A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing Part 3

Well it has been awhile since I went through a Dave Freer post at Mad Genius club but here we are. Monday is Dave’s day at the rostrum and so inevitably we have a post about how mean Nick Mamatas was to him. https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/10/21/mayflies/

“You know, he does have one thing going for him: IMAX level projection. I’ve heard LOTS of attacks on Anthos for NOT having women, or whatever. The opposite, excluding men, or white males, or heterosexual males… abounds. There are hundreds of them CELEBRATING excluding a large part of the human race, often as their theme. I’m amused that Matamas assumes the gender of Daves. I thought that was a deadly sin, punishable by a thousand hysterical twitter shrieks? And as for ‘POC’, that’s another assumption… as ‘David’ is a very common name in much of Africa.”

Except, of course, no assumption needed to be made as 1. the actual list of authors was listed in his post and 2. the point still stands even if some of the authors had been women called Dave (they aren’t).

“I honestly don’t care. If you want to have a ‘POC’ Anthology, or a one-legged lesbians who identify as pork pies on alternate Thursdays Anthology – go right ahead. Of course that means that – if you were going to be fair, stopping endless whining about having women or POC or alphabet soup on every anthology’s ToC, unless they’re exclusive to the same people who now demand inclusion. But it’s different when they do it. Shrug. The sales will sort it out.”

Except Dave manifestly DOES care and we have now years of moaning against inclusivity and diversity from Dave e.g. https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/05/21/a-fair-go/ or https://madgeniusclub.com/2013/11/11/passing-through-the-fire-to-molech/ ,that second one is interesting given Dave’s arguments about demographics at other times, such as https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/08/06/pie/ .

“But I DO want good stories. Partly because I like to read them, and partly because good stories build an audience – which benefits everyone in the field. I’m mildly bemused by the sort of logic that concludes that having a very common first name (meaning the possible pool of authors (and readers) is way larger than most of the other ‘exclusive’ collections) and headlined by three legendary authors… cannot select ‘good stories’? “

That wasn’t an assumption made in Nick M’s Tweet either. It is an assumption Dave has made and one that other Sad Puppies have asserted i.e. that increased representation of women in awards or in publishing represents a decline in the quality of stories. The quality of the stories in the anthology did arise in a later Tweet but not based on assumption but on a less than glowing review: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4814-8426-8

The stream of consciousness stuff carries on from there and concludes with:

“The zeitgeist has moved, and they haven’t. That’s fairly obvious in everything from Gamergate to Sad Puppies, from Brexit, to President Trump to the Hong Kong protests. They don’t all win – but they were unthinkable at all 10 years back. More is coming. Zeitgeist doesn’t, most of the time, move fast, but it’s like a heavy freight train on a downgrade. The only thing that will stop it is a long up-slope (economic in this case IMO, with lots more money.)”

So one failed toxic harassment campaign, a failed award hijack, an unholy political mess that three years in still hasn’t happened, and a notoriously corrupt & incompetent president. Lumping the Hong Kong protestors in there looks more like an insult to the brave people of Hong Kong.

Now note what is missing in the post.

The stories.

Specificaly what’s good about them or why we should read them (other than that some of the authors make a living writing). If the stories rather than the politics is what is paramount, you have to wonder why so often Dave falls back on the politics.

To be fair to Dave, he did have an earlier post promoting the anthology back in August: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/08/12/25740/ I’m not going to pick holes in that particularly, and I ignored it at the time. The tone then makes sense, it’s just a novelty anthology with a silly premise but…you really then can’t start claiming that it is the intrinsic quality of the story that makes a “Dave” anthology a wonderful idea after literally years of moaning about “affirmative action” in publishing. Or rather you can do that but not with any consistency or integrity. As he pointed out at the time: “Honestly the only way I get into that kind of company is by having my maternal grandfather and my great uncle’s names.” Which reminds me of a different Dave Freer quote:

“I’d like believe in his future, where individuals matter, and people are judged on their merits, and not on superficial characteristics.


15 thoughts on “A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing Part 3

  1. “I’d like believe in his future, where individuals matter, and people are judged on their merits, and not on superficial characteristics.”
    I have a strange suspicion that if being judged on the merits goes against him, he will start to protest very loudly.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The idea of a novelty name anthology isn’t even new. “If – Worlds of Science Fiction” did it in 1964, when they ran an issue containing only stories by authors named Smith. Galactic Journey reviewed it here: http://galacticjourney.org/apr-6-1964-the-art-of-word-smithing-may-1964-if/

    As for Dave Freer not having anything to say about the stories, that’s very reminiscent of how the puppies couldn’t even tell you why they nominated the stories and novels they nominated in 2015/16 beyond, “They sell a lot of books, so they have to be good.”

    Just as the David anthology must apparently be good, because David Weber and David Drake sell a lot of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even by MGC standards that makes no sense. They have sensible posts there about how short fiction has quite different demands than long fiction. That David Weber sells a lot of novels doesn’t tell us a great deal about whether he’ll write a good short story.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “And as for ‘POC’, that’s another assumption… as ‘David’ is a very common name in much of Africa.”

    I’m not sure that’s going to be a common name *for PoC* in Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Did I miss something entirely? I thought Nick M wasn’t complaining that having a buncha stories by guys named Dave was excluding people of color. I thought he was just noting the weird hypocrisy of it all.

    But Freer’s point about African Daves suggests otherwise. Is this just another example of ‘IMAX level projection,” or am I just a bad reader?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nick M mentioned that the Daves couldn’t sensibly attack anthologies for PoC authors, so Dave decided that meant that he meant that the Daves weren’t PoC.
      As we know that Dave F does command at least basic literacy, it is safe to assume it was a deliberate misreading on his part.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know, dude. You’re making a pretty large leap there. Given some of what he’s trotted out at MGC in the past, I, for one, am not neccessarily willing to presume basic literacy.

        OK, OK, I’m being cruel. Actually, my working hypothesis is that he gets going on these rants and doesn’t actually stop to think while getting them down. And the deeper into it he gets, the weirder and weirder he gets. Kind of like a psychedelic trip where you start off just fine, and then the more you think about whether that stuffed owl on your wall was once alive, but now it’s dead; and you’re alive, but then you’ll be dead, and maybe you’re dead ALREADY; and are your fingernails alive or dead RIGHT NOW? But where’s GOD in this man? And what about this carpet?

        Not that anything like that has ever happened to me, you understand.

        Dave just seems to go from just fine to carpet stage really quickly. And seems more than willing to post about it on a all-too-regular basis. Maybe it’s just an extreme case of ‘first thought = best thought”.

        On second thought, I blame Kerouac.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. “Actually, my working hypothesis is that he gets going on these rants and doesn’t actually stop to think while getting them down.”

          A hypothesis that fits the observed facts quite well, I’d say.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. my dog is named hannah: “am I just a bad reader?”

      You’re a bad reader, I’m a bad reader. Everyone is a bad reader.
      Dave F is just cursed with always being read by bad readers.

      It is truly a burden

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Freer and the commentariat over at MGC (including our old friend Phantom) aren’t really doing anything that makes me think of them as anything other than whiny crybaby snowflakes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “I’ve heard LOTS of attacks on Anthos for NOT having women, or whatever.”

    Not attacks, but criticism because the field has been overwhelmed historically with all white men anthologies in SFF, with white women and POC deliberately overlooked or not even considered at all. That’s not “fair” and it’s not based on merit and “good” storytelling. But people like Dave Freer pretend that this did not happen and is not still happening, that white women and POC have not routinely been excluded and discriminated against, something people have been trying to change — through criticism and advocacy — for decades. White men authors/editors routinely filled their anthologies with their white men pals, as shown in the Dave anthology, and Dave Freer and others with his views think that is perfectly fine to do, to exclude the majority of the population that is routinely and economically excluded and limited in favor of white men. They applaud the unequal power structure that rewards white (straight) men with such advantages, even as they deny that such power structures exist or have existed.

    “The opposite, excluding men, or white males, or heterosexual males… abounds. There are hundreds of them CELEBRATING excluding a large part of the human race, often as their theme.”

    Another way that people have tried to change the discrimination and limitation of white women and POC over the years, besides criticism of them being excluded, is to have themed anthologies that specifically spotlight them and boost their profile so that the world gets to be more aware of their “good” stories and not just all the anthologies filled with only white men. By not focusing on the demographic group that gets to regularly hog the spotlight for being white guys, it means that white women and POC authors get a better chance at the opportunities that white men have tried to reserve in the majority for themselves — even though demographically they are a minority even in the English language market. When that attention does come, it’s “unfair” to them because attention is supposed to, in their views, go to the traditional group that has gotten it — white straight men.

    Freer feels that all white men anthologies are fair and meritorious; he’s okay with that continued, regular discrimination that has historically limited the field and CELEBRATES it. He’s not okay with anthologies that don’t have white men that try to counter the discrimination against authors who aren’t white men. He doesn’t think that white women and POC getting around the discrimination that favors white men is a good thing — and also doesn’t think those anthologies will have good stories without including white men. That’s a very straightforward and stubborn bigotry against dealing with discrimination issues that have long plagued the field. Mostly they believe the best approach is to pretend that discrimination issues don’t exist — no matter how much data you give them. That makes all criticism of those issues “unreasonable” — an “attack” in their viewpoint.

    “I honestly don’t care.”

    As we know, this is a lie. We have plenty of documentation that Freer and others with his views have loudly cared and complained that all white men anthologies should continue but that all women or all POC anthologies that try to counter marginalization are wrong and shouldn’t exist. Which was what Mamatas’ tweet was about. While he thinks the theme of the anthology is stupid and poorly applied, his tweet wasn’t about the anthology’s content, but its authors. Specifically that some of them were happy to appear in an all white men anthology based on the name Dave, but had hypocritically condemned anthologies based on marginalized demographics — marginalization that they continue to claim doesn’t happen and historically didn’t happen, no matter how much evidence there is that it has and does.

    We’re expected to listen in silence to the regular litany of Freer’ anger that a cultural system of discrimination is eroding and should not be countered, but are “unfair” to critique him then getting the traditional advantage of being in an all men anthology, one built around a first name that is mainly given to men. That’s a grievous crime in Freer’s world, even when it’s just a throwaway joke in Mamatas’ tweet. So grievous is it to point out systemic inequality to Freer that in the past he’s made up lies about and attempted to dox and threaten a woman author with child services. The hypocrisy level is fairly impressive.

    Again and again, people like Freer claim that marginalization doesn’t happen and doesn’t have to be addressed, while loudly denouncing any effort to decrease the marginalization of targeted demographic groups and framing any decrease as a threat to them. To them, it’s all a scam — not history, not injustice, not inequality. And yet, they are very quick to try to shore up and retain any unfair advantage that historically marginalization has given them, sometimes accompanied by threats of violence to defend it.

    Liked by 3 people

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