Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true
Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing
She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing
Sometimes I wonder if a “traditional” family structure would have made a difference. When I was ten, my mother married the man that I eventually called father. He made a huge difference in our lives, so much so that his death has almost broken my mother entirely. But since I wasn’t his biological child, he deferred to my almighty mother when it came to my upbringing. His parents were emotionally and physical abusive to him; it’s entirely possible that he would have remained passive even as a biological father.
What am I babbling about this time? Long story short: I joined OKCupid and now I’m actually dating. There are a few gems in the slag heap after all! And none of these men will ever meet my family if I can help it. If marriage ever enters the picture (extremely unlikely, but still), I might introduce the “lucky” man to my mother. Unlike last time, I have been honest, though vague, with my mother and my extended family. I figured I’d let the chips fall where they may, and of course I regret that decision already. One branch of the family is already carping about my supposed boyfriends. (I haven’t given them much to go on, but who needs facts when you’ve got opinions? Yes, they are Fox News fans.) My mother-ahh, my mother. My mother is going to make me pay, as she does every damn time I try to escape my little box.
She doesn’t raise her voice, exactly; my mother’s style is birdlike, with little verbal pecks that come at random. She knows exactly where to peck, too. Such is the gift of motherhood. She found my condoms and now I’m interrogated every time I go out. I’m almost thirty-one, for fuck’s sakes. It’s not a matter of moral purity for her, either. She has nothing against premarital sex. But for her, life stopped when my father died. How dare I have sex? How dare I try to have a life? My life should be here, in this rotting hulk of a house.
She spent some time on dating sites after my dad died, and now she’s an expert. Men just want One Thing, you know. The implicit assumption is that I don’t want to give it to them. There is also a healthy dose of paranoia, because of course she needs to follow me to my dates in case one of them tries to murder me. Fortunately, she’s too depressed to actually do it. Gee, I wonder where I get my anxiety issues? I wonder why I needed Valium in order to have sex?
Anything I tell her becomes a weapon. I am reminded that I shouldn’t date outside my race because “bluebirds and robins don’t mate.” She has choice things to say about Jewish men, because all Jewish men are the same. None of them will ever be good enough, because if one of them is I might leave her.
I have tried to explain to people, but none of them ever see what she becomes behind closed doors. That is the way of our family, you see. Outsiders are given the best of us, while all emotional detritus is dumped at home. As I have mentioned before, this entire family is barking mad, and so we have learned to put on a good front in order to avoid the consequences of our madness. It seems to work fairly well. I’ll grant you that each and every person related to me is emotionally scarred in some way, but we have yet to produce any actual murderers or serious criminals. We channel those urges into the children.
Most of the situational insanity flows through the women, since they outnumber the sons of our peculiar clan. Most of my aunts should not have been mothers, and perhaps did not want to be. The dictates of society and religion forced them into marriage and motherhood. My mother was the exception in her generation. She refused to marry my biological father; she pursued a career and raised me on her own. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to keep dysfunction at bay. Those who know me tend to think of my mother and I as a package deal; we are invited to parties and weddings together, for example. I doubt anyone thinks of it as a normal arrangement but then, my mother is just so lovable if you don’t have to live with her. Why would I ever want to cut the cord?
“Just write it already!” my brain says. So here’s a little story that’s been banging around my head for months. It’s not perfect but it will do. WARNING: There be sex in this one. Not too graphic, but definitely R rated.
When leaving a shitty low-wage job, do so with a bang. Preferably the genital-slapping kind. Assuming that your partner is competent, you will not only enjoy the quitting but also give your coworkers a great story for new hires.
His name was Henry, and I did not love him. He in turn did not love me, and that was all right. Ours was a bond forged solely of simmering employee rage. Partners in underpaid misery at a city hotel, we were on a first-name basis since the night shift is a small one. I worked in the downstairs bistro; he was part of the ever-rotating housekeeping staff. We bitched to each other about our coworkers, our asshole bosses, and the weird guests walking the halls at night. Henry had been adopted from Nigeria at the age of six and had been an English major at Penn State. However, his ill-tempered supervisor still complained about Henry’s English and referred to him as a “dirty immigrant” whenever he felt it convenient. Since I also had a useless English degree, Henry and I amused ourselves by making Shakespearean jokes about the “ill-bred tyrant of the night shift.” We had been each other’s cheerleader for months as we sweated towards Quitting Day. At last it came. And so did we-but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So our boy Orson Scott Card wrote a charming essay a few months back that supposedly predicts a dire future under the Big Black Hand of the Big Black Obama Clan. It’s being passed around the Internet, stirring up outrage because nobody had any idea that Orson Scott Card is a racist wackjob before now. But I’m not going to comment about the content of this essay. That’s his opinion and we love
Grandpa Card just the way he is! He wrote Ender’s Game, after all!
Instead, I’m going to grade this piece of poorly-written crap as if I were a bitter, underpaid English teacher. I printed it, marked it with supremely girly pink pen, and I’m going to post it. All six pages. This man is a professional writer and a hero to the neckbeard community. He gets paid (presumably by the word) for his clickbait essays. His books (well, two of them anyway) have influenced many readers and writers across the science fiction spectrum. He is supposed to be good at this writing thing. This essay would earn an “F” in any eighth-grade classroom, even in “urban” schools where “disaffected youth” learn to kill Whitey for the glory of our Great Leader. I cannot believe I typed that. If you are unfamiliar with this essay, you’ll understand why I’m applying sarcasm with a trowel.
Scans under the cut. (ETA: Cut tag hates me. Sorry!) This will take a lot of space, but I am a writing geek and I shan’t apologize. I do, however, apologize for my printing, which resembles that of a caffeinated five-year-old. Summary at the end, just keep scrolling.
It occurs to me that my last entry was angrier than I meant it to be. I’m not really that angry about OSC and his running-at-the-mouth issues. He only gets one middle finger from me. I’m sure he’s perfectly nice in person, as long as you belong to an approved demographic group. I just think he could handle his shit a bit better. Okay, a lot better. However, I said this is not really about him and I meant it.
Every so often, the society-within-a-society that calls itself “speculative fiction” has a huge internecine “issue” of some kind. There is blogging of blogs and tweeting of Tweets, with an endless web of responses. These conflicts involve death or rape threats for women and much merriment in the Kingdom of the Trolls. The Card affair is a longstanding issue; it has endured rather well, considering the Internet’s short attention span. Other conflicts include the SFWA Bulletin Affair, the Harlan Ellison Shuffle, Racebending Star Trek, and so many more. I don’t mean to make light of the underlying incidents here (harassment, sexism, the Almighty Badass Khan as a white guy). These things are serious concerns rendered into cotton candy by the stirring of social media. The rendering is what amuses me, in a bleak sort of way.
All of this can be counted as communal growing pains. Ugly, public growing pains for a nebulous community that has grown and changed rapidly, largely due to the Internet. It amuses me terribly that fans of science fiction, which is a genre devoted to the future, are so damn slow to embrace the real future, with its attendant diversity. We live in the future, right? Space stations, cloning, palm-size computers, and robots on Mars-all parts of a balanced future as envisioned in the past. Awesome, really. But this future was largely envisioned by white, hetero, cissexual men who failed to consider anyone besides themselves in the hero’s place. And now that we have the sci-fi technology, the sociology needs to be advanced to match it.
To me (and the nagging pattern-seeking analyst in my head), the Orson Scott Card issue is a small wave on the ocean of change. Card is very much of the old school, in terms of his place in science fiction. In Ye Olden Dayes, Card and his peers were like unto gods in the small world of their preferred genre. Their every essay was received as scripture, their words never questioned. If anyone gave him any crap, he had the power to silence them. No one would have criticized his views on homosexuality, and there were few forums in which to do so anyway. Not to mention that the personalities of the writers were somewhat less important than their work. Now, between blogging and Twitter, most writers have put themselves into the ether as people rather than writing machines. And we, the consumers/fans, have the power to judge them for it.
Unfortunately for Card, his religious beliefs are not really compatible with the modern world. He refuses to compromise his beliefs or at least shut up once in a while. However, he is struggling to stay relevant. Hence, the movie version of his most famous work. Ender’s Game is almost thirty years old. The movie should have been made twenty-five years ago. It would have been a perfect cheesy cult movie, an excellent vehicle to sell the endless series to follow. Most of Card’s other books tie into Ender’s Game somehow. In fact, he has spent a goodly portion of his writing career capitalizing off the fame of a single book. Before media was beamed directly into our faces, creators of any kind could spend years leaning on the success of a few creative works. (See Lucas, George). That isn’t possible now-the culture is moving too quickly. Sales peak and drop weekly. People have options, too. We can read anything we want or watch anything we want. So a writer, especially a genre writer, needs to appeal on several levels.
Orson Scott Card does not seem to understand any of these things. Either that, or he refuses to understand because his church and his inner circle assure him that he doesn’t need to learn anything new. I don’t have sales figures on Card’s books, but I don’t need them. He’s not anywhere near where he was even fifteen years ago. His output has been pretty good for the past few years; it’s not that he isn’t doing anything. It’s not even solely about his work (although Ender’s Game is itself rather irrelevant). Women and gays and brown people have greater voices now. People care about things like equality so much that they will take a creator to task over it. The impression that I’m getting is that Card doesn’t understand why all of these strangers are criticizing him. He’s the artist! Look at his art! Why is everyone being so mean?
And the problem we’re having is that he’s not the only one. Card is in the club with Mike Resnick and Barry Malzburg and all of the other white guys who refuse to embrace change. They have a sense of entitlement that seems quite common to men of their age. They feel that they deserve a level of respect and success that is earned differently in the post-Internet world. And they’re going to keep getting hammered by the Internet until they grow the hell up.
I’m so dizzy and I am going to bed. I shouldn’t bottle things up for so long. Apologies for any typos.
So the sci-fi community’s kerfluffle-of-the-month is over Orson Scott Card (hereafter known as OSC) and the movie adaptation of his book Ender’s Game. OSC is a big deal in this corner of the mediaverse. He doesn’t like gays and lesbians very much; for a while there, he just wouldn’t shut up about how gay marriage is disgusting, gays are pedophiles, etc. I believe there was some bonus climate-change denial thrown in there for good measure and a bit of paranoid raving about Catholics. Now that Ender’s Game has been dubiously immortalized in film, there is a growing movement to boycott it (and anything else OSC does) on account of his opinions and possibly, just possibly, because he uses his money to fund virulently anti-gay causes. Oh, and notice how I said “for a while there?” Yeah, when the movie started to get rolling, Card mysteriously stopped airing his views. He resigned from the board of the National Organization for marriage and issued a plea for “tolerance,” which basically made him look like an asshole. There’s a lot more, but that’s the short version.
Can I address OSC’s statement to Entertainment Weekly? Why yes, I can! For many celebrities in the Internet Age, a poor reaction to “bad press” can destroy a career (see Deen, Paula, or Gibson, Mel). OSC is a seasoned writer, and this backlash began years ago. You’d think he could do better than this:
Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.
Except for the fact that the homophobia of the 70′s and 80′s was directly responsible for the failure to investigate the early AIDS epidemic. Because of people like OSC, AIDS and related illnesses have killed millions in the decades since its origin. If there had been enough research then, it wouldn’t be such a problem now. Gay marriage was not (really) relevant then, but homophobia definitely was. I was two in 1984 and I still know this. Please try to keep up with current events, old boy. Ahem.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.
But you’re still going to give money to organizations like NOM that will waste everyone’s time and money fighting the homo-momentum in court. Won’t you? Because this is not an apology of any kind, is it? Not even a “sorry you were offended” non-apology. No, your Mormon values will not allow for that.
Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.
Orson Scott Card
I repeat, this man has been a pillar of the science fiction writers’ community. And yet, he can’t write a simple “see my movie” publicity statement without sounding like an asshole. Not a good way to sell a movie. Now, you might want to admire the man for his convictions. At least he’s not giving a fake apology like so many public figures do, right? True, very true. Clinging to one’s religious beliefs is an American tradition. OSC keeps it real.
But he still wants my money, your money, and everyone else’s money. In fact, he expects it. He feels entitled to an audience for this movie. Why should he have to defend his beliefs? He’s a big-shot science fiction writer! He wrote a bunch of books that were really big a few decades back! Remember? This boycott business is silly, and everyone should just forget about because OSC said so. And this brings me to my next point, which was supposed to be focus of this entry before I got to ranting:
This isn’t really about Orson Scott Card. Or about Ender’s Game. It isn’t even about pro-gay versus anti-gay. It’s bigger than that. And I’m going to split this up so it’s not so completely unbearable to read.
Quick rundown of ten things that can fuck off at this very moment, in no particular order.
1) Ticketmaster. Apparently the $9.75 “service fee” doesn’t go toward website design. It probably goes in the “massages for rich Ticketmaster executives fund.” I spent 60% of the ticket value on bullshit fees and the site won’t even let me buy tickets for separate dates in the same shopping cart. Why? Because they’re wallet-gouging douches, that’s why. They don’t need a website that works.
2) Hospital toilet paper. There are few things more irritating than having a two-minute bathroom break and spending a minute of it pulling off tiny little snowflakes of toilet paper because the damn roll can’t turn.
3) Baby Boomer men. They seem to think that their opinions, however trivial, deserve my undivided attention even if I’m trying to assist paying customers or, heaven forbid, to stock some fucking soda. If one simply must air useless opinions, one should get a blog or Facebook account. I’m sure Miss Manners agrees with me.
4) Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, Tea Party darling and all-around incompetent jackhole. He’s managed to make Pennsyltucky even shittier, and I would have sworn that it couldn’t be done. Not to mention that his part in the Jerry Sandusky business has been all but forgotten, it seems.
5) Comcast. Enough said.
6) Paula Deen. Get out of my face. Fortunately the Boomer males that I see so frequently have yet to open their pieholes on the subject. Of course nobody would care about her racist bullshit if only she were prettier, thinner, and made organic low-fat food. Assholes to the left, assholes to the right.
7)Antonin Scalia. I don’t need to elaborate, do I? I can’t wait for him to retire. I hope he gets bedsores on his hemorrhoids. I hope he ends up broke and crippled, living in a cardboard box and begging for change. I know, wishful thinking.
8) Rick Perry. Get a blog, Rick Perry. Get a blog and resign from office so the poor people of Texas can start to forget you.
9) Deer. Specifically the pooping piles of meat that ate my tomato plants. I’m not a hunter but by damn I may have to learn.
10) My brain. I am missing a pile of research, several short stories, and a bunch of miscellaneous pictures/ideas/notes because I used a real physical notebook which is now lost somewhere in my two rooms’ worth of books, papers, and other dead tree stuff. I didn’t want to waste time typing it all up. Now I get to waste time trying to find it. Wowzer.
Yes, I know I don’t write here very much. My life is rather banal right now as I am tightening the belt to the point of pain in order to travel a bit later this year. LoneStarCon, ho! I hope they have sturdy beds as Nick is supposed to share a room with me (if his fucked up asshole family will allow him to leave for four whole days). But I’m not going to rant about them. I’m not. There is absolutely no point in it. But really, Nick’s family (with a couple of exceptions) can all get bedsores on their rhoids along with Scalia.
Thank you for reading. Kisses!