What do Jonathan Ross and Steve Bissette have in common?

This isn’t some sort of bizarre Sphinx like puzzle, but for those in the know regarding SF and Comics this should be obvious for one at least as I’ve pointed out the start of the Jonathan Ross/Hugo Awards/Loncon stuff on Twitter and the reaction and fallout of it all. Sadly it trundles on with various people still trying to push the line it was all about creating a ‘safe space‘, which is only justifiable if you think he was a threat to women, or anyone at all, but when you’ve got something vaguely libelous like this Daily Dot article (taking a number of incidents out of context isn’t reporting, and also, it repeats the mantra that Ross is a racist which is a libel) which is still being held up as proof that harassing Ross was a great idea.

There were even fans having a sly pop at Ross’s daughter and accusing her of ‘picking a fight’ with author Seanan McGuire, which is utterly ludicrous.

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Conventions do need to be safe, and it wasn’t every single SF fan who were leaping online with their flaming torch and pitchfork to accuse Ross of all the evil in the world, but it was enough to damage SF fandom in a way that’s going to take a while to blow over.Thankfully it falls to Neil Gaiman to speak some sense about the whole thing as well as give a bit more context in a well-considered and somewhat regretful piece that all involved need to read as it again, highlights the human aspects of what’s happened.

Meanwhile in the world of comics fandom, people have taken the chance to point and laugh at a section of genre fandom acting more arseholeish that comics fans for a change, that is, until artist Steve Bissette posted on his Facebook about the proposed new TV series featuring John Constantine, the character he helped create.

Bissette’s comments were as follows:

Dear DC Comics:

How are you this morning? Nice to hear.

Look, I’m the ONLY original Constantine co-creator active online.

And with CONSTANTINE getting so much attention lately, and me being the only original co-creator online, I’m getting a lot of requests for this and that—interviews. Podcasts. Etc.

Daily.

So, in your corporate mind, what should I do?

Every time you ramp up the Constantine or Swamp Thing whatever, someone at DC apparently resents anything I might say—or so I’m occasionally told—but I have no idea what’s going on from your end.

I mean, if you want me “in the loop,” or to shut the hell up, or to behave, or to misbehave, or whatever-it-is-you-want, you really DO know how to reach me.

Well, anyhoot, I sincerely hope all is well with you, congrats on the spiffy new TV show upcoming, everyone really seems so excited about it, and since all I see out here is all everyone else sees out here, and it begs so many obvious questions, which people then ask me, directly, I just thought you should know what a conundrum all this is.

And it gets to be more of a quandary daily now.

PS: I appreciate you have “bigger fish to fry.” I mean, your NY offices are fighting winter, while you CA offices are in a major draught. It must be hell.

Thanks and take care—stay warm, or have a bottle of water (Hydrate! Hydrate!), and nice per usual to hear from you…

Yours,

“Steve” aka Stephen Bissette

It’s a nice, somewhat funny but reasonable request from someone who has been shafted by mainstream comics, including DC. The reaction to Bissette’s post saw some of the usual tired responses from some fans, with this page providing good examples of how some comics fans are also enormous arseholes as they leap to the defence of a multinational company rather than support creators like Bissette making a reasonable request.

Fandom is a funny old thing. SF fans needed to create a safe place at conventions led to a number of fans to panic to a ridiculous degree, and resulted in the bullying of someone who wouldn’t have done what many thought he would. Bissette is being dismissed because fans don’t want to face the uncomfortable truth that companies like DC Comics crush creators. That would involve living in the adult world which means realising that actions mean consequences.

It’s remarkable that fans of Sf and comics don’t realise their actions do have consequences. In the case of Ross it meant it was bullied online by people leaping to conclusions and in Bissette’s case it was to dismiss his points so fans could enjoy a TV programme without having to think about creators being stamped on.

I understand perfectly that conventions need to be a safe place and I’ve touched on the subject before, but when fans who have possibly grown up being bullied turn into bullies, the fallout results in people genuinely being hurt. There seems to be a disassociation that because someone says something about someone else online via social media or elsewhere, that it doesn’t matter to that person, plus of course the mainly anonymous nature of many of these comments makes things worse. It is after all, easier to hide online behind a user name.

All in all, some fans need to take a place on the naughty step, think about what they’ve done and actually use some serious fucking empathy, reason and logic before jumping to conclusions or defending the wrong side. It might make everyone’s lives a little bit nicer.

The Reaction to Jonathan Ross withdrawing from the Hugo Awards is worth noting…

I posted the other day about how a load of SF fans managed to cyberbully Jonathan Ross out of doing a free gig presenting the Hugo Awards and the World SF Convention in London this August. One of the reasons constantly being bleated out whas that the very, mere presence of Ross would bring down hordes upon hordes of tabloid press and give the convention and the community the ‘wrong sort of exposure’.

Well, after a weekend where fans assumed Ross was an enormous racist and would tear into ‘any fat people’ (remember this point) and wasn’t ‘one of them’, even though Ross has a connection to SF/fantasy going back to the mid-80’s, not to mention his wife Jane Goldman has already won a Hugo Award, the press have picked up the weekend’s antics on Twitter because even though there’s a major international incident in the Ukraine the press still have the time to pay attention to celebrities being bullied by geeks on social media.

Alison Flood of The Guardian maintains that paper’s current standards by cutting and pasting other people’s  work and Tweets, while The Express decides to take the same route as the Guardian while it’s down to The New Statesman to actually nail some of the problems with the fans response, not to mention highlight the rather devastating reply from Ross’s daughter to author Seanan McGuire.

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McGuire’s response is of backtracking with but this is after Jane Goldman pointed out what should be obvious.

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If Ross had presented the awards there’d not be half this coverage. Instead the world of SF looks sad, insular and ultimately petty. It’s a remarkable thing that when a group-mind starts work (as Twitter often is) then it’s hard to stop but in this case, a man (albeit a celebrity) was bullied and slandered by people being afraid of being bullied and slandered. It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so bloody sad.

Jonathan Ross is no longer hosting the Hugo Awards because of cyberbulling

Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool writes in this piece about Jonathan Ross being chosen (it actually appears that he was asked by Neil Gaiman) to host the Hugo Awards at Loncon, the 72nd World SF Convention to be held in London this August.  Now for anyone who hasn’t been to an awards ceremony, including one at a SF or comic convention I can tell you they’re often amazingly tedious exercises in self-congratulation, though my contribution to awards ceremonies is getting Dez Skinn very, very drunk which ended up in this, but more about that another time…..

Anyhow, before I continue let me make clear I’ve met Ross several times over the years from the first time when I worked in Comics Showcase in London in the early 1990’s, to several comic marts and conventions. I’ve never, ever found him to be anything but a nice bloke who genuinely loves comics or SF, or all these subjects and genres deemed now to be ‘geeky’ and therefore, somewhat trendy. He was always good fun and had the sort of boyish enthusiasm for what he was talking about that some people today would be good to learn from, plus he really did genuinely know what he was talking about.

Reading through the Bleeding Cool article is extraordinary. I don’t recognise the Ross being discussed in some of these Tweets.  Now I’m perfectly aware of the reputation Ross has as a presenter, and of course the Andrew Sachs incident is a vile thing Ross and Russell Brand did but both have paid the price over and over for it, but even with this in mind, when did is become commonplace to suggest Ross is a sexist or a misogynist?

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I’ve spoken about the sexism in comics and the male privilege in place in comics last year, but the world of SF fandom is very similar though I extracted myself from that particular fandom some time ago mainly because of the horrible elitism on display within it. This appears to be on display here as Tweet after Tweet attacks Ross for a variety of things, including not being involved with Sf or fantasy.

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As pointed out in the original Bleeding Cool article, Ross has written comics. He’s presented programmes talking about cult films and presented what I think is one of the best documentaries about comics, In Search of Steve Ditko.

His wife Jane Goldman is a screenwriter responsible for Kick Ass and X Men: First Class among other work. The idea that Ross, or even his family, has nothing to do with SF or fantasy is bloody daft. Though the reality in all this is that Ross isn’t part of the clique. He’s an outsider so it becomes easy to disassociate him from what he’s done, and of course, it becomes easy to essentially indulge in the sort of cyberbullying that is frankly. a fucking disgrace.

Everything hit a peak with the Tweets of Seanan McGuire, someone I was unaware of til yesterday. She suggest Ross would attack her for her weight based upon, well, I’m not exactly sure as Ross tailors his banter for the audience he works and he isn’t a Filker. Filk music is literally the worst thing you will ever, ever hear.

McGuire suggest she’d do a great job based upon she’s putting her name forward because she’s ”AN AWARD WINNING COMIC’ (what awards she doesn’t say) as opposed to someone who’s only done pissy wee events like the BAFTA’s.

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Ross is big enough to defend himself, which he did online yesterday as he was accused of being a racist, hating women and generally making Jim Davison look like Stewart Lee which is again, daft. Ross isn’t Bernard Manning. He makes some crap jokes, but as a presenter he’s superb and would have done a great job at the Hugo Awards but he’s an ‘outsider’ as McGuire and others repeated often yesterday. These people don’t want their world of SF to have the wide media profile or for ‘outsiders’ or the ‘wrong type of humour’ to invade their world. They’re incredibly insular which is frankly, a bit sad.

It’s also worth saying McGuire is backtracking now she’s actually been informed, but she says she’s keeping her head down..

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Now she didn’t call him a ‘bad person’ directly. She just said he’d take the piss out of her weight and suggested he’s a misogynist based upon a surface reading of his Wikipedia article it seems.

There also seems to be a lot of this going on with Loncon attendees feeling a bit sheepish for showing themselves up to be privileged over-entitled arses getting petty about an ‘outsider’ coming in. I always assumed that in genre fandom that people aren’t supposed to bully or act like arseholes, because frankly, mainly people get into SF or comics because they’ve been bullied by arseholes.

The dust has settled and I’m sure the Hugo Awards will be a drawn out tedious affair with amateur comedians and Filk music. No ‘outsiders’ will be there. It’ll be glorious to everyone there I’m sure, but they’ll never know if it’ll be better because the person they could have presented it was forced to pull out thanks to SF geeks acting like the Daily Mail.