A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how the Sad Puppies had failed, mostly because they weren’t trying. I was hit hard about that, mostly with people who seemed to know what was or wasn’t to inside my head and what I had forgotten, all of course without actually any intention of actually discussing the real issues at hand. Which is the bullying tactics and tyranny that have taken over the publishing industry and other outlets of popular culture.
The fact is that the Left has already won the big issues war. Frankly the war was won a long time before the Left actually got involved in the late 1960’s. It was won by people who were really taking risks by pointing out the evils of discrimination and segregation. Many of those people were, in fact, Republican. Still by taking over the media and indoctrinating more and more revolutionaries the left has become the establishment of rebels without a cause, but great big hammers to beat people with.
But it wasn’t just because these celebrities were rich and out of touch that Americans were put off by them. It’s because those celebrities were the people most likely to judge red-state Americans as rubes — nasties intent on targeting Muslims and gays and blacks and women. The unearned moral superiority of America’s celebrity class rests in their open condemnation of flyover Americans as brutish louts, and their self-parodying belief that they are civil-rights heroes. Hollywood (wrongly) believes that it singlehandedly ended segregation; Hollywood (rightly) believes that it had a heavy hand in promoting same-sex marriage. Hollywood sees itself as the moral vanguard. Americans reacted badly to that.
Why did they react so badly to the celebrities in this particular election cycle? Ironically enough, it’s because the Left had already won the culture wars. Most Americans, not just celebrities, vote as they do because they have a moral vision of themselves and the universe in which they are heroes or victims, never perpetrators. For decades, the Left consistently put front and center its vision of an America in which Republicans were victimizers: Either they were evil racists, or they were John Lithgow–in-Footloose holier-than-thou sexual prudes, or they were old-style Mad Men sexists looking to shove women back into the kitchen. Celebrities helped push these narratives through the stories they told, the movies they filmed, the books they wrote. And Americans accepted the critiques. Americans accepted racial equality. Americans celebrated female empowerment. Americans went libertarian on sexual behavior. And the Left had to go searching for a new civil-rights struggle with which to cram conservatives back into their “victimizer” cubbyhole. The Left now pushes against civil rights in its ignorant search for the new struggle. There was, however,
one problem: All the good civil-rights issues have been dealt with already. And so the Left, which focuses all of its efforts on social issues, was relegated to pushing crime-increasing myths about the evils of cops; the celebrities were forced to pretend that men peeing next to women was the next great Martin Luther King, Jr.–style struggle; Democrats were forced to march on their next target, not merely church involvement in state, but private beliefs of churchgoers. And herein lies the biggest problem facing the American Left: America is the most tolerant country in world history. There are no more serious civil-rights struggles for the Left to push. In fact, the Left now pushes against civil rights in its ignorant search for the new struggle: Religious bakers must be destroyed if they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; young girls must be forced to go to the same bathroom as middle-aged men, hosts on HGTV must be policed for belief in Scripture regarding sexual sin.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442821/
The fact is that the SJW types have taken Western culture and treated it like they treat American flags. By acting like the screaming children they are for decades and being able to enter the halls of academe and take over they have reached the point that the teaching o our base culture has become so distorted that nobody bothers to learn it anymore.
A number of prominent liberal intellectuals, such as Leon Wieseltier, acknowledge that the humanities are in trouble. There “really is a cultural crisis,” he said at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival. This is an improvement over the mass denial of a few years ago, when the standard retort to conservatives went something like this: “You just don’t like the direction the humanities have taken” or worse: “You old-fashioned types are angry that the humanities are no longer a Eurocentric dead-white-male thing—get over it.”
But when the politically-correct president of an Ivy League university recounts how far the humanities have fallen at her school, as Harvard’s Drew Gilpin Faust did at the same festival, it’s hard to dismiss the thesis. The numbers Faust cited for Harvard are astounding. Currently, she said, about 14 percent of Harvard undergraduates major in a humanities field. That’s higher than the national rate, but it’s down from the 25 percent rate at Harvard when Faust started her tenure as president nine years ago. Most of the withdrawal, she noted, was due to students heading toward the hard sciences (not the social sciences). When it comes to enrollment in humanities courses in general at Harvard, the trend there is downward as well, a drop of ten percent over the same period of time.
Why should people enroll in liberal arts and the humanities when all the joy and greatness has been replaced by grey goo, plap and raw hatred for the very things that made our civilization great. Maybe if the humanities went back to Western Civ and Shakespeare, they would attract students that want to be inspired rather than those prepared to be enraged. Maybe if culture rather than politics, especially radical politics became the focus people would be attracted rather than disgusted by what the liberal arts have to offer.
What’s happened is that the universities across the West have become centers of inanity rather than the places of thought and deep culture that they once were. Where once our universities housed the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis now we get things like this.
Just an hour or so North of Brandeis, Salem State University put its more prestigious neighbor to shame. As a way of expressing the view that our President-Elect is a purveyor of hatred, an artist at Salem State, who was invited to “create works inspired by the election,” produced digital oeuvres drawing on historical photos of Ku Klux Klan members and of Jews rounded up after the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Subtle.
Although the pictures were in a museum gallery accompanied by literature explaining the exhibit, students, and even some faculty members, seemingly could not figure out that the exhibit was an attack on Donald Trump and not a celebration of hatred. They let it be known that they found the exhibit distressing and offensive (not because they voted for Donald Trump but because they thought, apparently, that even pictures of the KKK are too hot to handle).
At an open forum, the artist explained the purpose of the exhibit, no doubt imagining that if he explained that he meant to attack Donald Trump he would be let off the hook. No such luck. The exhibit has been temporarily suspended and an apology has been issued.
Students at the University of Pennsylvania removed a portrait of Shakespeare from a prominent location in the school’s English department after complaining that he did not represent a diverse range of writers.
In fact, the chair of the department confirmed in a statement that the portrait was stripped from the wall by his students as “a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department,” The Daily Pennsylvanian reports.
Removing Shakespeare’s portrait was “a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission.” Tweet This
Additionally, Department Chair Jed Esty explained that the portrait was “delivered” to his office and replaced with a photograph of Audre Lorde, a celebrated African American feminist and author, in a move that was intended to send a message to Esty, whose department agreed to replace the portrait several years ago.
Esty went on to confirm that the portrait of Lorde will remain in Shakespeare’s place until he and his colleagues can reach an agreement on what to do next, announcing the establishment of a “working group” to help monitor the process.
In some ways the Puppies fight is just an extension of the overall culture battle. The puppies started out as just a way for Larry Corriea to have some fun at the Hugos and prick some SFF scared cows. I think that one of the surprises in the whole thing is just how little effort it took to dominate the Hugo Award nominations. When Larry posted his first recommendations, Ok, slate, I am sure that he never intended to actually WIN all the noms with less than 200 or registrations. The slate swept the noms, which just shows decayed the system was. It also shows just how unattractive the stuff put out by the traditional publishers is to the people who should have been their core market. Yet over and over again the puppy kickers can’t seem to understand that blanket accusations just piss people off. You can only scream NAZI!! so many times before people stop taking yo seriously. Yet over and over it’s always the same. For the puppy kicker, the only argument, regardless of the facts on the ground is that anybody who disagrees with their narrative is some sort of white supremacist, racist, misogynist, neo Nazi. Here’s a case in point.
Dark lords, demons, genocidal invading aliens and other such unambiguous evils are a narrative staple of SFF: indeed, they’re fundamental to many of our favorite renditions of the hero’s journey. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still political complexity to be found in such stories, to say nothing of ordinary political systems. Even in worlds where an ultimate, inherent morality is exemplified by a struggle between Dark and Light, Good and Bad, the actions of people are seldom cast in such a binary mould – and yet, I suspect, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking otherwise, because if the good guys are clearly on the side of the (demonstrably real) angels, then who are we to question their methods? As readers, we’re omniscient: we know, in a way the characters seldom do, exactly why their actions matter, what the outcome is going to be and how few paths there really are to achieving it. From that perspective, it’s comparatively easier to accept that the end justifies the means, because we’re in the best, most objective position possible to weigh motive against execution, intention against consequence, and to view the whole chain of events at a remove. We know the characters better than they know themselves, and that makes us judge them differently than if we were there beside them, working through the same problems with the same set of limitations.
The way we’re otherwise forced to do in life.
Since the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, there’s a particular social media status I’ve seen circulating in various places, though I think this tweet is the original:
It’s something I’ve seen treated with eyerolls and irritation by people I know to ultimately support the sentiment – i.e. that dictatorships, imperialism and fascism are worth fighting against – on the basis that it’s somehow a dumbing down of the current political situation; if people can only understand that what’s happening now is bad by relating it to stories, this logic says, then they probably don’t understand it at all. And in one sense, I understand that perspective. For those born with social privilege, reading about oppression and oppressive systems in stories is the only way to “experience” that sort of prejudice. That being so, if your first reaction to the jarring post-election spike in hate crimes (for instance) is to relate it to a story rather than to fear for yourself or others, then you likely don’t belong to an at-risk group. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need stories to act as emotional dry-runs for caring about different types of people, because our empathy would already natively extend to everyone. But we don’t live in that world; because if we did, somewhat paradoxically, we’d have less urgent need of its empathy, as its unequivocal presence would make it much harder for us to discriminate in the first place.
Which is precisely why stories matter; why they’ve always mattered, and will continue to matter for as long as our species exists. Stories can teach us the empathy we otherwise lack, or whose development is railroaded by context, and yeah, it’s frustrating to think that another person can’t just look at you, accept what you are, and think, human, different to me in some respects but fundamentally as whole and as worthy of love, protection and basic rights as I am, but you’ve got to understand: we’re a bunch of bipedal mammals with delusions of morality, a concept we invented and which we perpetuate through culture and manners, faith and history and memory – which is to say, through stories, which change as we change (though we don’t always like to admit that part), and in that context, the value of the impossible – of SFF as a genre – is that it gives us those things in imaginary settings, takes us far enough out of the present that we can view them at a more objective remove than real life ever allows, and so get a better handle on them than our immediate biases might otherwise permit.
Stories reflect us, and we reflect them back at themselves, like one of Terry Pratchett’s witches standing at the heart of a room of mirrors: humanity all the way down. In the midst of real-world politics and their ever-evolving consequences, our narrow individual perspective is that of a character denied the author’s omniscience: we don’t know what to make of the pattern of things – if there even is a pattern – or where events are headed, and yet we still have to choose what to do in the moment. And so we look outside ourselves, to stories where we do really know what’s happening, to characters in whose hopes and fears we recognise our own. We might make jokes and memes about it, buy little rubber bracelets stamped with WWBD (What Would Buffy Do?) and laugh at our preoccupation with people who don’t really exist, but when the hammer falls and our own words fail us, theirs remain.
I must not tell lies.
We are not things.
If we burn, you burn with us.
Right now, we don’t need a Jedi Master to tell us that fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate to suffering: that’s not an abstract mystical tenet, but the bedrock of our current political reality. For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”
And so I think about the UKIP supporter who empathized with a fictional refugee but voted to dehumanize real ones; about the millions of people who grew up on stories about the evils of Nazism, but now turn a blind eye to swastikas being graffitied in the wake of Trump’s election; of Puppies both Sad and Rabid who contend that the presence of politics in genre is a leftist conspiracy while blatantly pushing what even they call a political agenda; about fake news creators and the Ministry of Truth; about every f***ing dystopian novel whose evocation by name feels simultaneously on the nose and frighteningly apropos right now, because we shouldn’t have to cite The Handmaid’s Tale to explain why Mike Pence and Steve Bannon (to say nothing of Trump’s infamous comments) are collectively terrifying, and yet see above re: unempathic bipeds of failure, forever and always; and yet –
(The post I’m quoting seems to have been deleted from Blackgate, probably at Vox’s urging. The above quote is from the original post.
(Vox did make an archive copy available)
Not that that changes how the likes of Meadows thinks about people who may disagree with her. All she seems to be able to see is the narrative as presented by the Progressive establishment and like so many is unable to present a reasoned argument. Or listen to one. Larry made reasoned arguments, with numbers. Brad made reasoned arguments with yet more numbers. Kate tried to be nice and make yet more reasoned arguments. For which we get called names and receive yet more attacks from the media, yet again. I suppose that this year it will be that since Trump was elected, whatever that has to do with SFF at all, anybody who says anything about SFF that doesn’t follow the dictates of “Making Light” needs to be silenced and ruined. Which seems to be the pattern now throughout the left.
If the Puppies campaign has had any result, it’s brought the character of some of the darkest corners of SSF into the light. For many of us it’s been more than an eye opener. The authors and editors that many of us once respected as fans turned on us at the mere chance that we fans may want something else than what they were offering. Never mind that what they were offering was, as they themselves freely admit, were stories where politics and message replaced story and narrative in importance. Never mind that what the puppies were pointing out was it was story and narrative that actually SOLD the books in the first place. the puppies dissented from the message and thus we all must be Nazis, or fascists, or racist. At trend that seems to permeate the literati.
Of course, the fascists never really left: They’ve just tended to wear blue instead of brown the past 40 odd years. But an openly agitating and theorizing hard-right movement, growing slowly over the past few years, has blossomed in 2016 into a recognizable phenomenon in the U.S. Today’s American fascist youth is neither the strapping Aryan jock-patriot nor the skinheaded, jackbooted punk: The fascist millennial is a pasty nerd watching shitty meme videos on YouTube, listening to EDM, and harassing black women on Twitter. Self-styled “nerds” are the core youth vanguard of crypto-populist fascist movements. And they are the ones most likely to seize the opportunities presented by the Trump presidency.
Before their emergence as goose-stepping shit-posting scum, however, nerds — those “losers” into video games and comics and coding — had already been increasingly attached to a stereotypical set of political and philosophical beliefs. The nerd probably read Ayn Rand or, at the very least, bought into pseudo-meritocracy and libertarianist “freedom.” From his vantage, social problems are technical ones, merely one “disruption” away from being solved. The sea-steading, millennial-blood-drinking, corporate-sovereignty-advocating tech magnates are their heroes — the quintessential nerd overlords.
When it was reported in September that Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey was spending some of his fortune on racist, misogynist “meme magic” and shit-posting in support of Donald Trump, it sent nervous ripples through the video-game community. Many developers, to their credit, distanced themselves from the Oculus, pulling games and ceasing development. But many in the games-journalism world were more cowardly, either not covering the story at all or focusing their condemnation on the fact that Luckey made denials and seemed to have lied to try to cover his ass, rather than the spreading of racism and misogyny.
These were the same sorts of gaming journalists who rolled over in the face of Gamergate, the first online fascist movement to achieve mainstream attention in 21st century America. The Gamergate movement, which pretended it was concerned about “ethics in games journalism,” saw self-identifying gamers engage in widespread coordinated harassment of women and queer people in the gaming world in a direct attempt to purge non-white-male and non-right-wing voices, all the while claiming they were the actual victims of corruption. The majority of professional games journalists, themselves mostly white men, in effect feebly mumbled “you gotta hear both sides” while internet trolls drove some of the most interesting voices in game writing and creation out of the field. The movement was a success for the fuckboys of 4Chan and the Reddit fascists, exhausting minority and feminist gaming communities while reinforcing the idea that the prototypical gamer is an aggrieved white-boy nerd. It has meant that — despite the queer, female, and nonwhite contingent that makes up the majority of gamers — gaming’s most vocal segment is fashoid white boys who look and think a lot like Luckey.
Surely, those communities of marginalized gamers have just as much claim to the subject position of the “nerd,” as do queer shippers and comic-book geeks, to say nothing of people who identify as a nerd to indicate their enthusiasm for an esoteric subject (e.g. “policy nerds”). But the reason a tech-enabled swarm of fascists have emerged in the nerd’s image today and claimed it as territory necessary to defend is because of the archetype’s specific cultural origin in the late 20th century, and the political purpose for which it was consolidated.
The nerd appeared in pop culture in the form of a smart but awkward, always well-meaning white boy irrationally persecuted by his implacable jock antagonists in order to subsume and mystify true social conflict — the ones around race, gender, class, and sexuality that shook the country in the 1960s and ’70s — into a spectacle of white male suffering. This was an effective strategy to sell tickets to white-flight middle-class suburbanites, as it described and mirrored their mostly white communities. With the hollowing out of urban centers, and the drastic poverty in nonwhite communities of the ’80s and ’90s, these suburban whites were virtually the only consumers with enough consistent spending money to garner Hollywood attention.
If the only argument you have is that I am some sort of Fascist, well I MUST dissent. For no other reason than I know what a Fascist was. I also know what the Nazi’s were. For that matter what the Left in general has always been. Which is petty bullying and stupidity with a very thin veneer of sophistication. To say nothing of starting down the tyrannical road to hell of their leftist forbearers.
How many times must the road be trod before we learn from history and stop getting beaten by the curse of Santayana? If the puppy kickers and the rest want to find fascists, or other evils, perhaps they should start looking in a mirror. It was not the puppies who threatened authors. It was not the puppies who abused the power and influence of their positions. It was not the puppies who initiated multiple slanderous media campaigns.
Doing those things is the response of those who no longer have anything to say. When the only thing that is left is a climate of fear, then there will be no creativity, no inspiration and most importantly, no more fun. As I’ve said, the point of the exercise is to make reading entertaining. If you can’t accomplish that, then you have failed. By reducing publishing to the level of selling groceries, the Big Five and their puppy kicker stooges are only creating an atmosphere of unsellable books that nobody wants to read and adding to the general intolerance that has permeated our culture for far too long. To that, I MUST dissent.