Two Stories About Silly People

1. Actress Ashley Judd caught the ire of the hip-hop press this week for comments made in her newly released memoir All That is Bitter and Sweet.  In the book she talks about being approached to work with an organization called YouthAIDS, a group the produces youth targeted PSAs and throws concerts to raise awareness.  Turns out Ms. Judd was less than pleased to find Snoop Dogg and Diddy included in the list of contributors.  Which brings us to the pull quote:

As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with it’s rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.

The aforementioned press has done a wonderful job of pointing out how…well, dumb such statements are.  Hip-hop has never told me to rape anyone.  Well, Odd Future does, but that’s beside the point.  It wasn’t hip-hop playing at Woodstock 99 when the assaults and rapes were occurring.  Even still, are we not past the point of blaming media, whatever it is, for the vileness perpetrated by individuals?

This is not to suggest I’m not conflicted about the misogyny of hip-hop. Someone on Twitter recently asked why it’s okay to say ‘bitch’ at Hip-Hop Karaoke but the rules prohibit the use of the n-word.  It’s still not something I have an answer for.  All I can do is take responsibility for myself, and as such I don’t perform songs that are flagrantly misogynist at HHK: if I think it’s hateful, I don’t say it onstage, period.  I don’t blame Big Pun for putting out ignorant raps anymore than I blame Philip Roth for writing cringeworthy sex scenes.

2. Good piece in the New Yorker this week [link, paywalled] about the fantasy author George R.R. Martin, writer of the ‘Song of Fire and Ice‘ series which is being turned into the next HBO prestige series ‘A Game of Thrones.’  Martin’s been working on the latest book in the series since 2005, it’s become the fantasy version of Dr. Dre’s Detox.  And people have become pissssssed, harassing Martin on his blog and on popular message boards, starting rival websites specifically to question Martin’s motives and abilities.

The article tries to paint this behaviour as the unfortunate consequences authors can face by engaging with their fans more closely, but I don’t think it’s totally that, I think this is a very specific sort of acting out that fantasy [or sci-fi, or comic book,or video game or…] fans are susceptible to, and I think it stems from the self-esteem problems genre fiction can suffer from.  Because fantasy and sci-fi tend to be the domain of the yellowing paperback and other pulpier traditions, it’s not that far of a stretch to suggest that the fans pestering Martin to finish the book can’t believe that it could be difficult for him, that he would care enough about his craft to take his time.  These are “disposable entertainments,” so why should they take so long to create? And dammit, we buy the books that allow you to make a living off of them, so you owe it to us to deliver them in a timely fashion, just like all the other writers that spit them out with seasonal efficiency.

This would not happen in any other type of fiction, a fact highlighted by some jokes made in the article by the producers of the HBO show, musing about starting an Ian McEwan hate site to lament the absence of ‘Atonement II’.  That idea is laughable.  Yet why does it seem so feasible in genre fiction?

Martin, for his part, does seem to take the criticisms to heart in the article, maintaining [rightly so] that his only responsibility is to his art, while also wondering if certain elements of the enterprise are turning out to be more difficult than he anticipated.

At any rate, A Dance With Dragons has a scheduled release date of July 12.  Still no word on Detox.

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