd" no longer means "enthusiast of an obscure subject/activity," but more like "self-appointed authority using their influence within a subculture to exploit and abuse vulnerable fans."
posted by daisystomper at 10:03 AM on September 27, 2017 [87 favorites]


he comments (now disabled) on articles are dominated by users who hate Knowles for (as they see it) absconding with their money after a crowdfunding fiasco.

the kuro5hin model strikes again
posted by entropicamericana at 10:04 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Out of curiosity, why are 'nerds' supposed to be somehow less inclined to pulling this same old bullshit than do men everywhere? I am skeptical of the exceptionalism that seems to come along with the tagline 'nerd'. Having so-called 'nerdy' interests doesn't really say anything at all about moral fiber; just because they're more relatable to some doesn't mean there can't be creepy predators among them.
posted by erattacorrige at 10:07 AM on September 27, 2017 [44 favorites]


You don't have to be some kind of titan of morality not to assault someone.

You definitely don't, but I think what we're seeing is that you don't need to be some kind of depraved monster to assault someone if you live in a society that has for your whole life told you that you're special and entitled and that women are supposed to want you when you're famous, just by default. Not that they aren't awful, but they aren't awful in some particular special way; they're awful in a way that is related to how we've socialized not just the famous dudes but all the other dudes, too. I don't think it's that difficult to overcome that socialization, but most of our society still isn't even trying to. And a lot of people still don't care. Like, Nick Robinson made his apology and took his little break from Twitter and... now is tweeting like nothing happened and still has 60k Twitter followers? So.

You don't have to be amazing to be better than this, you just have to want to be better. Turns out, a lot of guys don't.
posted by Sequence at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2017 [76 favorites]


He was always a creepy fanboy. Always. This much was obvious to anyone who read his reviews regularly. His review of the tv show Heroes (the original, not the reboot) was beyond gross. Hayden Panettiere was 17 when the show was made. Knowles was 35.

Billy Donnelly has a post up on Facebook about his time at AICN, how he was fired and the aftermath. He's clearly still very angry.
Now, along the way, Harry would do a number of idiotic or embarrassing things, things that would contradict what he told us he wanted, things that would make the site look bad. And with Quint steering the ship, I would often raise them to him, confused about what our directions were when Harry was telling us one thing and yet doing another. And I always received the same refrain - "Oh, that's just Harry being Harry."

And in retrospect, that's the attitude and demeanor and excuse that allowed Harry to grope women and female patrons at the Drafthouse. That's the same kind of justification that enabled him to send dirty messages to women on Facebook and Twitter, skeeving up the joint and making far too many uncomfortable as they just tried to be a part of what they thought was an inclusive community. That's what allowed this scumbag of a motherfucker to think he was so entitled and untouchable that he could do whatever he wanted.

People would kiss his ring to be a part of what he was doing. At the site, they would step up and protect him, so they could keep their access alive. Why would they rock the boat when they could keep landing set visits and interviews and special screenings for themselves, acting in their own self-interests rather than doing what was right? And within the larger film community, there was Butt-Numb-A-Thon, Harry's 24-hour event to celebrate his birthday where the studios and filmmakers over time might show something early that those in attendance could witness before anyone else. No one was prepared to speak up against Harry's shenanigans, because that'd mean they were out, not part of the "Cool Kids Club" anymore, disinvited from the in crowd.

posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on September 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


Having so-called 'nerdy' interests doesn't really say anything at all about moral fiber; just because they're more relatable to some doesn't mean there can't be creepy predators among them.

Yeah, I wish I had known when I was young that so many of the guys who played football would grow up to be better men than the tabletop-RPG set. A lot of them didn't, of course, but we need to dislodge the narrative that being clever and bullied and introverted means you're destined for great things -- including women's bodies -- and therefore deserve them.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:12 AM on September 27, 2017 [68 favorites]


Nerds are fat more likely to behave inappropriately imho (I am not a nerd but I am a woman who has met quite a few). Lack of social skills + feeling of being smarter/ special + feeling normal society rules don't apply to them + too much time online + y chromosome = this shit.

I work in STEM and you don't find too many self proclaimed nerds there, funnily enough. The ones you do are often creepers though.
posted by fshgrl at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


Countess Elena, there isn't enough brain bleach in the world to scrub that Blade II review out of our heads. :(
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Between Knowles, Alex Jones, and Lance Armstrong, I feel we Gen-X Austinites have a lot to answer for.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2017 [11 favorites]


Reading this news yesterday I kept thinking about the evergreen list of Geek Social Fallacies, especially the first two. Nerd communities have long been convinced they are ostracized from the rest of society and don't want to visit that on their own, so communities tend to been most influenced by the worst among them as people are afraid to criticize them or cut them out.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2017 [38 favorites]


Out of curiosity, why are 'nerds' supposed to be somehow less inclined to pulling this same old bullshit than do men everywhere?

I think the theory is that since nerds were themselves often victims of harassment and bullying, they should be more understanding. And that nerd/geek groups often espouse the virtues of tolerance and being different and rejecting the bad in society that hurt them and others. However..

Nerds are fat more likely to behave inappropriately...Lack of social skills + feeling of being smarter/ special + feeling normal society rules don't apply to them + too much time online + y chromosome = this shit.

Turns out to be the reality.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2017 [23 favorites]


I remember when Ebert invited Knowles to sit in as the second reviewer on his show after Siskel passed away and he was so terrible. He had exactly zero interesting or critical to say about any of the films.
posted by octothorpe at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Do not google the Blade II review.

Sort of simultaneously disappointed and unsurprised by this whole mess. The whole "faux-edgy corporate shill" Thing was always gross but we really didn't need to discover a new level of grossness to the world.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


zarq, I read the beginning of actual porn by him once and it was that but even worse, and violent. I don't know how or why I saw it because it was definitely not a thing I wished to do with the precious eyes that are in my skull. Possibly some poster on SomethingAwful sprung it on a thread.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, I am AMAZED I had not heard of the Blade 2 review until yesterday, and very much regret googling it myself. How has he not had the shame or sense to take that down at any point in the last 15 years Jeeeeeeeesus.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


I read the beginning of actual porn by him once

Christ, the sexts are bad enough.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2017


This was all covered in an episode of Entourage, right?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


zarq, I read the beginning of actual porn by him once and it was that but even worse, and violent.

UGH. Horrifying. :(
posted by zarq at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2017


This controversy popped up in my Facebook feed and confused me. Not because of what happened but because I have never heard of any of these people, sites or things. Are they nerd fanboy things or do any of them actually make films? I found it confusing as I am somewhat involved in the film industry. I must be oblivious or something. In any case, I am confused.
posted by misterpatrick at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


AICN had scoops and rumors, which is the main reason I used to read them. But now we have twitter, so.
posted by xyzzy at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


After reading that Blade 2 review, I 'm now wondering which monster from Pan's Labyrinth did Guillermo del Toro create specifically based off Harry Knowles?
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Here's an older but relevant summary on Knowles.

This is a guy who had disturbing fantasies in public about an underaged actress, so the shock evinced by his coworkers is a bit much.
posted by selfnoise at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


AICN basically reached it's peak in 1998 freaking the fuck out about the Phantom Menace trailer. It's old school web.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


I read the first two paragraphs of the Blade review and lol, that is hilarious. I know he probably meant it to be edgy, which makes it even funnier tbh.

People are weird
posted by fshgrl at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


How about we just put like a short moratorium on men being in positions of authority or power anywhere? Like literally anywhere at all. Just for like...I don't know 100 years.

Let's just try it, is all I'm saying.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2017 [80 favorites]


Do not google the Blade II review.

Then maybe people shouldn't keep bringing it up as relevant, but forbidden knowledge.

BLADE 2 review

Wow, now that I've read it, this guy seems pretty awful.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


the infamous Blade II review

I just googled this at my own risk and

what

the



         actual
posted by gauche at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


Countess Elena, there isn't enough brain bleach in the world to scrub that Blade II review out of our heads. :(

I know, right? It's fucking incredible. The whole thing makes me want to throw up. Did you see how many times he abused the apostrophe and fucked up basic your/you're homophones?

The rest of it was appallingly greasy, too, but I thought everyone already knew he was a huge creep. I could never get into AICN back in the day because he was just so offputting and obviously greasy and creepy.
posted by loquacious at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


About all I can figure is that people must have thought that he was doing a parody of a creepy overgrown man-child, instead of actually being one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit.
posted by Fizz at 10:37 AM on September 27, 2017 [51 favorites]


misterpatrick - AICN was a fairly big deal in my early online nerd experiences, mostly I think because they often had Buffy-related news. So we're talking late 90s/early 00s. When I heard of this controversy, I was just shocked the site still existed at all. It was like hearing that guy who founded pets.com had been exposed as a creep.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2017 [15 favorites]


Also can someone summarize this gross review so I don't have to read it
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit.

This is a horrible way to live life. I'd rather believe that people are decent, and deal with the ones that prove otherwise promptly.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


It's an extended riff comparing the director of Blade II to someone performing cunnilingus and the audience to the clitoris receiving those attentions. With lots of unpleasant detail.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is a horrible way to live life. I'd rather believe that people are decent, and deal with the ones that prove otherwise promptly.

2016/2017 have severely reduced the level of benefit of doubt I'm willing to give people on that front, for sure.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


Here's what bothers me, and please correct me if I am wrong. This is the second time in the past year that someone closely connected with Alamo has been outed as being a serial sexual harasser, and it has come out that Alamo was aware of the allegations but because they benefited from the relationship they basically treated it as a missing stair and just continued the relationship.

You know, I'm glad you kick people out for texting or whatever, but that seems small potatoes next to this, and I don't know if I ever want to give another penny to this fucking place, women-only Wonder Woman screenings be damned.
posted by maxsparber at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2017 [48 favorites]


It's an extended riff comparing the director of Blade II to someone performing cunnilingus and the audience to the clitoris receiving those attentions.

So, fresh tomato?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2017


[A few comments deleted; if there's gross stuff in the comments somewhere else, we don't need to reproduce that here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2017 [10 favorites]




Jill Lewis, former guest services coordinator for Fantastic Fest and a former Alamo Drafthouse employee, came forward and described how she had been treated by Knowles, other attendees and at least one other Drafthouse employee. The employee apparently threw a chair at her and was not fired.

Here's another rundown from THR.
posted by zarq at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit.

This is a horrible way to live life. I'd rather believe that people are decent, and deal with the ones that prove otherwise promptly.


Agreed. The base assumption that people are awful just means that your expectations of others have been lowered. There's a greater need for individuals to demonstrate and promote good behavior now, because of things like this.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:59 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Knowles didn't get the opportunities to repeatedly assault women because of his "lack of social skills."

I feel like when we women rightly describe guys as "creepy," our male peers think of something like a molester hiding in a bush with a trench coat waiting to pop out and expose himself. But seemingly-regular, charming, social people can be incredibly creepy when they can get away with it.
posted by muddgirl at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2017 [56 favorites]


Jesus god, just once I would like for there to be some famous dude who does not turn out to be a serial sexual harasser/assaulter.

I'd never even heard of this creep until last month, when I borrowed a copy of Raiders from the library. The turnaround time from famous dude to sexual harasser/assaulter was pretty speedy from my perspective. In the movie, his energy and passion were clearly evident, and I made a note to keep an eye out for other things he was involved in -- but now he's saved me the trouble. Thanks, creep.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2017


From the infamous Blade II review:

Now you might feel all of this is inappropriate behavior on my part

Gee well mister
posted by Automocar at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


So, I went to a special event here in LA put on by Alamo Drafthouse and their Mondo Records last night. I almost didn't buy the tickets because of the other scandal with Faraci - and while there were lots of dope-ass people there, there were a LOT of classic Harry Knowles-esque creepy nerd-bros there. Like, a lot. I was trying to figure out why that was twigging me; and I thought it was because the movie was about teen girls (JOSIE!) until I watched one of them use the crowd to "bump" into a couple of young women and touch them. Like, graze their body, or something - enough to force a brief conversation.
(Sidenote: I couldn't get over to where he was, but I WAS able to make eye contact and do the I SEE YOU CREEPING STOP IT stare/gesture thing) And the "bump" thing gives them plausible deniability, you know? I think that was the grossest part, the premeditation involved in it.
Anyway, I suspect this is just the tip of the nerd creeper iceberg.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2017 [36 favorites]


I'm actually surprised, now that I think about it, that it has taken this long for the guy who wrote the infamous Blade II review* to be revealed as a dude of nonconsent.

Indeed. I don't think it's possible to be even passingly familiar with Knowles' ouvre and not react to this news with a weary sort of "Wow, I can't believe it took this long for something like this to come out".

Alamo Drafthouse ends up looking really bad in all this, though. I don't remember all the details now, but apparently there was another guy who they had to cut ties with over harassment/assault, and then they quietly hired him back and hoped nobody would notice. I'm half-expecting them to pull the same thing with Knowles. That's a capital-P Problem that they need to deal with right away.

(His other enablers don't look particularly good right now, either.)
posted by tobascodagama at 11:14 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


He was always a creepy fanboy. Always. This much was obvious to anyone who read his reviews regularly.

Never knew the guy. Never knew anyone who knew the guy, but I occasionally read AICN around the turn of the century and let me just say that I am neither shocked or surprised.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


The site has been irrelevant for years.

Actually asking: where should I be going instead for something approximating that frequently-updated info-stream about upcoming genre movies?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I always associated the man, the myth, the brand with foulness. Forgive my tenor in describing my experiences, and the shade applied.

I hung out in the AICN chatroom late nights in the summer before college roundabout '97. There were some decent folk, legit filmmakers, and critics waiting in the wings, but Harry always ruled over it with a sense of foul purpose and menace. If anyone threatened chat with decency, insight, or actual authority, he was quick to purge them. Once I got to college, AICN was mostly forgotten. The key image of Harry that stood out for me was The Golgothan, the shit demon Kevin Smith featured in his Dogma script, that was going around, behind the scenes at the time.

I moved to Houston after schooling, and my nerd circles of friends always had Harry stories. Butt-Numb-a-Thon was always spoken of in tones one would ascribe a bacchanal you had to audition for. Keywords being : Pwesents, stench, and the handful of films Harry got to screen as gifts from his filmmaker buddies, and the handful of films he would inflict on his tribe as punishment.

I met Harry once at SXSW after a Robert Rodriguez panel. A buddy and I were showing off a music video in competition. Chris Gore warned us away from doing so. My friend couldn't make it all the way and had to turn back, his eyes watering, gagging.

The Internet is awash in his words, his self aggrandizement, his own myth-making. He swam in his own shit, and delighted in forcing it upon others.

I will try to think very little on Harry Knowles going forward and I will be better for it.

It goes without saying, I believe his victims.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 11:17 AM on September 27, 2017 [14 favorites]


I used to read AICN back in the day when I was addicted to trading movie stocks on the Hollywood Stock Exchange. It was a fun way to bet for, or against movies, and I knew that if there was bad word of mouth on AICN, I should short that movie immediately. They did carry that much power back in the day. These days? Probably not so much.

At least a dozen years or more ago, I also used to self-describe as "a bit of a nerd" due to my lifelong fandom of Star Trek. It was a convenient shorthand for playing RPGs, watching anime, attending conventions, etc. These days? Considering the sheer amount of hate, misogyny and just plan shitty conduct emanating from those groups, I'd never use that term again to describe myself.

I keep hoping that things will get better in "fandom", but that hope is fading fast.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


i'm still so bummed about the Alamo news, and it's crazy, when i look back, I got into BMD when it was BAD, and I got into BAD after Faraci split from CHUD.com. And I only found out abt that site from the11thhour.com, which was probably way ahead of its time, being a movie/tv site run mainly by women and for women.

i need to find me alternatives...


I heartily recommend Dark Horizons and Nathan Rabin's Happy Place as alternatives for movie news and analysis.
posted by JDC8 at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


Faraci, a vocal feminist advocate,

Aren't they all.
posted by officer_fred at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm sort of fascinated by the cultural inertia that means that guys like this get to stick around basically forever once they reach a certain level of notoriety. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything positive about Harry Knowles or his writing, even back when his site was more relevant and popular. I've certainly never met anyone who was a frequent or enthusiastic reader of his. For basically as long as I've known about him (i.e. the last 20 years, basically), the reaction whenever he's come up has been either "Who?" or "Oh, right, that guy, he sucks". And yet, because he's a straight white guy with no opinions that remotely challenge other straight white Internet guys, here in 2017 he's still invited to stuff and treated as a semi-important cultural figure in some circles because he had a popular blog in 1997 that no one read after, like, 2002.

It's just kind of baffling to me. Harry Knowles was a gross dullard in the 90s and basically everyone knew it, but it takes serious allegations before institutions like Alamo realize that maybe they shouldn't want to be associated with guys like that. What was anyone gaining from fêting Harry Knowles at this point? He's just a foul barnacle and the world will be better for his losing what little influence he still had.
posted by Copronymus at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2017 [25 favorites]


He was always a creepy fanboy. Always.

Hell, we knew that when he chose to name his site and his internet presence after the lamest forced would-be catchphrase in the history of forced would-be catchphrases, uttered on screen by someone desperate to outrun all the ghosts and shadows he'd suppressed in the aspiration to fame.

It's skeeve all the way down, is what I'm trying to say.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


schadenfrau: How about we just put like a short moratorium on men being in positions of authority or power anywhere? Like literally anywhere at all. Just for like...I don't know 100 years. Let's just try it, is all I'm saying.

The situation we've got now is men hiring other men without any control whatsoever.
posted by clawsoon at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2017 [32 favorites]


How about we don't tar geek/nerd communities when one of its leader gets caught harassing, in the same way we don't automatically create justifications to demonize, say, doctors as a profession when there are cases of sexual assaults perpetrated by them?

It's unhelpful to say that oh, geek men are more likely to harass because they're entitled or something when the pattern of popular men abusing their power + them getting their behaviour tolerated by hanger-ons is a pattern in and of itself that gets replicated throughout many pockets of society.

He's also a rather charismatic, energetic guy and a force of personality - a far cry from the usual members of the communities. If I'm not wrong, some studies even say that nerds are much more likely to hold feminist ideas (and to not hold misogynistic or sexist views) than the average. If I'm remembering it correctly, the least likely are uneducated, non-urbanite men.

Just a side note in this conversation.
posted by tirta-yana at 11:35 AM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Isn't this the guy who put V for Vendetta on his year's best list in spite of the fact it had not been released yet? He just want to brag he saw it at a private screening.
posted by Beholder at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Faraci, a vocal feminist advocate,

Aren't they all.


He used to co-host a podcast with Amy Nicholson called The Canon. They'd pick a film or two and discuss its relevance in an arbitrary 'Canon of Greatest Films of All Time'. I used to enjoy it quite a bit, but when I think back about the show, Faraci had a habit of talking down and yelling over Amy Nicholson.

It's fine to have disagreements and a differing of opinion but there are glimpses of how he treated women throughout the podcast, so it wasn't surprising to find out that he had a history of being abusive towards other women on the Internet and in real life.
posted by Fizz at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


How about we don't tar geek/nerd communities when one of its leader gets caught harassing, in the same way we don't automatically create justifications to demonize, say, doctors as a profession when there are cases of sexual assaults perpetrated by them?


What if the AMA regularly defended and protected doctors who commit sexual assault the way Alamo did? The way Con organizers do?

Actually maybe the AMA does do that; I wouldn't be surprised.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit.

Nah, that's lazy. But do keep a close eye on anyone who has power, whether inherited, grabbed or even "earned". It's just not good for them, or you, or anyone else they're in contact with. In fact, paraphrasing something I heard someone else say recently, "I wonder if one of the roots of abusive behavior in various subcultures is that these are precisely the people who have never had much power growing up, and, being 'weirdos' (or whatever) were never expected to have any. So nowhere in their education, formal or otherwise, was there any useful guidance on how to wield power without getting corrupted by it."

How about we just put like a short moratorium on men being in positions of authority or power anywhere? Like literally anywhere at all. Just for like...I don't know 100 years. Let's just try it, is all I'm saying.

I'm currently resident in a fairly isolated community where women have long had a fair measure of power. Trust that their chromosomes have not protected some of them from making a mess of things.
posted by philip-random at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


Nerd communities are bad because they've not developed a culture that can deal with bad actors. Add any degree of power to such a bad actor and it's open season on vulnerable people. I don't know what examples might exist of actually good subcultures, I suspect bad actors evolve within groups to continue to exploit people however the rules and norms shift.

"So nowhere in their education, formal or otherwise, was there any useful guidance on how to wield power without getting corrupted by it.""

Sociopaths the education like this as how-to guides to exploit the system within the rules.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:49 AM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Actually asking: where should I be going instead for something approximating that frequently-updated info-stream about upcoming genre movies?

Reddit's /r/movies is actually reasonably well-moderated, and if nothing else you can just follow the links to find other sites that have movie news.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


> This is a horrible way to live life. I'd rather believe that people are decent, and deal with the ones that prove otherwise promptly.

Cynicism is just a fancy word for pattern recognition.
posted by davelog at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2017 [54 favorites]


Look. I describe myself as a geek, I do not fit into the hipsterized geek culture. I'm in a tie M-F schmoozing and getting stuff built while at work. I'm in a flannel and sandals at all other times. I play stupid video games and watch way too much TV. I regressed my offering price of my car based on mileage, feature, year and make of automobile in 2014. I lost the emacs war and can use vi. I have an unnatural knowledge of board game strategy. I built a trebuchet within the past 18 months. Harry Knowles may be a geek - but he is way more. Harry Knowles is a sleeze. He's a sleeze with an interest but zero skills.

Sleezes have access to others and abuse this access.
Geeks have obscure and/or useless knowledge at a mind blowing level. Some, can even apply this knowledge - but not all.

This guy is a sleeze. He also happens to be interested in geeky things, but the overriding reality is he is more of a sleeze than a geek. Being a geek does not make someone a sleeze. Being a sleeze does not make someone a geek. There is a lot of cross pollination between these two groups strictly because sleeziness is combatted by having the knowledge of how to use social skills properly. And learning social skills and working to apply them inappropriately is sociopathic.

So sure, this guy is a geek - in the most fluffy way. And he may have a following, but he is above all else a sociopath valuing himself above others. He doesn't see people, he sees opportunity.

I think it takes a lot to make your own 20 year media empire, but if we were comparing that with my geeky friends that were 'makers', he is so - subpar with geek cred. He's built his life around other people's passions - not built his life around his own. I dunno. Somebody pointed his site out to me when I was in college - and I was like... wow this guy is bullshit regurgitated, and I can say if it weren't for this article - I would have honestly thought he'd died in obscurity. Now I learn, that idiots legitimized this guy for 20 fucking years. Christ... this guy is like redneck American Patrick Bateman without the follow through to actually kill people -just another "office suit" with too much of a belief in his own greatness... (minus the suit of course).
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


It would be nice to avoid trotting out the #notallgeeks and #notrueScotsmangeek tropes in this discussion.
posted by Lexica at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2017 [49 favorites]


Once, again, I am sad we can't have nice things. And I am sorry all the victims even had to think about this much less experience it.

(One thing helped me feel better while reading up on all this - Casey Jones masks for $30! (Well, in January) - http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/Product/VariationDetails/61866 !) Sorry, trying to make the best out of a bad reading session.
posted by Samizdata at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2017


(Also, if horror is your genre, DreadCentral is a good place for reviews and news, IMO.)
posted by Samizdata at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I would like it if people I respect such as the McElroys refused to work with the Alamo Drafthouse until they correct their issues. Or never again, that would work too.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:09 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


Well, it might be useful to recognize that geek culture is a consumerist undertaking, and there is nothing about the way we choose to spend money or celebrate what we have purchased that makes us inherently able to address systems of oppression.

That's fine. It's not a flaw with geeks, it's a flaw with capitalism, and we can't expect geeks to just inherently do better than anybody else just because they share certain purchasing tastes.

But they have built a community out of their shared purchasing tastes, which not all consumers do, and so they are faced with the challenges that community demands, especially if you value inclusiveness.
posted by maxsparber at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2017 [34 favorites]


It would be nice to avoid trotting out the #notallgeeks and #notrueScotsmangeek tropes in this discussion.

But what if I am a geek with Scot ancestry?
posted by Samizdata at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Disappointed that you feel there's breathless exciement about upcoming nerd movies that MeFi cannot provide.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


infamous Blade II review*

* google it yourself, advisedly, NSFW and NSFL


Hm. I kinda recall liking Blade 2, I wonder what AICN said about it, he said to himself, opening the Google.

Sweet Cthulhu, it autocompletes the search. This is not a good sign.

I begin to read.

This...this is a Penthouse Letter of a movie review? I can't un-read it. I can't un-read it. But perhaps if I bleach my eyes...

This is a cautionary tale, dear readers. Don't do what I have done.
posted by nubs at 12:23 PM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


What a terrible name "Ain't It Cool News" is. Imagine coming up with that and thinking, yes! That's perfect!
posted by thelonius at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Disappointed that you feel there's breathless exciement about upcoming nerd movies that MeFi cannot provide.

There was one person who was really shitty about the Mad Max movie every single time there was a post about it, and there were 3000 posts about it.
posted by maxsparber at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


He's built his life around other people's passions - not built his life around his own.

...but isn't that the heart of current geek culture? The overwhelming majority of people I've encountered who self-identify as geeks or nerds, when asked to describe what that means, will rattle off a list of the media properties they enjoy or the objects they buy that are related to those properties. The folks who have passions tend to describe themselves as practitioners of those passions.
posted by palomar at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


when I think back about the show, Faraci had a habit of talking down and yelling over Amy Nicholson.

He went way beyond that; Before I quit listening to The Canon, I heard him on multiple occasions question her ability to watch and read a film -- for themes, for subtext, for even basic plot details. At first I took this as an attempt at Siskel & Ebert-level stage sparring, but after a while it became clear that he had actual contempt for her opinions.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


The fact that anyone on earth ever spoke to Knowles again after he wrote the following is staggering, he's always been a creep, exactly zero surprise here.

I've got a moral quandry about the show. Hayden Panettiere, born August 21, 1989, now 17 (legal in Texas, which is important, because her character is in Odessa, Texas) as the character, Claire Bennett. She's adorably cute, constantly in her cheerleader uniform. Ok - now never mind that she fulfills the underage cheerleading limber blond virginal demographic. That's pretty delicious. But they gave her the ability to regenerate and resuscitate from any and all injuries. This power has decided to manifest itself before she's lost her virginity. Which means - everytime she has sex, she's a virgin as her hymen will repair itself. Meaning that everytime she's fucked, its like she's being fucked for the very first time. OK - that's WAY WRONG. NOW - add to that - that she's at the age where cellular growth is complete. This is it. No wrinkles. No sagging breasts. If she has a kid and it pushes the hipbones out... they'll straighten back and she'll be fine.

posted by Cosine at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2017 [25 favorites]


Oh god I didn't catch my "nerds are" typo until just now, deeply sorry everyone. "Nerds are bad" is waht I meant to say.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I work in STEM and you don't find too many self proclaimed nerds there, funnily enough

Bit of a derail but I never saw a connection between an interest in science/maths/coding/taking things apart (which I always had) and an interest in comics/superheroes/sci-fi/etc (which I never had). When I was 14 I was in the final of a national-level programming contest in Ireland (there were probably 50 kids at it so it wasn't crazy selective or anything). It was on over a full weekend, and on the Saturday night entertainment was a showing of one of the Star Trek films (which I skipped). I was pretty horrified - I was a (sorta-ish) regular kid who did sciency/computer stuff but also played a ton of sport. I remember thinking "oh God, if people hear they're showing this, they're think we're a bunch of nerds".

But yeah, would never claim STEM doesn't have problems.
posted by kersplunk at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


There was one person who was really shitty about the Mad Max movie every single time there was a post about it, and there were 3000 posts about it.

That persons name is on a list, I assure you.
posted by Artw at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Well, now I know why the Alamo Drafthouse sign is basically a giant neon dick.....
posted by spilon at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


...but isn't that the heart of current geek culture? The overwhelming majority of people I've encountered who self-identify as geeks or nerds, when asked to describe what that means, will rattle off a list of the media properties they enjoy or the objects they buy that are related to those properties. The folks who have passions tend to describe themselves as practitioners of those passions.

Depends on the niche, model builders are DIY, same with LEGO, same with LARP, same with the people who make their costumes, but yeah - geeks are consumers with a capital C.
posted by Beholder at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2017


This is a horrible way to live life. I'd rather believe that people are decent, and deal with the ones that prove otherwise promptly.

Getting assaulted and having nobody care, which is not only still the norm right now but is in fact part of the Bro Code that protects and values the rights of assaulters over their targets, is also a horrible way to live. Don't sneer at people who've very reasonably chosen to front-load their defenses.

It's never promptly. You have to be believed for a response to be prompt. You have to be more important than the high-status white guy's right to hurt/fuck/oppress people for a response to be prompt. We're not there yet, and this is no proof of progress because everybody let this shit go on for years and years, and they're letting the next missing stair do it right now, I have no doubt, until he gets busted too bad to cover up anymore. I'm sure there's women who could tell you his name right now, if they dared.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2017 [47 favorites]


We're now in full-blown "jocks are 100% amazing, nerds are 100% horrible" territory with the events of this week.
posted by naju at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


We're now in full-blown "jocks are 100% amazing, nerds are 100% horrible" territory with the events of this week.

Nah, Sturgeon's Law holds. You're just seeing some occasional edge cases among the jocks right now.
posted by The Bellman at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


I heard him on multiple occasions question her ability to watch and read a film -- for themes, for subtext, for even basic plot details.

I quit listening for the same reason. If you're looking for a thoughtful and engaging deep dive into films and movie-making, give Filmspotting a chance. It's an excellent podcast. Highly recommended.
posted by Fizz at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Actually asking: where should I be going instead for something approximating that frequently-updated info-stream about upcoming genre movies?

I used to frequent the genre/nerd gossip sites, but now I just read gizmodo/io9's Morning Spoilers as a daily recap.
posted by thecjm at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nah, Sturgeon's Law holds.

It was a joke, to be clear. (Not a great time for jokes, granted, but my serious thoughts are still processing and require more space than I have time for)
posted by naju at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Depends on the niche, model builders are DIY, same with LEGO, same with LARP, same with the people who make their costumes

And like I said, the folks with passions tend to describe themselves as such -- "I'm a cosplayer", "I'm super into model building", et cetera. I honestly cannot remember the last time I met someone who said anything like, "Oh, I'm such a nerd! I spend my weekends designing and creating parts of very elaborate cosplays, when I'm not LARPing my dick right off in the woods by my house". It's usually "I'm such a nerd! I'm really into Star Wars and the whole Marvel Universe, look at the new toys I bought!".

And I think folks like Harry, with their obsession for swag and recognition, helped create this new version of geek/nerd culture.
posted by palomar at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


This controversy popped up in my Facebook feed and confused me. Not because of what happened but because I have never heard of any of these people, sites or things. Are they nerd fanboy things or do any of them actually make films? I found it confusing as I am somewhat involved in the film industry. I must be oblivious or something. In any case, I am confused.

AICN is a review site that predates Metafilter on the internet by 3 years. It was founded in 1996. If you weren't online back then, it can be hard to explain how slim the pickings were for websites and news sources. There were no blogs. No Livejournal, Youtube, Myspace or Facebook. No social media sites. Most people accessed the internet via dial-up. AOL was still ascendant and charging an hourly fee for their services. (They switched to a flat rate of $19.95 per month in December '96). Rotten Tomatoes wouldn't be launched for another two years, and it took a while to get off the ground.

Knowles launched AICN and hustled his ass off to get perks and scoops. He connected with people in the industry and helped turn his hometown (Austin) into indie movie central for fans. And for a brief period of time AICN filled a unique niche. His was the go-to site for breaking and speculative news about upcoming movies and tv shows. Today we have dozens of sites and social media channels that do the same thing. But back then? For a short period of time, he was king of all he surveyed.
posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2017 [23 favorites]


philip-random: "LIFE HACK: assume everyone is a piece of shit.

Nah, that's lazy. But do keep a close eye on anyone who has power--
"

So... men.
posted by bigendian at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2017 [31 favorites]


I don't know that there's a clear taxonomy of nerdom. There were always the sci fi fans are slans sort of thing, which insisted that science fiction fans were both more intelligent than the average and also more likely to be bullied just by virtue of their reading habits.

But there was also a pretty participatory element of it even early on. I mean, people were composing original filk songs 60-some-odd years ago, so this is a category of consumerism with an unusually long history of inspiring and even encouraging more hobby-like participation.

It may be a matter of taste, but fans are slans types have always seemed a little too proud of the way they spend their money, a little too eager to claim both superiority and victim status just for their taste in literature. They have also seemed to me to be dominated by adolescent boys and adults who act like adolescent boys.

And, admittedly, I am not tremendously connected to fan culture, and so maybe my experiences are too limited to really extrapolate from. But my experience with the cosplay, filk, modelmaking, etc. side of fan culture has tended to be more inclusive and more concerned with inclusion.

It's weird, because I feel like that's the group that is often nailed for supposedly being somehow domineering or less accepting, when I see a lot less of the intellectual one-upmanship and gate-keeping than pure fandom. I wonder if it isn't because these groups, because of their inclusivity, are a challenge to the gatekeepers.

But what the hell do I know? I write about horror and science fiction westerns, which has a fan community of me.
posted by maxsparber at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2017 [15 favorites]


It would be nice to avoid trotting out the #notallgeeks and #notrueScotsmangeek tropes in this discussion.

The part I have a problem with in these discussions, though, is that generally both the perpetrator and the victim are a part of the same or adjacent subcultures. "Men do this" and then #notallmen is inappropriate if you're talking about things where men are the perpetrators and non-men are the victims. Part of the "not all geeks" point that needs making is that women are a part of geek culture and belong in geek culture. There may be some problem with geek culture, but it's not helpful to say that the problem is geek culture if you aren't going to actually be specific about how that differs from how cishet white men in the US are socialized in any other respect.

The geek social fallacies get trotted out a lot, but I'm not actually sure that someone doing this kind of thing is likely to get actively called out and removed from any group made up largely of white people in the US. And we need to talk about whether the problem is "geek" social fallacies or whether the problem is the whole culture and the way its most entitled members behave. Geeks are getting called out in media at high rates right now, but I'm not sure I've seen actual evidence that famous people in geekdom actually have a worse track record about this than, say, Evangelical pastors. Or famous athletes. Or whatever. Saying geeks are bad at excluding people is... I'm not saying it's untrue, but I'm not sure it's the controlling factor, for example, in whether women are willing to come forward to publicly accuse a man who is reasonably famous, because the same problems exist in every other industry and community. As is the tendency to forgive men who've done this kind of thing, to minimize what happened, to resist getting any better. People get to talking about "are geeks all like this" and it's like... well, only insofar as you're not going to find any large communities that aren't.
posted by Sequence at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2017 [20 favorites]


AICN also introduced me both to spoiler warnings and reviews that spoil the everliving fuck out of every singe aspect of a movie.

It's possibly patient zero for a style of writing on popular culture that I would describe as "Reddit asshole" despite predating Reddit by a decade plus.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on September 27, 2017 [20 favorites]


I quit listening for the same reason. If you're looking for a thoughtful and engaging deep dive into films and movie-making, give Filmspotting a chance. It's an excellent podcast. Highly recommended.

I've been a listener since it was called Cinecast, and happily second the recommendation to anybody reading this. Thankfully, current hosts Adam Kempanaar and Josh Larsen are both happily domesticated middle-aged Chicago guys, who by all indications don't engage in the scenes that seem to have sprouted up around the Drafthouse in Austin or Cinefamily in LA.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2017


it's not helpful to say that the problem is geek culture if you aren't going to actually be specific about how that differs from how cishet white men in the US are socialized in any other respect.

Oh, I'd forgotten that it's our responsibility to be "helpful" when we respond to learning that yet another man has been serially harassing women and the community he's part of has been concealing and ignoring it. Silly of me.

People get to talking about "are geeks all like this" and it's like... well, only insofar as you're not going to find any large communities that aren't.

So given that you acknowledge that men who behave like this "exist in every other industry and community" it seems like a pointless derail to try to point out that #notallgeeks.
posted by Lexica at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2017 [38 favorites]


“there’s a serious problem with geek culture i’d like to discuss”
“no, there’s a problem with all cultures”
“i’m addressing how the larger problems of misogyny and rape culture intersect with the specifics of geek culture and speaking to that audience and its particular issues and blindness/denial of the problems”
“but this is about everyone, not just geeks”
“yes, and when it happens in the punk scene, for example, then I would talk about how the larger issues intersect with the punk scene's specific ways of perpetuating them."
"but everyone"
"do you see how... ugh"
posted by naju at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2017 [77 favorites]


It's possibly patient zero for a style of writing on popular culture that I would describe as "Reddit asshole" despite predating Reddit by a decade plus.

Usenet predates Reddit, and Usenet fully embodied the "Free Speech Uber Alles" model of "Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole of The Law" ethos of the early net.

I could, with some googling, probably find some of my 90s era usenet posts on google groups (remember that?) and.... Let's just say I've grown since then, and Reddit never had any attraction for me as a result.

Anyway, AICN was sort of revolutionary at the time, but it always had this greasy peepshow vibe that even when I was the target audience I found really offputting. You can't always be sure between schtick and way of life, but I've long felt that there wasn't much daylight between what he wrote and how he was.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


fans are slans types have always seemed a little too proud of the way they spend their money, a little too eager to claim both superiority and victim status just for their taste in literature.

I think of it as a Romantic error, possibly connected to the constant vein of Romance underlying the Enlightenment trappings of science fiction.
posted by clew at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


The fact that anyone on earth ever spoke to Knowles again after he wrote the following is staggering

Holy fucking shit I'm not sure staggering covers it
posted by schadenfrau at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Usenet predates Reddit

And shock jock radio predates all of it. Shock jock radio is patient zero in asshole culture.

Baba Booey!
posted by Beholder at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's a very specific kind of asshole tone to the writing though. Simultaneously creeping and dismissive, and forcefully insistent on a frame of reference built up on pop culture ephemera that A) treats pop culture as if it;s the Sistene chapel or something and B) is actually hugely ignorant of great swathes of it. If you're familiar with the postings of alt-right culture war assholes all of them basically talk like that when they have their "good" face on.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


We're now in full-blown "jocks are 100% amazing, nerds are 100% horrible" territory with the events of this week.

if it makes you feel any better the NFL also remains chock-full of unrestrained misogyny

(OK, I don't know why that would make you feel better)
posted by schroedinger at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Asshole.
posted by Pendragon at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2017


This guy Knowles--whom I'd never heard of before now--he's an actual, literal neckbeard! I didn't think they were real!
posted by orrnyereg at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think he may be the ur-neckbeard, the one people were originally referring to when that phrase was invented.
posted by maxsparber at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


What a terrible name "Ain't It Cool News" is. Imagine coming up with that and thinking, yes! That's perfect

Not to dreail but "Ain't it cool" is part of a line of dialogue from Broken Arrow, which is exactly the kind of movie Knowles would pat himself on the back for loving and naming his website after.
posted by paulcole at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Broken Arrow was considered extremely cool in 1998 due to having two people who had recently appeared in Tarantino films in it.
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


The fact that anyone on earth ever spoke to Knowles again after he wrote the following is staggering.

I... I... I don't even have any words. I'm actually linking back to the comment because people should go read that, if they can stomach it. It's hard to understand how a human mind could have come up with that.

OK. I'm an open-minded person. I know that ocean of human imagination is impossibly deep and contains the beautiful and the horrible and the mundane and the unthinkable, and I embrace that. And I think when a person offers us a peek into his psyche, as Knowles does in that comment, we should respect that and take it in and learn from it.

And here is what we can learn from that comment:

Harry Knowles needs to be strapped to a rocket and fired into the sun.
posted by The Bellman at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


And I always received the same refrain - "Oh, that's just Harry being Harry."

The thing is, just change "Harry" to "Harlan", or "Isaac", or "Walter", and you have SF&F fandom until very tecently. Change it to "Zak" or "James" and you get tabletop rpgs. And video games? Too many to list.

This is not a case of bad actors; this is an entire toxic culture that uses various excuses to tolerate or even encourage this behavior. A community that is so paranoid about public exposure and criticism that the most important thing becomes sweeping "embarrassments" under the rug. The SF&F convention community at least is starting to change, but there's still so far to go.

I mean, it was only five years ago that the "missing stair" article cane out. Four years since the revelations about how the SF community protected the child molesters Bradley and Breen. Three years since WisCon violated is own feminist posture to protect serial harasser Jim Frenkel. On the other hand, 20+ years since the first allegations about Clarke surfaced, and I didn't even know about those until 2010.

When the entire community is a missing stair, then what? Either go through a long, excruciating fight to make things better where success is not guaranteed, or leave, or defend the status quo. There really isn't such a thing as remaining neutral.


How about we don't tar geek/nerd communities when one of its leader gets caught harassing,

FUCK. THIS. ENABLING. BULLSHIT.

This is exactly what I was talking about. A perfect example of how the geek communities' terror of being judged translates into "Let's sweep this under the rug and pretend it was just this one guy."

There is a major, major problem with geek culture and imbedded attitudes, and at this point people need to decide if they are going to be part of the problem or the solution. And without taking a critical look at the culture that enables people like Harry, we can't begin to change.
posted by happyroach at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2017 [77 favorites]


Comics: "oh that guy always gets drunk and bites people".
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on September 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


If you are a white male in any scene/culture/whatever, and you see something but don't call it out for 'fear of a mildly uncomfortable situation for yourself', fuck you, you are absolutely complicit right now. You have simultaneously the least to lose and the most potential to help.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:33 PM on September 27, 2017 [36 favorites]


Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles is stepping back from his website

From the "stepping back" link: His sister will take over AICN in the interim.

There are rumors that his sister isn't taking over at all - that's it's just him pretending to be his sister. The rumors are fueled by stuff like this, a post to AICN which is under his username but written as if his sister is writing it. Could be a mistake, could be his sister took over his screenname, but after the whole "Oh yeah, Faraci's still working here, oops" ordeal, I can't fault people for believing the rumor.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:52 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


“yes, and when it happens in the punk scene, for example, then I would talk about how the larger issues intersect with the punk scene's specific ways of perpetuating them."

Okay, but what I'm saying is that I don't think this guy went so long without getting caught because geeks don't like excluding weirdos. I don't see how most of these things are relevant, except that they get brought up every time we're ostensibly talking about geeks.

Reading this news yesterday I kept thinking about the evergreen list of Geek Social Fallacies, especially the first two. Nerd communities have long been convinced they are ostracized from the rest of society and don't want to visit that on their own, so communities tend to been most influenced by the worst among them as people are afraid to criticize them or cut them out.

I'd be happy to talk about things in a more specific context, but I don't see how "geek" is a useful specific context for this, for exactly this reason. Do we really think anybody anytime recently has been afraid of ostracizing Harry Knowles? That his ability to do this was based on that?

If it actually felt applicable I wouldn't mind people bringing it up, but it feels like people are bringing it up because it's a familiar thing to say. Ah, yes, the geek social fallacies. But I don't see where we're getting that this guy is equivalent to that D&D group member who is gross about women and gets put up with anyway. Nobody in my D&D group has movie-watching birthday parties that involve fireworks and appearances by Seth Rogen, to just pick one given year from Wikipedia. Is the person geeks are afraid of excluding the person whose birthday parties have a Wikipedia entry? Do we talk about this stuff because it's really applicable, or do we talk about it just because it's the conversation we're accustomed to having?
posted by Sequence at 2:54 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of this guy, but it only took 3 seconds of reading his Heroes review that was linked upthread to know he's a predator. And, honestly, I'm... miffed that some of you are so shocked?

Every time a woman goes "this guy is a creep, look at xyz behavior", there are inevitably however many men who come along to shush her off with cries of "it's just a review! or joke! or misunderstanding!". Then, eventually, people come out of the woodwork, and bring to light the far, far worse behavior this guy is doing behind doors. And from that guy's fans come cries of no way! I never saw this coming! This is such a shame!

But you know what? You know who saw this coming? All of the women that thought that review/joke/banter/whatever was gross and out of line and tried to warn you about it. How many time does this have to happen until people start listening to women about our gut feelings?
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2017 [41 favorites]


The thing is, just change "Harry" to "Harlan", or "Isaac", or "Walter", and you have SF&F fandom until very tecently.

I agree.

I also tend to think Walter Breen should be considered a somewhat separate class than Asimov and other people who preyed on adults. But he's pretty much the very worst case scenario of what happens when people prioritize silence over safety. When they ignore eyewitness reports and endless warning signs. Because of that he's a good example for us to examine.

Breen was a serial child molester who had many victims. He went to science fiction conventions and preyed on children. He had enablers and helpers in the community (and especially in his wife, Marion Zimmer Bradley, whom we now know was also a child abuser,) who not only gave him free rein and perpetuated a culture of silence, but also did their best to discount and dismiss any accusations and help him put up a front. Many people knew he was a pedophile, but a large subset of them had also been told and clearly believed that he was not acting on it. It didn't hurt him that his victims were children who were less likely to speak up, either.

After Breen was arrested, many people came forward to say they had witnessed events but had not spoken up about them, because they either didn't want to believe or didn't know what to do. Accusing an innocent man could ruin his life, after all. (Never mind the lives he himself was ruining.) Some said they were subsequently convinced by others that Breen wasn't really what he seemed -- even after they had witnessed him grooming kids with their own damned eyes.

Again, they all prioritized silence over safety. Because accusing someone was more of a crime in their eyes than what he was doing to children.

There are lessons here that the Leagues have repeatedly failed to understand. That witnesses have failed to take to heart. And it is heartbreaking to watch this happen repeatedly. Time and time again this happens in various communities. People are abused and harassed and groped and even raped and there are legions of people to step in to defend the abuser or rapist, not the victim.

Jim Hines, speaking about Breen: "When we ignore ongoing harassment and abuse, when we belittle efforts to create harassment policies, when we respond to people speaking out about their own abuse and harassment by accusing them of starting “lynch mobs” and “witch hunts,” we’re teaching predators that fandom is a safe hunting ground. We’re teaching them that they will be protected, and their victims will be sacrificed so we can cling to an illusion of inclusiveness."

That's what the Leagues have done. At least twice now. That's the same culture they maintained and that Jill Lewis ran into when she worked for them.

They seem desperate to protect their businesses. Too bad they didn't give enough of a damn to protect the people who worked for them and attended their screenings until they were called out on it.
posted by zarq at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2017 [33 favorites]


So yeah I brought up the Social Fallacies, and did in fact think to add a "maybe not entirely applicable" tag because he is a public figure and not some ass lording over his smaller social group, but I think the dynamics applied well enough, and the reflections of them echo through normal unfamous nerdy communities enough to let it stand without a disclaimer. I think it's fair to say it doesn't apply as much to someone as Knowles, but I also think it is an important and accurate list to consider how such behaviour might be allowed to happen within our own social groups.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:02 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I gave up on my nerd/geek social circle when I felt they were no longer exploring but detaching from reality. When detached from reality in this way other people become a little unreal, too, I guess, like a game or toy or something to be won.
posted by dmh at 4:00 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to avoid trotting out the #notallgeeks and #notrueScotsmangeek tropes in this discussion.

Oh, I'd forgotten that it's our responsibility to be "helpful" when we respond to learning that yet another man has been serially harassing women and the community he's part of has been concealing and ignoring it. Silly of me.

So given that you acknowledge that men who behave like this "exist in every other industry and community" it seems like a pointless derail to try to point out that #notallgeeks.


Look, I will gladly have you insult me for being a guy. I know enough guys that are reprehensible assholes, and I've done enough stupid shit (that while pales in comparison to Harry Knowles) that I regret, and yeah - I'll gladly get taken down enough pegs for you to feel satisfied. I continue to do my best on a daily basis to atone for past errors in judgement, but if I'm missing something to atone for, this is a good opportunity to get it right. I know realistically that there is very little that I can write to you that you'll attribute with any element of pathos so I'm not going to try. Having a conversation on this topic with this response is effectively a lost game. I can apologize for whatever you want to attribute to me, though you don't know me - so I'll take the brunt of what you say and I'll take it to heart and I'll do my best to do better.

What I can't do though is atone for this guy as a geek though, because I don't equate any intersection on his view of 'geekdom' and my view of 'geekdom'. I'll gladly say he's a misogynistic sexual predator asshole, but for a pretty large swath of folks that might go off on the specifics of the Beatles, or harry potter or movies or comics, or whatever - this guy is a misogynistic guy. He's a geeky (in the loosest form of the term) misogynist but its not the geek part that is causing the problem here. Its not the geek culture that is causing the problem, it is his inherent lack of respect and inability to properly interact with women. Women participate in geek culture - and I think there are a lot of great things about hidden gems that have come to the forefront of geek culture as a result...

This guy doesn't speak for geek culture, he speaks for misogynistic assholes. He's found the worst part of geek culture and tried to make it the dominant bit of geek culture - but it isn't. There is so much more to it than who this guy is... I hope his departure, step back, what have you represents the demise of this sleazy factor, but I know it won't stamp it out all together, and as a result - yes... there's a definite need of 'geek cleansing', but there are steps that only taking this guy and his view and actions as geek culture is a disingenuous effort to lash out. There's a lot of stuff and people that actually are worth the effort to get to know.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:57 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Man.

I read AICN a ton in its really influential / visible years, and I know I passed around links and talked about it with friends who were into movies. I probably tried to emulate it in writing reviews of stuff. Somewhere along the way its style of breathless excess wore pretty thin and I quit paying attention. I don't think I've actually reflected on the content of it any time in the years since. I'm not even sure I can remember what most of that content was, aside from the gonzo internet keyboard spew vibe.

So I guess this doesn't surprise me, but also it doesn't seem like it logically follows from the model of the thing I have in my memories of that era of the web. Which is to say: I guess that as a teenager I was pretty staggeringly oblivious to all sorts of fairly horrible bullshit, and I suppose that applies to all sorts of other cultural production I've consumed.

So that's fun.
posted by brennen at 5:17 PM on September 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Well, fuck. Here we go again.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:17 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


"And the "bump" thing gives them plausible deniability, you know? I think that was the grossest part, the premeditation involved in it."

Many anime male characters use this exact "excuse" like it is funny ha ha. Maybe too many of these nerds take anime too seriously? SF/Fantasy/anime can be full of harassment excused as accidents. The writers of such shows needs to be universally educated about why that kind of trope is a problem.
posted by RuvaBlue at 5:27 PM on September 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


I get what you're going for, Nanukthedog, but there's definitely a geek call-from-within-the-house on sexually predatory behavior going down that we can't shrug off as "This guy is popular within some subsets of geek culture but he's not one of us".

As from the above litany:
The thing is, just change "Harry" to "Harlan", or "Isaac", or "Walter", and you have SF&F fandom until very recently. Change it to "Zak" or "James" and you get tabletop rpgs. And video games? Too many to list.

I mean, if you have people who keep getting invited back to write RPG supplements for D&D and White Wolf who're also infamous for their issues & missing-stairness, can you really say "This guy isn't a geek"? And video games, take your pick on developers, personalities, etc there (not even touching the whole "Howling mass of death-threats and racial slurs" space). Sci-fi books, same issue. Comics, we've had many threads on the troubles there.

I'm not saying geek culture is uniquely bad, but we definitely have particular circumstances which prize brushing things under the rug, not making waves, many ways of saying "We value absence-of-tension over positive peace" in other words.

Saying "He's not one of us" is easy. I mean, I really have no intersection with this guy, in timeline or geography or shared interests even really. So I get that. But he's also part of a larger pattern, in things I do feel closer to & more inclined to be able to say "Not in my space", and shrugging him off makes it harder to see how common those patterns are in those same closer spaces.
posted by CrystalDave at 5:29 PM on September 27, 2017 [20 favorites]


Okay, I think that a more subtle reading of "geek social fallacy" might be a way to parse out this whole argument.

1. "Geek social fallacy" seems to me to have two key parts "Why terrible people aren't kicked out" and "of geek communities".

2. Many subcultures have "why terrible people aren't kicked out" - as we know, terrible people, especially men who commit sexual assault, are generally not kicked out. So it's true that this isn't a geek problem.

3. "of geek communities" is the geek problem, and it's about a particular rationalization - "we are all social outcasts who are unfairly picked on and judged, so we ourselves should not 'pick on' or judge our own". Another community would have another rationalization - "this guy brings in money" or "his family is important" or "women whine about sexual assault when it's really a compliment" or whatever.

4. Geek communities are not immune to using other rationales - "he is important" or "women whine too much" are also rationales that get used, but the particular one that geeks appeal to qua geeks is the "geek social fallacy".

5. The geek social fallacy was, IMO, not introduced as an exclusive explanation of why people don't get kicked out of geek social circles. It was introduced as a way of helping good people see through a spuriously appealing rationale. "Women whine too much" and "he's an important guy" are obviously bad rationales. "This person is just awkward, we should really be nice to him, his life is hard because he's a weirdo and we all know how that feels" has just enough elements of truth to it to render it really pernicious, because of course sometimes you do make allowances for awkward people or people who've had bad experiences. It's just that this should not extend to actually hurting others.

6. When we talk about the geek social fallacy, what we're saying is not "geek culture is uniquely bad" or "this is the only reason that geeks don't kick out terrible people". We're saying "there is this particular spurious rationale in geek culture that appeals to people's sense of solidarity and compassion but is still very bad, don't fall for it. "

7. It seems like in this particular instance, the "geek social fallacy" does make an appearance - "just ignore him, he's awkward and this theater is his whole life" gets articulated. But so do other things - "he's important and famous" among them.

8. You can also make a case that the geek social fallacy gets deployed cynically, by people who are really thinking "he is important" or "I value my power within this organization", whether they are talking about a journalist or the AICN guy. People appeal to geek solidarity precisely in order to play on the sympathies of the unwary, knowing that the harasser in question isn't actually deserving of compassion but hoping to trick others.

9. A way that the geek social fallacy gets complicated here: there is enough money and power involved to interest people for the sake of money and power. However much I may like being the big cheese in my RPG group, for instance, there just isn't much money or power involved, and the type of people who care about money and power aren't going to be super invested in fighting me for dominance. But here, there's something that people who like power and money want to fight over. So a lot of people have an interest in consciously, cynically deploying the geek social fallacy, whereas in other situations it might come up more innocently, because people are not paying attention to how misogyny contours their social interactions.

I guess what I'm saying is that geek social fallacy discourse is not intended to explain every problem in geek communities - it's intended as a mobilizing idea that helps geeky people identify, explain and fight back against an insidious kind of reasoning which takes advantage of an otherwise relatively laudable impulse toward compassion.
posted by Frowner at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2017 [32 favorites]


Have read AICN for 20 years. Easy bookmark for someone with only a few minutes a day to keep up on its kind of stuff. Sad.

Phillip-Random your comment a bit above falls into something I have long observed: being a loser is terrible preparation for winning. Impoverished people who win lotteries quickly go bankrupt. Fat geeks whom women scorn acquire wealth or fame and then become viscious sexual harassers. Oppressed people win their revolution and become brutal autocrats.
posted by MattD at 5:49 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


So, I pretty much don't give a fuck about Harry Knowles. He was a gross creep 20 years ago, and he's a gross creep now. I'm pissed off that Austin has four up with him for so long, but he's always been a fucking horrible thing. I just don't believe anybody claims they didn't realize that.

But… For four kind of difficult years in Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse was a refuge. It was the place I would go to hide from stress in school and at work. It was the site of really neat movies I never would've seen, it was the site of first dates, it was the site of Great nights out with close friends... finding out they're part of this shitshow is a punch in the gut. It's just a horrible revelation.

Tell me the Austin Film Society is still on the side of the angels. I mean really, please.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:02 PM on September 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


I've never heard of this guy, but it only took 3 seconds of reading his Heroes review that was linked upthread to know he's a predator.

Thinks to self, "Really how bad could it be?"

Clicks on link. Oh Dear God...

Sputters "What? What? What?" for 5 minutes...
posted by jonp72 at 6:06 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I didn't know Harry personally. I read AICN, but never saw the two reviews mentioned above (Blade II, Heroes) that are just, well, repugnant.

The impression that I had of Harry was that he was an over-exuberant child who never grew up, who loved films, and managed to create something on the web that (for the time) was sorta special. He was a horrible writer, but that was part of the charm. He clearly loved movies. And he helped give a voice to film geeks everywhere. As the crowd turned on him, and started fat-shaming him (trust me, as bad as those reviews mentioned above are, a dip into the AICN forums is FAR, FAR, FAR worse), I felt sorry for him, and defended him.

I'm not going to retroactively take back that opinion of him, but it's not something I can carry forward, obviously. It's hard to reconcile my online impression of him for what he turned out to be in real life. There were clearly cues that I either didn't see or didn't pick up on.

I hope the people he wronged can carve out some sense of justice from all this. His behavior is inexcusable.

And to the Harry, the one in my head, the one who was, to whatever degree, a reliquary for my opinions of my own young self, the one who succeeded despite the odds against him, I say goodbye.
posted by sutt at 6:27 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


When I was sent an article about Knowles' this morning I was legitimately surprised for two reasons: that AICN was still a thing and that Knowles was only being called out for this now.

I worked with someone really into AICN when the site first started going in the 90s he thought it was "teh awesome" and that "Nerds were taking back movies" - that shit. I never cared for it much - misogyny was clearly evident even in the early days, the writing & layout was poor, the fan boy hyperbole and breathless shilling over junk made it impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Blade II & Heroes reviews mentioned above are pretty egregious examples but simliar themed commentaries appear in a lot of his reviews. When he hit mainstream success in the late 90's and early 2000s, I had a couple of acquaintances who had met him or had their films celebrated by the site - none of them ever had a good thing to say about Knowles or the site. The closest I ever came to having a direct connection with him was a funny moment when my business partner and I were speaking with a filmmaker about his upcoming release, talking about the cover of the release and he asked us if he should put a positive review blurb from AICN on his cover. We both looked at each other and said "No" at the same time. This was 2006, maybe? Even then the AICN shtick was pretty vile.

His actions have taken way too long to be called out and I hope his victims can get some justice.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Jesus god, just once I would like for there to be some famous dude who does not turn out to be a serial sexual harasser/assaulter.

Power corrupts. Power also means that most of the time (oh, what, 90, 95%?) you get away with doing anything you like to anyone you want with no consequences unless a megaton avalanche of crap dumps upon your head. And some people even then still get away with it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:43 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Cracked: Defending Harry Knowles is What's Wrong with Nerd Culture (TW: a lot of things alluded to in this thread are mentioned more graphically here, and they are awful.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:27 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


The reason why I said "maybe don't kick nerd/geek communities" was because the tendency that I've seen from people (non-nerds, usually) to paint the communities with vile descriptions despite them having, arguably, better gender attitudes and higher feminist-identified percentage of men compared to the general population. Toxic masculinity centers that produce high-status rapists like a clockwork such as sports industry or similar ones don't even get this much derision.

I'm having suspicions that it has something to do with nerds being low status and easy to kick, what with ephitets like 'neckbeards', 'virgins', 'sperglord', 'man-children', 'autists' and the likes being thrown around, even in this thread.

Those languages appeal to the same classist, lookist, ableist, fat-shaming, and heteronormative instincts that modern western people have. God knows I'm not even in the U.S. and the nerd culture is very different here but the use frequency of those words can still be seen in every corners on the internet, by "good" and "bad" people alike.

Those are what I think of when I think about epistemically unfair depiction of nerds. There's no reason to uniquely single them out other than appealing to x-ist disgust and an adherence to bully instincts.

Frowner's dissection of geek social fallacy is good - provided that the fallacies themselves are true. They're not. At least, in my circle. It's a short article made in 2003. Nerd cultures are different everywhere. Let's not do that thing where we alienate less privileged subset of a subset of the population in the intersectionality matrix just because some knee-jerk bully-ish response.

That said, more women have also came forward. There's definitely analyses to be made (and they have been made. Repeatedly and with gusto) about nerd communities failing in some way. Just don't make it a war or unfairly brush all of them because you want to feel better or something along that line.

edit : Re:Cracked, btw, nobody is saying that nerd culture needs to be protected at all cost. That's just a dishonest, uncharitable reading of some arguments made somewhere.
posted by tirta-yana at 8:36 PM on September 27, 2017


Yeah, I think cracked knows that nerd culture is 150% its bread and butter. It just doesn't want people to fall into the trap of "I was bullied, or at least unpopular, or at least not celebrated, in high school, so anything I do now must be fine," which I think drives defenses of broken stairs like Knowles.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:46 PM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


As someone who is deeply invested in some aspects of nerd culture, such as it is (worked in video games, currently heavily involved in the science fiction convention scene, married to the safety officer of one such convention) I actually do think nerd culture, right now, is better - or at least has more visibility - about gross sexist missing-stair behavior. There's a lot of (organized, creepy) resistance to the idea that it's a problem, sure, but there are increasingly loud voices pointing it out, problem-solving around it, and successfully pushing back. I don't think this is true in academia, it does not seem to be at all true in music, movies are their own special hell, and the business world is just broken on the subject.

It's not a solved problem by any means, but the fact that this has blown up over the last what, month or so? (judging by the Drafthouse-related posts in my Facebook feed, anyway) and has actually resulted in people quitting, being fired, and actually seeing some consequences is something I find heartening.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:13 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Umm, wasn't even aware that there was very much that separates nerds/geeks and everyone else anymore. Most of nerd/geek culture is popular and mainstream. Nearly everyone watches comic book films and plays video games.

And don't a lot people spend thousands of dollars to go to coding boot camps? Aren't nerds being hired by both pro sports and Wall Street, as well as Google and NASA?
posted by FJT at 9:39 PM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I dunno. With the recent death of Hugh Hefner, I'm reminded of the prominence of boy's locker room culture in what's supposed to be a professional (and nerd ne plus ultra) field.
posted by traveler_ at 10:00 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


zarq's comment nails it. With not that many sources for genre film news at that time, AICN enjoyed a real "first mover" advantage on the late 90s web. It never was very good in terms of writing quality, insights into film, etc, but for a lot of people interested in those types of movies, it filled a niche.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:08 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm at Fantastic Fest right now. My third year. There's a great community here, which makes all of this even more disappointing. The festival is a beautiful thing. Most of the people who run the festival are awesome. Tim League needs to step down. Yesterday. FF has become my film nerd equivalent of Burning Man, but I don't think I can keep going if League is still in charge. I hope this isn't my last trip.
posted by brundlefly at 12:28 AM on September 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also, yeah. Harry Knowles has always been a terrible writer. Not just in terms of writing ABILITY, but... well, that BLADE 2 review speaks for itself. I love that film but that review made me not want to. He's always been gross. I wish I could say I'm surprised by this shit that's coming out.

I'm really curious to see what the film nerd press landscape is going to be like in a few years, post Faraci and Knowles. I hope it's better.
posted by brundlefly at 12:32 AM on September 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm having suspicions that it has something to do with nerds being low status and easy to kick,

See, this is exactly what I was talking about. The paranoia in netd fandom that they are "easy targets", abs so we need to all hang together or the Mundanes will crush us. It's what I call "Geek Fallacy Zero".

Geeks are not an oppressed minority. That idea is bullshit, and it always has been. Moreover, it's a line that directly leads into "We are all fans together" and "Never ostracize a fellow fan." We need to take a good hard look at the impulses that promote fandom as something separate, and what it encourages.
posted by happyroach at 12:41 AM on September 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


> Geeks are not an oppressed minority.

You don't get to dismiss people's lived experiences and pain by dismissing them out of hand. It's a given that in a room of 100 "nerds" - and I'm using the term to encompass not only popular entertainment nerds but also science/econ/math nerds - a higher percentage of them compared to the general population would have been bullied, ostracized, looked down upon, isolated socially, etc - and they would also have more neurodiversity and mental health problems, I recon.

Certainly not oppressed in the magnitude of what AfAm people have experienced (systemic, deliberate, historical and intense) but nerds are "oppressed" enough to merit the many stories and shared pains that they tell.

There's also a comment above about nerd culture having their way now - first, that's just the way capitalism and market forces work. Second is that the conflation of hyper successful "nerds" (I wouldn't call Jeff Bezos a nerd first and foremost, btw) and the mainstreaming of some aspects of the culture are weak arguments to have, because the existence of some really powerful black people at the top of the food chain and mainstreaming of the rap genre/black gifs/black lingo don't really mean a lot in relation to the degree of oppression that AfAm people still receive.

> I actually do think nerd culture, right now, is better - or at least has more visibility - about gross sexist missing-stair behavior. There's a lot of (organized, creepy) resistance to the idea that it's a problem, sure, but there are increasingly loud voices pointing it out, problem-solving around it, and successfully pushing back. I don't think this is true in academia, it does not seem to be at all true in music, movies are their own special hell, and the business world is just broken on the subject.

I'm in the finance industry myself and let me just say that the (U.S.) geek communities' responses to these things have been much, much better and that consequently, mayybe it's better to not bully and unfairly demonize people (with lots of neuroatypical members) who are much more willing to fix themselves and clean up their acts?
posted by tirta-yana at 1:28 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


who are much more willing to fix themselves and clean up their acts?

That's an assumption that is very much not in evidence for many people right here on this thread. And please stop using non-neurotypical people as a shield.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:50 AM on September 28, 2017 [25 favorites]


I never cared for AICN. Knowles was obviously a shill from the get-go, and beyond writing gross stuff like the Blade II review, he has always been a lousy writer. I was annoyed by his rise because there were most definitely better options then. Dark Horizons has existed and been good since the late 90's. Just news, no hyperventilation. CHUD was OK, too. (My god the internet was ugly then, I forgot.) In recent years, I have been a regular reader of BMD. I always considered Faraci to be a sharp and insightful reviewer, worth following around. But somehow I'd missed this entire scandal. How disappointing.

While we're sharing good film news sites, this is the place to go for shiny new trailers.
posted by heatvision at 3:47 AM on September 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


He used to co-host a podcast with Amy Nicholson called The Canon. They'd pick a film or two and discuss its relevance in an arbitrary 'Canon of Greatest Films of All Time'. I used to enjoy it quite a bit, but when I think back about the show, Faraci had a habit of talking down and yelling over Amy Nicholson. 

Literally the entire reason I stopped listening to that podcast.
posted by pseudonymph at 4:53 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm using the term to encompass not only popular entertainment nerds but also science/econ/math nerds

So, you're talking about a huge swath of the population, then? One might, in fact, call them... people. Average people. Not a special group deserving of treatment with kid gloves when they abuse people like Harry Knowles has.

nerds are "oppressed" enough to merit the many stories and shared pains that they tell

Cool story, but why are you working so hard to protect men who abuse others? Because that's the root of what we're talking about here. We're talking about toxic individuals who achieve a little bit of power and then use it to subjugate and abuse others, predominantly female others. It's troubling that your concern is not for the victims of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of people with some power, but for those abusers themselves. It's troubling to watch someone create excuse after trumped up excuse as to why it's bad and wrong to out an abuser who likes cool toys.
posted by palomar at 5:49 AM on September 28, 2017 [17 favorites]


You don't get to dismiss people's lived experiences and pain by dismissing them out of hand.

It's also troubling to see someone say this, in a discussion about men who abuse, in the context of defending those abusers.
posted by palomar at 5:50 AM on September 28, 2017 [24 favorites]


nerds are "oppressed" enough to merit the many stories and shared pains that they tell

Do you not understand that most of the women being groped, harassed, and assaulted by men in nerd circles were ALSO bullied nerds for much of their lives? That many of those women were ALSO not neurotypical, and struggled with social connection? That geek culture was their solace in a harsh world as well?

And instead of solidarity in a subculture they loved, they were objectified and punished and sexually assaulted. And then told to shut up when they said something about it. And ostracized if they kept speaking.

I don't understand why you have so much sympathy for the perpetrators and so little for the victims of this endemic behavior. THE VICTIMS ARE NERDS/GEEKS TOO.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:07 AM on September 28, 2017 [46 favorites]


Yeah, for real. It wasn't being abused by "mundanes" that made me stop self-identifying as a geek or nerd. It was geek/nerd men that drove me away.
posted by palomar at 6:09 AM on September 28, 2017 [15 favorites]


FYI, The Canon has returned this year with Amy Nicholson and a guest host, although according to Wikipedia, "when and if [Faraci] is ready to come back, the door is open."
posted by muddgirl at 6:18 AM on September 28, 2017


In terms of geek culture being "better" at dealing with sexual harassment:

1. I think that there are parts of geek culture where this is true, and that there's some spillover from those places into other parts of geek culture. For example, I definitely associate various advice and discussion sites like Captain Awkward (with its plush cthulhu meetup mascot) with geek/nerd culture, and I'd say that CA has articulated a lot of stuff that has spread out into wider geek/nerd culture. Similarly with certain areas of SF fandom.

However! Those sub-sub-cultures are nearly all women-led and/or queer-led! And many of them have a lot of POC participation, although my sense is that there's still a ways to go, at least in the places I'm familiar with. So what's happening is that women, POC and queer people in fandom/geek/nerd spaces are doing all this work and it's affecting the whole subculture. Geek culture is better to the extent that women are leading the charge.

I think that for some men/white people/straight people, the whole "geek are oppressed, we should not oppress others!" line of reasoning does work positively, and does make people more able to be allies. However, I don't think this is what's driving such improvement as there is.

2. I think "does mass culture label sexist creeping a geek problem rather than acknowledging it as a widespread problem because they despise geeks and want to claim that mainstream culture is fine" is a separate question. "In this age of venture capital, superhero movies and techbros, what is the mainstream perception of traditionally "geeky" pursuits?" seems likely to have a lot of different answers.

My suspicion is that there's still a stream of despisals of geeky people and people who pursue thinky hobbies in mainstream culture; that this is very much about gender, with geeks of all genders depicted as gross and unappealing failures for not achieving "normal" heterosexual gender-performance, but that the burden of this falls more on women than men. I would be absolutely astonished if kids, teens and young adults no longer experienced bullying and exclusion over geeky/nerdy/thinky stuff. Many of us carry those memories with into adulthood - but we're adults now. We shouldn't spend our lives reacting like bullied kids. What is forgivable or even a survival strategy for some trapped twelve-year old becomes hugely counterproductive as an adult behavior.

But this whole thing is a totally separate question from "how do we deal with sexual harassment within traditionally nerdy/geeky cultures". We are the people who are responsible for that - that's what we control. How we're perceived by vaguely GOP-y jocks-hate-nerds types is not something we control and it's not our moral responsibility.

3. "Stop engaging in the geek social fallacy" discourse seems to be getting framed at a couple of points in this thread as an unfair attack because, after all, geek culture is doing better than mainstream. But it's because of the social fallacy discourse that it's doing better, to the extent that it is.

I'd like to advance what you might call an "I am god's hands" argument, here - we are geek culture. To the extent that it does "better", this is not because of some mysterious intrinsic quality that preceded us and will outlast us but because people have made the effort to be better. We can't say "well, we are better, therefore stop beating the drum on the social fallacy front, stop blaming geeky people", because it is the drum-beating that keeps things going.
posted by Frowner at 6:33 AM on September 28, 2017 [19 favorites]


Just to reiterate this point from the Cracked article:

But once you have power, you're not an outcast anymore, and you can't keep acting like one, no matter how much you think you identify with the movies about them. That's how people like Knowles get away with abusing their power, and why when the truth finally comes out, people rush to their defense. The allegations suggest that Knowles' response to finally getting power after being the underdog has been to become a sexual bully. Meanwhile, defenders like Black try to pretend he is still a victim, even while he victimizes others. It's a pattern we're going to see until either we collectively stop believing that people who have geeky interests are somehow still wacky, misunderstood outcasts in this day and age, or the Universe grinds to a halt. You know, whichever comes first.
posted by palomar at 6:34 AM on September 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


The reason why people give nerd/geek culture shit about their misogyny (/transphobia/homophobia/racism/etc) is because some still hold out hope that geek culture could actually want to evolve and improve. Folks who envision hundreds of different worlds and timelines, have mental space for tree people and aliens and wizards and FTL travel, have often known the pain of people using power unjustly against them - maybe these people can actually learn and grow and do better.

That geek culture men hear that hope and and pretend it's a plot to demonize and destroy everything they love is both telling and disheartening.
posted by palindromic at 6:53 AM on September 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


It's an interesting idea palomar brings up, but there's an essential point missing, I think. When you come out of a life of abusive interactions, to a place where you have some power, you don't magically learn positive interaction modalities. Unless someone's there to correct you, you are going to interact with others in an abusive way. Except now you're going to be the one doing the abusing.

He's not the victim, and that's not what I'm saying. But Harry clearly did not have any mentors calling him out on his shit early on.

I can think of another person right now, with a hell of a lot more power, who seems to fit very well into this same mold.
posted by sutt at 6:54 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


"How was I to know that writing violent underage rape fantasies on the internet and sexually assaulting women wasn't okay? I never had mentors who could have taught me that women are people, woe!! I couldn't possibly have learned that these things were unacceptable in any other way!!!!!"

really? REALLY?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:09 AM on September 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


When you come out of a life of abusive interactions, to a place where you have some power, you don't magically learn positive interaction modalities. Unless someone's there to correct you, you are going to interact with others in an abusive way. Except now you're going to be the one doing the abusing.

He's not the victim, and that's not what I'm saying.


It kind of sounds like that's what you're saying. Millions of people come out of abusive situations, have no mentors, and do not go on to abuse others. "He couldn't help himself!" "He didn't know any better!" "Look what you made him do." "No one taught him!" "Where was his mother?" "Why couldn't some woman marry him and devote her life to making him a better person all while enduring his abuse?"

Give me a break. It's really not that hard to not abuse people. It's not that hard to not be a sexual predator.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:12 AM on September 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


Weird. I was abused as a child, and my takeaway from it was not that I should abuse people, but that I shouldn't abuse people. I knew what it meant to suffer, and I did not want to inflict that on others.
posted by palomar at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


Harry clearly did not have any mentors calling him out on his shit early on.

We don't know that, and I would prefer our speculation not turn toward sympathy for the imagined deprivations that prevented a male business owner from being a serial harasser, neckbeard or not.
posted by maxsparber at 7:36 AM on September 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


You don't get to dismiss people's lived experiences and pain by dismissing them out of hand. It's a given that in a room of 100 "nerds" - and I'm using the term to encompass not only popular entertainment nerds but also science/econ/math nerds - a higher percentage of them compared to the general population would have been bullied, ostracized, looked down upon, isolated socially, etc - and they would also have more neurodiversity and mental health problems, I recon.

Certainly not oppressed in the magnitude of what AfAm people have experienced (systemic, deliberate, historical and intense) but nerds are "oppressed" enough to merit the many stories and shared pains that they tell.


Yeah, it's not going to be very useful to group popular-entertainment-nerds in with science-and-math-nerds, as if all all bullying/ostracizing is the same and results in the same types of in-group behavior. Popular-entertainment-nerds are worth talking about as a separate group from nerds-in-general. I don't see much "shared pain" between popular-culture-nerds and math-and-science-nerds.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:43 AM on September 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


In terms of "when you go from being a loser (which means being rejected by women) to being a winner (which means not being rejected by women", it's difficult to know how to not be an asshole" and "people grow up without mentors":

These are absolutely similar to the geek social fallacy in that they have some rags of truth clinging round them and this misleads the careless or naive. It's reasonable to make some allowances for awkwardness or ignorance when the person in question is clearly trying and when awkwardness or ignorance aren't substantially destructive. "Joe monologues a lot and doesn't always ask me about how I'm doing, but in other ways he shows that he cares about me as a friend" for instance. Or "I asked Joe to let me get a word in edgewise and I can see that he tries to honor my request even if he still monologues sometimes".

The proof of a person's qualities is their efforts to be better - not their total morph into a 100% socially-adroit popularity contest winner, but just, like "I make efforts not to monologue", "now that I know that women don't like random comments about their bodies, I don't do that anymore", "instead of second-guessing women who were sexually assaulted, I do my best to be supportive", "Even though I sometimes don't respond perfectly in the moment, I attempt to call out sexist humor when I see it".

I mean, grown adult men have plenty of access to discourse from women about how women hate being sexually harassed and otherwise abused. If they don't listen, what that means it that they don't think women's opinions are important. This is not the equivalent of "my partner says I should spend less time focused on work, but work is how I guarantee our secure future, and it's my way of showing love, I disagree with her feelings about our relationship" or something where people might disagree without anyone being terrible.
posted by Frowner at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


I don't really know Tim but he and I have enough friends in common that I've been to his house. All those friends -- a mixed group of delightful Rice alums -- are absolutely the sort of people to be utterly horrified by all of this. It's nauseating that they let this continue on a "missing stair" basis instead of handling it proactively long ago. It's awful they kept that Faraci guy around with the faux-firing. It's just awful.

I mean, early on, I'm sure Harry was important to the Drafthouse's cred at one time, and you can almost squint and see how good people could convince themselves that "stay away from him" warnings were sufficient if AICN's halo was something that helped a shoestring operation stay afloat -- but they've been bigger and more important than Harry for a long, long time now.

Maybe a good takeaway is that you don't have to be a monster to enable a serial harasser like this, or cover for/fail to ostracize a "missing stair" person. I can imagine that misplaced loyalty is part of why the Leagues didn't kick Knowles' ass to the curb long ago. It's not an excuse, obviously -- just as "nobody told him no" isn't an excuse for Harry (really? you need to be told not to be a creepy shithead?); it's more of a thing to realize, because nobody is immune from getting important shit BADLY wrong.
posted by uberchet at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


I used to go to AICN daily, back in the early early days of the Web, because there weren't other places to go, really. The rec.arts.movies movie database on Usenet changed over to the Cardiff Internet Movie Database on the Web, and then eventually IMDB, but that was it.

I'm feeling pretty cynical these days, so while I notice that two of AICN's top reviewers (Quint and Capone) have stepped down immediately after the story broke, I have to wonder a) since the site sucks and apparently pay was sporadic, was this just an excuse to go, and b) how much of this did they know about and keep to themselves because Bro Code?

Fizz: I quit listening for the same reason. If you're looking for a thoughtful and engaging deep dive into films and movie-making, give Filmspotting a chance. It's an excellent podcast. Highly recommended.

Strange Interlude: I've been a listener since it was called Cinecast, and happily second the recommendation to anybody reading this. Thankfully, current hosts Adam Kempanaar and Josh Larsen are both happily domesticated middle-aged Chicago guys

So... the standard Two Dudes Talking podcast. Thanks but no. I'm done with this bullshit everywhere. I've pared my podcast list down to only those that include women hosts or co-hosts--and it has really made it easy to listen to every podcast I want to listen to each week. I can't pare it down to only those that have true parity in the number of women and men, because then I would have no podcasts to listen to.

(And sorry, McElroy Brothers--keep calling yourselves feminists all you like, but the main moneymaker in your empire is a [literally] Three Dudes Talking podcast. Yeah, you are a step above most dudecasts, but that is a super-low bar. Get back in touch when your massive empire doesn't relegate women to the podcasts about Proper Manners (are you fucking kidding me), or when you *have* to have them because you want a podcast about their specific area of expertise [you know, like a fucking doctor].)
posted by tzikeh at 8:16 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


uberchet: Maybe a good takeaway is that you don't have to be a monster to enable a serial harasser like this, or cover for/fail to ostracize a "missing stair" person.

Really? "Covering for/ignoring/enabling a serial sexual predator" is a great baseline definition of "monster" for me when it comes to men working with men who abuse women.
posted by tzikeh at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I think the takeaway actually is "even people we like and respect can be monsters" and "there are a lot more monsters than we imagined."
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on September 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


despite them having, arguably, better gender attitudes and higher feminist-identified percentage of men compared to the general population

a higher percentage of them compared to the general population would have been bullied, ostracized, looked down upon, isolated socially, etc - and they would also have more neurodiversity and mental health problems

Deeds, not words count. These seem like citation needed assertions. They reek of post-facto reification of category markers. They sound like in-group folk tales. Adversity and trauma tend not to make you stronger, or more empathic. They just make you more vulnerable to the next trauma, and more prone to reactive dysregulation.
posted by meehawl at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


If Knowles was so important to the Austin indie film community that he couldn't be separated from them, then telling women in the community to "just stay away from him" is essentially telling them, "You must accept harassment to be a member of this community."
posted by muddgirl at 9:02 AM on September 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


And sorry, McElroy Brothers...

Although, given the talk of modelling behavior for young men in a geeky space, you could do worse than the McElroys (*winces, waits for the Milkshake Duck*). They don't get it right all the time, but they try to improve and be better. Maybe try Still Buffering?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:21 AM on September 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


That's exactly the all or nothing response I'm trying to push back on.

Labeling League a monster here distances yourself from him and how he could have made these choices.

Recognizing that broadly decent people can fuck up very, very badly is probably a more useful view here than deciding they're just a monster you don't have to consider in any other way anymore.
posted by uberchet at 9:32 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I mean, grown adult men have plenty of access to discourse from women about how women hate being sexually harassed and otherwise abused.

Ebert has written before that film is an "empathy machine" that helps you "live somebody else's life for a while", so Knowles as a film critic and cinephile has arguably even more access and time to think about this than most people do!
posted by FJT at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Unless someone's there to correct you, you are going to interact with others in an abusive way. Except now you're going to be the one doing the abusing.

another thing I've noticed about power coming to those who previously had little or none ...

You're often not aware of it in a tangible way. It's not like you wake up one morning and put on an "I've Got The Power Now" t-shirt and start being an asshole to those weaker than you. It's more akin to business as usual ... except it's not anymore. Those defensive/survival motivations you've grown accustomed to heeding are now perpetrating offensive (perhaps monstrous) actions. Hopefully, if you're paying attention, you notice early the havoc wreaked and admit, "holy shit, I did this ..." and correct yourself. Hopefully.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Labeling League a monster here distances yourself from him and how he could have made these choices.

No, it doesn't. What creates the distance is saying that "monsters" are somehow something other than human. But if you believe, as I (and I would imagine others here) do that one can be both human and a monster, then it doesn't distance him at all.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:37 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I've pared my podcast list down to only those that include women hosts or co-hosts--and it has really made it easy to listen to every podcast I want to listen to each week.

Have you listened to Treks and the City? They just started a couple months ago, so there's not an overwhelming backlog of episodes, and they've all been very entertaining. Here's the description from the show's website:
Move over Nerdbros. Alice Wetterlund and Veronica Osorio are bringing a much needed feminist perspective to the sci-fi roundtable, dissecting Star Trek: The Next Generation episode by episode with their hilarious friends.
Guests so far have included Demi Adejuyigbe, Jackie Kashian, Emily Heller, Rhea Butcher, Paul F. Tompkins, and Nicole Byer. The hosts have great chemistry and are both super funny. Highly recommended.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:38 AM on September 28, 2017 [3 favorites]



No, it doesn't. What creates the distance is saying that "monsters" are somehow something other than human. But if you believe, as I (and I would imagine others here) do that one can be both human and a monster, then it doesn't distance him at all.
That doesn't seem to be the way most people use or understand the use of the "monster" label.
posted by uberchet at 9:52 AM on September 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Women are quite aware that a lot of people who are considered ordinary men are monsters, maybe that's the disconnect
posted by agregoli at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


That doesn't seem to be the way most people use or understand the use of the "monster" label.

I disagree, I really don't think that people who use the word "monster" mean that the person is no longer a human, they just mean that the person is a monstrous human.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:56 AM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Coming to this late, but yeah after Blade 2 etc it's no big surprise. Yeah, I'd not looked at the site in ages and I see it's still looks absolutely terrible with 'graphic design' from the dawn of the web - talk about a visual metaphor for not moving on.

Harry the cliched unpleasant nerd - entitled, over opinionated... now add dodgy sex crim to that as well
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:58 AM on September 28, 2017


Those defensive/survival motivations you've grown accustomed to heeding are now perpetrating offensive (perhaps monstrous) actions.

This is basically the summary of Mike Krahulik (Gabe, of Penny Arcade fame): the bullied became the bully, all the while thinking he (the guy with a multi-million dollar empire and legions of fans who would attack anyone who dared disrespect him) is still the beleaguered underdog.
posted by tocts at 10:07 AM on September 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


"How was I to know that writing violent underage rape fantasies on the internet and sexually assaulting women wasn't okay? I never had mentors who could have taught me that women are people, woe!! I couldn't possibly have learned that these things were unacceptable in any other way!!!!!"

really? REALLY?


No, not really. REALLY.
posted by sutt at 10:07 AM on September 28, 2017


Count me as another for whom "human" and "monster" are not mutually exclusive terms.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:17 PM on September 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


The only communities where this sort of creepy behavior doesn't go on, IMO, are ones where there's been a concerted effort to make it clear that it's not acceptable and to give creepy people the boot. That's what it takes. So when you see or find a community where it really doesn't go on, 100% of the time in my experience, there's somebody or a group of somebodies who have decided "yeah we're not gonna tolerate that shit".

It takes concerted action to not let it fester, because there's an impulse for people to protect their community from external threats that's quite strong. And so people who are not themselves directly threatened by creepy behavior will often vote via their own inaction to let it ride. They don't want to risk the benefits they derive from the community, which are threatened if they expose and toss out highly-placed creeps.

It takes people who are willing to crack heads within an organization or community to clean house, and it's often very heavy sledding.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Strange Interlude: I've been a listener since it was called Cinecast, and happily second the recommendation to anybody reading this. Thankfully, current hosts Adam Kempanaar and Josh Larsen are both happily domesticated middle-aged Chicago guys

So... the standard Two Dudes Talking podcast. Thanks but no. I'm done with this bullshit everywhere.


I totally understand this reaction, and also try to be conscious of the gender balance in the podcasts I consume and recommend to others. My intention in describing the hosts as low-key suburban dad types was to contrast them against the hardcore-movie-nerd-douchebro types exemplified by Knowles and Faraci.

They've been doing the cast for a long time (10+ years), and in that time have introduced me to a TON of excellent female filmmakers and actors via the films they choose to review, as well as great female film writers and podcasters (off the top of my head: Karina Longworth, Dana Stevens, and Alison Wilmore) who they've had on as guest hosts and continuing correspondents. I've ragequit more than a few "Dudes Talkin' Bout Movies" podcasts in my time, but Filmspotting is several cuts above.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2017


Filmspotting also introduced me to Angelica Jade Bastien who has become one of my favorite film critics.
posted by octothorpe at 7:14 AM on September 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


What defines a community? A few thoughts on Fantastic Fest by Filmdrunk's Vince Mancini (whose site is my preferred movie nonsense blog, particularly for the This Week in Posters feature), who was on the ground at this year's festival as the shit hit the fan:

There’s a lot I wanted to say about Harry Knowles in the past but mostly bit my tongue about because it seemed like punching down. Even now, much as I want to join the pile-on, I know it’s not my pile on. I don’t want to equate personal dislike with sexual assault. I wasn’t the one who ever felt unsafe — only annoyed and vaguely creeped out.

To put it bluntly, I attended because didn’t feel like punishing myself or the countless artists with films at Fantastic Fest for things that Faraci or Knowles or League did. I was trying to take to heart what Faraci’s accuser wrote, that “some people seem to feel called to boycott Fantastic Fest but I would say, maybe go and feel emboldened to demand more of your community.”

[...]It doesn’t feel like my place to say whether a scene was hostile to women. I can listen, but I can’t really know; it doesn’t feel like my story to tell. Of course, not saying anything at all tells a story on its own, and I didn’t want to tell that one either. What I can do is direct you to women who attended explaining why they thought it was important. As second-time attendee (and former employee of Cinefamily, which was taken down because of its own scandal) Suki-Rose Simakis wrote for Indiewire, “It is unfair to expect every woman and ally here to only engage with the festival in a self-flagellating joyless bummer fest, but more importantly, it’s unproductive. I will tell you that from where I am sitting (which is actually at Fantastic Fest), this year’s festival is hinged on the difficult conversations. […] It’s not my job to explain to men who are not here why I made the choices I made.”


For non-bro film /pop culture podcasts, check out Little Gold Men (two women, two men, only one of whom is straight and is appropriately apologetic about it), Pop Culture Happy Hour with the sainted Linda Holmes, La Culturistas, and the BBC's Film Programme which has been alternating hosts between Francine Stock and my beau ideal critic, Antonia Quirke.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 3:28 PM on September 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


From that Vince Mancini piece: But a lot of the anger and the hottest takes seem a little self-righteous, with a lot of men getting angry on women’s behalf. There are times when this kind of rhetoric sounds suspiciously like some patronizing old ideas about women’s fragile honor.

So he's saying that men who've spoken up are engaging in white-knighting, rather than actually expressing their disapproval of this kind of behavior. And with no examples. Gotta say, that tends to make me discount the rest of what he writes.
posted by Lexica at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Robocop is Bleeding: They don't get it right all the time, but they try to improve and be better. Maybe try Still Buffering?

No thank you. I mean, I do honestly appreciate that you suggested an all-woman podcast, but look at how it's sold. "Teenage Girls: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let's Find Out!"

I should have been clearer in my comment, although I didn't think it would pick up any responses -- I'm not interested in "Podcasts about girls/women." I'm interested in "Podcasts hosted by women about the same shit that podcasts hosted by men are about, because I'm fucking sick and tired of men being allowed to talk about anything, publicly, and have it be accepted as universal, while women are only allowed to talk about women-related things. Women need to put our shoulders to the wheel and normalize the fact that a woman's voice can represent all humans, not just women.

You ever heard a woman's voice narrate a movie trailer? Ever? In the history of movies? Right. But there sure are a lot of women's voice-overs for yogurt commercials. Only 80 calories per serving!
posted by tzikeh at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


I enjoy The 45th. All the hosts are women (one of them is Rabia Chaudry, the lawyer involved in Adnan Syed's case) and it's a real gem. Around January I started to consciously seek out podcasts that had hosts from different sides of the aisle because a lot of my news consumption had become pretty one-sided. The 45th was one of the survivors (along with Left, Right, & Center, as well as Indivisible when it was still running).

I don't like it because it's an echo chamber for my opinions--my politics are definitely more to the left of anyone there and wow do I have fist-shaking moments, especially with Chaudry. I like it because they're always smart and thoughtful, bring on smart and thoughtful guests from across the spectrum, and they do a really great job of discussing and debating news topics without either caving in nor devolving into a screaming match.

It's also very much a politics podcast that happens to be hosted by women, not a women's politics podcast. Actually, another reason it's great is is because I can compare it to the veritable ocean of mostly male (and often white)-dominated politics podcasts out there and get a very clear view of all the low-key ways that gender (and race, and religion) affect how all these analysts interpret and discuss events--even as they aren't explicitly going at it from that perspective.
posted by schroedinger at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also I just realized that in my haste to plug The 45th I forgot to mention the more topically-relevant-to-this-post Polygon Show as well as Rocket, both geek and nerd and game stuff and both involve Beautiful Perfect Comedy Angel Sent From The Clouds Simone de Rochefort.
posted by schroedinger at 8:19 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


You ever heard a woman's voice narrate a movie trailer?

Just wanted to mention the In A World movie written by, directed by and starring Lake Bell that covers this topic.
posted by JDC8 at 8:23 PM on October 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


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