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Thread: Weird Tales Controversy
August 21st, 2012, 08:25 AM #1
Weird Tales Controversy
I'm not sure how many people have been following this, but I found it interesting:
Weird Tales Magazine faces a boycott after endorsing a “thoroughly non-racist book”
Weird Tales Goes Back in Time
Racism, Revealing Eden and STGRB
Wierd Tales Response
Jim C. Hines: Thoroughly Nonracist Nonsense
N.K. Jemisin: This is how you destroy something beautiful.
Jeff VanderMeer: Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer, and Utter Stupidity
EDIT: Link to Guardian Article
EDIT: Added the author's response.
Last edited by sullivan_riyria; August 22nd, 2012 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Added additonal links
August 21st, 2012, 11:40 AM #2
All that needs to be said, IMHO, is that the editor responsible for this mess is the same editor who originally published a particularly vile work by the name of Hamlet's Father in an anthology.
So, as I see it, any sort of apology from them (i.e. the editor) will be absolutely meaningless.
August 21st, 2012, 02:31 PM #3
Not having read Foyt's book, or even the first chapter that was posted on Weird Tales, I don't feel qualified to form an opinion on whether or not it is racist. Nor does a cursory glance at some of the offending components mentioned in the various blog posts give me a strong sense one way or another.
That said, I am a bit leery about the opinions of those that do feel qualified without having read it, or that instantly jump on the witch-hunting bandwagon. The other side of this is that the internet has a long history of quick trigger fingers and over-reactivity, especially when it comes to touchy subjects like racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. Sometimes people look for things to be offended by and see what they want to see. I'm not saying that's happening with this little debacle, but I do wonder.
Racism sucks, no doubt about it. But being falsely accused of racism also sucks. As I said, I don't feel qualified (that is, knowledgeable) enough to say whether Foyt or the folks at Weird Tales are racist, but I find it worrisome how quickly people jump to accusations of racism. That's a pretty heavy stigma to carry.
August 21st, 2012, 02:50 PM #4
August 21st, 2012, 03:44 PM #5
It is a reasoned response, but I think it misses the point.
We have authors of colour condemning this as racist. That alone should be proof that something is amiss with this piece. If you have these authors standing up and saying it's racist, it's not a small thing they're doing. They're making serious complaints about the content of this piece, and they need to be taken seriously.
Many of us on this site are white, and as such we don't have much room to really say "oh, it's not racist" or "but what if it isn't racist?" - it's offended people of colour, and that alone is proof enough that it's a piece with racist connotations at the very least.
August 21st, 2012, 03:59 PM #6
If I were a "betting man" I would say that it probably is raciest as I trust the opinions of N.K. and others, but to say definitively would be wrong without seeing with my own eyes the work in its entirety...but I have no interest in putting money in this author's pocket because "it doesn't look good" from the limited exposure I have.
I'm not saying it is the case here, but there have been cases where someone, even a respected someone, has made a claim of racism based on partial information, or their own perspective, and all Alchemist was saying (and I agree) is that we each should be careful about forming a mob especially if you, or others haven't read the complete work.
August 21st, 2012, 04:20 PM #7
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
Mulan for god's sake.
Just because a minority says something is racist absolutely does not mean it must be so.
Sorry, I'll let you guys get back to talking about this story I haven't read, but I had to respond to that one bit. It drives me nuts when people make that argument.
August 21st, 2012, 04:27 PM #8
That's certainly true and it's a good point...
But I don't think you need - in circumstances like these - to read the whole thing to realise the views are not, um, right. What reading it fully would do is really show how bad the problem is.
August 21st, 2012, 04:37 PM #9
August 21st, 2012, 04:44 PM #10
August 21st, 2012, 05:06 PM #11
Moderator note: We do not usually allow discussions about race in this forum or the SF forum, where this conversation more properly belongs since the controversy concerns a science fiction story, as noted in the guidelines, because it is a sensitive topic prone to flame wars. We will sometimes allow it under the following conditions:
1) Everyone in the discussion is very, very civil to each other.
2) Everyone follows all directions from moderators with total cooperation and no complaint in the thread.
3) The subject sticks to how race is handled in fantasy/horror/SF fiction (which can be in relation to the real world, but not drift into a discussion of race in the real world divorced from the fiction.)
4) No one makes personal attacks about other members, any authors, or in this case, the editors past and present of the magazine.
We will allow also a discussion of Weird Tales magazine in this particular case and discussion of the particular story involved, and we'll leave the thread here for now. But it will get closed in a heartbeat and if necessary deleted altogether if any member decides to violate the above. Individual posts may also be deleted or edited by staff. Any complaints about other members' posts should be done by PM's to staff, not hashed out in the thread. Good intentions of all members should be assumed in the thread discussions and apologies if someone seems to misunderstand you or be upset would be a really good idea.
You may now proceed. Carefully and in the spirit of SFFWorld.com.
August 21st, 2012, 07:37 PM #12
- Join Date
- Feb 2012
It sounds like it could either be a horrible piece of racist propaganda or an author trying to make a point about how awful and stupid racism is by reversing the situation.I'd like to think it's the latter, but I don't know enough about the situation.
August 21st, 2012, 07:42 PM #13
I did read the first chapter and it is certainly offensive without context. In the context of the book, who knows, but without that greater context-- ie, how Weird Tales published it-- ugh. Not good. I can see why there is controversy. Whoever the new editor is made a tremendously bad call in this case.
ETA: Apparently WT did not publish the chapter yet and has backed off of that idea.
Last edited by heretics fork; August 21st, 2012 at 07:43 PM. Reason: Clarification
August 22nd, 2012, 03:36 AM #14
I believe the controversy does raise two interesting points though.
First, the storyline as defined by the controversy does touch upon a topic relevant to American society and culture. Based upon 2012 census information, the current majority in America is trending towards minority status. So while the execution of the book may (or may not) be flawed, the premise of the book is relevant and poses an interesting question. Should (or perhaps the correct term is when) societal roles are reversed how will current minorities as the new majority, treat the current majorities which will be the new minorities? (say that as fast as you can 5 times in a row)
I absolutely think there are many interesting stories to be told with this premise either literally or in SF/F allegories. Which brings me to my second point. As an aspiring author, censorship, for whatever reason, no matter how morally justified it may seem, always makes me a little uneasy.
Although Ray Bradbury denied Fahrenheit 451 was about censorship it certainly dances all around and frankly treads right through this subject matter. Ironically Fahrenheit 451 itself is a member of the ALA (American Library Association) top 100 banned books. So because we don’t like a book, should we band together in groups to prevent a book from being available to the general public?
Arguably, this is what is happening in this controversy. An influential group is pressuring a channel for new literature to access the general public to discriminate against topics they do not like. <- sounds rather elitist or even a bit fascist when phrased in these terms. Not saying fascist by strict definition of political systems, but definitely leaning towards authoritarian.
The problem with authoritarian controls, is control like all power tends to become institutionalized over time. Contrary to the popular ideology I was taught in my Political Science and Business Ethics classes, I was taught in my Critical Thinking class it is a fallacy to attribute human characteristics to a non-human entity such as an institution. The leadership within institutions may change meaning how the power designated to the institution is wielded may change.
If it were not so sad and more than a little scary, it would be hilarious how Democrats opposed Republicans passing the Patriot Act and the reversal in positions and parties when Democrats extended the Patriot Act.
Freedom of speech was not specified in the First Amendment to protect benign speech. Nobody cares about stifling small talk or stipulatory rhetoric. It is specifically instituted (imho) to safeguard against speech that voices a challenge to accepted norms and/or conventions. The problem is when we start picking and choosing what accepted norms and/or conventions can be challenged and which can’t – we’ve already lost.
Lots of subject matter here for stories I would think!
August 22nd, 2012, 03:38 AM #15
And for those of you happy to sit on the fence regarding Saving the Pearl - read the first chapter of the book, it's available free online (so why were Weird Tales paying to publish it anyway?); watch the promotional video with blackface in it; read the quotes people have posted, read the synopsis... The book is quite blatantly racist and deserves every criticism thrown at it.
I should also point out that Kaye's now-deleted post blamed the complaints of racism against the book on poor reading skills, and categorically stated that if people couldn't see it was anti-racist it was because they lacked the necessary analytical skills. Which is wrong, insulting, and asinine.