Would Happen If Stephen King Were Treated Like a Latina Writer
January 25, 2020 6:20 AM   Subscribe

Would Happen If Stephen King Were Treated Like a Latina Writer Alisa Valdes imagines what would happen if America's #1 horror writer faced the same kind of issues latina authors do when they try and promote their books.

Alisa Valdes uses Stephen King to illustrate the casual racism minority authors experience when trying to promote their books.
posted by miss-lapin (24 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some more context for those who want it -- King recently tweeted "I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality."

He also blurbed the just-published novel American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins as "extraordinary." It's gotten some good reviews as a depiction of the plight of immigrants caught in the USA's brutal current border policy. Personally, I'm inclined to agree more with Myriam Gurba's review: "Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature."
posted by HeroZero at 6:45 AM on January 25 [22 favorites]


There's also this
posted by miss-lapin at 6:52 AM on January 25


King’s statement was so heavily criticized because it relies on a number of boneheaded and ignorant assumptions—among them, that he can somehow make a colorblind/genderblind assessment of “quality,” when we all live in a society influenced by racism and sexism; and that the critics of the blatant whiteness of awards lists are asking for the bar on quality to be lowered for diversity reasons, when in fact they are pointing out that people like King and others in power are influenced by whiteness/sexism (even if they don’t realize it) rather than quality. King implies these things so casually, when it’s obvious to many that diversity, not quality, strongly influences which works get funded and published in the first place—the ones made by white men like King—so the “cream of the crop” works of art are already heavily skewed white and male by diversity and not determined by quality. King’s statement reacts as if critics of awards were demanding “I’m a woman, give me a freebie nomination!” when the critique is “these lists end up heavily white and male because other voices are assumed to be of lesser quality and cut out of the conversation.”

I can’t see how Valdes’s piece can possibly be understood as agreeing with those assumptions by someone who’s taken the time to think the issue through.
posted by sallybrown at 7:16 AM on January 25 [27 favorites]


so the moderator in this story has precisely one piece of information about stephen king: that he is a white man. the moderator views white men as, i don't know, fetchingly exotic. the moderator also believes that that particular piece of information about stephen king is the sum total of what's interesting about king. moreover, the moderator knows practically nothing about white men, other than that they've got some sort of european heritage. moreover, the moderator knows like three facts about europe — that england is there, that people drink tea in england, that ireland is there, and that there is or was some sort of violent dispute involving belfast.

the moderator proceeds to treat this collection of vague and unformed impressions of europe as worth talking about. the moderator also seems to condescendingly believe that, by talking about this vague collection of non-facts at stephen king, they are doing stephen king a favor somehow. but in reality, their clumsy attempt to link stephen king's experience of the world as a white man to their writing results in the erasure of both stephen king's writing and also his actual experience of the world as a white man. whatever king knows about whiteness and maleness the moderator dismisses, because the moderator thinks they already know what it is to be a white man — being a white man, the moderator thinks, is having a relationship to the collection of non-facts which the moderator believes they know.

> I can’t see how Valdes’s piece can possibly be understood as agreeing with those assumptions by someone who’s taken the time to think the issue through.

our interlocutor is not speaking in good faith and has no genuine interest in the linked material, in valdes, in valdes;s point, or in thinking the issue through. they're just throwing out a tiresome little troll-bomb.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:29 AM on January 25 [14 favorites]


Holy shit, that American Dirt takedown is solid fucking gold.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:36 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]




Crowd MURMURS in agreement. But, because this is a safe space, RESPECTFUL agreement.


Welp. Gotta read all her books now. This piece is hysterical.
posted by jeather at 7:49 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


jeather: "Welp. Gotta read all her books now. This piece is hysterical."

I came here to say exactly this.
posted by chavenet at 8:00 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I love Stephen King’s books, but anyone who has read more than a couple should realize that he has racist attitudes, especially around blackness. He’s a well-meaning white liberal of a certain age who has never had to take a personal inventory of his role in racist structures, which is not atypical, there’s just a lot more criticism of it now.
posted by Automocar at 8:21 AM on January 25 [23 favorites]


King, as a rich man, is surprisingly aware of the problems his richness causes. He doesn’t seem to be able to extend this awareness to race and gender. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t always rich....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:44 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I don't agree with you are he relies on this trope rather a lot.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:26 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The term "Magical Negro" was coined with King's work in mind. It's definitely a problem.
posted by Frayed Knot at 9:58 AM on January 25 [16 favorites]


"I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality."
No shit, Stephen King. Eyeroll times a thousand.

I can't stand this guy. I read all the available Stephen King doorstops as a tween and early teen and was regularly infuriated by them and him. There's his padding out every novel with tedious explorations of every single minor Mainer; there's his characters' puking and crapping themselves in terror every time he throws in a jump scare; and most of all there's his infuriating laziness and failure to care about his work or his readers. His general refusal to think about any human person or human experience long enough to do the reader the simple kindness of describing it accurately so they don't have to take even fucking longer to get through his cube-shaped pieces of shit because they have to pause to figure out what he's saying and internally rewrite people and scenes for him. He has refused for the entire length of his career to listen to an editor, probably because he had that massive, decades-long adolescent pout about not being able to get into the pre-Tina Brown New Yorker.

What comes to mind most out of countless infractions is the locker room scene in Carrie where he doesn't know how menstrual pads work and doesn't even KNOW that he doesn't know so he doesn't bother to find out so that he can write about it. The whole book turns on this scene and he fucks it up and has Carrie standing naked except for a menstrual pad that he writes is "stuck square in the middle of her pubic hair." HOW? Either she's got a belt on or she's adhered the pad to a pair of underwear. How does he think it's stuck to her body? It doesn't even occur to him that he doesn't know how they work or that he shouldn't expect to understand an experience he's never had or witnessed. Now extrapolate to every experience by every character who is not a white boy or man who hails from Maine.

Lazy. Inept. And won't take edits. Irredeemable.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:57 PM on January 25 [23 favorites]


in re Valdes, does anybody who has read her work have a suggestion as to what's best to start with?
posted by chavenet at 1:13 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


being a white man, the moderator thinks, is having a relationship to the collection of non-facts which the moderator believes they know.

But, and I'm just being a devil's advocate here, what if some white men really are like that? By silencing the moderator aren't you really saying that they're somehow performing white maleness wrongly? Who, when it comes down to it, is really being racist here? Also it was just a lighthearted introduction and you should stop taking it personally.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:02 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I love Stephen King’s books, but anyone who has read more than a couple should realize that he has racist attitudes, especially around blackness.

Way back as a teen in the summer of ‘87 or ‘88, I read pretty much every Stephen King book I could find. I admit, I read very uncritically. A big fan of post-apocalyptic literature, I tried rereading The Stand this summer. I couldn’t get past the first 50 pages. I realize we can’t equate the author with his/her characters, but he really seems to get off on writing racist white dudes. It just felt like an excuse to use the n word incessantly. It made for uncomfortable reading, so I set it aside and have no further interest in rereading it.
posted by trigger at 3:14 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I'mma just be over here with a mildly problematic username from years past when I was a bit less perceptive and WAY more idealistic. If y'all need me, just holler.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:34 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


I'd just like to add that King is also a hack. Just not a very good writer.
posted by signal at 7:06 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Valdes' article is hilarious and I loved it and I want to talk about her.

Can we please absorb the message of her article and talk about Latina writers and not Stephen King?
posted by medusa at 7:48 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I'm totally down for that, medusa.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:47 AM on January 26




Without going through the paywall is this about a tweet he made that he latter "walked back"?
posted by miss-lapin at 2:51 PM on January 27


It seems to be. As I understand his current position, it's that when he said “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong” he was talking about what his hypothetical position would be if this were a perfect world. Or maybe not. Honestly, his argument confuses me, unless it's just "I was speaking hypothetically or ironically and am in no sense walking back my apparently offensive comments, which should not be taken as my actual position."

I sent you a MeMail about it, maybe you can make sense of it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:12 PM on January 27




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