A Little Fallout: Bias and the “Humanities”

fallout

Graphic depicting nuclear fallout – image credit unknown

Several days ago, I posted a link to my essay Concealment: Should I Have Used a Pen Name? in a private writers group on Facebook. The admin always holds links in mediation prior to approval. Usually the process takes a few minutes to an hour, but after a day went by, I figured I’d gone too far and he wasn’t going to approve it.

However, 24 hours later it appeared. Either he was too busy to approve of it prior to that time (doubtful, since he’d been active in the group all along), or he was pondering whether or not to approve it, maybe even consulting others.

Well, it was approved, and discussion in the group was pretty interesting and generally positive. That is, until this one, offered by an admin of another writers group to which I do not belong (and I don’t plan on asking to join):

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Concealment: Should I Have Used a Pen Name?

guy fawkes mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

It’s too late for me to use this option (probably), but an incident (two, actually) occurred last week that got me to thinking.

I’ve already considered the idea that breaking into science fiction and fantasy as a conservative, religious, white, married, cisgender old man (and if you exist at a particular social and political extreme, all of that means I’m “evil”) might be a waste of time considering how the publishing industry in particular, and entertainment in general seems fairly prejudiced against creators who aren’t leftists and atheists (although I know some leftists who are religious). In science fiction in particular, this was played out in previous years by the Sad Puppies phenomenon, and not too long ago by the Comicsgate movement, which also seems to have gone by the wayside.

But as I mentioned, last week, a person responded to two of my missives on Facebook rather negatively. Normally, I take these things in stride, since “outrage” is something you get used to if you’re not following a popular social media narrative, but this time the person in question was in a position to significantly inhibit my future as an author, at least within a certain realm.

I won’t provide the specifics of this, but I will confess to having my anxiety level rise quite a bit and losing some sleep over it.

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Before Social Justice and Comicsgate, there were Comic Books

I’ve written about the modern state of mainstream comic books before (DC, Marvel) including how at least some of them aren’t safe for children, and the whole comicsgate vs. social justice comic books drama. Some of this still pops up in my twitter stream, though I don’t respond because, why bother? Still, I do consider the state of the industry as it relates to some of the movies I watch (I caught Deadpool 2 on DVD the other day). And that takes me back to the comic books I used to read, many years…okay, decades ago.

I’ve read some things about the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, which seems interesting, and maps to the original Ms. Marvel comic book of the 1970s, based on a non-superpowered Carol Danvers who appeared in 1968 in this comic book:

Here, Captain Marvel was an alien spy, obeying the commands of his Kree overlords in a spaceship orbiting the Earth, but eventually, he used his space suit’s powers to help human beings, bringing his loyalty into question. Not long afterward, he got a make over and turned into this:

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Is Jeff Sessions Trying to Establish an American State Religion?

I know I’m pushing it, but I decided to share these thoughts here on my “fiction” blog.

Morning Meditations

sessions U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I just found out that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced the Department of Justice’s creation of a ‘religious liberty task force’ to ‘help the department fully implement our religious guidance'” over at CNN.

Actually, someone I know from my Powered by Robots sister blog reblogged an article called The First Amendment Under Siege posted at The Shinbone Star. You can find out more about their staff here (although discovering that one of their reporters used to work for MSNBC told me a lot about the particular bent of this publication).

I suppose I shouldn’t get into politics on my “religious” blog, but this topic is or should be of interest to all people of faith in the U.S.

It’s tough to get an unbiased view of what Sessions is up to, so I had to look at a number of differing…

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An Outsider’s Point of View: Why Did WorldCon 76 Implode?

implosion

The Wellington Annex in Albany, collapses in a picture perfect implosion by Jackson Demolition of Schenectady as seen from the roof of the Albany County Office building Saturday – Used as an example of “implosion” – Photo credit: Peter R. Barber

In following the Superversive SF blog, today, I came across two related articles: Declan Finn’s WorldCon Melts Down and Richard Paolinelli’s My Thoughts on WorldCon 76…. Paolinelli’s wasn’t particularly illuminating, but he promised a more detailed account later today. Finn described a situation where the Con violated its own rules by “misgendering” one of the guests causing some sort of meltdown.

Pending Richard’s subsequent blog post, I decided to look for more information. Interestingly enough, the only article I found was at The Daily Dot, which I can’t say is a completely neutral publication. The missive in question is Worldcon faces backlash for sidelining marginalized authors (updated), originally published yesterday (July 23rd) and updated today.

WorldCon is one of the oldest, if not the oldest science fiction convention in the world, and apparently, that’s the problem. Traditionally, according to the article, it’s been dominated by white, conservative people, it’s fan base, and has struggled to accept more marginalized and #OwnVoice participants in recent years. I get the feeling the Con wants to be more progressive, but, at least from The Daily Dot’s perspective, its own history and biases have gotten in the way.

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When Social Media Becomes a Lynch Mob

duplass 1

Screenshot of Mark Duplass’s tweet about Ben Shapiro

There are days when I lose all hope for humanity. Really, it’s gotten that ridiculous.

First off, actor Mark Duplass said something nice about conservative speaker, attorney, and Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro on twitter. Then he is immediately caught up in a twitter-storm so severe that the very next day, he formally apologizes.

Then “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn defends Duplass while at the same time, sliming Shapiro. And then, it’s discovered that Gunn made some pretty horrible tweets back in the day and is subsequently fired by Disney so you won’t see him directing “Guardians 3.”

I suppose Shapiro thought in the aftermath of all this, someone might take a look at his “dumb stuff” tweets, so he posted a list of them, and promised to keep updating it (I haven’t had the time to read that last article yet).

What the heck is going on? Have liberals have decided as a group, that no individual liberal can be friends with or even like a conservative without starting a social media flame war?

Why? How did we enter this twilight zone of dysfunctional communication?

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Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?

men describe women chart

Found at Electric Lit online magazine (click on the image to see a larger version)

The chart posted above was acquired from the article If You’re Not Sure How a Male Author Would Describe You, Use Our Handy Chart over at the Electric Lit online magazine. As I understand it, the chart was created as a gag, and I found it pretty funny. In fact, I toyed with the idea of writing a story using the chart just as a joke.

Then it took on a life of its own on twitter, as reported at the same magazine, in an essay titled ‘Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would’ Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages.

Apparently a male author claimed he could write authentic female characters, and was immediately challenged by Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz). A combination of hilarity, hostility, and moral angst ensued. I should say that after writing most of this missive, I noticed these articles were written last April, but they’ve showed up in my gmail inbox from Medium in the last couple of days. Wonder what the message is?

I decided to write about this because I’ve gotten a hold of a review copy of the To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity anthology edited by Sirius Métier and published by Superversive Press. It was published digitally about two weeks ago (as I write this) and seems to be doing pretty well, both relative to its Amazon reviews (five so far, and all five star ratings) and in terms of sales.

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Anticipating the Anthology “To Be Men”

to be men

Cover image of the soon to be published book “To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity.”

I’ve become aware of a book soon to be made available through Superversive Press called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. It’s an anthology and actually the sort of project I’d have loved to contribute to. The theme is based on a premise currently popular in speculative fiction and in certain social perspectives, that traditional masculinity is considered toxic or otherwise undesirable or harmful.

Actually, the issues are more complicated than they seem on the surface, but they are also very polarizing (like so many social issues are these days).

I came across the term Beta Male in relation to this, and depending on your perspective, it’s either highly denigrated or highly celebrated. If traditional masculinity is “toxic,” then “beta maleness” seems to be the goal in some circles.

In response to Disney’s current “take” on the “Star Wars” franchise, I’ve decided to “take back” Star Wars by re-watching the original trilogy (“Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi”). To me, those are the only three films that truly embrace “StarWars-ness”), even though “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” (the latter film I have yet to see) feature some of the original actors.

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The Difference Between a Goal and a Dream is a Deadline

scifi

Science Fiction wallpaper found at imgur

Earlier today, I wrote and published the short story A Black Matter for the King just for myself, but later, I adapted it slightly so it could be a response to the First Line Friday writing challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

Although it’s gotten several “likes,” no one has ventured to comment. That happens sometimes, and I suppose it doesn’t have to mean anything, but this story does have an overtly Christian character. He has volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War, both because he’s already had friends drafted into the service who have been sent over and died, and because he believes that as a Marine, he has to fight in our wars to keep the people back home, especially his family, safe, and so our nation can remain free.

Now those are all ideas that have fallen out of favor lately (or not so lately). I did have another character in the tale comment on how the Vietnam War did nothing to protect our nation’s people or their freedom. However, it wasn’t so much the purpose of the war that’s at issue, but rather my male protagonist having a certain set of values and a code of honor to uphold.

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Am I Wasting My Time Trying to Become a Published Science Fiction/Fantasy Author?

news source bias
I read a wide variety of information sources, including conservative and liberal news, social media, and blogging outlets, in an effort to stay informed. I find that no one bias tends to render the world as it truly exists (in my opinion), so I try to find a balance between them all.

Finding that balance isn’t easy, since the creators of these information sources don’t seem to want to understand any viewpoint that differs even slightly from their own.

Okay, that probably isn’t fair, but that’s how it seems as I do my reading.

I put an image at the top of this blog post to illustrate the relative biases of the significant news agencies (I don’t necessarily agree with the exact positioning of some of these “elements,” but overall, it’s a pretty good indicator).

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