The Hollywood Sexual Assault Scandals

I know, I know, this is a book blog. I just….have feelings about this, okay? I promise it won’t be super long (or maybe it will be, hard to tell), I just really wanted to get some of my thoughts about this off my chest and out into the world, even if I’m only shouting into the proverbial void of the internet (It’s not really a void though, is it? It’s a cluster fuck. A space so crowded and cluttered and congested that it swallows things just like a void would, but without all the peaceful silence and nothingness).

So, if you have aaaany connection to the outside world at all, you’ve probably heard over the last little while that there has been a whole slew of sexual assault allegations leveled against a bunch of prominent Hollywood figures. Weinstein, Spacey, Hoffman, Affleck, probably others that I’ve missed. And while most people’s reactions have been fairly similar to my own (which is, essentially, fuck those guys), in the vastness that is the internet, I’ve come across some predictably disgusting reactions. There’s the sex criminal covering for his fellow sex criminal comment of “it’s a witch hunt!” (which prompted my all time favourite article title: “Yes, this is a witch hunt. I’m a witch and I’m hunting you.” by Lindy West) and the dude-bro who doesn’t think this is as big of a deal as everybody is making it out to be response “but Spacey was such a good actor! What about his career!”

So, to anybody and everybody out there who is having mixed feelings about this, who thinks that maybe this is snowballing out of control, or is worried that they’ll never get to watch Kevin Spacey play another detestable, soulless monster ever again (just watch his interviews when he attempts his “comeback” in a few years), I just have this to say to you.

Good!

These people should have their careers taken from them. They should have their freedom taken from them too. If that all happens, that’s a very good thing. That’s what we’re supposed to (and sadly don’t often) do to repeat sexual offenders. These people have damaged and destroyed lives, assaulted and preyed on people in vulnerable positions. On children. We need to show them, as a society, that we don’t fuck with people like that. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how good you are at acting (I mean, really, it’s just an ape in a room pretending. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter), how important you think you are. We don’t want you. We don’t need you. And we won’t abide your crimes.

So, what I say is, keep it going. Call out allllll those pieces of trash. Burn it all to the ground and give the rats nowhere to hide. Maybe then we can try and build the foundations of something less toxic and permissive and dangerous. Something better.

VBR

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Back to Books!

Heya folks!

Just wanted to let you know that I will be back to blurbing about books every few days very soon! I’ve been doing a little more varied stuff lately and that’s partly because this summer has a much higher than usual number of movies I actually want to see, and partly because I haven’t quite got through that series I was telling you about (Dragons. Napoleonic Wars. Stiff, upper-crusty British men with too much pride). When I put down the last book (probably early next week?) I’ll do a big wrap up of that and then get on to more single, stand-alone books that can be finished and written about once every three or so days. So if you’re worrying that the purview of the blog has changed, fret not (although I will still write about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like writing about it), all will be back to normal soon.

VBR

Donating Blood In Canada

First off, just to start, you should do it. Not just in Canada, but wherever you live. You’re saving lives, you’re contributing to a good cause, you’re doing undeniable good.

However! I’ve had a few salty encounters with their twitter account over the last few days and it’s left me feeling a little…bitter, and angry, towards them. It started off because I saw an ad of them posting for help (they’re in the middle of a six year low in donations and they’re riding the line pretty hard on their supply) and usually I just see them, feel sad for a little bit (if you’re unaware, it’s still Canadian Blood Service’s policy that gay men who have been sexually active with another man in the last year are not allowed to donate blood), and then I move on. But I was feeling a little more aggravated about it than I normally do, so I fired off a quick “I would love to!…if you didn’t exclude me from doing so based solely on my sexual orientation” tweet and kind of forgot about it.

But somebody over there was paying attention. And they sort of tried to be conciliatory? They said that they understood that it was frustrating, but hey, they changed the rules a little while ago so that gay men could donate now after only a year without having sex with another man. So basically, if we just cut that gay shit out for a year, they’ll let us participate. Do they know how insulting that is? And unrealistic (for those in the gay community who like and participate in sexual activities)? Have you ever not had sex for a year before? On purpose? I did it this one time by accident and it was wack.

Plus, straight people aren’t immune to STIs and it’s not standard practice to make them wait for a year after having sex before they give blood. If you made that the rule, you wouldn’t have any blood. Your blood banks would be filled with cobwebs and hate mail. The rule still essentially excludes a huge portion of our community. And yes, I know that gay men are at a higher risk (because the people that run that twitter thought it would be a good idea to send me a study telling me, as if I wasn’t already aware) for STIs that are transmitted through blood. But show me the study that proves that gay men who practice safe sex are at a higher risk than straight people who don’t and I’ll shut up about it. Hell, show me the study that says they’re at higher risk than straight people who also practice safe sex and I’ll be quiet.

Also, can you do me the favour of not pretending that it’s entirely scientific and has nothing to do with prejudice? Because if it was, the rule would just be that anybody who’s had unprotected sex with a new partner in the last year shouldn’t be allowed to donate, no matter their sex or sexual partner. It wouldn’t exclude people who have been in relationships with the same person for ten years or people who (like me) might have multiple partners, but who are meticulously safe in their sexual encounters and have never had an STI.

I’m safe, I’m healthy, and I’m willing, but I’m prevented from participating in the health of my community because of the people that I love, and it’s a real fucking bummer. How does the chant go? We’re here! We’re queer!…And we want to help you, and there’s a lot of us. Yes, right now you can cover the amount that you need. Everybody is provided for. But if the donation slump gets worse, or there’s an emergency of some kind and the need increases? I can’t help but think that anybody whose life gets put in danger, anybody who might die one day, needing blood that one of us would happily give them if not for your dumbass, bigotted rule…that’s kind of on you.

I know I usually put a heart here, but today I’m not quite in the mood.

VBR

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

This book holds such a weird and conflicted place in my heart.

I read it when I was really, really young. Probably too young, but I watched Silence of the Lambs when I was like nine and read A Game of Thrones when I was around eleven, so that ship had pretty much sailed (and just as a by the by, nothing to do with my parents. I was a particularly determined and underhanded kid, and though they were pretty liberal with the art they allowed me to consume, there were a few things I never gave them the opportunity to object to).

This novel (and the series that followed) had a bunch of firsts for me. It was the first hard scifi book I’d ever read. The first to treat intelligent children not just like they matter, but like they’re useful, dangerous even (which seems a little strange to frame as a positive, I know, but treating somebody like a threat is, in a weird way, an acknowledgement of their capability. I was a clever kid who was tired of being treated like a child, and something about this really got to me). It was also the first genre book series I’d encountered with themes of pacifism and anti-warmongering at its core, along with some pretty strong messages about the dangers of othering people you don’t understand, how much fear that can generate, and how easily that fear can turn to hate. This series helped to shape not only my taste in fiction and art, but also my idea of the adult that I wanted to grow up to be.

One of the perks of getting at this so young was that I was able to read it and love it, the whole series, without having much of a chance to encounter or care about the author’s personal politics. At that point I didn’t even know what my own were, and if you’d asked me I wouldn’t have really understood what you meant. Besides, I’d never been the type who worships the maker of the art. It’s the art itself that I’d always been interested in. That’s where all the swords and laser beams and forbidden, sweaty love is. Author’s names weren’t much more than a helpful reference tool for me to find more books that I wanted to read.

It was only years later (like a decade and a half actually), after several rereads of the series and numerous recommendations to people, that I heard anything about it. It was just an offhand comment on a podcast of some kind, and I didn’t really think anything of it. Then I heard something else. Then again. And eventually I was compelled to do something that, up until that point, I hadn’t really ever done. I turned to Lord Google (All Hail its Knowledge and Supreme Benevolence) for some info on a guy I had kind of assumed was a collection of monkeys and typewriters. And it broke my heart.

How could somebody that wrote about peace and compassion, about overcoming prejudice by trying to understand the things you fear, support such hateful, awful garbage? He was one of the first people to teach me that love and life is complicated, but that compassion and community, relationships, are the things that make life worth living, and we should take them where we can. Unless you’re gay and you want to get married, I guess. A man can love a female voiced A.I. (which…it’s a computer program. You can name it Jane and give it a lady’s voice and that still doesn’t mean it’s a woman), but he can’t love another man, another human being? I don’t get it.

At first learning this didn’t really change the way I interacted with the series itself. Death of the author, right?* No matter what he espoused in his personal life, it didn’t change the message that I got from his book, the lessons it taught me, the positive impact it had. And most of the people I know who read it got a lot of the same things from it that I did, so the book itself is a net good, right? Even if the man isn’t.

But…it’s not that simple. It would be great if we could interact with the art we love without having to worry about the person who made it, but we can’t. By purchasing the book (I’ve repurchased it at least three or four times), and reading it, raving about it, telling people in my life to do the same, I’m contributing to something. Yes, the book itself has a positive message, but the money that I, and all the people I convinced to buy it, spent isn’t getting thrown down a well. That money, or a portion of it anyways, is going to Orson Scott Card, and he’s using it to fight against people like me being able to get married. That’s super fucked up.

When you buy art you’re not just supporting the creation of more art like it (although you are doing that), you’re providing power and a platform to the person who’s creating it. I know you can’t be checking every single thing that you consume (is every actor in every television show I watch a good person? Is the CEO of the company that makes the plastic that houses the grape tomatoes I like a SJW?), but I think it’s well past the time where we acknowledge that who we give our money to matters. So let’s try our best not to give it to dick bags like this, okay?

Recommended for sexually confused, politcally oblivious pre-teens with low self-esteem, and…um…people who didn’t read the review I just wrote, I guess?

VBR

Ps. Honestly, if you decide to just keep ignoring authors (or musicians or directors or whatever) and reading books, I really don’t blame you. I still don’t look into every author that I read (I would never get ANYTHING done. I mean…I don’t really get that much done now. But even less. I would get EVEN LESS STUFF DONE), and anybody that says that they do is either lying or doesn’t read as much as we do. Just know that if you’re not careful, you might one day realize you’ve been contributing to something that really doesn’t sit well with you and that’s (trust me) a really ooky feeling.

 

*For those of you who haven’t  heard this saying before, this isn’t me threatening to kill Orson Scott Card. It’s just a saying among readers which means that what the author thinks about his work, what he was trying to convey, isn’t as important as the message that you pulled out of it while reading it. Once they put their art out into the world, their opinion about what it means becomes irrelevant.

 

 

On Maher

Seriously though, fuck that guy.
I’m not a big fan of the witch-hunty thing that we seem to love to do (somebody says something that we don’t like and we pounce), but in this instance I’m pretty cool with him getting as much flack from the people as they feel like doling out. One, because this is not the first time he’s spewed some hateful, racist garbage, but also…his apology really bugged me. It just felt like such a cop out. Yeah, he admitted he shouldn’t have said that, but he basically just passed it off as a simple slip of the tongue. There was no acknowledgement of any flaw in him personally. His beliefs are fine! Right, even. He just said something dumb, he shouldn’t have, he’s sorry. End of story.
Look, we all say things sometimes that we don’t mean and that we regret. That’s true, but it’s also not the point. The issue is the mindset and the beliefs that would lead to that particular “slip up” in the first place, the social environment that shapes that kind of joke, and the type of person who would tell it. The fact that that particular epithet was on the tip of his tongue, ready for use in some pithy dialogue, says more about him than any half-assed, career-saving apology ever could.
And HBO, get rid of the guy. We’ve got enough people spewing hateful garbage out there.
Alrighty folks, that’s gonna do it for today. Be kind to each other, eat good food, do nice things, and don’t use hate speech. Cool? Cool.


VBR

The Next Few Weeks…From Japan!

Hey e’rrybody!
Just wanted to let ya’ll know that over the next couple of weeks the posts are going to be a little more erratic, because…I’M GOING TO JAPAN FOR THREE WEEKS TO DRINK BEER WITH MY FRIENDS AND GO TO THE STUDIO GHIBLI MUSEUM AND ONE OF THE FANCIEST SUSHI RESTAURANTS IN THE WORLD AND MOUNT FUJI AND ALSO A HOTEL IN THE MOUNTAINS AND SOME OTHER FUN STUFF THAT I’VE BEEN SAVING FOR FOR LIKE A HUNDRED YEARS!!! *Ahem* Not to brag or anything (I am trying to brag. Am I doing it right? I never get to).
But seriously, I will be traveling about for the next couple of weeks so posting things is going to be a little more difficult. I’m going to try to keep writing, on train trips and the like, but for the most part I’m not going to worry about it too much. I hope ya’ll can stick with me for a just a few weeks, and when I get back at the end of June posting will return to normal.
Thanks for your patience friends!

VBR

Quick Hits to Follow

Well hello there!

So, because of the thing that I mentioned last week (job training and life stuff and whatever) I’ve been reading lots of stuff, but not really writing about it. Even when I read something I loved, I haven’t really been able to summon the energy to delve deep into it. So I figured what I would do today is just a quick run down of the books that I’ve read since the last time that I did an in-depth review. Because of the nature of this post, these won’t be crazy long discussions or dissections, I’ll just touch upon what I liked and didn’t like about them really quickly.

The three books that I’m going to be doing are:

Cold Mountain By Charles Frazier

Uprooted By Naomi Novik

California By Edan Lepucki

Reading Things Just for Fun

Hey errybody!

I just wanted to get at ya’ll with a brief apology about the lack of posts over the last couple of days. I’ve been training for a new part of my job over the last little while, and that’s taken up most of my creative energy. I’ve still been reading tons, but when I am it’s just to relax and not with my critical eye at all. I thought about writing a review of one of the books that I recently read (Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier) and the only thing that I could really think to say about it is, “So good! Really good! Violent. But good! Sad. Lot’s of walking.” After writing several variations on that I figured I’d probably just give it a miss. You shouldn’t though! It really is beautiful, and if you have any interest in things set in the civil war era (this book is crazy well researched. Or atleast it seems to be, all the stuff he talked about could have been completely made up and I wouldn’t have known. It felt really authentic to me) or romance or odyssey-like adventures you’d probably love it. It’s well worth the read.

Anyways, I’m going to go read some more. Maybe this one I’ll tell you about? Or maybe not. The world’s a wacky, unpredictable place.

VBR

 

Having the Flu and Reading Books I Don’t Like

Friends! Colleagues! Lovers!

This is just a wee service announcement to let you know that it will probably be a few extra days before my next post goes up. Not only did I come down with the Queen of All Flus, which has slowed me down some, but I also dove into a book that I’m really not enjoying as much as I thought I would. I’m not gonna write about it, what it is or why I don’t like it, because I feel like this has been a bit negative lately and I’d really like the next post to be about something that I love. Full disclosure though, it’s a big one and I do still have to work my way through it (because of that medical condition that I have where if I don’t finish a book, even the worst of books, I get stress headaches).

But fret not! I’m a pretty quick reader, all things considered, and my immune system usually takes care of things pretty quickly, so we should be back to our regular “once every few days or whenever I feel like it” posting schedule soon enough.

Forever Yours,

VBR

 

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