The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Random Thoughts

Posted by BigWords on April 7, 2012

Both Scalzi and Cat Valente have written, of late, about the trend for female writers to get more abuse online than male writers (for women in general to get more hate mail and death threats, if everything is taken into consideration) – but why is this? I’ll level with you here… I’ve never been able to understand the automatic and extreme comments based solely on gender. It isn’t that I refuse to understand the rampant sexism, nor is it that I am intentionally being obstinate when it comes to sexual politics in the digital era, it is that threatening someone with rape and murder is something which is abhorrent and unjustifiable no matter the means by which the comment is made – in person it would be considered a death threat, on the internet it is considered business as usual.

And people wonder why my fiction is filled with horrible characters doing nasty things?

So my view of humanity may, on the whole, be less optimistic than Thomas Hobbes. Don’t all rush to point out the brief hope spots the acts of individuals have given us, as that is missing the big picture. Individuals can be good, but groups (seen explicitly in riots) are rather moronic. Get a large enough gathering of people in one place (comic conventions being, by and large, the exception to the rule – though even there…) and sooner or later there will be some kind of incident. I’m probably jaded by years of reading about the various acts of unimaginable horror humanity has committed, but the feeling that it is encoded in our genes somewhere refuses to shake off.

The most enlightening part of this whole debate isn’t the fact that women are being openly persecuted by men (with, presumably, very small penises, a mother fixation, and a collection of small shoes in their basement), but the incident which kicked off this exceptional openness – Christopher Priest’s reaction to an awards nomination list.

Seriously?

I mean… Seriously?

Awards are only important for a very brief time. That time is not when the nominees are announced. Nor is it important after the award has been given. Any awards ceremony has a lifespan of importance which spans hours, sometimes much shorter spans of time. On an individual level, that may increase exponentially in relation to achievement, but I really don’t care. I’m not going to rush out to buy a book just because it has been placed on something which roughly equates to a “best of” list, and I don’t tend to get titles which have “winner of” strap lines above the title. Note, please, that I have bought books which display such markings, though they were on my list of books to read regardless of irrelevancies such as awards and prizes. Merely being named a good read isn’t enough to convince me to buy a title, and Christopher Priest – a writer who has many excellent titles under his belt – shouldn’t be worrying too much about the absence of his favorite writers from any nominee list.

The uproar about the reaction to an award list is something which confuses me as much as the gender-based commenting policies of those knuckle-draggers Cat was describing in her blog. Because my view of awards is so low, there are only two I really pay the slightest bit of attention to any more – the Eagle Awards (which always highlights at least one title I should be reading), the Hugo Awards – though I don’t tend to read anything until two to three years after being brought to my attention. The main issue with literary prizes is that there are so damn many of the things that each new award is a dilution of the importance of all the rest, with the result that they are almost as important as the announcement of a new Uwe Boll film.

Maybe less important, as Uwe Boll films afford me the luxury of guilt-free mockery.

Actually, awards may serve the same function for some.

In any event, mark me down as unimpressed and rather bemused. There’s a stack of novels I’ve been diligently working my way through for the better part of a decade, and I am only a fraction of the way through the output of numerous important titles.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the only acceptable thing to say upon winning an award is this: “About bloody time.” The cloying, saccharine-sweet bullshit where people thank their parents, their agent, God, the voices in their head, and the plot-by-post service of their choice, is almost as bad as sending a Native American up to receive the award in a blatantly showboating move. Go check that debacle out on YouTube if you haven’t already seen it…

And because it bears repeating, here’s J. Michael Straczynski talking about women:

…I like really strong females in real life. I enjoy being challenged, one-upped and outsmarted by really clever, strong, independent women. I delight in it. I cherish it.

And another thing: A Song Of Ice And Fire isn’t half as good as people on the interwebs would have you believe…

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