And the drama goes on

In case you missed it, yesterday had yet another — yes, another — blow up in the sf/f community. This time it revolved around the choice of a host for the Hugo presentation at LonCon. Since I wasn’t going to be at LonCon, I really didn’t pay much attention other that to wonder why this particular presenter was chosen. To the best of my knowledge, Jonathan Ross had no “creds” that would make him attractive as a host for the presentation ceremony other than being a British TV personality. I was wrong, as I found out later. He has written in the genre, was a TV/film critic who apparently had a soft spot for the genre and his wife is an award-winning author in the genre. So, yeah, he could be a good fit.

But no. Oh the hue and cry went up quickly that he was “evil”. Bad enough that the con chairs had chosen yet another white male to host the awards ceremony. But they chose one known for his edgy humor. He was an awful man who made fun of women and blind folks and and and. . . .

Funny thing is, when I started really paying attention to those attacking Ross and the con chairs for the choice, most of them appeared to be the dainty writers, male and female, form the US. The Brits were pretty much, “Okay. Move along.” The underlying opinion by those who weren’t up in arms about Ross seemed to be that he’d behave if asked.

But what got to me was how folks started taking about how they were really glad they hand’t planned on going to LonCon because now they’d have to rethink their decision because such a horrid man was going to be part of it. Someone commented that they knew of an author who wouldn’t be going because she was afraid of what he might say because she’d heard he’d once made fun of someone like her.

WTF?!?

What really brought this home to me was an email exchange I had with several authors I respect a great deal last night. Apparently US authors and a segment of fandom are so precious and delicate that the mere presence of an author — usually male — at a con can keep them from going because he “might” say something “inappropriate”. I’m sorry, but really? Are we that fragile that the mere possibility that someone might say something you don’t like can keep you from attending a con or other activity?

I’m not going to say much about the process that went on to first name Ross as the presenter at LonCon nor am I going to say much about the fact he withdrew after the proverbial shit hit the fan. Yes, the con chairs did drop the ball in how they handled it but so did those who reacted so vehemently without getting all the facts. Each and every one of those on both sides of the controversy would do well to read Kris Rusch’s posts on the do’s and don’ts of social media.

One of the best responses to what happened, in my opinion, came from a Facebook comment. This particular commenter said that writers “flounce” and they do it in every way possible. According to the commenter, Ross-gate (as it is now called by some) is just the flouncers’ latest opportunity to flounce.

So, yes, I had visions of a lot writers — both male and female — dressed in their Southern Belle outfits, complete with hoop skirts and fans, having a collective attack of the vapors at the news that Jonathan Ross might be at that darlin’ LonCon. Of course, we all know that when a Southern Belle swoons, it is to gain attention. Which brings me to the commenters’ next statement. These “vapors” can be boiled down to the belle (or writer in this case) crying out, “Me, what about me? Look at me! It’s me! Yes, me! It’s me! Me over here! Don’t forget me! I’m here. Me. Yoo-hoo, it’s me!”

Was Ross a good choice? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m tired of these public temper tantrums with the name calling and the “I will never go to a con where he (insert the name of a conservative white male author or supposedly controversial comic) will be.” Should we approve of bullying? No. Should we approve or prejudicial behavior? Hell no. But isn’t that exactly what was happening here? Weren’t those condemning Ross — and the con chairs for extending the invitation to him — basing their responses on 1) comments he’d made AS A COMIC and without knowing if the con chairs had given him any sort of guidance on what he should say? and 2) their own prejudices because they wanted a woman or a person of color or a non-binary gender person (did I say that right?) being the presenter instead of “yet another white guy”?

I wish this entire thing had not played out in public the way it did. It should have been done behind the scenes because, guess what, this sort of public cannibalism is why so many people have such a low opinion of the genre and of SFWA and related organizations. But then, handling things in-house isn’t something SFWA and the GHHers are known for. So why should I expect it from the LonCon membership either?

Sigh. I’m really ready for the adults to take over.

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36 Comments

  1. Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    You do realize if you’re waiting for the adults to take over in this case….you are waiting in vain right? Just Mark down the idiots for chipping after Mike takes over as World Dictator.

  2. sanfordbegley
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I have a con I have considered taking off the attendance list. It took a bit more than someone I didn’t like being there. Active enmity from a coterie including the con chair is a bit different than being worried that someone is an ass. Maybe that is because I am perfectly capable of being an ass when necessary myself. OK, sometimes even when not necessary

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Verily a similar experience was why after my ONE visit to a con, a local one..I’ve never been back.

  3. Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Since I have a disease that makes people hard to take, I have used it as an excuse. (and it is a real reason because if I am around too many new germs, I get really sick). But, it does get me out of situations of like nature. Plus I really enjoyed your flouncing description. It warmed the cockles of my heart. lol I wanted to get my faux Southern on and say “Bless their little hearts.”

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      I will admit, I considered adding the lace hankies, the lilac water and smelling salts as I thought about a couple of scenes from Gone with the Wind and all those “fine Southern belles”. ;-)

      • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        Not fair – I had just taken a sip of coffee. ;-)

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Sorry. I’ve already been called a bad woman by Sarah the description. You can join her, I guess. ;-)

          • Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

            Thanks, now I’m seeing a group of southern belles, including a bunch of guys dressed in those same hoop skirts, fainting en masse.

            • Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

              But remember all the fanning and flapping before they actually “swoon”. You can’t forget the best part — the drama.

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                :D Hm. How many of those guys would talk in a falsetto and act exaggeratedly and stereotypically ‘belle’, and how many would try to still draw their man card in spite of going for the full drama performance at the same time? (Lets forget the in-betweens in this case, they are not quite so funny)

  4. Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Just send the children back home. It’s obvious they forgot their blankies.

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      And their binkies. Maybe that’s why they keep crying about how unfair life is.

  5. BobtheRegisterredFool
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I will never attend a con that x attends, because we live so far apart, and our funds are too limited for our ranges to overlap.

    I can’t think of any x who is for sure always going to be too poor to attend anything I can attend. There may not be any that qualify for x.

  6. Insectress
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    My reasons for not attending cons:
    -poverty
    -schedule conflicts
    -illness
    -distance

    Please note that “guests I do not agree with” is not on the list. I have been at conventions with guests I cannot stand and still managed to behave like an adult and even managed to enjoy myself.

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. As an adult, I can get up and leave a panel if I’m uncomfortable or I can even challenge the speaker, politely, to defend their position. I do not need to be defended from someone because they might say something I find offensive or because they tell jokes I might not find funny.

  7. Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Ok, so I look him up, and he’s really kind of an offensive little git, but one I’d probably find funny in that particularly dry but over the top British way. His cred is a little thin on the ground although he’s worked in comics and is a huge fan so that’s genre enough for me.

    So then I go look up his wife, since Amanda says she works in genre.

    Um, understatement much? Geeze Amanda, you turning brit on me? I mean, cowrote screenplay for Stardust, several xmen movies and more.

    About time we told the International Coalition of the Perpetually Butthurt and their fellow travelers the Transnational Society of the Glittery HooHaa to STFU and let us enjoy our SF!

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Gee, Pat, I can’t do all your research for you ;-)

      And your last sentence nails the issue. Most of us want SF we can enjoy. A rip-roaring story with characters we care about. We don’t care if a character is black, white or purple. We don’t care about their sex or sexual preference. We don’t care about their religion or political views. As long as all that has to do with the story and making a well-rounded character. What we don’t want are for those aspects of characterization to be used to beat us about the head and shoulders. The other side, however, want to get their message out and, as they do so, make sure every message that doesn’t fall in line with theirs is silenced. That’s not the SF/F world of literature and film I know and love and I will continue to fight for the right of everyone to write what they want and to leave it up to the readers to choose what they buy.

      As for policing of cons, well, if you want to watch the cons die, go right ahead. You’ll have your junior high cliques running them and coming to them and you’ll see it slowly going the way of the dodo, especially when the next little clique comes along and decides that all the “cool kids” aren’t any more and these former “leaders” are suddenly thrust out on their asses the way they have tried to do with so many others.

      • Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        I wish that I could say that you’re wrong about con going that way. A local (to me) con, nearly did that many years ago. The Con Com was nearly all gamers, and they played up gaming. Attendance went *way* down. They’ve pretty much gained back the membership numbers, after realizing the “error” of their ways.
        If I weren’t in a wheelchair, and had the money, I’d still go to about 5-6 con’s a year. It’s where a lot of my “friends” are. I’ve been in Con fandom, since 1980, and, as far as _I_ know, am the only person vouched for at a World Con, with no ID.
        To me, if you don’t want the GHH cliques running them, join and participate. Become a Con Com member, they never have enough.

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          Walter — can’t. No time. Also the present cliques would not take us. they have a political “color bar.”

          • Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

            You could fix the clique thing easily enough by forming your own con. “ConservaCon!” I can’t solve the time problem for ya, though. “Conservacon — a con without PC, all welcome.”

            • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

              “conserva?” eh. half the conservatives would disown me, let alone my friends. The exclusion line for liberals is much tighter and to the left of where the inclusion line for conservative starts.

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

                :-) I was actually thinking that the people you don’t want to attend would self-exclude if you asked a noted conservative of any gender or nationality to be GOH. And a lot of people would like to go to a place where PC meant “Don’t be a d**k.” Which IIRC is the Baen’s Bar rule.

                Just a thought, anyway.

                • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

                  “don’t be a dickhead” — yep.
                  And yes, I know. There are only two problems: I’m a raging introvert and… Individualists are notoriously bad at organizing.

            • Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

              Wouldn’t that be LibertyCon? Oh, wait a minute… ;>)

    • TheHarper
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      I LIKE that ‘International Coalition of the Perpetually Butthurt’…… :)

      • Tully
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        I’ve been referring to them for years as the Coalition of the Perpetually Indignant. If nothing presents to be indignant about, don’t worry, they’ll invent something.

  8. Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Jonathan Ross is the creator/narrator of the delightful “Incredibly Strange Film Show”, which (among other things) introduced me to Jackie Chan long before he became well-known in the US. I think he’d make a great host!

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I agree, but we are obviously not enlightened thinkers. So our opinions don’t count. Just ask the GHHers and they’ll tell you so.

  9. Doug Baird
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many, if any, of those complainers (I’m trying to be nice…) have a significant portion of their income derived from writing Science Fiction or Fantasy…

  10. carlton mckenney
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I have to wonder how some of these precious angels would do at a Don Rickles show.

  11. Posted March 3, 2014 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    The sad thing is, these spats will never not be played out in public. The people who engage in these things live for the attention and the chance to strut the stage, huffing and posturing. One might describe it as adolescent girl behavior, but then this would be an insult to adolescent girls.

  12. Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    No it wouldn’t

  13. Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Adult behavior, common sense… somehow those things went away when the least talented among us could count on food coming from the efforts of those who could grow, process, and deliver it to a community.
    Soon the necessity for such ability for personal survival was replaced by being able to critique the hunter/gatherers, explain the esthetics of colored mud on the cave walls, and convince those around them that the “ability” to tell others how to live was paramount over actually bringing food and shelter the community.
    Today these people will still tell you that the planets will stop in their courses if their valuable counsel is ignored… without even waiting to be asked…

    • Posted March 3, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      So true. And folks wonder why my patience with the entitled has grown so thin.

  14. Posted March 3, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Geeze, as a fan but non-writer, I too wonder about the SWFA. Of course, they want vapors, I could probably give them an attack. Two of may favorite FB hangouts are MHI and Baen Barfly Illuminati, oh, and Ringo’s Roughnecks, so I suspect you understand where I come from on the subject.
    We seem to live in a world currently powered by the vapors. Me, Me, Me all the time with a total disregard for logic or situational awareness. Selfishness instead of inclusion (though the Vapor Clan would like you to believe that is what it is all about from their side, and of course it is not, its self aggrandizement.) Of course, as you can see from my 24 year old picture, what do I know, I’m a retired career military old white guy; but that’s o.k. by me, don’t see any vapors on the horizon!

  15. William O. B'Livion
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    > Are we that fragile that the mere possibility that someone
    > might say something you don’t like can keep you from attending
    > a con or other activity?

    Dunno, I’ve had someone refuse to come into a bar because I was inside.

    And I don’t even have a reputation for hitting people that hard.

    But yes, some people are that fragile. Is ok, they usually don’t breed well and their line will die out in the next famine.

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