More Proof That I Am Actually A White Person

More Proof That I Am Actually A White Person

That headline will be massively funny to those who were up ’til all hours Sunday night at World Fantasy. For the rest of you:

Have you seen the video where the store employees show that the Face Tracking software on HP’s computers don’t track black faces? If you haven’t, go look now, it is really funny. When I saw that I wanted to test if it was true for other HP webcams, so I pulled a system from our testing lab and tried it out. The Face Tracker easily tracked me, but it also tracked a darker-skinned co-worker. I then turned the backlight correction off (which made the picture darker and more like the video linked above). The Face Tracker could no longer track my co-worker, but could still track me.

So forget the pencil test, the brown bag test, and the one-drop rule. Technology has given us a far better way to determine who is black in these times, and it is the Face Tracking algorithm in HP MediaCenters!

Aren’t you glad we live in the future? I am.

*facepalm*

Click here to see the video evidence of my shame.

A Cold Day In Hell: I’m Actually On FOX’s Side For Once

A Cold Day In Hell: I'm Actually On FOX's Side For Once

Over on Tor.com I’ve got a piece up priasing FOX for its decision to cancel Dollhouse. I know, a bunch of you will disagree. A whole bunch of you won’t, though! I hope you’ll join me in supporting FOX at this difficult time. I wonder if I should grab up the URL dontsavedollhouse.com? Because there are already campaigns to save it. For once, I think we need a strong anti-campain so FOX won’t start to second guess itself. Down with bad television!

A Clarification for Kathryn Cramer

A Clarification for Kathryn Cramer

I am aware of some of your claims of civil rights violations that you mention here. And hey, I might even believe that you’re telling the truth about these incidents. None of what you describe comes as a complete surprise given other incidents I’ve read about and attitudes I’ve come across. You probably didn’t read my earlier post deeply enough to note the difference between having disdain for what you’ve experienced and having disdain for the position you take regarding those of us who face different or even differently severe oppressions.

The idea that you and only you, or you and only your friends, out of all those who took part in RaceFail discussions, suffer “real” oppression while others only understand it academically is laughable. Not that you are oppressed, but that you think you are uniquely/more oppressed. If you’ve suffered civil rights violations, that does not make me happy. Being a black woman, I have experienced my share, too. It’s not something I want to happen to others, which is why I speak out and fight against oppression.

Just so we understand each other: it’s not your oppression I’m ridiculing, it’s you, specifically, and the things you say and the things you do. I’m reserving my compassion here for your children as they must have suffered a great deal going through the things you’ve laid out. You I have no compassion for.

On top of that, you once again return to your old tactic of outing in order to punish people for criticizing you. Shame, woman. Shame.

That Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

That Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Every time I get involved in some drama online I am sure to hear from someone who thinks I’m just an awful, awful person who should shut up. This is not uncommon amongst people who post about race/gender/sexual orientation/etc. shenanigans. I have my special box of trolls just like most other activists do.

I got a note from a newish detractor back during the RoF cover stuff who left a comment that was nothing more than trolling without even the appearance of trying to have a conversation or be a useful member of the conversation. I usually just delete these, but in this instance I wrote him an email explaining why I would not be releasing his comment and being snarky at him (my tolerance for stupidity was low at that moment). The reply contained what one might expect, but also contained two curious elements.

#1: I’m rather glad you didn’t post the comment and replied via email, as now I can be rather more honest than I would be in a blog posting (which is more public, after all).

#2: you’re a person whose principal interest lies not in addressing substantive matter of the various levels of discrimination that exist in the SFF community, but in scoring points off people. You appear to take pleasure in misrepresenting, insulting and ridiculing others–essentially inflicting pain on them.[1]

This commenter — Euan Harvey — seems to be under the impression that it’s perfectly okay to abuse me in private email but not in public.[2] But while claiming that he’s allowed to be as nasty as he likes, he also condemns me for being MEEN myself. Perhaps he feels it would be more acceptable if I were meen in private. I’m not sure.

The phrase “scoring points off people” is an oft-used one by a particular selection of my trolls, but variants of it crop up all over. Again, I’m not unique in this regard. We wild unicorns always have someone talking about how what we do is just to satisfy our own need to be angry, or to inflict pain on others, or whatever else.

But this email struck me in particular and made me think about exactly what this scoring points thing was really about. I finally grokked what was going on after some thought. It’s something I’ve always understood on a subconscious level, but never really articulated before. It’s something along the lines of: how dare I use these people’s own words and attitudes against them? How dare I, in public, on well-read blogs and in the company of influential and intelligent people, repeat what they have said or written and expose it for the crap it really is?

This is part of the tone argument — because how often have you heard people say that if only POC would take white folks aside, privately, and explain to them where they went wrong instead of getting angry in public, everything would be okay. We’d be listened to, respected, etc., if only we went about things properly. It’s a square on the BINGO card.

There’s also an element of: you can’t possibly mean the things you say because they are so unfavorable toward me. Instead, you must just hate me for irrational reasons and wish to destroy me. It’s all about me.

And: this is just a game to you. I cannot fathom how this could be an important issue to you because it’s not an important one to me (I’m not affected by it, I’m white/male/straight). No, it’s really that you just enjoy a good hate-on and keep a scoreboard of all the people you’ve hurt.

If I have to explain all the ways in which those things are totally wrong, then you have not been paying very close attention to things I say.

Anyway, having all of that crystallize in my head was an interesting moment. It never fails to boggle me, the notions that people will hold. Or the grudges. Some people really do seem to think I do all of this for my health. I’ll leave them to their fantasies.

Footnotes

  1. Yes, these are direct quotes.[]
  2. I love how he assumes that his emails will be kept private. But if he truly believes all I want to do is hurt people, why in the world would I keep this private? Trolls just do not think these things through, do they?[]

In Which Harlan Ellison Has Things To Say

In Which Harlan Ellison Has Things To Say

I actually thought I was done posting about this. Hm.

Okay, so a couple of days ago someone told Harlan Ellison about the Realms art/cover/boob discussion thing going on but, apparently, did not actually send him links or anything, just told him “Hey, some woman somewhere is calling Realms’ publisher a sexist!” or somesuch. Internet telephone being what it is (and considering the probable source and considering the phobia Ellison has of the actual Internet), I’m not surprised that this is the version of the conversation that’s reached him. And if you do not know, right now, the gist of what Harlan’s commentary is, then you don’t know squat about Harlan. You’re lucky.

Now, when I first heard this I had a notion of actually writing to him or posting on his weird message board thing that, actually, no one was accusing any person of being a horrible sexist, and giving him the actual background on what we’re talking about. But then I thought: Why in Zuul’s name should I care about the opinions of a guy who grabs women’s breasts in public and thinks it’s cool? He’s really not the audience for such a discussion. Nor is he someone I care to convince.

During my Clarion West, we had this fun running gag where we’d ask our instructors for Harlan Ellison stories. I think this got started because someone in our first week told a particularly funny one. The other stories ranged from funny to “OMG he DID that?!” And while it’s all ice cream and cakes to focus on the funny aspects, those other ones left me with the impression that Ellison, great writer though he may be, is not someone I would like to run across in a dark alley or even a well-lit convention floor. Or, apparently, on stage in front of hundreds of people.

So, I went about my business. But someone out there faxed Harlan more details and now he knows my name.

Sort of.

He seems to think my first name is Kay.

Well. At least he won’t find my house.

He also wants to “bee-atch-slap” me because I’m a woman of color. Specifically because he helped Octavia Butler launch her career so, as a woman of color, I owe him fealty or something. I dunno. He also seems to think I called HIM a sexist and that I want to “get into it” with him.

Um.

One thing I am annoyed about is that someone told him I called him a sexist. In this discussion, I mentioned Harlan only in the context of him having a story in Realms. I have not said one word about him being sexist or anything else. If I were to care, I would set the record straight with him on that. But I don’t.

I’d also like to point out some other fun aspects of his post. #1 – he seems to think that by naming me as the culprit he’s put my Public Name in a Public Place and that’ll show me! Um. #2 – he hurls several insults at me, but some of my favorites are: I’m in the NWA, a Women of Cuhluh, and a swineherd. Thumbs up! You keep it classy, Ellison!

Now, the bottom line here is that Harlan is convinced that I am specifically after hm. He really, really is. Unlike most egomaniacal wankers on the Internet, I don’t think he has this impression just on GP (that’s general principles for you non-urban folk out there). I think that whoever has been telling him about this discussion has made Harlan think that I and a bunch of other people are specifically mad about him. Him in general, him in Realms, whatever. But the truth is, Harlan is not only not the issue here, he’s barely a footnote.

The cover mockup I posted the other day (provided by Charlotte, for those of you who didn’t know) takes a dig at him, but from what I understand, that was aimed at Realms‘ publisher, not Harlan himself. However, it was a dig and if I’d seen my name over top the words “Senile Meanderings” I’d be pissed, too. So, for calling attention to an image that included a personal attack on someone not even involved in this discussion, I’ll take the blame for that one. If Mr. Ellison wants me to remove that from the post, he’s free to ask.

As to the rest: I have no intention of getting into it with Harlan. I don’t care about him enough. I wouldn’t mind letting him know what was actually said by me as concerns him. Otherwise, I just can’t get excited about it. The orc horde has more important stuff to deal with just now.

But hey, look at that, some famous person knows my name! And posted it on his website. My Google Juice is going to skyrocket now!

New Writers? GTFO

New Writers? GTFO

Speaking of Realms of Fantasy, I was just paging through the new issue when I came across a letter from the editor, Shawna McCarthy, in the back. Here’s an interesting quote:

Without the magazines providing both a training ground and a platform for young writers, the genre publishing industry will be severely hampered–writers without track records have a much harder time finding agents, and should they have sufficient talent to find an agent without a short fiction history, the agent will have a much harder time selling their books to a publisher. All that will be left in the SF and Fantasy section are Old Reliable Writers, which, don’t get me wrong, have survived as long as they have because they are talented and capable, but as with all other things, they will one day pass on and who will be there to keep the industry alive?

I’m sure there are a few people who will debate her point about writers needing a short fiction track record, etc., but I’m more interested in this because of something Realms publisher Warren Lapine said at ReaderCon.

Now, I was not there for this, but my sources are multiple and reliable. Apparently on Thursday evening during a party, someone asked Warren about e-submissions and Realms. The discussion that ensued was described to me as a ‘fight’, with Warren very much against e-subs. When someone said to him that he was basically cutting out a whole generation of younger writers by being against e-subs, Warren reportedly said something like: Why do I need those writers, I’ve got Harlan Ellison in my magazine!

(Apparently there’s a Harlan story in an upcoming issue.)

This attitude is very much at odds, it seems, with the Fiction Editor’s. I don’t know how McCarthy feels about e-subs, specifically, but she doesn’t seem to feel that the presence of an Old Reliable Writer like Ellison is of so much more value than newer writers.

Later in the weekend I myself asked Warren if Realms would be accepting e-subs, and he told me something different. He said something about how if a writer rises up to a certain level, they can send submissions any way they please. I believe the words “Neil Gaiman can submit to me in crayon, if he wants” were uttered. But as concerns lower-level writers, he can’t have them sending in e-subs, that would be a disaster. But if you rise up — say have a book on the NYTimes bestseller list or something — you certainly can.

Again: Old Reliable Writers can do what they want because we want them! Young/New writers? Pfft!

(by the way, this is my last RoF post for the day, possibly forever. I’d meant to post these last week but stuff got int he way.)

Realms of Covers

Realms of Covers

A couple of weekends ago at ReaderCon I got the chance to see the newest issue of Realms of Fantasy, the magazine that, earlier this year, was canceled by the company that owned it. Publisher Warren Lapine bought the magazine because he saw that there was a groundswell of online activism around saving it. RoF is now reborn.

Here’s the cover, in case you haven’t seen it:

Realms of Fantasy cover

Someone also sent me a link to an image that’s going to appear in a forthcoming issue as art for a specific story.

For many years now — certainly since I started reading Realms, something I talk about here — the magazine has had a tendency to put some rather strange things on their covers. A lot of chicks in chainmail-type images when its not movie or television promo shots. I hear tell that these increase newsstand sales and I don’t doubt it. It can be really tiresome to look at year after year. But hey, people gotta eat.

So when I saw the new cover I wasn’t exactly surprised. I hear the nipples had to be taken out in order to make it newsstand-worthy; also not surprising. Realms has always had this tendency to put women in provocative clothing/poses/etc. on the front even though that kind of thing appeals more to men. I just don’t get it.

Warren Lapine was at ReaderCon handing out free copies of the magazine. We were both at the same party on Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to ask him a question that had been burning in my mind. What follows is an actual conversation I had with Lapine, transcribed from my memory, so there’s lots of paraphrasing and such.

Me: So, Warren, I was wondering: now that Realms is under new management and all, when are we going to see some male asses on the cover?

Warren: (raucous laughter)

Me: Because it seems like you’ve got the whole naked women thing down and the boob thing down, so how about some equal time?

Warren: That’s a good question. We should ask our new Art Director. Doug, c’mere for a second!

Doug [Cohen]: Yeah?

Me: (giving my full attention to Doug) I was just wondering when we’d see some male asses on the cover of Realms. Or even some penises?

Warren: (still highly amused) We’re not allowed to put penises on the cover, though.

Me: Makes sense. But inside, then. Because you’ve got plenty of boobs. Fish-girl boobs and nipple-less boobs and snake-woman boobs and boobs and more boobs.

Doug: (looking like he wants to shove a knife in my eye)

Me: I think it would do the magazine good to have some nice male asses around, don’t you? Or even: a shot from behind of a well-toned guy with him looking over his shoulder and a Fabio face or something.

Warren: (more laughter) I was just about to say! (turning to Doug) Our readership is, what, 4-1 female…

Me: Right! (to Doug) Don’t you think this is a good idea?

Doug: It sounds like a Tempest idea.

Me: Right, because it’s awesome! Another thing, maybe you don’t need so many boobs out there. Women in nice outfits works. You do know that women wear clothing most of the time, don’t you, Doug?

Doug: I know it now.

[I will pause here to note that I was unsure whether Cohen was trying to imply that I’d enlightened him on this fact because he’s been living in some dark cave most of his life or that he so very often sees women undressed that this was news to him. I’ll leave it to you to decide.]

Warren: Well, I was in a hair band in the 80s, and back then it sure didn’t seem like they did.

(so much laughter! OH HOHO! Also, I am given credit for ‘having a sense of humor’ because I laughed. …)

The conversation went on in this vein for a little longer, all the while certain parties not appreciating my suggestions. I think I especially riled someone when I asked if Realms had a monthly boob quota sheet in the office somewhere. But honestly, I wonder.

I overheard Warren and Doug talking about the issue together a little while later and got the impression that Warren felt I had a valid point and Doug felt that I initiated the conversation just to annoy him. Nevermind that I didn’t initiate the conversation with him; I went to the person with the power to decide stuff.

Anyway, time will tell if we get to see some male cheesecake on the cover. If we want it more inside the magazine obviously someone is going to have to step up and write some stories that call for it. Thus is my challenge to you, fantasy writers. Go to it!

My (Long Overdue) Thoughts on the Dollhouse Finale

Over at Fantasy Magazine:

Eliza Dushku has had the opportunity to dazzle us with the range of her acting over the course of this season. She did not. In this final episode she had one more chance to shine. She had a great example before her — Alan Tudyk as Alpha struggling with the different brains in his brain, switching smoothly between them without making it look hammy and overdone. Then he puts a ton of personalities into Echo’s head and Eliza gives us… well, the same vague “kick-ass chick” character she’s been playing for eleven previous episodes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we never saw her switch between them. There was nothing to switch.

There’s… a lot more. It took me a whole week to write because every time I sat and thought about ti some more I was like, “Oh, and ALSO I hated this! And this!” Watch as I also compare the show to Family Guy and Heroes. Clicky for the fun!