Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?

dragon

Image found at DragonCon.org

I’ve tried to steer this blog away from the more controversial and/or political topics I’ve covered in the past, but then I read Richard Paloinelli’s missive Wikipedia or WikiPravda?. Richard and I share some similar viewpoints, but I lack many of the wounds and scars he’s received in the past, such as those attributed to Mike Glyer at the File 770 science fiction fanzine. I think I was contended with there exactly once. It actually impressed me, since relative to Glyer’s readership, I’m pretty much a nobody.

In the recent past, I’ve heard that Wikipedia, Patreon, and YouTube have been accused of attempting to shut out politically and socially conservative creative voices through censorship and defunding. Since I’m merely a consumer of Wikipedia and YouTube and wouldn’t know what to do with Patreon, I’ve had no personal experience, but on the other hand, I have no trouble believing they are all biased left, either.

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Amélie Wen Zhao’s Fantasy Novel “Blood Heir” Available November 2019!

blood heir

Cover art for the novel “Blood Heir” by Amélie Wen Zhao

If you read my February blog post “Blood Heir” and Social Justice (or is it vengeance) which echoed many other voices on the web, you’ll recall how author Amélie Wen Zhao was bullied on social media to pull her book Blood Heir from publication over what Slate.com author Aja Hoggatt called accusations of racism and being “anti-black”.

Tablet Magazine called her detractors a twitter mob composed of what’s been referred to as “YA Twitter:”

an online community composed of authors, editors, agents, reviewers, and readers that appears to skew significantly older than the actual readership for the popular genre of young adult fiction, which is roughly half teens and half adults.

The Tablet article goes on to say:

As Kat Rosenfield, a Tablet writer who is herself a published YA author, wrote in a deeply entertaining Vulture feature on The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter, in the summer of 2017, “Young-adult books are being targeted in intense social media callouts, draggings, and pile-ons—sometimes before anybody’s even read them.”

Even though the author defended herself and explained the cultural context (her own) that inspired her novel, she was dragged through the virtual gutters and intimidated into indefinitely delaying the release of her book. She’s an excellent example of having apologized when, objectively, she really didn’t do anything wrong except cross paths with the YA twitter “powers that be.”

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“The Great Escape” (1963): Why This Film Couldn’t Be Made Today

escape

Promotional poster for the 1963 film “The Great Escape”

This movie is firmly listed under “films we couldn’t make today” or “films we couldn’t make today unless we included a lot more diversity.”

The Great Escape (1963) is one of my all time favorite films. It features an all-star cast which includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, among many, many others. The film is based on a 1950 non-fiction book written by Paul Brickhill chronicling a firsthand account of the mass escape by British Commonwealth prisoners of war from German POW camp Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland).

The film is a highly fictionalized version of those events and made numerous compromises which departed from fact, including the addition of three Americans to the cast (McQueen, Garner, and Judson Taylor) to accommodate U.S. audiences.

Here’s the plot summary from imdb:

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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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Blocked: When You Make a Hugo-Award Winning Author Upset on Twitter

blocked

Screen capture from twitter

Yesterday, I wrote and posted a book review of SF/F author N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season, both here on my blog and on Amazon (considering Goodreads as well).

twitter

Screenshot from twitter

I then posted links of my review on twitter and in a private writer’s group on Facebook. As you can see by the accompanying screenshot, I included Ms. Jemisin’s twitter “handle” in the body of my message in case she might want to read the review (and what author doesn’t want to read reviews of their books?).

As an aside, before someone mentions it, I suppose I could be accused of “trolling” Jemisin…except I wasn’t. All I did was put @nkjemisin into the body of my tweet which also contained a link to my review of her novel. If I had put her handle as the very first word in the tweet, it would have gone straight to her and it would not have appeared in my twitter feed. I didn’t do that. I wasn’t exclusively “aiming” my tweet at her, though I certainly wouldn’t have minded if she saw it and read the review. I suppose she could have taken it the wrong way.

Now to continue:

I popped over to her twitter account just for the heck of it and gave it a brief read. I don’t recall the specific content. I was just curious.

This morning, I decided to post another tweet referencing my review. I do this several times in twitter since folks might miss it the first time or two. I decided to include Jemisin’s twitter name once more, and out of curiosity, visited her twitter account again. Lo and behold, I was blocked. What the heck? What happened in the last 22 hours or so?

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Cult: A Brief Commentary on Actress Allison Mack’s Descent into Darkness

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Allison Mack – Photo Credit: R. Umar Abbasi

Guilty pleasures confession time. I used to be a huge fan of the television series Smallville (2001-2011). I’ve watched every episode at least once, and I love the theme song (YouTube).

In case you don’t know, “Smallville” followed the adventures of young High School student Clark Kent for the ten years before he put on Superman’s tights and cape. Actor Tom Welling starred as Clark, and supporting actors included Kristin Kreuk as love interest Lana Lang and Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, a sort of High School newspaper version of Lois Lane.

I heard of Mack’s arrest last April on sex trafficking charges and was stunned. In her role as Sullivan, her character started out with a girl-next-door charm and a nose for bizarre news stories, plus she was as cute as a button. Of course, that has nothing to do with who the actress was as a human being.

Mack’s in the news again, this time professing her innocence in documents filed in Brooklyn’s Federal Court, basically saying that if Scientology can get away with it, she should be able to as well. Notice, at no time does she actually say she never committed the acts of sex trafficking of which she’s accused.

More’s the pity.

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More on Social Media and University Radio Show “Echo Chambers”

campus reform

Screen capture of Campus Reform article title

This is a (sort of) continuation of yesterday’s blog post Which “Echo Chamber” Should I Choose?, since I’ve had a rather “interesting” encounter on twitter this afternoon.

Actually, it began this morning when I read a Campus Reform article called Duke Univ produces ‘himpathy,’ ‘himpunity’ podcast. Having no idea what “himpathy” and “himpunity” were, I clicked the link I found at twitter and began to read.

Marissa Gentry’s article began with:

Duke University’s Peabody-nominated “Scene on Radio” podcast, titled “MEN,” is currently in the middle of its third season, and it revolves around the issues of misogyny and patriarchy.

Okay. Fine and dandy as far as it goes.

Scene on Radio is produced by John Biewen and co-hosted with Celeste Headlee. They each come with an impressive set of credentials, but given the content of Ms. Gentry’s article, it wasn’t exactly a secret what perspective they probably held regarding the topic of their podcast.

The Campus Reform article quotes the show’s content:

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Which “Echo Chamber” Should I Choose?

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Laura Loomer

Disclaimer/Trigger Warning/Whatever: This is a rant. Feel free not to read it.

I’ve got time on my hands so, I decided to “get political” again. I just read a Daily Wire story (yes, they’re conservative) called WATCH: Laura Loomer Banned From Twitter For Criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar, Islam. Here’s Her Response.

Up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea who Laura Loomer was, and I’m a little surprised that both twitter and Facebook banned her for life for criticizing Ilhan Omar. After all, political figures are criticized on social media all the time without such a drastic result. I myself have criticized Ms. Omar for her anti-Israel and antisemitic positions, and yet I am allowed to remain on social media.

Apparently even political scientist and columnist Ian Bremmer, though not a supporter of Loomer, commented on twitter that banning her seemed a little harsh. Of course there were many others, including The Jewish Voice who were more critical of twitter’s and Facebook’s actions.

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Pre-Review Jitters

overt and covert racism

Found on social media

I’ll have to keep this relatively short since I promised my wife I’d help her in the yard this afternoon.

I tend to “catch up” on movies after they’ve left the theater by renting the DVDs from the public library. Even if the film is a stinker, I’m not out a dime, though I’ll never get those two hours back.

Last night, I watched the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok and completely enjoyed it. I’ll write a more comprehensive review later. Relative to this blog, I’ve also watched and should review Wonder Woman (another winner), Spider-Man: Homecoming (ditto), and Lucy (uh…).

Tonight’s feature is Avengers: Infinity War.

I’ve put a library hold on the Black Panther, and thereby hangs a tale, or at least trepidation.

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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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