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How Did We Get Into This Mess?'s Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?
james_nicoll

It isn't Neil Gaiman's fault that people worship him. Heck, before deconstructing his sad and manipulative post, let me say that I love his work. American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, and The Graveyard Book, just to name recent pieces, each stunned me in their own ways as I read and re-read them. I intend to read more of his work in the future, because he is an extraordinary storyteller, and I count myself as lucky to be able to read his tales. That said, my interest in power and discourse, especially online, had led me into his blog writing on Ross and the Hugos, and I have a few thoughts. Bear with me.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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The missing thing here is once the Chairs took the decision to invite Ross, and he said yes, rightly or wrongly, there was NO way for Ross to be forced to step down that didn't end up making fandom look like the ones at fauly. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. If anybody thinks different they're hopelessly naive about the British media machine.

It just doesn't matter who is right or wrong, the media have spoken, we're wrong, nasty, petty bullies, the facts don't matter one jot.

So fans were supposed to do what, exactly? Keep their heads down, hope they didn't get targeted? Boycott the con en masse?

HOW TO BRITISH, a brief guide:

If it's too cold, celsius. If it's too hot, farenheit.

Find people of like-minds and que with them.

Embrace learned helplessness in response to any apparent threat.

When in doubt, tea. When quite certain, tea.

Expect british sports people to win every major international competition just to feel the disappointment.


Emboldened one is the relevent one here, nerddom are doomed, doomdoomdoomed, the sky is falling, whoa is me etc...

Fans could do whatever they like. But complain that they picked a fight with the British media and they're lying about them? No, not so much - or rather, please, go ahead, let me know how it goes, I'll be over here though wincing loudly.

The thing is, he wasn't forced to step down. He chose to do that. He chose to do it in a matter of hours after there was controversy. Ross is no stranger to controversy--all one hears about is how he's so "edgy" and "transgressive" (nothing edgier than calling a woman a slut, after all). Why, given that, would anybody suspect that he'd be such a big whiny baby who took his ball and went home within a few hours of any upset?

He had options. He could have issued a statement saying that he understands the concerns and would behave with respect toward women. Instead, he chose the one that allowed him to flounce off in a huff. He chose. Not fandom, UK or US. Not his media friends. He chose.

So why not blame him for the fall-out?

(Deleted comment)
I was very surprised at how quickly he started insulting people, then stepped down just as quickly. It positively zipped by in real time, and just as I thought he was either gearing up to lash out with more "you're stupid" comments or was about to issue a measured, reassuring statement, he quit.

It was only three months ago he got some flak for using profanity while hosting the British Comedy Awards, so I had (and continue to have) a tough time with him acting surprised that people had concerns.

How I interpret this comment:

1) British media are ravening weasels, and also known to be snobs about anything fannish.

2) The con chairs should have known that inviting Ross was inviting the media along with him, with quite a lot of potential for awfulness.

3) There is literally nothing that fandom could have done to mitigate any of the above.

So the blame for the subsequent storm falls squarely on the chairs for negligence and the media for being assholes.

Is that about right?

Pretty much expect I disagree on point 3, I can think of a couple of things that would have probably left us all shouting at each other about this without the press being involved. But that would have required having a press strategy on how to handle the flack ahead of making the announcement.

Of course, doing the correct scenario planning probably would have either made everybody think twice or Ross say no.

I know at least one fan journalist who is fairly sure they could have avoided most of this if he'd been asked to help. But we're back to the Chairs didn't think about this.

Edited at 2014-03-09 02:37 pm (UTC)

I'm not following the use of the term "punch down" in this context. I thought it only referred to a first strike against a target that either was incapable of fighting back, or was (for whatever reason, including self-restraint) not allowed to.

The metaphoric image is that of a big guy beating up a little guy. The meaning is a person with high power or status mocking someone with low power or status.

Picking on people historically at the bottom of the pecking order, relying on their lower status to keep them from striking back. For a hypothetical example, an established pro might be out to dinner with a younger writer who has chosen inexplicably to be Italian-American in a genre dominated by Brits and when the younger person picks up the tab, one might loudly pray in the hope the younger fellow will ask why, allowing one to use "Never let a Dago buy without thanking God." Of course, the younger fellow isn't in a position to object unless he wants a reputation for being hard to get along with.

Or one might be a loathsome toad who, wanting to put a lauded female writer in her place as condemned by her gender as inherently inferior to the toad, molests the woman in front of a public audience, relying on the fact that most people will not interrupt an awards ceremony to smack someone no matter how justified.

In the twitter storm, one side has people with thousands of follows and the other people with millions. Whose version of the facts is being promoted by the press, do you think?




Edited at 2014-03-08 07:34 pm (UTC)

Any resemblance of your example to an author who made up a vilifying story out of his poisonous jealousy of someone capable of writing a novel is presumably random coincidence.

But here's the real thing - Neil is saying that the only appropriate way to respond negatively is to speak to the convention committee, to follow procedure, to be polite. That's a fine policy for people with power and access.
Worse than that: Even Roz Kavney, who was on the con committee, who had power and access, had her concerns ignored and had to resign to get this issue taken seriously.

Gaiman’s phrasing — “anyone who spoke about it to the convention committee” — implies that he wasn’t even aware of this whole aspect to the matter, that the chairs made this decision without the committee and presented it to them as a fait accompli.

Not Roz; Farah Mendlesohn. (Let's make that Professor Mendlesohn, one of the UK's leading SF academics and not someone whose opinions you should take lightly.)

But the chairs did make the decision, everything follows from that moment. Any scenario that forced Ross to withdraw publicly having accepted puts us here. I can't think of any that result in a different narrative from our 'friends' in the press because they love them a good weirdos narrative.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
The Emperor has NO CLOTHES!

That would explain why there was no place for the Hugo pin, anyway.

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Gotta say, this is another piece that makes me so glad I never did the oh so widespread Gaiman worship.

There's gotta be a pun here about kneeling/Neiling...

It's interesting that the one directly abusive twitter quoted in that Bleeding Cool article ("I observe with dismay that this year’s Hugo awards are to be hosted by noted gratingly fatuous bell end, wossy — Dave Cochran (@TalkyMeat)) is from a male Scot.

Of course, if we're talking about abusive tweets this (from Hayley Campbell, author of the pro-Ross New Stateman article) is a bit of a zinger, but maybe they only count as abusive if directed AT the Ross camp?

Edited at 2014-03-10 03:57 pm (UTC)

Cue a bunch of whinging about how That Word is not nearly as big an insult in the UK as in the US, blah and blah and blah.

I suspect her response to criticism—"I didn't say you WERE cunts. I said you behaved like cunts. Which is different."—is a sneer at people who follow Jay Smooth's rule of "call out racist behavior but don't call people racists". What a charmer.

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