Gamergate is ever so concerned about internet mobs

I finally got around to reading Larry Correia’s take on the Amelia Zhao affair. For those not familiar with this kerfuffle, Zhao is an aspiring YA author whose debut fantasy book was due to be published in June ( ). The book received a substantially less than warm welcome within YA-social media. The core of the criticism was from people who had read the book but the wider antagonism against the book was more secondhand. Feeling besieged by claims of racism within the work and debatable plagiarism (as I understand it more like cases of cliches or being very derivative), Zhao withdrew the book. [That’s my potted version, corrections welcome]

There’s an important issue here on legitimate criticism of creative work versus collective bullying or bad-faith verbal attacks on authors. It is more than possible for a given situation to include all three. Unintentional bullying tactics (eg the classic internet comment section dogpile) where any one individual is just expressing a reasonable opinion but which adds to what appears to be the infamous/nebulous internet “mob”. I don’t know what the solution is to these issues but “nobody can criticise authors or there works” isn’t it.

So I’m parking that question of practical ethics for the moment. I’ve got my own code around internet arguments (always be more civil and more charitable to the person you are arguing with than the person you are arguing with) but that doesn’t address questions of unintended collective bullying.

Anyway, quicker than you can say “SJW” in a sneering tone, our old pal Larry Correia waded in to castigate all and sundry: (link for reference – you can probably guess the tone and overall message).

Several points spring to mind:

  • If you are an aspiring writer and ever doubt your capacity to put word to page, don’t forget that Larry Correia is a very successful writer commercially and makes a good living from his books. He himself has pointed out that having an entertaining story to tell is more important that your wordsmithing capability. Tell a fun story and don’t worry whether you are actually brilliant at putting sentences together: Larry isn’t and it hasn’t held him back and seriously, good for him.
  • That first point might be inspiring but it contains the seeds of author obnoxiousness and self-entitlement that keeps cropping up. Sure the Sad Pups were a particular political example but it’s not confined to the right. One reaction to the self-doubt that plagues anybody in a creative industry is to adopt a toxic quasi will-to-power mentality that treats any and all criticism as an attack that needs to be met with greater force. Authors that think they have to adopt Sean Connery’s dictum from The Untouchables is the flip side of toxicity within book communities. It’s same seed of rejecting criticism that makes Scientology attractive to actors. Success in creative domains has a degree of unpredictability that enables superstition.
  • Larry was and remains a vocal supporter of Gamergate. So when he talks about horrific bullying by internet mobs he knows what he’s talking about. Sure, it’s from a point at the very depths of hypocrisy given he endorsed one of the worst cases of mass internet bullying and intimidation but we can rest assured that any ignorance demonstrated in his piece is wilful rather than accidental.

Put another way, in attempting to make discussion within a genre-community less toxic, safer and less inclined towards bullying (intended or unintended) the rants of Larry is not what is needed.

51 thoughts on “Gamergate is ever so concerned about internet mobs

  1. It’s really hard to say much about this mess given that I haven’t seen Zhao’s book or even the kind of extensive excerpts that came out in the debate over Black Witch. But it’s good to read other commentary on it.
    Not so much Mr. Correia’s perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who is peripherally connected to the YA Twitter community, most descriptions of the incident are overblown. This incident was so low-key that I didn’t find out until afterward, and I had to ask someone what I had missed.

    Cam, do you have a link to Larry’s support of GG? (I beleive you, but I just wonder if it is as bad as I imagine)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. [A reply to a Facebook post by Brad T about Gamergate]
      To those of you new to this kerfuffle (and it isn’t my kerfuffle of expertise at all) it breaks down like this.

      1. Some people were assholes and did assholeish things. 
      2. Because of the assholes being assholes, it brought some attention on game journalism. A big part of this was when regular people got to see how SJWs operate for the first time. 
      3. Adam Baldwin coined the phrase GamerGate.

      Now, at this point people like Ken Burnside would try to play the Dismiss card on the whole thing based upon #1, however, we keep going.

      4. SJWs had their typical freak out, where basically everyone is having fun wrong, and therefore if you disagree with them at all you are obviously a racist/sexist/homophobe. Even more regular people got to see SJWs in action for the first time. .
      5. A bunch of minorities who are gamers (who are also sick of SJWs) said wait just a second, you don’t speak for us. 
      6. SJWs did some pretty heinous things to people. This was the point where I started watching it, because I really enjoyed having normal folks get to see them in action. When called upon their awful racist hate speech, the SJWs responded by attacking more of the normals as if they were all exactly the same assholes as in #1. 

      At this point there was a whole lot more of #1, because duh, SJWs picked a fight with 4Chan. What the hell did you think would happen? 

      7. GG started getting lots of media attention. Despite people like Ken insisting that this is pure as the driven snow, and it is all about equality, diversity, and ice cream for everyone, SJWs are a cross between puritans and communists. They demand everyone think like they do. Gamers like to fight. At this point the people following GamerGate were a lot more normal than asshole, and they were starting to get real tired of being called assholes, considering they’d engaged in no negative behavior themselves.
      8. Despite Ken’s claims to the contrary, Anti-GG started doxxing people and getting them fired from their jobs. They started sending emails to people’s bosses saying “do you know what a horrible person your employee is?” They created idiotic blacklists. Oh, and they threatened people with death too, but that like totally does count.“tn”%3A”R”%7D

      May 4, 2015 at 9:22 pm
      I personally like GamerGate. Doesn’t mean Sad Puppies is GamerGate. I’m also a registered Republican, but Sad Puppies isn’t associated with the GOP.
      Yes, I reached out to them. Since it was a publicity get out the vote campaign, I reached out to anybody I could think of. But GamerGate didn’t really notice. The first bit of GG related media attention SP got (the Breitbart article) came after the deadline to register in time to nominate.

      Because many SJWs check under their bed for the Gamergate boogieman before going to sleep, obviously GamerGate is responsible for the Sad Puppies sweep. Apparently she discovered that one of my longtime fans, Daddy Warpig, is a GamerGate blogger, and has tweeted about SP3, and she exposed this shocking revelation!
      Wow… Yeah, good work there, Sherlock. You could have just saved time and asked me, since I also favorited those and retweeted them. I’ve also been on his podcast. But if you want to really damn me, let me save you some detective work. I’m also friends with actor Adam Baldwin, the guy who coined the word GamerGate. I’ve also blogged about GamerGate, but more in relation to Sarkesian calling for a boycott of my home state because she didn’t understand our constitution or laws wouldn’t allow for violating our citizen’s civil rights because of fake threats against her.
      But GamerGate isn’t behind Sad Puppies.
      1. SP predates GG by a couple of years.
      2. SP is tiny compared to GG, and the vast majority of GG paid no attention to SP,
      3. Until the Breitbart article came out, but if you loot at the dates of the article it came out too late for any new people to register in time to nominate for Sasquan.
      4. We do share some common members, but enemy of my enemy is my friend, and both movements can’t stand Social Justice bullies telling people they are having wrongfun.
      5. There were like 2,000 total nominations. If it had been a GamerGate plot there would have been 20,000 nominations, and they would spammed it across the internet and had a great laugh about it.
      Oh, quick note moderates and SMOFs, if you don’t want GamerGate to get involved in the Hugos, don’t blame me. Tell your Social Justice idiots to shut up on Twitter!  TNH is the one invoking and provoking them, not me.

      April 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm
      A Patreon account is where people can donate money to support artists who produce works that they like and would like to see continue. It is especially useful for art that is difficult to monetize ( I understand it is a godsend for web cartoonists).
      Wu is a professional victim. Her Patreon is people giving her money for “punching up” against the evil boogieman that is GamerGate. It is basically money for nothing. Actual producers of video games get paid when the market purchases their product. She gets money for being Wu. She picks fights, calls people racists/sexists/homophobes (like me for example) and eventually somebody she attacks gets pissed off and responds. Then she screams about the trasphobic hate attack, and more people donate to her Patreon, because that makes them good people, absolved from their white guilt.
      It is a scam. At the height of GG when all the national media attention was on it, she was raking in $13k a month from people like Aspen.

      September 27, 2015 at 3:19 pm
      I like Gamergate. I support Gamergate. I think they’re right and Anita is full of shit. Vox? Hell. I’m friends with Adam Baldwin, and he made up the hashtag.
      Man, do you ever shut up? I go away for a weekend and you posted like 50 times.

      April 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm
      True that, but I was talking about in genre fiction.
      Watch what happens next. Yesterday was our Gamers Are Dead day, and it isn’t like these geniuses have a lot of tactics to choose from.

      Same thing with Best Related Work and the other little categories. No wonder Hines has been on the warpath. We interrupted his destiny. As GRRM said, he’s served his time, damn it! Hell, if we’d not shown up culture warrior Anita Sarkeesian would have been a nominee, and you say that we’re the ones who involved GamerGate?

      I’ve never gotten into GamerGate here on the blog, but basically Anita Sarkeesian is a professional victim, Social Justice Warrior, who thinks you are enjoying yourself wrong, and if you disagree you are a racist, homophobic, misogynist.
      If you are a regular blog reader who followed Sad Puppies at all, same thing, same crusaders, same song, different industry.

      This is one reason I’ve been enjoying the hell out of GamerGate. First, it has been awesome having a great big group of people witness the same bullshit that my industry has been dealing with for years. Second, SF/F people tend to be squishy and polite, with a handful of outspoken outliers like me and the rest of the Evil League of Evil, so SJWs have run roughshod over my industry… But gamers? Holy shit. You really think you can pick a fight with people whose brains are programmed to win? Gamers will outlast, outthink, and outfight the SJWs. Tell a Gamer that there is loot or XP in it, and he’ll grind SJWs to the grave.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. One might also point out that the bulk of Correia’s “synopsis” of GG is essentially a fabrication. There are a few things true in the kind of irrelevant details (Baldwin, for example, did coin the term “GamerGate”), but the broad strokes of his summary bear almost no relationship to reality.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aaron: One might also point out that the bulk of Correia’s “synopsis” of GG is essentially a fabrication.

        I just laughed and laughed at the retconning going on there. That’s one of the things about Puppies that’s so hilarious: they don’t seem to understand how the internet works, or realize that they’ve left a very long trail of their words out there which completely contradicts what they’re trying to claim now.

        I guess it works with the Puppy crowd because they have the memory retention, inquisitiveness, and reasoning power of a gnat, and they don’t realize that the rest of us can remember what actually happened, and that if we’re fuzzy on any of the details we Google it for a refresher.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. To be honest, while I think Correia’s online behaviour and sweary rants are poor manners and unhelpful, in this case he has a point.

    Especially when he notes the ever shifting targets of wokeness. It does seem impossible not to offend someone, somewhere. Its seems to have gone from:

    -You don’t have any minority/homosexual/disabled characters = That’s bad! You are bad!

    -You do have minority/homosexual/disabled characters , but they are your evil characters -= That’s bad! You are bad!

    -You do have minority/homosexual/disabled characters,but they are goodies. Why have you made them one dimensional? They aren’t angels or demons, write them realistically with shades of grey. You didn’t = That’s bad! You are bad!

    -You researched minority/homosexual/disabled characters well enough to write a well rounded character. That’s cultural appropriation! = That’s bad. You are bad.

    -You gave up. You went back to just not writing minority/homosexual/disabled character. = That’s bad! You are bad!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A person who responds to a comment but refuses to engage with any of the points therein is not someone who’s opinion I think is very worthwhile.


    1. All right, Hugo, I’ll engage with your comment.

      To which reviewer are you referring, who has engaged in “ever shifting targets of wokeness”?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks JJ.

        Not a single reviewer, some critics in either professional or semi-professional roles (from full time critics at papers to the whole spectrum of full time and hobby blogging) and of course, the twitterarti. Outside of critics, academia, activists, influencers and other authors. Not talking about an individual.


      2. Hugo: Not a single reviewer, some critics in either professional or semi-professional roles (from full time critics at papers to the whole spectrum of full time and hobby blogging) and of course, the twitterarti.

        So you’re expecting all readers, reviewers, and critics to agree on a single definition of what is acceptable in fiction relating to cultural norms and sensitivities, otherwise they’re guilty of “ever-shifting targets of wokeness”?

        This is probably why Jessica has the impression you’re a sea lion.

        There are a whole lot of people on this planet who’ve been shit on for centuries — both in real life, and in how they’ve been represented in fiction — who’ve had to keep their mouths shut for all that time for fear of retribution and retaliation, some of which would have been severe enough to result in unemployment, injury, or death. Some of these people finally have the ability to speak up about the insensitive or offensive ways that they’re being portrayed.

        Given the wide range of geography and culture among these people, expecting them to agree on what’s acceptable and what’s offensive is utterly unrealistic.

        Correia is consigning all readers, critics, and reviewers with whom he disagrees into one bucket and referring to them as if they are some sort of homogenous group of people who all share the same set of culture and beliefs, and condemning them all in one fell swoop. He is not engaging sincerely with them, because he does not regard each criticism on its own merits, he just declares them all wrong and bad.

        Your original comment does exactly the same thing. How can you expect anyone to engage with you on sweeping generalizations attributed to a large mass of very disparate people?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “So you’re expecting all readers, reviewers, and critics to agree on a single definition of what is acceptable in fiction relating to cultural norms and sensitivities, otherwise they’re guilty of “ever-shifting targets of wokeness”?”

        Let just not do the staw-man thing yeah? There’s a whole lot of offence being taken here for things I literally haven’t said. I wasn’t intending to be impolite, and I’m unsure what I’ve posted that gave you the impression I’d have that expectation. It’s hard for me to defendant opinions I don’t have 🙂

        Re your criticism of my first comment, I’m not talking about particular groups, rather that there is always “someone, somewhere” that takes some offence.

        Also what is a sea lion? Clearly there is a use for this term here that isn’t the dictionary definition.


    2. And yet your “argument” was patently made in bad faith. Call yourself what you will; your actions show what you really are.


      1. Maybe if you can point out why you believe I’m debating in bad faith? Then I can either defend it or not.


      2. Hugo: Let just not do the staw-man thing yeah?

        If there is a straw man here, it is complaining that a large number of readers, reviewers, and critics with widely-disparate life experiences and opinions form “ever-shifting targets of wokeness”.

        Again, how can you expect anyone here to engage with sweeping generalizations? Apart from saying “Yes, of course that many people, with that many different experiences and opinions, are going to have widely-differing expectations and standards.” ?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. JJ,

        Thanks for the sea-lion info.

        I don’t expect people to engage with sweeping generalisations. I don’t believe I have, My original “someone, somewhere” doesn’t refer to any group/category etc


      4. Or perhaps even more accurately I should say “doesn’t refer to any group category etc *other than* people who take offence regardless of the fictional character’s portrayal” – which I thought would go without saying but maybe I need to be super-explicit to not be misinterpreted here.


      5. Hugo: Or perhaps even more accurately I should say “doesn’t refer to any group category etc *other than* people who take offence regardless of the fictional character’s portrayal”

        Whenever an author publishes anything, there will be critics and commenters. Most will be engaging in good faith — even if they’re critical of the work — but some will be of the “I enjoy tearing things down just for the sake of it” mentality. This is just a fact of life; it’s how humans are.

        Part of the job of being an author (just as it is with artists, actors, and pretty much any other creative profession of which the product is made available to someone other than the creator) is that each author will have to decide for themselves how much (if any) criticism to read, how much of that to take on board, whether and how and which to respond. Which is why it is generally important for creative people to have good support systems: family, friends, mentors, and/or counselors who can help them achieve and maintain self-confidence, perspective and wisdom.

        Sure, there will always be some people who will be dicks. There’s not much can be done about it. If you know of a cure for that, you might start with Larry Correia.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’m certainly not defending Correia’s lack of civility online. My point is, even rude people can talk sense, and I do think he has a point in saying its impossible not to cause offence in the current epoch.


      7. Hugo: I’m certainly not defending Correia’s lack of civility online. My point is, even rude people can talk sense, and I do think he has a point in saying its impossible not to cause offence in the current epoch.

        And the reason that he bothers making that point so emphatically is not because he cares about Amelie Wen Zhao, it ‘s the mercenary desire to drum up outrage against “SJWs”, and with it the clicks and blog views and followers and customers the outrage can attract.

        It’s not as if there are any awards he can win for being Captain Obvious.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Possibly. There are certainly some out there marketing themselves by appealing to anti SJW anger. Chasing the anti-dollar dollar kinda thing. Sad puppies does seem to have had an element of trying to make a buck out of being “outsiders”, thought at sentiment seems stronger in the indy authors rather than the Correia types who have a publisher. Regardless of the motive, I think there was some truth to the argument that Ms. Zhao can’t win.


  4. Now I obviously haven’t read the book in question. I think it’s very likely that the book is derivative (a lot of YA books are, particularly those by young authors who were inspired by other YA books), though “derivative” does not equal plagiarism. She also apparently got Russian naming conventions wrong, which as Nick Mamatas pointed out, isn’t unusual for western pop culture. Is the book offensive and racist? It’s possible, though it’s impossible to know for sure without having read it.

    Personally, I suspect that root of the problem is a case of cultural disconnect. Amélie Wen Zhao wrote in her apology that she based her depictions of forced labour on systems of unfree and forced labour in Asia. However, her overhwelmingly American critics associate forced labour almost solely with slavery as practiced in the US South before the Civil War. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed that US folks tend to view any kind of depiction of unfree labour through the lens of slavery in the US South, which tends to lead to misunderstandings, such as the critic who complained about the fact that June/Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale is played by a white actress, because this critic assumed that the situation of the handmaids was a reference to the rape and forced impregnation of slave women in the US South, even though the reference is actually Biblical and female slaves, serfs, indentured servants, maids, etc… of all races have been sexually abused by the men who had power over them throughout history.

    It also seems to me that there is a toxic undercurrent in the YA community, because this isn’t the first time an author has been attacked over what seems to be a well meaning, but clumsy attempt to discuss issues like racism, slavery, etc… Plus, the online YA community is very vocal and very interconnected, so isolated criticisms often turn into an accidental internet mob. There also seems to be some misunderstanding with regard to what plagiarism is. Just witness the recent case where last year’s big debut YA author accused Nora Roberts – yes, Nora Roberts – of having stolen the title of her book, because the titles were superficially similar and conformed to a very common pattern for titles particularly in YA fantasy. Anyway, debut author had a fit and her followers started attacking Nora Roberts, who had never heard of the debut author or her book and had no idea what was going on.

    That said, Larry Correia, Rod Dreher and the other rightwinger popping out of the woodwork to defend Amélie Wen Zhao and similar cases like Laurie Forest, Keira Drake, etc… don’t give a flying fart about any of those authors or their books. In fact, if they’d noticed the book at all, they would probably have held it up as an example of everything that’s wrong with modern YA fantasy (after all, these folks think that Heinlein juveniles, JCW and Dave Freer are good examples of YA), if its author hadn’t been at the receiving end of a wave of internet criticism. The only reason that Larry Correia, Rod Dreher, JDA, etc… suddenly care about Amélie Wen Zhao is because they can use her case as an example to repeat their pet points about Social Justice Warriors.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Was it really a wave of criticism though?
      From what I understand, a few people mentioned that the book had some problematic elements and the author agreed to revise it without much fuss, but now it seems a new narrative has been created by a number of right-wing publications that has made Zhao into a free speech martyr, caving into the mindless progressive hordes.
      It’s also curious to see how many people Who “hate seeing politics in their fantasy“ claim that they will now buy the book if it ever comes out, despite the fact that it’s about slavery, though I suppose since it’s about slavery in Asia they can feel morally superior.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I guess it depends on your definition of “wave” and “mob”.

        The wave of criticism was strong enough that the Publisher was willing to cancel publication of the book (ostensibly at the author’s request). That is not something to which any major publisher would agree except under the most exceptional circumstances, given that their outlay at that point would have been huge. Even if the main print run hadn’t been done, the setup, cover art, possibly the actual cover printing, the ARCs, the promotion, etc., had already been done, which is a huge amount of money.

        There was way more to it than just a little grumbling and criticism in YA circles, or it wouldn’t have been cancelled.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. There was enough happening that it’s on the radar of people like me with little-to-no interest in YA fiction, so…

        Liked by 2 people

    2. “It also seems to me that there is a toxic undercurrent in the YA community, because this isn’t the first time an author has been attacked…”

      And attacked by exactly the same persons. I have a personal list of some me of these attackers, so I won’t do the mistake of buying their books. I do like critique, but I have had enough of the toxic “I want to destroy your career just to feel the power”-kind.

      All power corrupts. That includes the power of social media and enablement.


      1. I disagree, from my understanding of the situation the initial critic actually read an advance reader copy of the book and found some problematic elements in it which she tweeted about, though she didn’t mention the authors name or say that anything should be done to the book.
        As for whether this will destroy the authors career, I doubt it since the author herself was the one to postpone the release of the book.
        Ive found the commentary around the authors decision to postpone a bit troubling, it seems to infantilise Zhao suggesting that she is not an adult and can’t make those kind of decisions for herself.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Annie: As for whether this will destroy the authors career, I doubt it since the author herself was the one to postpone the release of the book.

        From what I know of the publishing industry, at this point, between her advance and all of the other expenditures associated with her book (setup, cover art, possibly the actual cover printing, the ARCs, the promotion), the publisher has lost at least $50,000 to $100,000 on this book. And any future books by her will be subjected to extra scrutiny because of this, possibly running the risk of having to pull another book.

        If the author did indeed make the decision, then she will have to pay her advance back — money she probably has already spent on living expenses. However, I think it’s probably a case of allowing someone to resign rather than be fired — that the publisher was the one to pull the plug.

        I suspect that she will be very, very lucky if she can find a mainstream publisher willing to publish another one of her books any time in the next decade. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I do not name names on purpose, because it is my personal list and I do want to make it public as to not participate in the toxic world of hindering others careers. Everyone should make up their own decisions. But there were absolutely authors that wrote toxic shit about Amelia Zhao and it was authors that I recognized since before for the same behaviour.

        It is easy to destroy a budding authors career. Smear them just a little bit and people will hesitate because they haven’t really invested so much in them yet. If people can’t understand that, then they aren’t responsible enough as adults to stay on social media.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have also noticed that the same names tend to show up in these debates. And yes, I also have a personal list of authors to avoid. This includes puppies, general jerks, authors who’ve treated me like crap, people whose books I persistently dislike and yes, a few toxic YA and toxic other genre folks, too. I guess everyone has a similar personal list and we probably have some overlap.

        Though the toxic undercurrents in YA are different from the toxic undercurrents in e.g. SFF. In SFF, it’s political differences and old guards not understanding that times have changed (a prime example is currently on File 770). In YA, they’re generally politically on the same side and it rather seems to be some kind of Highlander situation. I tear down your career to further my own, because there can be only one. It’s stupid and shortsighted, because readers buy books from more than one author, but I see too many authors engaging in that sort of thinking and not just YA authors either.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. Cora: “I tear down your career to further my own, because there can be only one.” It’s stupid and shortsighted, because readers buy books from more than one author, but I see too many authors engaging in that sort of thinking and not just YA authors either.

        That’s the part that I really don’t get. If your books are the sort I’m going to want to read, I’ll read them. If they aren’t what I want to read, you running other authors out of the business is not only not going to magically suddenly make me want to read your books, it’s going to put you on my “Total Asshole — Will Not Read” list.

        And if the authors you’re running out of the business have books similar to yours, you would have benefited from the “if you liked that, you’ll probably also like this” algorithms on Amazon and other sites. And reviewers who’ve reviewed both your books and those of the people you’re running down will have readers who will find your books because of someone else’s.

        It is just stupid and shortsighted to have such a cutthroat, tear-the-other-person-down mentality.

        Liked by 5 people

  5. That is very much how Correia went from my “possibly fun read” list to my “do not support this man” list. I enjoy the sort of stories he writes, but his conduct has completely overwhelmed my capacity to separate author from work.


  6. The author of this book is a Chinese immigrant and was making some use of East Asian slavery issues in a secondary world fantasy from her cultural experience. But, perhaps because she was told the racist falsehood in the American market that Asian fantasy doesn’t sell well, she made her protagonist a white Russian type, both a princess and a slave, for the English language (primarily American) YA market. And there were white savior and white power fantasy patterns in the story thereby, including how black characters were problematically used in the story. It wasn’t deliberate, just the usual clueless, familiar, lets borrow slavery as suffering for a white person and make her the heroic leader everybody else sacrifices for sort of thing, by the sound of it.

    Some black writers who received ARCs talked about the book in relation to how common this sort of thing was, similar to The Hunger Games and other YA works, without mentioning the actual title of the book. They did not call for the book to be banned or anything like that. There were also some negative reactions on Goodreads and such. And the only reason that’s considered toxic right now is because the American YA market, having been in my opinion deeply discriminatory for decades, is now trying to transition to some actual multiculturalism, finally accepting that this can be profitable, and considering black teens as actual readers. This has produced some deep resentment in the field, particularly in America, that this change is happening and in a way that might criticize white/non-black authors and force them to actually think about their stories and the stereotypes they tend to rely on. And resentment that people of color, particularly black people, are speaking out a lot more as part of that about things that bother them in YA fiction and worry them about POC teens having to put up with, again and again, in a field that is still about 80% white authors.

    In this particular case, the author, undoubtedly because she’s faced her own discrimination in America from being Chinese and a woman, decided that the criticism had merit, that she had limitations in her understanding of cultural issues of her main audience, and she decided to pull the book from publication, to which her publisher, Delacorte, who let her down on helping her with cultural issues, agreed. Delacorte has not cancelled the contract with this author; she will either rewrite the work regarding these issues or she’ll give them a new one. It is a cost of money as the book was being rolled out, but it is an author trying to do what she sees as the right thing. And yes, because she is a woman and an Asian woman, she will be treated as a child for this decision, someone who foolishly gave in to “black” bullies.

    And there has been and will be for a bit longer, lots of media pieces that can be summed up as “have black people gone too far in thinking they can critique literature regarding racial cultural issues” type, as if black people were unruly children also, rather than people who have every right to talk about works in regards to their cultural experience and racial relationships in society. Especially when it’s a sec world fantasy about a white hero slave that is being sold mainly in the American market.

    If they think that this is toxic, well then they better get used to it. Because a lot of POC authors, particularly black ones in the American market, are tired of limited opportunities to get published and sold in YA fiction, getting passed over in favor of white authors writing either white power fantasies with white hero slaves or about POC characters, the latter statistically having a much better chance of getting a contract than ones actually written by POC authors. And when they do have some success in the market, that’s going to be seen as a threatening mob with them “taking over” the place because, at least in the American market, the minute non-white people get more than a 10% foothold in any field, they are viewed as a swarm of locusts who can no longer be controlled by the ruling groups. Especially when they act like they have an equal right to talk about civil rights issues and do social and literature critical analysis.

    The reality is that the majority would like people of color, particularly black people, to shut up. And when they didn’t, and this was combined with a book that got a large advance and pre-pub marketing plan which the author decided to pull, that’s a perfect recipe for dire warnings about uppity black people. It’s been a textbook stew so far.

    The GamerGiggles were never as concerned with racial issues as they were with straight up misogyny. Their main goal seems to have been cowing game reviewer sites from saying anything critical about games from the big companies: But they and the ComicGiggles and the GigglingPuppies and all the rest do have one very cohesive message — civil rights are bad and just an excuse for a take-over, so all the marginalized should shut up. They know what happens if their targets don’t shut up — you start getting more equality and people actually starting to see that yeah, discrimination is going on and things could be improved instead of just status quo hierarchy. And then you get marriage equality and police reform and women working in comics, games and tech for possibly even equal pay, and it just cannot be borne apparently. But mostly it’s an opportunity for some people to make money on it and try to keep the entrance doors still blocked.

    So I feel sad for this author, who is trying to look beyond her own nose. But that it is being used as an excuse to go after black YA authors and fans as dangerous thugs for thinking they have a right to speak is just the same old, same old.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Great comments kat, I think a lot of the discussion has been framed by people with a very obvious political agenda, and people don’t seem to be reading the comments of the critics themselves or the views of the author, but rather the views of third-parties who speculate on what the author should’ve done while ignoring her own comments.
      So The new narrative is that she was forced into doing what she did by the mob, and the critics are bullies and sensors and haters of free speech.
      I to believe that there is a very ugly racial component to all of this as well, Asians particularly Chinese people being held up by the alt right as some kind of superior race.

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      1. Yeah, well they have to do that with the Chinese and some other Asian groups to keep up the superiority myths about white people and pump up the “white” population by expanding who is considered white and white adjacent. The Chinese and other Asian groups skew the myth of white people being magically, genetically “superior” and super smart, both historically and currently and in tech. So to keep it going, the Chinese and other similar groups are pronounced genetically superior and since the Asians regularly invaded and settled in Europe, (so did the Africans, but that’s waved away,) they are claimed to have contributed to “white” genetic superiority. The important thing is that the black people are not smart, in their view, even if they have to declare all the rest of the world super smart to do it and even if biologically, it’s nonsense.

        But the reality is in the U.S. market, still the biggest market for English language YA, more than half of the kids are now non-white and a lot of them are multi-racial. And even if you extend “whiteness” to more of them, it means that YA publishers can’t keep ignoring it and schools, segregated in the U.S. as they still are, can’t keep ignoring it forever. So they are taking baby steps, which scares the crap out of a lot of people, as does black people using civil rights gains to try and get more civil rights gains towards equality and protect and help their kids. Because if black people can do that, then the racist hierarchies of our white domination societies become a problem that people actually have to deal with. The myths go bye-bye and the protective benefits of those myths go with them.

        And this affects labor. If black people cannot be as exploited as poor, desperate labor, prison labor, labor limited from being competition at higher levels, and most of all, used as the boogeymonster to exploit and manage non-black workers, that causes problems for the mostly non-black people running corporations. The corporations who own the media, media that is 90% white people running it. So yeah, lots of media and social media stories about “black bullies” who are “harming,” threatening, “forcing” non-black people, just like always. Lots of outrage that black people would talk about long established racist “tropes” against them in entertainment and stories — and that others might be listening to them.

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  7. This seems like as good a place as any to mention that Ted Beale has decided that the best way to deal with the epic failure of Gab (which he swears now was never really his idea) and the epic shambles of Infogalactic (which he swears is actually a success, don’t trust your lying eyes) is to combine the pair into a new Twitter ripoff SocialGalactic. Because clearly the world needs a tiny racist Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

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