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Mar 07 2014

Aren’t we all tired of that dude?

I very much like Kameron Hurley’s take on l’affaire @wossy, the obnoxious television presenter who was appointed to emcee the Hugo awards in London, provoking howls of outrage. I think she’s right, that what’s happening is the privileged assholes have finally pissed everyone off, and we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

We speak out because we are brave, not because we’re baying for blood. We speak out because we’re tired of being hit, and we need to know that if you’re coming into our house, you’re not going to act like an asshole. We went to school with that dude. We deal with that dude on the internet everyday.

We are fucking tired of that dude.

But what I really like is that she goes a step further and suggests how said privileged asshole could have short-circuited the whole mess.

So instead of snarking back at people on Twitter and calling them nutjubs and invoking Neil Gaiman’s name as a ward of protection, it would have behooved the privileged person to stand back and say, “Hey. Wow. I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize so many of you had that impression. Let me assure you that I love and support this community and I take this gig seriously. I respect and love every single one of you and please be assured I’ll be respectful and welcoming, just as I hope you will be respectful and welcoming to me as a host.”

I don’t see it happening very often, though: that approach requires a smidge of humility and honesty, and that dude usually lacks both.


If you want a real world example of that positive response, I think Anton Zuiker’s comes close. Zuiker was cofounder of Science Online with Bora Zivkovic, and annoyed everyone with a post a few months ago, titled ‘Roots and Bitters’, that tried to redeem Bora. Zuiker has retracted that post, and his latest is an expression of honesty and humility and a lot of regret. He’s basically withdrawing from the online world, which is unfortunate — but it is sincere.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    Samuel Erkison

    Among the many other excellent pieces written about the Hugos/Ross situation, someone posted an apology for getting it wrong. I think it’s mostly a very good example of how to apologize: http://jbwhelan.blogspot.com/2014/03/in-which-i-remove-my-foot-from-my-mouth.html

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Danny Butts

    Yes Jonathan Ross made a massive error 6 years ago, an immediately said

    “I am deeply sorry and greatly regret the upset and distress that my juvenile and thoughtless remarks on the Russell Brand show have caused.

    I have not issued a statement previously because it was my intention and desire to offer an apology to all those offended on my Friday night programme.

    However, it was a stupid error of judgement on my part, and I offer a full apology.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7698484.stm

    No notpology, no equivocation.

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit about the Hugos, Jonathon Ross or Sifi, but what really turns my stomach about the on-line atheist community represented on this particular blog, is the absolute lack of charity.

    You accuse people of punching down, so what do you think you’re doing? punching up?

    Its still fucking punching.

    Neil Gaimans response

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/06/neil-gaiman-fans-jonathan-ross-hugo-awards

  4. 4
    anteprepro

    You accuse people of punching down, so what do you think you’re doing? punching up?

    Its still fucking punching.

    I’ll just let the article respond to you:

    Sadly, empathy is the one thing that a lot of the mainstream pieces covering the incident seem to be ignoring. I haven’t seen one piece that actually took the concerns of the community seriously. Instead of a concert of concerned, formerly bullied geeks looking for reassurance, it was a “twitter mob” with pitchfolks and torches banging on some rich dude’s door, baying for blood.

    I realize that “angry twitter mob” makes for a more compelling click bait story, but casting Jay Leno, or Howard Stern, or the cast of SNL as victim because a few dozen or a few hundred people on Twitter said, “HEY DON’T HIT ME I’M AFRAID YOU’LL HIT ME THE WAY YOU DID PERSON X” would be fucking absurd, and we’d call it out as such. When did the privileged become victims? Did somebody send the dude a rape threat? Did he have to get a restraining order against somebody on Twitter? Because these are things that happen to the people who spoke up, these are things that happen to us all the time, and are probably happening to many of the women who said, “HEY I’M AFRAID YOU’LL HIT ME!” either to or about Ross publicly. And unlike the rich with big voices, we don’t have as many resources we can set in motion to protect ourselves when those threats do come in.

    But your concern is noted.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    geekgirlsrule

    Author Seanan McGuire has retreated from Twitter because even though she did not mention @wossy at all, either by tag or name, merely said she didn’t want to attend an awards ceremony where she had to worry about being called fat, or anything else sexist, wound up attacked by tons of his followers, AND HIS WIFE of whom I expected better.

    At least things like this keep shortening my reading lists.

    At least his daughter managed to be polite to Seanan when they interacted. Although I question her statement that he’s sensitive to women’s body issues, given what I know of his humor. He may be sensitive to HER body issues, but that doesn’t necessarily extrapolate.

    For the record, Seanan didn’t issue a call to anything. Merely commented on her own anxiety about the choice.

  7. 7
    geekgirlsrule

    Ok, she did mention him by name, but didn’t link until the very end, and did not “attack.”

    Re-read the thread.

  8. 8
    ibyea

    Danny
    Wow, this: http://storify.com/infamousfiddler/the-hugos-and-wossy?awesm=sfy.co_bbl7
    is what counts as “punching” for you. Talk about a massive lack of perspective.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    noxiousnan

    Sorry Danny, but your link only managed to reduce my esteem for Jane Goldman. She sounds cruel and vindictive, doesn’t appear to understand that disagreement is not abuse, and is seems disingenuous claiming confusion that women might take offense to someone who has made a career of being offensive to women.

  11. 11
    playonwords

    Oh dear, Mr Butts, unfortunately like many Brits I have been subjected to “Wossies” juvenile and senseless “humour” for far too long and the Andrew Sach “Joke” was merely the culmination of several egregious incidents for which “Wossy” never apologised. I just wish that ex-Channel 4 tea boy would go back into a well deserved obscurity.

  12. 12
    viggen111

    I think she’s right, that what’s happening is the privileged assholes have finally pissed everyone off, and we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

    Umm, no, you’ve already made it clear that you’re part of an exclusivist movement yourself, you can’t truthfully claim that you’re the voice of everyone else. You’re only the voice of everyone who is intellectually indistinguishable from you.

  13. 13
    woozy

    Danny Butts, I kind of want to agree with you but I can’t.

    After all free speech needs to be free. And when there’s someone I’ve never heard of but I hear that he tends to be outspoken, irreverent and brass and unapologetic to sensibilities, I tend to be unsympathetic when nice, sensible and well-behaved people are oh so offended by him. At any rate, having never heard of him I’m not going to wring my hands just because I’m told to. And basically inviting some nasty, smelly, ugly guy that everyone hates to give some awards is simply inviting some nasty, smelly, ugly guy that everyone hates to give some awards. It’s not anything that actually affects the state of the world in any way.

    But the thing about inviting a nasty, smelly, ugly guy that everyone hates is that people are going to point out that he’s nasty, smelly, and ugly and they hate him. And that’s fine too! Awards show can invite a nasty, smelly, ugly guy that every-one hates and everyone can hate him and point out that he is nasty, smelly, and ugly. It *still* doesn’t affect the state of the world in any way.

    So one woman writes “this guy makes fat women jokes. I don’t want to receive an award from a guy who’s going to call me fat”. Well, that’s fine with me. I don’t care but if she wants to point out the guy’s nastiness, smelliness, ugliness and tell us why she hates him, I’m fine with that because he is nasty, smelly, ugly and the woman hates him. But, whoa! His family responds, she’s vindictive, she’s got an agenda, the guy only makes fat women jokes in public but to his own daughter he’s actually loving and supportive. This woman claiming he’ll make fat women jokes in public just because he makes fat women jokes in public is maligning and slandering him and implying he’s a bad father how *dare* this woman attack our beautiful family and have us live in terror for a weekend. Why, I’m *so* upset you have *forced* me to give up twitter.

    Well, okay. *Now* I have heard enough to make up my mind on this issue.

    … and that Andrew Sachs prank.. that’s just reprehensible.

  14. 14
    Muz

    As an aside. It’s interesting how much Ross cops for that incident (which I think consisted of Andrew Sachs hearing annoying muffled and incomprehensible singing on the end of his phone line for a while). But comparatively Russell Brand doesn’t seem to attract quite the same ire (or perhaps its just balanced by inexplicable popularity). At least until he says weird stuff about voting on TV.

  15. 15
    lumi

    It’s such a weird coincidence that the counter-backlash has focused on a woman (Seanan Mcguire) and totally bypassed men such as Charlie Stross who had equally strong opinions against apointing Ross.

  16. 16
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    Muz @ #14, why don’t you read what Andrew Sachs has actually said about it rather than broadcasting your own imperfect recollections? A brief googling to find Sachs’ account of the incident indicates he doesn’t agree with you in the slightest, either about the content of the messages Brand and Ross left, or their audibility.

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