2015 is over, 2016 has begun, and Smugglivus is nearly complete! Which means that we must also undergo another very important ritual…
THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES!
(In which we air out any dirty laundry from 2015. Warning: plenty of swearing, engaged CAPS LOCK OF FURY, and spoilers athoy, baby!)
These are the things that really pissed us off this year:
1. SOMEONE IS (ALWAYS) WRONG ON THE INTERNET – PART I: THE YA/Kidlit EDITION
Oh MY GOODNESS, where do we even start this year?
All the way back in March, YA author Andrew Smith gave an interview in which he was asked about the female characters in his books (which are not the best in our opinion. Grasshopper Jungle had REAL issues with its portrayals of women). His answer: “I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female”, because you know how women are a MYSTERY SPECIES.
This sparked conversation on Twitter that ranged from befuddlement to horror and there was anger and there was humour and a lot of considered, clever essays and tweets from female YA authors. Things were fine for a while there until the author left Twitter, the narrative was rewritten, and people were then calling the female YA authors BULLIES, decrying their “Fauxrage” and then no one was engaging with the substance of the original criticism any more.
Instead the Internet fell on the heads of these women, attacking and harassing them viciously. In fact, there was a whole hashtag created: a ridiculous, enraging tone policing movement called #KeepYAKind.
WEll, HERE IS SOME FAUXRAGE FOR YOU. Where was #KeepYAKind when the women were being harassed? Because this was only a portent of Things To Come. WHERE WAS #KeepYAKind when female YA author after female YA author this year tried to raise their voices to be heard on several issues – sexism, racism and other problematic works – and were continuously shut down and attacked? Where was #KeepYAKind when their male counterparts were hailed, patted on the back for saying THE SAME THING?
WHERE. WAS. IT. Nowhere, that’s where. Because we all know that more often than not, the louder a woman’s voice is, the more forcibly she talks about issues that matter, the less support she has.
WEll. Fuck that noise.
How’s that for FAUXRAGE for you?
Remember that time when beloved kidlit author Meg Rosoff replied to an author who was celebrating diversity with a completely clueless, hurtful, racist handwaving comment that was SO privileged it HURT?
AND WE WERE ALL LIKE WTF, here is why this is problematic, people need to be able to see themselves in fiction. And then all of a sudden, diversity is now called an AGENDA and Keep X Kind was reborn, and predictably people were attacked for speaking up.
Around the same time (because shit happens in millions, not in threes), we saw the same pattern repeated in the review world as some highly praised books were called out for racism for the first time–thereby igniting a new bonfire of “Keep X Kind” once more. The biggest outcry surrounded the critique of a new picture book called A Fine Dessert–a book which initially published to rave reviews from all corners, until folks actually started reading the book. That was when people of color–authors, bloggers–and allies started to point out the hurtful, sugarcoated way that the book depicts slavery. Guess what happened next: the kidlit world once again played a game of “WHY DON’T YOU CALM DOWN AND BE KIND” and conflated critique with attack…
Speaking of racism…
2. SOMEONE IS (ALWAYS) WRONG ON THE INTERNET – PART II: THE SFF EDITION
Remember that hilaribad time when the ENTIRE (OK, almost the entire) Hugo Ballot was taken over by the Whining Puppies with their LOL anti-SJW, slate-voting agenda stacked against diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance? And then SFF fandom was taken over by MONTHS of discussion around it?
Remember when No Award won the day though?
Speaking of awards: Another BIG thing in SFF fandom happened when the World Fantasy award announced that it would be remodeling its award statuette, which had been a bust of the late HP Lovecraft’s face. (Lovecraft, if you did not know, was an openly venomous racist in his personal opinions and in his writings–both fiction and nonfiction.) This news–from one of the most prestigious international awards for Fantasy and speculative fiction, no less!–was a long time coming, and many of us within the SFF community celebrated this move… but there were people who were SUPER upset. Because, you know, by not using Lovecraft’s face on the award, we were all like ERASING HIM FROM HISTORY FOREVER LIKE MAGIC. Or something.
Listen: if you believe that modeling a dead racist’s face on an award bust is MORE IMPORTANT than what the World Fantasy Award actually stands for–an all-inclusive, worldwide celebration of the imagination in speculative fiction from voices of all backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities–you really do need to check your priorities. Just saying.
3. OH PLEASE JUST SHUT UP
So Jessica Jones aired and it is an amazing show we highly recommend. But because it is a show about women, centering their stories, OF COURSE people were all like “But What About The MENS”. The most frustrating thing was really to see the reactions that called for more Kilgrave. First of all:
He was EVERYWHERE in that show. Even before showing his face, you could see the terrifying, horrifying way he affected the lives of all characters. Second of all: why? WHY does it matter who the villain, the abuser is, what he is feeling? We have seen THAT story SO. MANY. FUCKING. TIMES.
Do you know what other story has been told multiple times? That of the guy hero who can do everything and win all. Like, this is the LITERAL definition of both Star Wars heroes so far – Anakin and Luke.
Enter Rey, the heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Rey is pretty fucking awesome and can do a bunch of cool things JUST LIKE HER MALE COUNTERPARTS.
BUT because she is a woman, her skills make her a Mary Sue.
WORST OF ALL: at the time of writing this post in late December, there was a shortage of Rey in toy stores, retail stores, basically any stores carrying Star Wars figurines and merchandise. This shortage? It’s not because Rey is so popular that she’s sold out everywhere–rather, it’s because Hasbro and company decided not to include Rey as an action figure in much of their Star Wars toy merchandise. (It’s not just action figurines, either. LITERALLY, we just came back from a very large comic book store, where the Force Awakens Millennium Falcon was sold with toy busts of Chewy, BB-8, and Finn… but no Rey. Who pilots the Falcon. Who is THE MAIN CHARACTER of the film.)
WE DO have the perfect gif for this one:
And on that note, our 2015 grievances are aired, and our 2016 slates are clean. Are there any gripes you’ve had for the past year that you want to get off your chest?