Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
kuenjato

YA Twitter Tribunals

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

A few years back, Requires Hate/Winterfox was exposed in Laura Mixon's Hugo-winning post as a serial sociopath bully who used a woke facade to justify her targeting other PoC, presumably because they were competition. While the dust settled on that, the same trend seems to have infected YA twitter to the point that sizable book contracts are being canceled on a monthly basis because of bad-faith dogpiling on upcoming novels that are viewed, however vaguely or laughably, as "problematic." Like writing outside of one's wheelhouse, or subscribing to a certain interpretation of history to the denial of any other viewpoint, or flat-out gaslighting/concern trolling. It's pretty disturbing, and distressing to see all the cliches right-whingers spit out metastasize in forums supposedly about fostering supportive relationships & promoting progressive ideals. 

Whatever your feelings on Jesse Singal, he has a pretty good detailing of the current situation, which apparently is seeping into children's literature as well.

 

part 1: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts

part 2: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-855?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts

part 3: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-4b5?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts

pat 4: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-c56?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts

 

"It almost seems like there's a cycle of revenge, a tapestry of grudges and distrust. Sometimes I wonder if that's really true, or if I'm being a conspiracy theorist... or maybe I'm just going crazy. Too much time in YA Twitter land makes me feel like I'm losing my sense of reality.

---

The rest, of course, is history. The Black Witch, The Continent, Carve the Mark, Blood Heir... I won't recount the obvious ways this culture has spiraled out of control into toxic, irrational, tribal, mob-like chaos.

What makes it so difficult is that it all starts with good intentions. The goal of promoting diversity and positive representation in fiction is a noble one. I believe its proponents—of which I am one—are right to defend such an objective.

But the ends do not justify the means. Rather than fostering an open, welcoming environment for diversity to flourish, this Internet subculture has birthed an environment of fear, hostility, and creative suppression."

-----

"I used to love the children's literature industry because it was so supportive and nurturing. We authors were like one big family. Now it's about cutting authors down, bullying, and ruining careers. It's fun to be the bully. It gives one power. BUT we should not allow the minority to dictate what the majority can and can't do. Why are we giving any of these bullies an ounce of power?  Now publishing companies are inserting clauses into their contracts that dictate an author's behavior. [yup] If an author says something that doesn't fit with the author's public persona then their book can be cancelled and they must pay back their advance."

 

 

---What do y'all think? It feels like we are seeing overcorrections in reaction to the MAGA sewage dominating the political sphere, and it feels much like the Requires Hate scenerio: sociopaths hijacking the woke/social justice language as opportunity to bully and self-aggrandize.  

Edited by kuenjato

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, kuenjato said:

---What do y'all think? It feels like we are seeing overcorrections in reaction to the MAGA sewage dominating the political sphere, and it feels much like the Requires Hate scenerio: sociopaths hijacking the woke/social justice language as opportunity to bully and self-aggrandize.  

Yeah this. I haven't read it all but I remember the backlash against The Black Witch was baffling and disgusting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Yeah this. I haven't read it all but I remember the backlash against The Black Witch was baffling and disgusting.

Wait 'till you read the Zhao stuff. Author writes about slavery in a fantasy book setting and doesn't contextualize it in a purely 18th-century American-centric POV about race -- the knives come out, and come out sharp. Given that Zhao had a 500k contract and the way the headliner YA authors approached their line of attack, it comes off as 'competitive outrage' -- YA is glutted and there's only so many Big Names to draw the audience in.

Part of the problem with these trends is consumer backlash and how actual good progressive ideas are lumped together with extremist performative outrage. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the mob mentality is actually being conducted by professional trolls, to further discredit the 'left' in the eyes of the politically obtuse.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah the whole RoH thing just opened up a clusterfuck of fuckery. And I don't know who Zhao is(yet) but this kind of stuff just makes me MORE likely to pick something up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I read a review of a YA that was withdrawn by the author for similar stuff. The behavior is atrociously censorious and often driven by mean-spirited whisper campaigns rather than just letting something be published and reacted to on its merits. It's really quite ugly stuff.

ETA: Ah, Kosoko Jackson is the author, and yes, as the review noted, he was in the forefront of some of this aggressive social media policing before the mob turned on him. I see he's quoted in the first part of that series. 

Edited by Ran

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Troll" section of the internet uses any kind of justification it can. Whether progressive or reactionary.

It's all about getting off by bullying others.

I say that as someone who has gotten both barrels for the stuff in my books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Ran said:

I read a review of a YA that was withdrawn by the author for similar stuff. The behavior is atrociously censorious and often driven by mean-spirited whisper campaigns rather than just letting something be published and reacted to on its merits. It's really quite ugly stuff.

ETA: Ah, Kosoko Jackson is the author, and yes, as the review noted, he was in the forefront of some of this aggressive social media policing before the mob turned on him. I see he's quoted in the first part of that series. 

That NYT article is hilarious:

Quote

There was an obvious irony to his story, a karmic boomerang: Jackson, who is black and gay, often worked as a “sensitivity reader” for major publishing houses, which meant his job was to flag just the sort of problem content for which he was now being run out of town. He was Robespierre with his own neck in the cradle of the guillotine. One of the captains of “cancel culture” — which urges people to shun the insensitive, the oppressive, the morally questionable — got canceled himself.

...

What Jackson’s case really demonstrates is just how narrow and untenable the rules for writing Y.A. literature are. In a tweet last May, Jackson himself more or less articulated them: “Stories about the civil rights movement should be written by black people. Stories of suffrage should be written by women. Ergo, stories about boys during life-changing times, like the AIDS epidemic, should be written by gay men. Why is this so hard to get?”

:rofl:

Sometimes people really do reap what they sow. And it's not like this should have come as a surprise to anyone: once it becomes clear that a mob can be used to harm one person, there's never a lack of sociopaths attempting to profit by turning it against more and more people -- including the original organizers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

With the obvious caveat that I haven't read any of the books myself (I don't go looking for YA ARCs, and they were withdrawn), I was a little...cautious about the Kosoko Jackson book to begin with, in part because something as complex as the Kosovo War seemed like a really ambitious and difficult background for a first-time author to be taking on as a YA novel that was, by his own admission, more fundamentally about the romance than necessarily the setting.  [One of my best friends came to the US as a Bosnian refugee, and was a bit incredulous when I linked him to the annoyed review; he then approved of someone reccing the author "My Cat Yugoslavia" in a twitter thread.]   Real world settings have, IMO, far more actual pitfalls to them than secondary world settings, even if you can see some of the obvious parallels or inspirations in the latter.  That said, the pattern of people withdrawing books worries me.

 

Some other people also pointed out the pitfalls of an overly American-centric perspective that were shown here.  Zhao said she was writing in part out of her own cultural background but was openly lambasted for potentially hurting readers by not foregrounding a specifically American framing of slavery.  Jackson bragged on twitter that he spent "three whole months" researching the topic, but felt comfortable wading in as an outsider, and apparently hadn't considered that his invocation of "stay in your own lane" might apply to HIM on this front.  Ironies.

Edited by Little Valkyrie
adding text

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Little Valkyrie said:

Some other people also pointed out the pitfalls of an overly American-centric perspective that were shown here.  Zhao said she was writing in part out of her own cultural background but was openly lambasted for potentially hurting readers by not foregrounding a specifically American framing of slavery.  Jackson bragged on twitter that he spent "three whole months" researching the topic, but felt comfortable wading in as an outsider, and apparently hadn't considered that his invocation of "stay in your own lane" might apply to HIM on this front.  Ironies.

The ignorance of many of the persons involved in this is quite embarrassing, frankly. They seem to think that the only type of slavery that has ever existed was the racial based one, which is complete nonsense. It's ironic that these supposed champions of diversity can't look past their US biases and obsessions and let the writers from other cultures tell their stories they way they want.

As for Kosoko Jackson, he apparently attempted (probably clumsily, but still) to show the Kosovo conflict in a bit more nuanced way and not in the simplistic way presented by the US government "All Serbs bad, all Kosovo Albanians good", but was eviscerated for it. The infamous review that started the witch hunt against him claimed that there was a genocide in Kosovo which is nonsense. Yes, the Serbian forces committed atrocities, but it wasn't a genocide. And the Kosovo Liberation Army committed their fair share of atrocities too. The reviewer was outraged that the villain is this book was a Muslim Albanian, but this type of person certainly existed in Kosovo at the time despite the official US propaganda which tried hard to present the conflict purely in black and white.

"Stay in your lane" is an idiotic principle when it comes to writing fiction and anyone championing it should be embarrassed of themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

One of the articles above gives evidence that a substantial amount of support for these regressive trends are coming from the agents and/or publishing personal, with murmurs of "blacklists," and books rejected simply because a writer is writing from a gender or racial background different from their own, etc. Some demographics, I'm not sure how accurate, point to this being a trend primarily among white, women agents. This is not entirely surprising: #MeToo and the overwhelming gamut of toxic overspill from the past couple years has probably engineered a massive movement towards 'sensitivity checklists,' and careful behavior to mitigate against potential offensive conduct/speech. But the result has created this increadably censorous environment, easy to exploit and abuse and to spin into an ever-escalating whirlwind of accusation and blanket condemnation, often based on the flimsiest evidence or data (see the Kosovo stuff). I can't imagine publishers are happy to cancel books and eat the developmental costs on a monthly basis -- it seems that the thrill of performative outrage is now generating almost constant tagging on upcoming releases -- and it may get to the point that twitter mobs are ignored or reduced in consideration.

There's a lot of talk about how these communities serve as the lifeblood for self-promotion for upcoming artists, but I have a feeling it is similar to the extreme right on the internet: loud and prolific but ultimately only influencing a small, specific audience, with the bulk of the audience either unaware or only exposed to echoes of the clamor.

I wonder what it's like in the current "adult" sci-fi / fantasy setting? After the "Sad Puppies" fiasco, and awards trending towards diverse writers, are internal guidelines about content circulating around, or is it still a free-for-all? 

Edited by kuenjato

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently reading The Coddling of the American Mind by Haidt and Lukianoff.  I think what they talk about in there is quite aplicable to this topic, specifically how "call-out culture" perpetuates some of the same sort of "bullying" that is mentioned in this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kuenjato said:

I wonder what it's like in the current "adult" sci-fi / fantasy setting? After the "Sad Puppies" fiasco, and awards trending towards diverse writers, are internal guidelines about content circulating around, or is it still a free-for-all? 

There are some similar concerns about representation/quality thereof, not falling into stereotypes, promoting diverse perspectives, etc.  But I get the impression that YA is a particularly ferocious beast due to a number of factors.  The networking is even more intense than sf/f, there are some clear trends with groups and leaders, early reviewers can be surprisingly influential, etc.  On this last point, let me editorialize and emphasize this is my own reading, but: there's also a wobbly but present consensus that to be a good YA writer one has to be *responsible* because you are literally shaping impressionable minds, and there's accordingly a lot of discourse about harming readers and having to make sure that you don't do that.  I don't see quite the same moral language in books for grownups, at least not as often, and I think it's a huge component of how the YA discussing community talks about itself.  Personally, I think that tends to veer into the therapeutic fallacy and underrate what teenagers can deal with and the many ways people are able to read books to their own ends, but I think it's largely sincere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Little Valkyrie said:

There are some similar concerns about representation/quality thereof, not falling into stereotypes, promoting diverse perspectives, etc.  But I get the impression that YA is a particularly ferocious beast due to a number of factors.  The networking is even more intense than sf/f, there are some clear trends with groups and leaders, early reviewers can be surprisingly influential, etc.  On this last point, let me editorialize and emphasize this is my own reading, but: there's also a wobbly but present consensus that to be a good YA writer one has to be *responsible* because you are literally shaping impressionable minds, and there's accordingly a lot of discourse about harming readers and having to make sure that you don't do that.  I don't see quite the same moral language in books for grownups, at least not as often, and I think it's a huge component of how the YA discussing community talks about itself.  Personally, I think that tends to veer into the therapeutic fallacy and underrate what teenagers can deal with and the many ways people are able to read books to their own ends, but I think it's largely sincere.

I think in theory, the safeguarding is legit -- they are targeting marginalized communities in the LGBQT and (insert)-American vein, who are probably exposed to stereotypes and nasty commentary on a regular basis. I hosted a LGBQT club in a school district that was both affluent and highly intellectual, with zero-tolerance for bullying etc., and even then the students of this orientation were often blanketed with reproach for their lifestyles and orientation.

On the other hand, through teaching public school (particularly high school), I've been repeatedly exposed to what teenagers are consuming / exposed to on a daily basis. Some of it is, uh, rather gnarly, and with trap/hip-hop pretty much the norm when in comes to popular music, that language and themes becomes a sort of common discourse. 

The YA Tribunals sheltering-code comes off as coddling, to some extent. And, in regards to the hyperbole extended to these books (RACIST! INSENSITIVE! WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!), it often comes off like disingenious moral policing, a convenient way to put a stake into something. 

I'd be curious how ASOIAF or Prince of Nothing would be regarded, if introduced in 2019 rather than 15 or more than 20 years ago.

Edited by kuenjato

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This happened to an extent with VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE except it became national news in Russia. A author wrote a piece of Chechnya that talked about the (real life) persecution of homosexuals in the country. I wrote a couple of articles about how it was in poor taste myself. Except, the ACTUAL CHECHNYAN GOVERNMENT heard about it and made it a subject of investigation. There were articles all over Europe about it and they demanded the name of the author.

Ironically, it resulted in far more attention on the subject than a bunch of gamers reading it would normally receive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

3 months of research is at least better then I watch anime and then read the wikipedia article on Japan.

Any specific authors in mind there? :P 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/14/2019 at 12:07 AM, kuenjato said:

I'd be curious how ASOIAF or Prince of Nothing would be regarded, if introduced in 2019 rather than 15 or more than 20 years ago.

I doubt if they'd have been very happy with James Herbert, whose books I devoured when I was a teenager.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×