Thursday, September 13, 2012

Own up, baby. Own up.

I hate to sound like a broken record. But every day, literally every day, new developments come to my attention, and I feel the need to comment on these developments.

I am referring, of course, to being a newly published author. A newly published author in the age of the Internet.

I feel I must make a statement here and now, with regard to the Internet and some reviewers (of books, music, art, etc): The age of Internet is the age of cowards.

I may be new to being a published author, but I have seen in the past how people (let's call them reviewers, for lack of a better term) cloak themselves in the anonymity afforded them by websites like Amazon, or Goodreads, or other such sites, and feel free to then post reviews of artists works, scathing reviews at times,  without any concern for taking responsibility for their words. 

These are everyday people. People like you and me. People who read books, watch movies, listen to music. People who are suddenly afforded the opportunity to speak their minds about something they have read, listened to, partaken of. But these people do not share their actual names when posting their reviews. No. These people choose a nickname, a pseudonym, and THEN, these people feel absolute freedom to post vitriol, scathing vitriol in reference to a piece of work they have chosen to purchase, and decided they didn't like. Their courage to thus post comes from the anonymity afforded them by the very vehicle that allows them to post said review. 

It would never occur to me to do what these people do. 

First of all, I'm not one for writing reviews. Second, if I were to write a review, I'd use my own name. That just goes without saying. I wouldn't resort to anonymity (I'm not a coward). If you and your review are going to be taken seriously, it stands to reason you'd post your own name. That's the professional (and grown-up) thing to do. And third, if you don't like something, just say you didn't like it, and then point out what you didn't like in concise, well-structured, well-articulated sentences. That's what professional reviewers do, after all (ever heard of Pauline Kael?). They compile what they did or didn't like, and then they present that shit in a well-articulated, well-presented article that comes across as balanced, intelligent, and mature, regardless of their opinion.

As I said, it would never occur to me to do what these people do. And, quite frankly, I can only imagine how unhappy these people must be in their everyday lives, so unhappy that they have nothing better to do than to rip apart the work of an artist who has toiled far more toward the completion of a piece of work than the individual reviewing it has possibly  toiled in their whole lifetime. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that the above statement is contentious. But you know what? To be reviewed by some lame-ass individual who just happened to buy my book because it looked interesting, and they then found out it wasn't, and THEN they decided, Oh, I have an Amazon account, and this nifty nickname that doesn't identify me, and so I can now spout off about my displeasure ad nauseum...

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot take such an individual seriously. 

For the record, because I do believe in honesty, I am posting this review of my own book (click on the link below if interested). I am also stating blankly that I am not unduly troubled by said review. I have checked out the other books reviewed by this individual (and you can too), and those thus flamed, and my opinion of said reviewer is no higher than it was. 

Let me state unequivocally: I do not write porn. I have no intention of writing porn. I am happy to disappoint this individual in this regard, since they seem to place much emphasis on the "sex scenes" and do not seem to have an actual grasp of, or appreciation for, the art of writing. 

Finally, in closing, I am, as stated, new to this publishing world. I have a lot to learn. I know this. But I will not allow a review such as this to brow beat me into submission, passivity, or apology. I write what I write. If you don't like it, say so. But if you're going to say so, don't be a fucking coward about it.

Fear has its use but cowardice has none ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Assholery" is the word of the day

Last night I finished reading Orson Scott Card's latest novel, Earth Unaware, penned in collaboration with Aaron Johnston. The novel is a prequel, taking place before Ender's Game, the first in the Ender series, all of which I've read over the years. I've enjoyed the Ender series, though it did get a bit tedious toward the last couple of books. But Ender's Game was my favourite.

The most recent novel, which is the beginning of a new series, was enjoyable as well. In fact, I would say I liked it a lot. I'm fairly picky about my science fiction/fantasy reads, but these books by Card held my interest and were entertaining and engaging. I went to my Goodreads list, to give it a 4-star rating, and then I noticed that the very first review of the book had given it only one star. I was intrigued, and started to read the review. It was a good review, and I actually agreed with pretty much all of the points raised. Still, I enjoyed the book. And then, reading the closing statement of the review, I saw this: " disappointment with this and OSC's raging homophobia make it almost impossible for an impartial thought."

Whoa, I thought, where did that come from?

The reviewer does not expand on this statement. So I decided to Google "Orson Scott Card homophobia." Up popped numerous accounts/thoughts/opinions/articles on the subject. Orson Scott Card is a bona fide homophobe. Damn.

Here are some links to articles I read (the first one uses a very fine word, assholery, which is right up there with asshatery). It's not necessary to read these, of course. I just want to show that I've done my homework. (this one, written by Card himself, is really long--feel free to skim it--and he uses the term "lesbian women" if there are other types of lesbians.) (Written by Card again, it proves the point one reviewer made, that Card should shut his trap, but doesn't. He undermines his once respected reputation every time he spouts off like this.)

There are countless other articles and opinions out there, but it becomes redundant, when it's obvious what the man's stance is.

However, what has been troubling me, what's been on my mind since I found this out late last night, is that I have enjoyed the stories this man has written. Ender's Game is considered by many to be brilliant (the U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List had made the novel recommended reading for several lower ranks up until 2011, after which it no longer appears on the list. I don't know why it was removed, and I don't particularly care). Having enjoyed this man's work, for the most part, and then finding out that he's an outspoken, homophobic asshole, it occurs to me to wonder, does this in any way affect my enjoyment of his work? Technically, realistically, no, it doesn't. I've already read those books, the enjoyment has been had. Does it colour my perception with regard to further work? Yes, it does. (And for the record, I only ever bought used copies of his work, and the latest was a library book, so I haven't lined his pockets with my own money.)

There are numerous people out there, writers, actors, poets, painters, who all have their own opinions, their own thoughts, their own feelings, on certain things, and some of them are racists, homophobes, anti-semites. But they act in movies, write books and poetry and music, they paint masterpieces, whatever they do, and I enjoy a lot of it. If I don't know of their views, of their opinions, then I shouldn't feel bad about enjoying their work. If I do know, and I still pay to see their movie, or buy their book, does that mean I support their viewpoint? Or does it merely mean that sometimes I like to watch a good movie, and the viewpoints/opinions of actors, directors, etc, don't matter? That I just want to enjoy the movie (or book, or whatever).

I can't know the opinions and feelings and views of everyone who ever wrote a book, starred in a movie, or made a record. And you know what? I don't want to know. This age of information, in my opinion, is the problem. People spouting off, as Card has, thinking we all want to know his opinion, or others being quoted spouting anti-semitic, homophobic or racist comments, who should know enough to keep their mouths shut when out in public. I don't want to know these people's opinions. Certainly not if they're hateful. I just want to read the goddamned book and enjoy it. I am aware, however, that such a mindset cannot, and does not, work in this world. But it's very, very disappointing to find out something like this.

And now that I know what I know, I cannot speak highly of either the man or his work...because an artist's work is a reflection of the artist. It would be, and is, difficult to maintain an objective, impartial stance, when I'm gay, and he hates gays. And is very vocal about it. I cannot unknow what I know. And I do believe that knowing is better than not. I believe that knowledge is power, and I would rather know than not. But I don't have to like it. And I don't like it. It bothers the hell out of me.

At the very least, you now know that about me.