I Agree with Chuck Wendig: Yes, I Am A Feminist

In September of 2014, author Chuck Wendig wrote a great post about his choice to embrace the label “Feminist”, even though he had been struggling with it because even though he supported the cause, as a white male, he didn’t think he’d earned the right to call himself anything more than an ally.

I found myself nodding and agreeing with his post when I first read it. I want to share a link to it here in solidarity with the idea that yes, I am a Feminist. I’m a cis white guy, and I still screw up and let my male privilege get in the way of my efforts, and I’ll always need to manage that. But I am a Feminist.

#HEFORSHE: YES, I AM A FEMINIST – by Chuck Wendig on his blog, TerribleMinds

Showing the DudeBros the Door

I don’t play many video games, but I remain on the informed fringe of that world because many of my friends and peers DO play them, and because so many aspects of video game culture – and critique thereof – have direct bearing on the tabletop gaming culture of which I AM a part. The video game hobby gets most of the press because it has grown into a huge industry, but almost everything that is going on in that sphere is also going on in the much smaller sphere of tabletop gaming. In other words, both hobbies are engaged in a struggle over issues of representation, equality, and access. And as more women, people of color, and LGBT folk become involved in gaming and/or speak up about the issues, the more entrenched, belligerent, and asinine a certain subset of straight white males has become in their attempts to claim the hobby as their own.

As I continue my quest to write and share more here on The Monkey over the next year and beyond, if you follow along, you’re going to be reading a lot about this stuff. Because it matters to me, and like so many of my peers, I’m tired of having the most visible public face of the hobby I love be represented by a bunch of loud-mouth misogynistic racist dudebros, and even more importantly, I’m tired of watching them do the horrible things they’re doing to people who simply want nothing more than to have equal access and equal representation in the hobby and in the games themselves.

So, I’m going to start off by posting some links to several excellent articles that’ve been written over the past few days by people who are saying things I think are important and potent.

First, in this post from GamesOn.net, Tim Colwill invites any of his readers who are threatened by Equality to exit stage right and not let the door hit them in the ass on the way out:

“So, here’s another change for you: if you really think feminism, or women, are destroying games, or that LGBT people and LGBT relationships have no place in games, or that games in any way belong to you or are “under attack” from political correctness or “social justice warriors”: please leave this website. I don’t want your clicks, I don’t want your hits, I don’t want your traffic. Leave now and please don’t come back.” – Tim Colwill

Go read the full article. Because Yeah.

Next, game designer Elizabeth Sampat shares some potent truths about the recent threats against fellow designer Zoe Quinn:

I could tell you stories about the voices we’ve lost, the women we’ve scarred, the people we’ve left behind. I want to, but I’m not sure you’d get it. I tweeted earlier today, We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone. And I meant it. I wish there were a way to honor the people our industry has wronged, and a way to visualize the enormity of what we have lost because of it— some representation of the gap between what games are and what they can be, and the pieces of the bridge between that have fallen away.” – Elizabeth Sampat

Read the article on Elizabeth’s site

Edit: There is also this gem from Leigh Alexander on Gamasutra, where “Gamers” are declared over:

‘Games culture’ is a petri dish of people who know so little about how human social interaction and professional life works that they can concoct online ‘wars’ about social justice or ‘game journalism ethics,’ straight-faced, and cause genuine human consequences. Because of video games. ” – Leigh Alexander

Read the whole article on Gamasutra

*******

There are more I could share. No doubt you can find several others being shared by other bloggers, Facebookers, and G-Plussers. Go be informed. And let’s fight this crap. They wanna take the term “Social Justice Warrior” and make it a derogatory label, I say we own it and claim it and wear it with pride.

Dancing with the Hunger Games

Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd. This is a random screen cap from ABC but let’s all imagine that Gilles is saying “that is the yuckiest fucking idea I’ve ever heard” after being told of the new mid-competition rules add-on.

Leah and I have both been longtime fans of the ABC-tv reality-show/dance-competition Dancing with the Stars. We haven’t watched every season, and we don’t always vote, but in general, we’re fans. We enjoy the show, the dancing, and the interplay of personalities. I really like host Tom Bergeron, we both enjoy several of the recurring pro dancers, and although the judges clearly are either intentionally – and not very deftly – trying to game the system or just being unhelpful jackasses half the time, it’s a good mix of stuff that hits the entertainment sweet spot for both of us. Leah & I fell in love while dancing together in a production of Dancing at Lughnasa. It’s kinda our thing.

Is it the perfect television show? No. It has some stuff in it that has been kinda silly and annoying over the years. But those are par for the course, right? In any case, I’m pretty sure there’s never been a moment where I’ve turned to Leah while watching DWTS and said, “You know, this show would be so much more interesting if it were more like The Hunger Games!”

See, although there has always been playful banter between contestants about beating one another or out-dancing a rival or whatever, in truth, the real challenge is not about doing something better than somebody else, it’s been about the journey of the particular celebrity-pro couple and how well they can dance against themselves – how much they can improve from being the “I’ve never ballroom danced before in my life” celebrity to the “wow, I’m actually really loving this and I’m pretty good, too!” celebrity. And the measure of that has depended upon how they score with the judges and maintain audience popularity. It’s never actually been about one-upping or directly complicating the journeys of the other competitors. That was for the judges and tv viewers to do, not the fellow contestants.

But lo and behold, last night they pretty much went there. After several season’s worth of subtle – but not particularly game-changing – tweaks to the rules and procedures that were clearly designed to be of shocking entertainment value regardless of whether or not they enhanced the actual dance competition part of the show, last night during the third episode of the current season, host Tom Bergeron introduced a rules twist that apparently was intended to be as much as surprise to the dancers as to the viewing audience. And it is a really sucky, yucky, terrible twist.

Here’s where it gets all Hunger-Gamesy. In a surprise move that – unless we are all being played by the DWTS execs – was a newly-devised twist that not even the contestants were told about before-hand,  Tom Bergeron revealed that starting tonight, during the results show where we learn who will get voted out of the competition based on last nights’ judges scores + the audience vote, each contestant-couple will choose the style of dance that ANOTHER contestant-couple will have to perform during next week’s show. Up until this twist, the dance style and music were selected by the producers based on a fair distribution where everyone – or at least the ones making it deep into the competition – would have to do all the various dance styles, i.e. they all were on equal footing. The occasional exception to this would be a week wherein the couples would get to choose their own dance style, which of course gave them a chance to play to their own strengths.

Now, we’ve got the situation where each couple is going to have to dance a dance chosen for them by ANOTHER contestant. Maybe this seems like a small thing, but it is a thing. It means we’ve now crossed into territory where contestants get to directly futz with one another. And it’s all purely for the bread-and-circuses shock value.

So, assuming this rule really was not part of the original bargain and was sprung on the contestants in mid-competition – we have years of precedent wherein all the contestants could root for one another and be friends and cheer one another on – or at the very least never have to worry about actual direct interference from other contestants – because the only obstacles to success were judges and audience.  Now we’ve got this thing where contestants can start screwing with one another.

This is probably no big deal to many fans but it is to me. It crosses a line. I mean, I think the new rule is pretty icky-sucky regardless of the circumstances, but if it had been in place from the get-go, i could at least say, “well, the contestants knew about it and they signed up for it.”

But they didn’t sign up for this. They’ve had it sprung on them IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COMPETITION. How is this not pretty much the same thing as, “Oh, hey, Tributes, guess what, we’ve decided we’re gonna let there be TWO winners this time, as long as you’re both from the same district!”

I’m not one of the dancers in this competition, but if I were, i’d be pissed. So, here’s what I wish would happen, although I doubt any of this will play out like i want it to:

 

Either:

1. Host Tom Bergeron says, “So last night the producers told me to announce this big surprise twist and I did but I couldn’t sleep last night because I felt so icky, so tonight I’ve just gotta say, I didn’t sign up for this and it sucks and I’m taking my Emmy and going home”

OR:

2. One of the contestants and/or the pro dancers steps up and quits after making their own similar “I didn’t sign up for the kind of show where we start cockblocking each other, buhbye!”

OR:

3. One of the celebrities – hopefully somebody classy like Gilles – after being told that he has to pick the dance for Kirstie Alley & Maks Chmerkofsky (or whomever it may be), publicly says ON LIVE TV “Hey, Kirstie, which dance would you like to dance next week?” and then after Kirstie replies, “The cha-cha, Dude!” then Gilles would say “I choose for Kirstie and Maks to dance the fucking cha-cha!” And then, if possible, do a mic-drop and walk off the set.

via Shouting Into The Void | The Problem With The Big Bang Theory…

Sheldon Cooper vs. Abed Nadir

Sheldon Cooper (TBBT) & Abed Nadir (Community)

Here’s a very insightful post from the oft-insightful Tumbler-blog Shouting into the Void. I think it’s spot-on and I want to signal boost it all the way to Gallifrey and back. It concerns the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory and points out many of the problems with the way the show frames its geeky supposed-protagonists and pretends to be celebrating them when in reality it is pitting the audience against them. The author supports his premise in part by comparing TBBT to NBC’s less-lauded but far superior sitcom Community. It’s worth your time. Even if and especially if you’re one of my two or three readers who might not think of yourself as a nerd. Here’s a quote from the post and a link to the whole article:

The humour in The Big Bang theory relies on the audience siding with and relating to Penny, the character coded as “normal” in comparison to the main four guys. It also relies on the audience having a sense of superiority over Leonard, Raj, Sheldon and Howard. We’re supposed to feel like we’re cooler than them and that we’re better than them. This then prompts us to laugh at the things which make them nerdy, which stop them being cool, which make them lesser. This is done, in my opinion, to stop them from seeming intimidating. It’s essentially Chuck Lorre saying “Don’t worry, these guys may have fancy degrees, they may be more successful and more intelligent than you but they like sci-fi and read comics. They’re socially awkward and can’t speak to girls. You’re much cooler than they are so you’re still better than them.” This isn’t to say that we’re not meant to sympathise with Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard. Chuck Lorre doesn’t want us to hate them. He does, however want us to pity them. We don’t root for Leonard and Penny to get together because we think they’re a good match. We feel sorry for Leonard, we think Penny’s out of his league and we root for the underdog.

via Shouting Into The Void | The Problem With The Big Bang Theory….

via Jared Axelrod – Five Questions For Every Lead Character

Jared AxelrodThe Magnificent Professor Axelrod shares some writerly wisdom worth signal boosting:

Because these questions don’t just identify character quirks. They are cheat-sheet for what your lead character has to lose. They are a roadmap for how to raise the stakes. They identify five ways the character can change, simply by taking one of those elements away.

via Jared Axelrod – Five Questions For Every Lead Character.

Ebert on Media

Roger Ebert with a thoughtful quote

“The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about Basketball Diaries?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.””

Roger Ebert (via ibad)

Dysconcious Racism

I learned something useful today:

“Dysconcious racism is a term coined by Joyce E King (in the Journal of Negro Education, Spring 1991, JSTOR, but you can get it through Google, too) as “the uncritical habit of mind (i.e., perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs) that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given.” It’s pretty much the reason why Moff’s Law exists as a comment policy on pretty much any blog that seeks to analyse pop culture.

You know when people say stupid sh-t like, “there will ALWAYS be racism,” or “people have ALWAYS been prejudiced towards one another” and “human beings are just like that”? And, like, what the fuck kind of argument are you going to have with that kind of statement, anyway? It’s not like there’s any kind of untruth to them; it’s just that it’s a really f-cking lazy thing to say and absolves people of any responsibility to actually think and address the problem of, you know, RACISM!

Dysconscious racism in steampunk is part of a larger attitude of escapism, usually exhibited by people who just think steampunk (and other kinds of fiction) is a fantasy, and whenever you try to engage with them about the political implications of their very problematic ish (whether it’s literature or world-building or whatever), they get their “Why Do You Have To Be So Political About This?” tantrums on and “Suddenly The World Is Ruined and it is Totally Your Fault” because you brought it up, so there.”

Adding to the anti-racism lexicon, Jayme Goh rocks how dysconscious racism ruins steampunk on the R today. (via racialicious)