Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Letter to the Guardian

Dear Guardian,
I am a long time reader of your online content.  I generally appreciate your approach to global news and to sports and book news. I understand that sometimes a news outlet will make the choice to run or post something that is a little controversial in order to spark additional clicks and lots of online conversation.  So, I can only hope that's the root of your decision to post Kathleen Hale's documentation of the steps she took in order to stalk an online blogger who had written a negative review.  The idea that some people on the internet are not quite what they say is certainly an issue today.  But there is a huge difference between me engaging in a direct relationship with a person that we are perhaps both under the impression will move offline one day and a the relationship between an author and a blogger/reviewer. 
Authors and bloggers both often use different names online, whether to create separation from their day jobs, to enhance privacy for themselves and their family members, and in some cases to prevent stalking or to protect themselves from stalkers that have already targeted them.  An author who misused personal information provided to her, in order to better "unmask" and arrive on the doorstep of a reviewer is not creating a teachable moment, unless that moment is you never know what author will take things too far, that somehow by reviewing books on the internet you open up your life for anyone.  In a day and age when doxxing, harassing behavior is becoming common for some women who use the internet, condoning stalking because the stalker in question just wanted to talk seems naive at best. I certainly have seen a lot of reviewers grow much more concerned that by giving mailing information to publishers and authors in order to get review copies of books, they are now putting themselves potentially in harm's way. 
So, I hope that's the discussion you hoped to spark running this post.  Because the idea that the Guardian condones such behavior, from authors or most others really, that the Guardian thought it was fair because the reviewer started it and therefore deserved for someone to use her address, stalk her online presence, contact her friends, and again, her co-workers, and again, show up on her doorstep in order to - what - to prove that no one is safe, I guess, is quite horrifying. 

-to Smart Bitches wonderful post about authors and reviews.
-to Dear Author's post about psuedonyms which also includes links to a Storify of some of the Twitter reactions.
-to Glenda Larke's excellent suggestions for why an author should let reviews alone.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. Roxane Gay had a response to the idea that feminism needs better accessibility
2. Apparently not only is there a placebo effect, there is a so-called nocebo effect, where the patient is told the medication has stopped and reports differences even when it really hasn't stopped.
3. And teen researchers seem to have evidence that teens, possibly due to growing up with a more multi-device multi-tasking world, do perform better while multi-tasking.  So, there you go.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leaning into the trope HTGAWM

As you may suspect, I'm going to talk about "How to Get Away With Murder", specifically the second episode, so if you are not caught up and/or care about having plot bits revealed, you have been warned. 
In the first episode we learned that Wes (or Mr. Elle, as I like to call him) had an across the hall neighbor of Rebecca.  Rebecca had rebuffed Wes's attempts at neighborly bonding, but in episode two she suddenly knocks on his door and says that the upstairs neighbors must have clogged the drains because her shower is oozing and could she please borrow his shower because she needs to get the bar stank off of her before she can sleep.  And then, of course, she headed into his shower and disrobed before, oops, remembering to close the door.  And, yes, my eyes rolled, and I was tempted to throw things at my TV because it's such a terrible cliche even though, no one, in the history of ever has borrowed their neighbor's shower.  But, I chalked it up to silly TV things that people do and moved on.  Except that later in the episode, after Wes watches the police arrest Rebecca he suddenly seems to realize the same thing, and checks his bathroom to discover that in fact, it seems Rebecca was stashing evidence at Wes's in case her apartment got searched. 
And that was brilliant.  I remembered the scene clearly, because it seemed like a dump tropey thing to do.  So, I didn't spend more time wondering why today she was basically voluntarily being neighborly when the other times she had told him to basically get lost.  But they expected me to not think too deeply about that scene and it made the reveal of the extra layer that much better.  There's a lot of talk, heck there's whole websites dedicated to tropes, and tropes, like cliches, become tropes for a reason.  And there are ways to use them badly (like if she really had just been there to use the shower) and ways to use them well, or even play on the audience expectation surrounding them.  And this, is one of the reason "How to Get Away With Murder" has been such a treat to watch. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Project Runway and Second Chances

I realize the gist of most of my "project Runway" posts is do your homework and stop being an idiot.  This one is not really that different.  But here we go.  Oh, Ms. Korina.  So, anyone who has watched any of the last few seasons would have seen two things happen that happened again in the most recent episode.  The remaining five designers were given their initial challenge and what seemed like a lot of time to complete it.  (Oh, you naive designers.  I know.  You are tired at this point in the run.  Haven't eaten real food or slept a full night in some time.  That's probably why you weren't suspicious.) Then they asked the designers to pick an outfit that had sent a prior designer home, and in some clear producer drama creation, only had the last five outfits to choose from (thereby taking away the idea that Charketa would pull a Justin and remake her own outfit).  And then, because they had limited time, they offered them help (something, that btw, has been happening since season 1) in the form of the eliminated designers and clearly, given the drama between Charketa and Korina, since Charketa had picked Korina's outfit, they wanted the designers to work with the person that picked their outfit.  Now let's face it.  Sure, the other designers had had more days (though honestly we are probably looking at ten max, here, the show moves fast) to ponder and come to terms with their elimination than Korina who had basically had a day. But, as Amanda pointed out, it sucks for everyone who has been eliminated equally.  It didn't suck more for Korina. And it was just as awkward for all the designers who had to watch, and assist, a designer tear apart this outfit they had put together and remake it.  But Korina basically refused to even try.  And I suppose we could argue that in some ways her demonstrative refusal to try was slightly better than the time Richard 'helped' Patricia in a way that was less helpful than she had hoped for.* So, Korina just walked right out and Charketa got another helper.
But, "Project Runway", like all reality shows loves some mean designer drama, but it also loves a redemption story.  And sure, there will be other shots, but not if you can't even be counted on to play the game.  Because, let's be honest, this is a reality competition, and you may be here to show off your designer stuff, but it is ultimately a game.  And your refusal to play along means they they might think twice the next time All-Stars or even the next season comes along.  And look, Korina might just be ready to put all this "Project Runway" behind her.  She may have a non-TV related plan for how she will succeed and if that's the case I wish her the best.  But as Amanda has demonstrated this season, as Kate demonstrated the season before, there are all kinds of other opportunities if you are willing to put yourself back through this again.  It's a strange and unrealistic opportunity, and it does not operate like the other paths towards success in fashion, but the reason people keep signing up for this show is not just for the money fashion show prize at the end, although that helps, but also the unique opportunity for exposure.  And, look, some people like a mean designer, or a snarky designer with a clear aesthetic, but a lot less people like a poor sport. 
Emily, on the other hand, handled her elimination with grace this week, and hit that "Project Runway" sweet spot for me, where I get why her stuff wasn't going to make her the winner, and yet, I want that hoodie.  Want. 

*In Richard's defense, his issue was lack of, er, terminology rather than desire. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. The lovely Laura K. Curtis has some wise thoughts on why the goings on with Amazon vs. Hachette and Ellora's Cave Vs. Dear Author are important to everyone who reads or writes books.
2. This post/piece looks at how talking to oneself can affect body image and other behavior changes. 
3. One family discovered their "indoor" cat had been getting out as a result of the stuffed animals he was dragging home.