Of late, it seems that the Puppy Kickers have been on an extended leave from sanity and common sense. Chuck Wendig weighs on the supposed Star Wars Boycott, apparently unaware that he’s being trolled. But while we can laugh at his gullibility, there are a few revealing quotes in there that demonstrate the SJW perspective handily.
Let’s imagine that you are, as you are now, a straight white dude. Except, your world features one significant twist — the SFF pop culture you consume is almost never about you. The faces of the characters do not look like yours. The creators of this media look nothing like you, either. Your experiences are not represented. Your voice? Not there. There exist in these universes no straight white dudes. Okay, maybe one or two. Some thrown in to appease. Sidekicks and bad guys and walk-on parts. Token chips flipped to the center of the table just to make you feel like you get to play, too. Oh, all around you in the real world, you are well-represented. Your family, your friends, the city you live in, the job you work — it’s straight white dude faces up and down the block. But on screen? In books? Inside comic panels and as video game characters? Almost none. Too few. Never the main characters.
This perspective is fascinating to me, because it doesn’t really make a lot of sense in any kind of modern context. Now, we know what Chunk (I’m keeping this typo, I like it) is trying to say here. He’s saying that Blacks didn’t see enough of their race represented in cinema, and that this was disconcerting to them. Since this is a post about Star Wars, let’s discuss it in that context, shall we?
Let’s take the original trilogy, for instance. James Earl Jones provided the voice for the penultimate villain of the entire series. He wasn’t just portraying a major character, he portrayed what was arguably the character of the entire series. Then, of course, we had Lando Calrissian as a major supporting character as well.
Now, since Darth Vader was portrayed as a White guy when his helmet came off, but voiced by a Black man, we will grant half credit here. And full credit for Lando. We did see some Blacks in minor roles (I distinctly remember one of the pilots as being Black), but let’s discuss the major roles. Now, we will ignore the aliens, like Chewy and whatever that copilot dude was in RotJ, and discuss major human characters only. We had Han, Leia, Luke, Palpatine, Tarkin, Obi-wan, Lando, Vader, Wedge, Mon Mothma, and let’s count both of the Admirals running Vader’s flagship.
That gives us 12 major characters. Vader counts for half, and Lando as one full point. This means that 12.5% of the major cast was Black. What was the percentage of Americans who were Black at the time the original trilogy was made? I couldn’t find that information quickly, but according to the census statistics today, it is 12.3%. In other words, the original trilogy reflected this particular racial split almost perfectly.
The Star Wars cast looked like America… well, not including the aliens, anyway. I mean, I did know a guy once who reminded me of Chewbacca, because he had as much back hair as a Wookie, but even so.
Chunk Wendig is creating a problem where none existed. And the original trilogy dates back 30+ years. This is a common SJW tactic, wherein they will create a problem out of thin air, then propose “moar diversity” as the inevitable solution. Disagree, they will say, and you are a racist. Or a sexist. Or a homophobe. Whatever.
Then one day, things start to change. A little, not a lot, but shit, it’s a start — you start to see yourself up there on the screen. Sometimes as a main character. Sometimes behind the words on the page, sometimes behind the camera. A video game avatar here, a protagonist there. And it’s like, WOO HOO, hot hurtling hell, someone is actually thinking about you once in a while. And the moment that happens, wham. A backlash. People online start saying, ugh, this is social justice, ugh, this is diversity forced down our throats, yuck, this is just bullshit pandering quota garbage SJW — and you’re like, whoa, what? Sweet crap, everyone else has been represented on screen since the advent of film. They’ve been on the page since some jerk invented the printing press. But the moment you show up — the moment you get more than a postage stamp-sized bit of acreage in this world that has always been yours but never really been yours, people start throwing a shit-fit. They act like you’re unbalancing everything. Like you just moved into the neighborhood and took a dump in everybody’s marigolds just because you exist visibly.
Two things. First of all, Chuck, you’ve been trolled. The 4channers love doing dumb shit like this, because they get a rise out of you. But there is a Social Justice crusade going on right now, and it squees with delight when it excludes Straight White Males. You just got done using them as a proxy for your argument, but K.T. Bradford is telling us that we really shouldn’t be reading Straight White Males at all.
Listen, I get it — this problem is not my problem. Inclusion isn’t for me. I’m covered. I am already included. Luke? Me. Han Solo? Me. Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Anakin, Wedge, me, me, me. And it’s not just Star Wars. John McClane, Harry Potter, Frodo, Iron-Man. All a bunch of white guys saving the day. Hell, Santa Claus. Or damn near every painting of Jesus, who was clearly not a white guy but is often depicted as a white guy. We do our level best to paint ourselves as the heroes of our own narrative. It’s white guys all the way down. I’m golden over here. I don’t need more representation. I have had my fill to the point where my pop culture belly is a-burstin.
So? One of my favorite post-apocalyptic movies, The Book of Eli, has a Black man as the protagonist. I loved that movie, for reasons that would probably take too long to explain. Did I care that the main character was Black? Not at all. Denzel Washington was perfectly cast for that role, just as Darth Vader wouldn’t be the same without James Earl Jones voicing him.
The argument us anti-SJW types have for race, gender, etc… is that micromanaging a story to fit a specific racial quota (or gender quota — any quota really) is a distraction from the primary purpose of creating good stories. If you envision a characters a White guy, great. If you envision a character as a Black woman, fine by me. I don’t care. But if you call me a racist for writing about a White character, you can go to Hell.
Which is why I’ve tried very hard to vary my reading. Which is why in Aftermath the protagonists are: a Mom, a gay dude, a lady bounty hunter. It’s why the Imperial antagonist is a powerful woman of color. (I’m no culture hero here, to be clear — I did the bare minimum in including different characters. It’s not like I have Sinjir engaging in sweaty man-love with Wedge Antilles. He is gay and he is present and he is visible and that has been enough to conjure 100+ negative reviews and an unholy host of comments, hate mails, and social media ‘interactions.’ Don’t believe me? Here’s four pages of reviews — 1, 2, 3, 4 — and that’s just me searching for the term “homosexual” across the one-star reviews. It’s just the tip of that septic shitberg.)
I read a little of this book, because a group of folks I trusted told me how absolutely horrendous the writing was, and I was morbidly curious. So I used the preview functionality on Amazon to read some snippets. It was utterly atrocious. The writing style was horrible. It was. Punctuated. Overly much — and — was — hard. To. Read.
One bad review put it more succinctly than I could:
This book—what can I say? It is written differently. Differently than anything I have ever read. Why? Never seen so many short sentences. Very short. Super short. Choppy? Yes. Hard to concentrate? Yes. Hyphens? Oh—the hyphens. Never seen so many hyphens—in my entire life. His writing style? Hard to follow. Just like this review. So many short sentences. Likes all these I am writing. I can be a writer too. Obviously. This is how the whole book is. Many examples. The hyphens—did I mention all the hyphens?
I gave up on the book after the preview chapter, and did not purchase. I cannot say if the book improved after that point, but what I did read was exceptionally poor, and I’m not exactly a paragon of great writing myself. Chuck Wendig would have you believe that the one-star reviews were because he wrote about a gay character, but the fact of the matter is, his writing just stunk, and even placating the Social Justice Warriors wasn’t enough to save it from the bargain bin.
One suspects that he was published because of his political positions, not in spite of them, which is really what this whole Sad Puppies affair is all about in the first place.
Point is, I don’t need to see me on the page as often as I have. And while I wouldn’t want to steal someone’s voice and make it my own, at the same time, in a sci-fi novel, I think we’re okay.
Here, Chuck realizes that he is treading on uncertain ground. You see, Social Justice has a split personality. On the one hand, they clearly desire less Straight White Guys in pretty much everything from politics to fiction. At the same time, they often have a tendency of viewing their White Guy “allies” as potentially appropriating their culture and identity. In other words, there is a distinct possibility the Social Justice crowd could turn on Mr. Wendig for daring to write about someone of a different gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Chuck demonstrates at least a peripheral understanding of this. When he says “I think we’re okay,” he’s not talking to the eeeeevil racists, but rather to his fellow SJWs.
“Please don’t get mad at me for writing characters that are not my identity!”
The rest of the article is just a slam on the trolls doing their thing on Twitter. Chuck Wendig would be wise to ignore them, but he cannot help himself. How does it feel to be a moron, Chuck?
But what is irritating here is how Mr. Wendig associates the Sad Puppies with such people. In his article written after the Hugo kerfuffle, he makes sure to tar the Puppies with the racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic brush as much as possible. Or, in his own words:
Making sure to include bigots and homophobes and other social malefactors is a pretty good way to show your true intentions. At the very least, it exposes you for the shitbirds you are.
In his mind, there is no difference between a fake Neo Nazi Twitter troll (congrats for being sucked into that, by the way), and the Sad Puppies who just don’t want to be micromanaged, by a bunch of idiot SJWs, no less, where the gender and ethnicity of their characters are concerned, and who take exception to awards being handed out to those who do submit to such micromanagement.
I don’t care if a major Star Wars character is Black. Nor does it matter if another one is a woman. We had them before, and we’ll undoubtedly have more in the future. If they can act the part, and the story doesn’t suck wind, then all is well. The story is the goal of a movie, or a book. It’s the reason for its existence. It isn’t there to serve a diversity goal. Diversity is incidental to its real purpose. And that’s the whole Sad Puppy perspective, Chuck. The goal of writing isn’t to “promote diversity.” Rather, it is to write good stories. You have the priority mixed up.
So, for the love of all that is Holy, take your diversity quotas and shove them out of the airlock. Write good stories, Chuck. I know this is difficult for you, and your last attempt didn’t turn out so well. But, here’s a protip for you: next time don’t focus so much on whether or not you’ve checked the right SJW character boxes, and learn to write characters we actually give a shit about. Sarah Hoyt is living proof that, a Sad Puppy no less, can write female protagonists and gay characters well enough for me to care about them and like them. I know. How bigoted of her to do that, right? And she didn’t even need a quota to do it!
And longer sentences. Please. Writing like this — it’s stupid. I don’t like it. And — I don’t think. That. Other people liked it. Either.
As my readers probably know already, I consider myself somewhere on the Puppy spectrum of the Science Fiction community. There’s quite a bit of difference between the Sad Puppies, who one might call the reformists, and the Rabid Puppies who are mostly of the opinion that Worldcon and the Hugos should be burnt to the ground and set on fire by their own Left-wing, Social Justice proponents.
Either way, though, both camps agree that the existing community is hopelessly corrupt, cliquish, and prone to a particular animus against Conservatives and Libertarians. This prejudice is such that their works are repeatedly voted down from awards, publishers like Tor Books are run by individuals openly hostile to alternate political affiliations, and backroom deals are made to secure nominations for authors based on political backgrounds and special interests.
Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories confirms this for us in a ridiculous post, so loaded up with Strawmen that he might as well be the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Let’s allow him to hang himself with his own rope, shall we?
“Have you stopped beating your wife?”
It’s the classic heads I win, tails you lose question. Especially if you are forced to answer it without being allowed to respond in a meaningful way.
This is a game that I largely associate with conservative discourse. We’ve seen it on capital hill, we’ve seen it on O’Reilly. And it always seems to come from conservative mouths.
Oh, that’s rich, Steve. This is from a Left wing full of SJWs, demonstrably prone to calling political opponents racist, sexist, homophobic, etc… for trivial reasons. Did you eat Chinese food today? Did you wear a Kimono to an art festival? Cultural Appropriation! Racism!
It has been adopted for two reasons, I think. One, because conservatives are often more interested in grandstanding and scoring points than they are in getting to a real answer and because, as a group, they seem largely unable, or at least uninterested, in dealing with nuance.
This is just another round of the Leftist holier than thou attitude regarding their political opponents. They like to prepare a position of authority and superiority. “Look at me,” says Steve, “I understand nuance and you don’t.” You can almost hear the tell-tale “neener-neener” at the end of that statement.
This too can be seen across the spectrum of political debate: there must not be global warming because it was cold yesterday – nope, not interested in what scientists have to say, they’re all biased anyways.
Or, perhaps, we suggest that scientists subsisting on grant money provided by a government that benefits directly from the statements of the very same scientists is a clear conflict of interest. And, furthermore, actual scientists have also come out and suggested that the entire thing may be a fraud. Furthermore, climate scientists have been caught falsifying data in the interests of perpetuating their narrative.
Even then, the Conservative thought isn’t so much that Global Warming does not exist, but rather that the science must be falsifiable, or it is not science. In other words, we think it is possible that the climate scientists are wrong.
The solution to gun violence is more guns – nope, not interested in your studies that suggest otherwise or your excuses that proper study has been hampered by politics.
Neither is Steve interested in the defensive uses of guns, the potential mass shootings stopped by guns, or the studies that suggest that firearms are an effective deterrent to criminal activity. He would say they are tainted by the NRA, or something, I’m sure.
Trickle-down economics works! Anyone with facts to the contrary must be a shill for the Occupy Movement.
Or, perhaps, we simply don’t accept the Marxist narrative that all of economic history, all of economics in the present, and all of the future of economics can be explained by a 19th century crackpot on the basis of class distinctions alone. Fancy that.
Vaccines cause autism – having an answer is more comfy than not knowing.
With the prominent exception of Vox Day, I’ve seen more Leftists espousing this than Conservatives. And, though I’m sure it comes as a surprise to Leftists, Vox isn’t the entire Right wing.
The Hugo awards are fixed by a cabal.
Do you see what he did there? He just setup several strawman arguments, burnt them down with pure, undiluted snark, and then added a bit about the Hugos right at end of it, as if to say “see, the Sad Puppies are just as stupid as all the strawmen I just destroyed.”
If this man is representative of SJWs in Science Fiction, then somebody really ought to buy the Amazing Stories name back before this man buries it six feet under through terminal stupidity.
They want simple explanations – yes or no answers – for everything. Why? Not sure, but it may have something to do with the fact that facts frequently do not support their world views, nuance can’t be delivered in a sound bite, and, apparently, because people who actually know stuff tend to be more educated than otherwise and educated people are dangerous, largely because they tend to make up their own minds on the issues rather than parroting the sheep bleatings of pundits.
Translation from SocJus: I understand nuance, and you don’t. I am educated, and you are not educated. You are all sheep.
I’ve always found this argument hilarious because the Social Justice Warriors are obviously split as to what the Evil White Patriarchy really is. On the one hand, they claim that we are all stupid, uneducated and positively basic. At the same time, we are supposed to have oppressed women, minorities, the disabled, homosexuals, etc… for quite literally thousands of years.
If someone could manage that, it is uncharitable to call them stupid and uneducated. Evil might be applicable, but certainly not stupid.
I should hasten to point out a bit of nuance here: the above may seem to be an indictment of all conservatives and all conservative thought. 1. I address the ideas, not individuals. The things people say and write are different from the individual. I’ve got plenty of friends who express idiotic ideas. They’re still friends and that idea they expressed is still idiotic. 2. the above is directed at publicly disclosed expressions of conservative thought, which may very well be disproportionately biased towards those individuals who find some value, economic or otherwise, in doing so.
Translation from SocJus: I have a couple Conservative friends. I think they are kind of stupid. They are idiots, actually, but I like them because it is convenient for my argument here.
This, mind you, is the full extent of Steve’s command of “nuance.”
Do I need to lay out a connection between puppy movements and conservative politics? It’s there, it’s been expressed, if not admitted to, by puppy proponents. The subjects addressed, the arguments advanced certainly align with conservative thought, so much so as to make little to no difference. The fact that they’ve adopted the yes or no rhetoric is kind of the icing on the cake.
Of course there is a connection. Ever since I can remember, Conservative authors in Science Fiction, who were open about their Conservatism, were maligned. These people feel that they were wronged. I mean Steve, you just got done calling them all stupid, uneducated and unable to understand nuance. Do you really think that this sort of attitude, expressed consistently by others in various positions of power in the Science Fiction community, would not have some kind of effect?
You know, that maybe the Conservatives would feel unwelcome by a cabal of Leftists constantly calling them stupid, racist, homophobic and sexist? So of course there is a connection between the Puppies and Conservatism. These are all the people you insulted over the years. These are the people that Worldcon jeered at when they were No Awarded. These are the people the SFWA has repeatedly maligned, that Patrick Nielsen Hayden has publicly insulted.
Did you really think there would be no reaction from decades of this behavior? And, when that reaction came, are you surprised that it was comprised largely of individuals of the political philosophy you were maligning?
Come now, I thought you were educated and “nuanced?”
Kevin attempts to demonstrate that traditional fandom has spent the past 40+ years doing nothing but turning away other would-be fans because they don’t do things the right way (pun maybe not intended).
Steve, that’s exactly what it has been doing. Your side publicly admits this, in fact. They are practically squeeing that the Evil Patriarchal White Men won’t win any more awards.
Excuse me, I was there. I was a Trekkie before I was a Fan, and I left after two years of fanfic (mostly atrocious slash), two years of fan art (Spock in the shower), mostly throngs of autograph seekers mobbing actors who would later say to them “Get a life”.
But let me back up. Who organized the first Trek conventions? Fans.
Who flooded Paramount with letters begging the studio not to cancel Star Trek? Fans (Trekkies did not exist until the show went into syndication). Who wrote the best episodes of that show? SF authors. And what, pray tell, were those authors before they were authors? Fans.
In fairness to Steve, this part is mostly true. In fact, early Trek was a very far cry from the sort of politically-correct garbage (see: Voyager) that it eventually became. And, in those days, the fans were, shall we say, very enthusiastic. I know because I was one of them (yes, I was a starry-eyed child at the time, but still). Although, at least I avoided the fanfiction. From what I’m told, some of that was absolutely shudder-inducing. But, again, as Kevin originally told us, this was a case of fans doing as they willed: “In short, fans doing fanac, but not in the Approved Manner or on the Approved Topics. And so Trek fandom and its conventions, for the most part, went its separate way from traditional literary SF fandom.”
If it’s not my shtick, I’ll ignore it and do my own thing. It’s not necessary for me to declare my superiority to it. Steve’s protestations are more like the old aristocrats firmly displaying their disdain for peasantry.
Why was there a disconnect between Trekdom and Fandom? Because shortly after it began, Trekdom was co-opted by commercial interests that had a need to pack as many paying customers into a hotel over a weekend as possible. This is not Fannish. Because radio, television and film are one creative step (at least) removed from the literature. Written SF is a direct conversation between the author and the reader, mediated by the imaginative capabilities of those two same people. Other media forms are filtered through multiple imaginations before they get to the “reader” and, therefore, are not as pure an experience. Fans value pure artistic expression. They thought Arena was a pretty darned good Trek interpretation of Brown’s absolutely wonderful short story of the same name. They accept the limitations of television show budgets and the substitution of a humanoid lizard for the tentacled red roller of the original story. But they also made note of those limitations, usually to the detriment of the Trek episode.
Seriously Steve? You’ll notice that the Sad Puppies are strong proponents of Indie publishing, or smaller publishing outfits like Baen or Castalia House. The side that is co-opted by commercial interests is your side. Marvel is making sure that there should be a Black Captain America (and is he a Socialist now?), because SJWs demanded it so. The new Ghostbusters remake is supposed to have an all-female cast, to placate the Feminists. Tor Books is the 800lb Gorilla in the room of WorldCon…
…but our side is the one loaded with commercial interests, like the Trek world you decry here? Pull the other one.
As to Steve’s second point, about “pure” fiction, just what the hell is a “pure” story supposed to be, anyway? I don’t even understand the Puppy Kickers when they say things like that. A book is a book. A Science Fiction story is a Science Fiction story. When they mention purity, all I hear is “politically screened.” It’s as if they have decided that the unwashed masses may only read works approved by their betters. It’s a remarkably arrogant and self-serving perspective.
In short, if any real rejection of Trek fandom took place back in the late 70s and early 80s, is was because Fandom is about everything SFnal, while Trek was all about one single show – a mere 75 hours of television programming, stacked up against (at that time) nearly four decades of conventions, fanzines, magazines, small presses, anthologies, ground-breaking novels and thousands of conventions.
Funny how all of this gushing about small presses suddenly stops when the gatekeepers are toppled from their Ivory Tower thrones by indie publishing. But, in any event, Steve is supposing here that Trek fans were somehow separate and distinct from SciFi fans in general. Did this “nuanced” man understand that there is huge overlap between them? Consider a Venn Diagram. All of Star Trek would exist within “Science Fiction,” so campaigning against it is kind of silly.
What really happened when Trekkies found themselves “not welcome” at traditional conventions? They discovered that traditional conventions were not all about Star Trek. There might be a panel or two devoted to it, there might be a dealer or two selling memorabilia, there might be a costumer or two dressed as a Klingon or a mini-Horta or in Star Fleet uniform. But the convention was decidedly oriented towards other things: authors and their latest books, magazines and their latest issues, fanzines that didn’t gush endlessly over shirtless Sulu.
If you walk into a KFC, you can order a Big Mac, but you won’t get one.
What a load of bullshit. They weren’t walking into a KFC, Steve. The Science Fiction fans were walking into a Science Fiction convention, and wondering why they were suddenly not welcome. After all, they were fans of a massively popular Science Fiction show.
It’s like walking into a KFC and saying “I’ll have the chicken” and getting shut down. “We don’t have any chicken for you, pleb.”
And guess what? I’m perfectly fine with the fact that a lot of my fannish friends still enjoy going to Trek conventions. Or Star Wars conventions. Or Firefly conventions. Or Doctor Who conventions. Or gaming conventions. My Little Pony conventions for that matter. And I’d be happy to hear about something interesting that happened at any of them.
Here is where I come back around to the lack of handling nuance. Mr. Trainor wants us to believe that there is something wrong with Fandom because, back in the 1970s, Worldcon wasn’t renamed World Trek Con, the Hugo Awards didn’t all go to Trek stuff and WSFS didn’t allow itself to get diluted by tens of thousands of Trek fans “who seemingly had no other interest in SF outside the series“.
Steve is really a fan of the Strawman. Kevin said nothing of the sort. He merely dared to compare the Ivory Tower, holier than thou attitude present in WorldCon today with the sort of unwelcome the plebeian Star Trek fans encountered before.
Steve is actually proving Kevin’s point admirably. He’s declaring himself more nuanced, more educated, more enlightened than the unwashed Conservative masses present in Sad Puppies. He’s looking down upon them from his Ivory Tower and declaring himself and his kind superior. This is exactly the same thing that happened to Star Trek fans once upon a time, just as Kevin Trainor tells us.
Nuance. I know it may be difficult to keep track of the fact that different kinds of science fiction oriented conventions may focus on different things, but hey, there it is. Go to a Trek convention and you get Trek. Go to a traditional con and you get traditional fandom. The Trufan really only experiences a conflict when they are into Trek and have to choose between a traditional con and a Trek con that are both being held on the same weekend. (Oh, the horror!)
There’s that word again, Steve. Perhaps nuance is actually understanding that Science Fiction doesn’t require (or desire) your rubber stamp of approval.
But none of that happened. What did happen took place within the finest traditions of fandom: some people with a special interest went off and did their own thing (relying on the tools, connections and experiences they’d gained from traditional fandom) and now we all happily co-exist in the greater world where everyone is allowed to make their own choices about what kind of conventions they’d like to attend.
Steve forgets that this originally started as a conversation about the Puppies and their place in the Science Fiction world. He clearly allows the Star Trek peasantry their little reservation, however grudgingly, but he declines to allow the Sad Puppies the same.
This is all part and parcel of the endless water torture drip of puppy fandom. Ignore the actual history in favor of their simplified narrative. Open up Trufandom to the thousands that have no other interest in SF because those thousands can be persuaded that their populist arguments are correct.
Has he even bothered to look at the Sad Puppies? He claims here that it is opening up Science Fiction to thousands who don’t care about Science Fiction, but I have not met even one single proponent of Sad Puppies who has not been a lifetime fan of Science Fiction. Not even one!
This is as blatant a lie as I can conceive of. The Populist arguments are coming from his side. The over-simplified “they are all racists, misogynists, etc…” narrative is a Social Justice invention. And they continue this narrative in the face of all available evidence to the contrary. When Brad Torgersen revealed that his wife was a Black woman, they still persisted with the racism narrative against him. That, they claimed, was insufficient evidence.
What is sufficient evidence, then? Why, being a Leftist. When you’re a Leftist, you can be excused of actual racism. You can be excused of pedophilia, of literal consumption of feces. None of it matters with them.
The simplified narrative is their narrative. They are the ones attempting to attract non-fans to Science Fiction, by pandering to political special interest groups and Social Justice narratives. And as much as Steve decries bad Star Trek fiction, is the sad, sorry tripe like If You Were a Dinosaur My Love, really an improvement?
I’d rather read a thousand Mary Sue stories than another line of that sort of drivel.
Somebody buy the rights to Amazing Stories so we can get back to, you know, reading stories that don’t completely suck wind. And Steve Davidson? Go shove a phaser up your ass and suck off a tribble. How’s that for nuance?
This post began life as a comment over at Sarah Hoyt’s place. Yet, the concept appeared to so perfectly define the divide between SJWs (of any political stripe) and the reasonably sane that I could not resist expanding on the topic.
At its core, the difference between Left and Right can be summed up as Fatalism versus Free will. The Fatalist believes that life is immutable, that everything you are and everything you do is proscribed at birth. Free will is irrelevant to the Fatalist because they view it as illusory. Barack Obama famously said “you didn’t build that” because, in his mind, the individual categorically cannot do anything they weren’t fated to do, that society didn’t drive them to do. Somebody built the roads, somebody invented the mousetrap, and a long time ago there was a Big Bang that created the universe. All of these things led to the opening of your widget factory. You didn’t do anything at all, you are merely the product of a Capitalist-Imperialist System.
You didn’t build the factory. Someone else didn’t build the roads. Nobody, of course, wrote this article, or built this website. Nobody does anything, in fact (which explains an awful lot about his Presidency).
The advocate of Free will, on the other hand, believes that his actions have a measurable effect, that he can change the universe through his choices. It may not be easy to do so, of course, but ultimately free will exists and is non-illusory.
To Fatalists, the notion that Whites are privileged is Gospel. Same with men, heterosexuals, cis-genders, etc… The universe, they say, has granted them their success unfairly. Ironically, they propose to exercise free will in order to change this gross unfairness. But, that internal contradiction aside, it reveals an interesting tenet of the modern Progressive Left: you are what you are, and you cannot change it. Even so-called allies, enlightened Whites, men, straight people, etc… are repeatedly castigated for microaggressions, and are told that no matter what they do, they are still privileged, racist, sexist, etc…
To the Leftist, you are the sum of your attributes, your identities. If you are a Black man, for instance, it is a given that you are being held down by the man and there is nothing you can do about it. If you are a woman, it is a given that the Patriarchy has oppressed you, and will always oppress you in ever more subtle ways. So if you say you are a Black woman, your identity is an intersection of these values, something that the Cultural Marxists have termed “intersectionalism.” The individual is thus merely a laundry list of intersectional identities. Your only hope is that Fate will step in, and the universe will cleanse itself of whiteness, or something to that effect.
This is why Leftists are repeatedly tripped up by individuals who break with their enforced identities. Sarah Hoyt has repeatedly denied that she is a victim of the Patriarchy and has been at the forefront of the Sad Puppies affair. To the Fatalist this is utterly alien. An individual is saying that they categorically refuse to be a victim. Sarah exercised free will, which is supposed to be illusory, right? This confuses the SJWs, and enrages them. You aren’t where you are supposed to be, you see. I’m supposed to be engaging in Self-flagellation because of my Whiteness. Brad Torgersen is supposed to castigate himself because of his racism, despite his family being pretty conclusive evidence that the racist label cannot possibly apply to him. And Sarah is supposed to do anything except write books where Libertarian thought is celebrated.
The Fatalist doesn’t understand the Free will advocate. History is fated to go a certain direction, you see. Everything was preordained by chance and random probability because Atheism and vague statements of “spirituality” predominate among them. Marxist dialectic is loaded with this fatalistic claptrap. Society is fated to go through various stages, ending by necessity at Communism, the so-called end of history. Of course Marx had to be revised somewhat when it turned out that he was no Nostradamus.
Communism 1.0. This failed almost immediately after being tried.
Stalin’s version 2.0. More stages had to be invented. This one lasted a bit longer (force can do that), but it made even less sense.
Sad Puppies decried the decline in fiction quality, and the awarding of Hugos to idiotic, poorly written rape fantasy. The group also took issue with the rampant favoritism and cliquish behavior on the part of WorldCon and Tor Books, in particular. But one of the fascinating things about all of this blatantly Left-leaning fiction is that the protagonists are powerless victims, and it just makes for shitty story-telling. That, too, is a feature of Fatalism. You were meant to be a victim, and there is nothing you can do about it. You might as well bow your head, accept your victimhood (to the death, if need be), and give up to the inevitable.
Who wants to read that shit?
I say this because in the literary world of the Left, the lone hero who defeats the Dark Lord is an impossibility. Individuals cannot do anything in the mind of the Fatalist. Frodo cannot take the ring to Mordor, for, like Obama says, he didn’t do that. He was the product of a mass of probabilities and the inevitable course of history. He was Fated to bring the ring there, and his personal strength had absolutely nothing to do with anything. Luke Skywalker cannot turn Lord Vader, for prophecy tells us that Anakin was fated to bring balance to the force. Star Wars prophecy and Marxist pseudo-dialectic are similar, in this respect.
I can almost hear the Bernie Sanders fans chanting “he will bring balance to the dialectic.”
Even Asimov, a literary Fatalist if there ever was one, conceded that one man sufficiently armed with mental powers (the Mule), could overthrow Second Empire in its infancy. That the Mule was a villain doesn’t take away from the fact that he, in effect, overthrew psychohistory, the agent of Fate, all by himself. But today’s Left-wing fiction writers cannot even grant that extraordinary figures might have an effect on history. In essence, they believe that Marxism, of both the Cultural and Economic varieties, is alone sufficient to predict the future, explain the past, and bring relevance to the present. Hari Seldon would have laughed at them. His notion of psychohistory was the synthesis of 20,000 years of human thought by a mad genius being prodded along by a 15,000 year old robot (at least according to the prequel books, anyway).
Note that George Lucas later retconned Anakin as a product of the “midi-cholorians” and a figure of prophecy, in effect rewriting Anakin and Luke Skywalker as agents of Fate, not heroes and villains who made their own individual choices. As with much of the Star War prequels, that Fatalistic streak sucked the life out of the stories. The characters were as much passengers of the story as the viewers were, and suffered from cardboard cutout-ism as a result. Anakin was fated to fall into the dark side, and all the efforts of all the characters could do nothing about it. What kind of story is that?
That and he was an angsty little shit, too. Seriously. Vader was a badass, who despite his evil nature, took his life into his own hands, but Anakin was a little pussy and the toy of Fate.
The stories I enjoyed were ones in which the characters fought against fate. They stood up and said “I am HUMAN and I can give the finger to fate.” The journey was often bloody and terrible, for one does not lightly take on the agents of Fate. But it was proof that humans were more than the sum of their instincts, that with the application of willpower, they could change the universe. Emperor Leto II in the Dune sequels was much this way, for he accepted a terrible burden and became history’s greatest villain in an effort to break humanity from the control of prophets forever. Indeed, the very greatest of human stories are this way, even in more mundane examples. Somebody probably told the kid with cerebral palsy that he could never run a marathon (it was Fate, you see), and he said “fuck you” and did it anyway.
The stories of Fatalists don’t have heroes in them, because heroes are anathema to who and what they are. They have victims, to be sure, people whom Fate has crapped on. And they have would-be heroes who, in the end, concede they were tools of Fate all along. In fact, coming to terms with their uselessness and lack of control is part-and-parcel of the Leftist worldview. Finally, says the Leftist, you realize that you are worthless.
Luke Skywalker never turned his father back to the light. Rather, his father was fated to turn all along. Han didn’t shoot first, now, because to do so would be to make a conscious decision rather than simply wait for events to unfold as fate has dictated. Paul Atreides certainly didn’t do any of that stuff Frank Herbert wrote about in Dune. In fact, Paul was White and heterosexual, so he was the oppressor of the story, right? The Baron Harkonnen was fat and gay, so Frank Herbert got it all wrong. The Harkonnens were supposed to win.
Paul was just a cisgender heteronormative fat shamer. It’s not the Baron’s fault that he was fat. The space Muslims should have allied with the Progressive fat gays to conquer the evil White Atreides.
It’s worth noting that Dune’s exploration of Fate and Prophecy is one of the reasons I am very fond of it. Paul achieved the vengeance he sought, but only by surrendering to his own prophecy. Emperor Leto II spent the next 3,500 years undoing this, separating humanity from the possibility that a prophet could ever control their destiny. It was a tremendously powerful story.
Anyway, this is why Leftists often decry that everything is not their fault. For if you can’t build it, as Obama told us, then is it your fault that it’s ugly and shitty, like Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest? Of course not, it was fated to suck. If an SJW is fat, it’s clearly a thyroid condition because Fate made them fat, not their own actions. This leads to increasingly lunatic positions, like the acceptance of pedophilia because they just “can’t help it.” Right. My 12 gauge says if you touch my son in an inappropriate fashion, you will die. See how fast the potential pedo decides to cut his losses and learn Free Will, then.
Fatalism is an easy excuse to justify poor work.
Sometimes I think there’s a bit of a religious angle to this, as well. For if humans are possessing of a soul, then there is a part of them that is greater than the universe, that is not bound by it. A human being would thus be partly a meat puppet, a product of the universe, bound by its rules, and partly the figure created in the image of God, possessing a piece of the eternal and the some of the will to create and control the universe itself.
Of course, Muslims are fond of saying Insha’Allah or, “God wills it.” They are Fatalists to the core. So this is clearly not a feature of all religious thought. But I like to go back to St. Thomas and his notion of the First Mover. As a proof of God, it was a tremendous failure, but as an insight into how God interacts with the universe, I found it profoundly inspiring. He may have set you in motion, created you, but now you move of your own volition. You have Free Will.
Marxism doesn’t concede this any more than Islam does. In the traditions of the Left, people do not have souls. They are bags of meat, cogs in a machine, agents of the state and paladins of public policy. To them, only the collective has value, because the collective is eternal. If 100 million meat-bags must be “retired” to bring about the eternal utopia, so be it. Remember, the Marxist thinks that history is inevitable, so all he is doing is acting in accordance with Fate. It’s a convenient cop out when you want to murder millions. If people do not have Free Will, then of what use is freedom? Freedom only truly makes sense if you have at least a somewhat positive point of view regarding Free Will.
I refuse to be a victim, and so should you. Intersectionality is bullshit, Fatalism is a load of crap. You may not be able to control everything about your life, but you are not a mere passenger along for the ride, either. Your choices matter. I wrote this article. Nobody wrote it for me, nor was I necessarily fated to write it.
We all have a piece of the eternal within us. And if I’m going to bother reading a story, it better well contain a kernel of this, too. To Hell with the Fatalists.
[UPDATE] I corrected Determinism to “Free Will” to clarify what I meant. Sarah is correct, and the usage was improper.
One more rant for the wind.
Turn on the television, read the newspaper, click through any mainstream media website, and you will see the same thing, repeated over and over again like a mantra. White Males.
Straight White Males.
STRAIGHT WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES.
If you believe in the ravings of the lunatics in the media, you will see that White Men are the worst of the worst, the sludge at the bottom of the evolutionary barrel. They are the arch-oppressors of history, the Lords in a world where all else were peasants or slaves. And today, they will tell you, it continues in the hallowed halls of Science Fiction, in the graphics of the latest Video Game and even in the bowels of the New York subway system where, God forbid, some of them rudely take up more space than, perhaps, they ought to.
Everyone else is a victim of these people. The oppressors are, naturally, never victims themselves. If a million Somalis come to Minnesota, it is diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, peace and love. If a million White guys moved to Somalia it would be Imperialism, conquest, war, cultural appropriate and hate.
So it is in Science Fiction, also. You can be anything, except a straight White Christian man. If you are not one, but you still believe that such men can and should rightly exist on this ball of dirt, you are an Uncle Tom, or you suffer from internalized misogyny, whatever.
It’s all bunk, it’s all a great big lie. They will speak of slavery, but not mention all the men who died to end the practice. They will speak of the Holocaust without tabulating all the Allied dead, scattered across Europe, to defeat the regime that perpetrated it.
They will speak as if White Christians have never suffered genocide. Really? My Armenian ancestors must have been wrong, then. What of Lebanon? What of the deaths of Iraqi Christians, cast out from their homes?
My grandfather gave me a book when I was a child, called “Exile.” It was about an Armenian woman, persecuted, raped and enslaved by Turkish Muslims. Her family was murdered. She was only spared because she was pretty enough to be utilized as an object in the harems and slave markets. It was a true story.
This was during World War I, far more recent than American slavery. Yet do we hear of it? Does anybody care? Do the Weasels of Social Justice even notice?
No. Because America is the Great Satan, a sentiment shared with the extremist Muslims of Iran and Palestine. Christianity is the horrible evil of history. Whites man is the Devil, and only in abject submission to the whims of the Weasels (see: John Scalzi) can penance be given.
The tiniest White male child, newborn in his mother’s arms, is stained with the sins of his ancestors. But all the good of his ancestors, all their great achievements and terrible sacrifices in the name of justice is counted for naught.
For a bunch of Atheists, they certainly believe in Original Sin well enough.
And so, to them, when an unrepentant White Man stands on the stage, recognized for his deeds, it is the greatest of all sins. It is blasphemy, heresy, all that is evil in the religion of Social Justice.
In the end, Social Justice and extremist Leftism is nothing more than Christianity, warped and twisted, bereft of hope, shorn of God and given over to the Prince of Lies. It is all of the worst, and none of the good.
The trolls of Tor, the PuppyKickers, the Anti-Gamergaters, the SJWs and Communists, are neither original, nor intelligent, nor tolerant, nor good. They are racists. They are sexists. They are haters. And it is codified in the Holy Books of their religion.
It is no wonder they find common cause with the worst movements of history, of Stalin, Pol Pot, Hezbollah and Mao. These are their prophets, and Marx is their Messiah. Hegel is their John the Baptist, and the horrors of the French Revolution their model for the blood sacrifice.
As the Christian symbol is the cross, so theirs ought to be the Guillotine.
Remember, whenever they complain of the White Male, all they are doing is calling you a Heretic, an Infidel. And, just as I am proud to be called such by extremist Islam, so am I proud to be known as such by the Weasels.
I recently had the honor of having one of my long-winded rants selected for posting at the Otherwhere Gazette. And it’s a doozy. In it, I refer to SJWs and Progressives by their more ancient name: Weasels. They have been known throughout history by this name, and it is time to bring it back.
Read it if you dare. But please, do comment there as opposed to here for this one. I was very pleased when they chose to feature my writing there.