So, full disclosure, this isn’t Wednesday. I had a semi-rough week getting myself motivated and I decided five posts this week just wasn’t going to happen. I’ll try harder next week, but just pretend it’s Wednesday anyway!
Anyone who has been keeping up with me this week may be wondering just what it is I have against L. Ron Hubbard besides the fact he was a horrible person. Though I laid out in the first entry of the week that people like him (or anyone adding to the culture) could influence the shape of the world, it still might not be too clear just why, of all the people I could hate on, I’m hating on a dead man for the week.
The fact of the matter is the reason why I dug up L. Ron’s work and his corrupt influence is because I’ve been watching for the last couple of weeks as people repeatedly got sucked into the same damned effect that gave that man power in the first place. There’s a force that allows people to leverage their exposure into this near omnipotent position in the cultural mindset. And when someone is given this kind of power, it can often bite the creative world in the ass.
As I mentioned last time, L Ron Hubbard was a science fiction author in what a lot of people refer to as the “Golden Age of Sci-Fi”. The thing that I made a note of then, which made his accomplishments in cult-building hard to fathom, was the fact that he is also one of the least remembered writers of the era. I don’t mean people have forgotten him when I say that, I mean they’ve forgotten his work. Why? The man never wrote a true sci-fi classic in a time when people were creating sci-fi classics left and right.
During the “Golden Age”, writers like Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke were writing books such as I, Robot, Starship Troopers and 2001: A SpaceOdyssey. There were dozens of other award winning authors throughout those years. But among them, the one I found the least real recognition for was L Ron Hubbard (besides the countless awards he’s been given for unrelated things, likely by his followers). He won a single Saturn Award throughout his career that I can find any record of. And considering the man wrote for five decades, that’s saying something.
So I scoured the internet, my memory of the guy and what culture I could find on him and realized that a Scientologist happened to point me to just the story I needed to decipher why L Ron Hubbard had to make a cult to make a living.
In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:
Though not as well known as their Merfolk cousins, the Selkies, seals that may take human form, are prevalent in the area surrounding the British Isles. Though identified as shape-shifters by some, they’re really masters of disguise and are known to simply remove their seal skins as they walk onto the beach. And, despite being a seductive sea creature like some others, the Selkie is often not harmful to humans, rather often being taken as husbands, wives, or amusing zoo attractions.
So are all of the seals really people in disguise? Or is this myth trumped up to explain the adorably talented trained seals we’ve all come to know and love? Let’s take a look.
In an effort to start routinely updating this blog more regularly than I did before, one of the things I needed to do was find a way to write five blog posts routinely. So then as I was trying to think of something to write, I was browsing news stories and saw something that just made me go “WTF”. After some consideration, I realized that the goofball I am would totally write a column on Wednesdays called “WTF Wednesdays”. So, here we are!
As I said yesterday, violence in our media is necessary in our culture for an open discussion. We should try to avoid censorship whenever possible because that only tends to make it worse. But then we have the fact that not everyone does violence well. In fact, one of the hardest things to do is to create an action scene in writing without losing the reader or making it seem silly. So for today’s “Tuesday Tips” (yeah, I’m dedicated to this bit) I’m going to be talking about things to keep in mind when writing action scenes. Continue reading Punch it! Writing Tips for Action Scenes→
As part of the rebirth of a long dead idea of Masochist Mondays (though I don’t intend to use the title, just the label), I’m continuing my current trend of writing about something about myself every Monday that I can declare as my line in the sand. Right now, if I follow my schedule right and keep ahead of it, this will be part of a routine that I will call the digital mullet: serious in the front, party in the back (Smartass Fridays?).
But for right now, as it is Monday, I continue to draw my lines in the sand and today’s line is going to be on:
Violence in the Media
It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote a similarly themed postabout what I think our responsibilities, as creators, is to the public. In that post I addressed the fact that no one could predict any lunatic could have taken “inspiration” in someone’s work and put the responsibility of what those people did onto the shoulders of the assholes who did it. But at the time, I didn’t really clarify how I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t our responsibility. And, really, I only addressed whether it was our responsibility, not whether or not the depiction itself was right.
The fact I’ve argued creators are exempt from responsibility for these things shows at least a good part of what I believe. But in terms of how other people interact with it, I think it goes much further. Not only do I think that violence in our media is acceptable – I think it’s necessary.
As long time readers of this blog will know, we here at Walnut Dust (me, the dog, and the handful of you who are frequent readers) are not fans of Kim Kardashian. However, in a recent episode of South Park, a grave injustice was carried out against Ms. Kardashian which we, as supporters of Alters rights, cannot abide by.
Kim Kardashian is not a Hobbit, she is a Dwarf, and this mislabeling is simply racist.
The markers for being a Dwarf are fairly prevalent, the description given that she was shorter, stubbier, and more pear-shaped than she appeared to be in Photoshopped images was quite correct. But the distinct differences between Dwarves and Hobbits are enough that this label is an unfair assessment of both races which shall not pass. In an effort to set the record straight, I will now list the most profound reasons that Kim Kardashian could not be a Hobbit. Continue reading Evidence Kim Kardashian Is Not A Hobbit→
So as I just posted, I believe that the Bechdel test misses some strong feminine characters while letting some very negative women portrayals through. But as I finished posting that, my significant other pointed out to me something damning.
Why are the strong female characters almost universally mothers?
It was something I hadn’t been considering as I was looking at the characters I felt were unjustly excluded from the Bechdel test. So often, the female characters who end up showing feminist qualities require that status of being a mother to achieve that goal. Even Ryan Stone, trapped in space, is early on depicted as a mother (a fact I’d forgotten until it was pointed out to me in our conversation).
As I stated yesterday, I proudly support equality among all people regardless of their race, creed or gender. But along the way I have had trouble calling myself a “feminist” because there were certain parts of the community that I felt had been too extreme. One of those things is the frequent misuse of something infamously known as the “Bechdel Test”. Continue reading Equality in Writing: Why the Bechdel test isn’t enough→
One of the things about having a blog with any reasonable amount of traffic is that people tend to want to know what you think about things. After one interaction I had elsewhere, I realized I could afford to do that a bit more often and decided to pick a few topics I thought would be worthwhile. And this week, I figure I should tackle one that comes up a lot in the online realm: equality.
This is something that becomes a major topic for writers all the time. Creative works get held to standards about what’s appropriate and what isn’t and you feel a backlash if you misstep. I like to believe that most of us aren’t trying to cause any harm. I know I’m not. But it’s also true that the way we interpret things can be very different.
A great problem today is that the community can be very polarized at times. In an effort to weed out bad actors it can be easy to lash out at genuine mistakes. Meanwhile, some will see those genuine mistakes, decide the other side is unreasonable, and disregard the actual bad actors. Because of that we can enter the hammer and nail scenario which goes: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Which would be fine, except not everything is a nail and if you were to use a hammer on a screw you would cause damage to the wood. If that analogy lost you, I’m incredibly sorry because it got away from me pretty quickly. But if you did understand that analogy, then that’s probably the first step to understanding where I’m coming from on the topic.
Basically, I think this should be a simple thing: everyone deserves a chance to live their best lives. And, somehow, we keep finding ways to make that complicated…