Friday, April 25, 2008

MetaFilter and Amandagate

Left: from Patrick Farley's The Guy I Almost Was. (This one goes out to the MetaFilter gang!)

~*~

I am currently catatonic over the number of hits I'm getting. I always wanted a lot of hits, so I guess it's one of those "be careful what you wish for" scenarios.

I suppose it's like those fresh-faced kids who've been singing for the church congregation all their lives, then find themselves in front of Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. Paula applauds, tells you how fabulous you are, pops a Vicodin, while Simon sneers: "You don't reeeeeeeeeeally know how to siiiiiiing, doooooo you?"

Crestfallen person: sobs.

Yes, that was me yesterday. Although it's nice to get over 6500 hits (!!!) in one day, I would have preferred a few more Paulas, and take as many drugs as you need to get into that space, I'll wait. Several blogs that have linked me have contained far too many Simons, sneering, weeeeeellll, her writing is (insert William F Buckley eyebrow-arch here) rather ped-EST-rian, and rawther BAAAAAAAD. And I've sent my secretary to research the story, and she'll be back after lunch with the name of the Saturday Night Live character, so HOPE YOU AREN'T FIBBING, missy!

To the Simons in my new readership, whom Amanda Marcotte (more about which in due course!) would call "joy-killers":

1) Saturday Night Live goes back to 1975, and yes, I ALSO go back that far, as well. I do not refer to the last two years, when you kids were in the dorm, but you know, I refer to THE WHOLE HISTORY OF THE SHOW... knock yourself out!

Apparently there have been numerous Shaniquas and Laquitas and various other names on the show. This tells us the black-named-hooker/crackhead joke is ongoing and simply gets updated with a new name every year. Just like Saturday Night Live in its entirety!

2) For those of you born last week, who dare to say such intelligent things as "I can't believe that happened in a classroom! That could NEVER happen!"--please understand that I am talking about 1964 or 65, you know, the year they passed the Civil Rights Act? You've heard of it, yes? You realize they had to pass that FOR A REASON? What did you think the atmosphere was for black people before that? Yes, I heard the n-word in school, even spoken by a teacher on one occasion. The word was not DIRTY then, it was considered an almost mischievous, cute thing to say. I do not expect you to understand what it was like for people born in 1957; at least get a clue that it won't be comparable to your life, born in 1987, okay? Good God in heaven.

Is it the schools?

3) If you think I am a bad writer, or stupid, then FUCK OFF.

Apparently, it costs a whole week of waiting and a $5 tip to post on MetaFilter. You may say I'm an asshat and an idiot, but I don't pay $5 to post a damn thing and you do, so who's the idiot? :P

To those of you who were sweet, thank you. They made me cry yesterday. :(

4) To the extremely persistent people who keep emailing me for my name: It is not forthcoming.

~*~

Left: illustration from Amanda Marcotte's It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

And now, back to important stuff, like War in Feminist Blogdonia. Twisty calls it Amandagate, and I guess that's as good a name as any.

For my new readers, I'll recap. It's just like LOST and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA--if you miss any of it, you get damned confused.

Background, some months previous: Amanda Marcotte, important feminist blogger and famous Victim of William Donahue and Michelle Malkin (i.e.: people have respect for what she has endured at the hands of the right wingnuts), writes a book scheduled to be published by Seal Press. The cover is eventually shown on Amanda's blog PANDAGON (not linking, sorry Amanda). The cover illustration is comic-strip-type retro art featuring a King Kong-type-character kidnapping a beautiful cartoon-blond woman. Women of color say, you know, that is an insensitive, racist stereotype, and you might want to change it. Amanda hyperventilates, screams, calls the critics "joy killers."

After the controversy, the cover is changed to the current cover.

Next: Feminists of Color at the WAM conference are pissed off at Seal Press over their treatment of a WOC author. Black Amazon dares to say "FUCK SEAL PRESS" (in capital letters, no less) on her blog, which brings the Seal Press flunkies a-runnin over to chastise her. Then the flunkies take it to the Seal Press blog, and receive a shitload of comments criticizing their rude behavior (i.e. coming onto someone's blog and patronizing them, particularly with NO introduction or previous history of interaction).

Seal Press deletes the entire thread.

Amanda posts her famous Alter-Net piece, which does not acknowledge a very popular and cherished WOC blogger, Brownfemipower (known as BFP), who has been covering the same issues Amanda is writing about. For years. At least one of the immigration cases covered in the post is one that BFP pointedly mentioned at the WAM conference.

Amanda, called out publicly, proves that she wrote the piece before the conference, as various other bloggers back her up. Many people, including your humble narrator, point out that appropriation is one of those tricky, even unconscious things (which I also touched on in my "black name" post; people often believe they have invented things that they likely have heard previously). Amanda freely admits she regularly reads BFP and even mentions BFP's blog in her book. Yet, she does not say "Wow, okay, here's a link to BFP, sorry about that!"--which would have been plenty sufficient to avoid more trouble. Instead, she digs her heels in and says she was IN NO WAY inspired by BFP and goes on the counterattack. For many folks, the nastiness and cluelessness of the counterattack are far more disturbing than the Alter-Net issue itself. Amanda accuses people of being jealous, trying to ruin her career, etc etc.

And along the way, Brownfemipower deletes her entire blog, causing great sadness throughout Blogdonia.

Latest update, Amanda is on the book tour.

Apparently, Seal Press saw fit to change the cover art, but FORGOT ALL ABOUT THE INSIDE ART, which features (see picture above) the same blond cartoon lady, set upon by evil dark natives.

Ohhhhh, dear God. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.*

And so, that's where we are right now. Some of Amanda's defenders, it would appear, are left with their thumbs up their asses, as we say here in the south. Or as my endodontist likes to say, it doesn't look good.

When you've got all of this, who needs COURT TV? Stay tuned, fight fans.

*For the kids: this was the famous tagline for JAWS II, useful in many situations.

24 comments:

Opopanax said...

Does this now mean I can claim to have been reading Dead Air 'before it was cool'?

Illegitimi non carborundum, and keep up the good work.

Much love to hippie grandma X. :)

white rabbit said...

Well you must be doing something right :D

iminurmefi said...

Daisy--Man, I can't imagine how crazy it must be to get linked from metafilter. There's a bunch of sneering elitist types that criticize most everything that comes through--doesn't really make it better, I know. (Hmm, Simon Cowell? Yup, right on the money there.)

Just as an FYI, you should probably be able to bypass the $5 cover and week-long wait (which is pretty much to keep drive-by a-holes from infesting all the threads, an unfortunate necessity with really big community websites) by emailing one of the moderators directly--they're very good about creating accounts for people immediately who have been linked and want to dive in and have a say. You can email them through the form here http://www.metafilter.com/contact.)

I really loved what you wrote, and I wouldn't have seen it without metafilter, so I hope that as overwhelming as it is you at least realize that a *lot* of people really appreciate what you wrote. I can't believe how many comments that thread got.

ArrogantWorm said...

<3 I greatly liked your writing about your name, and leaving it out had quite an assumption-impact. I don't know what to say about 'Amandagate', the latest problems with the illustrations are easy enough to grasp so the pearl clutching is more than a bit ridiculous at this point.

Elaine Vigneault said...

re. Amandagate:
I don't think you really needed to go into the whole background. The images speak for themselves and really need just minor interpretation.

I'm not saying the BFP, Black Amazon, Seal Press, et al. aren't involved and don't add some context, but at this point it might just muddle the real issue at the moment - which is that the images are racist.

I noticed you didn't really weigh in on that point. You're basically taking the perspective of someone on the sidelines ready to bet. Interesting.

pineapple said...

I can't speak to Amandagate but I just wanted to add that I also really got a lot from your entry, and I'm glad it was made a front-page post at MetaFilter. Illegitimi non carborundum, indeed.

ArrogantWorm said...

Elaine, I'm sure if you've read the links provided in this post you'd know what perspective Daisy was coming from with regards to racism. Instead of attempting a half-assed potshot at words you claim aren't there, what with her 'sitting on the sidelines ready to bet'.

Language said...

Another MetaFilter member here who deplores the asshats and supports your position. Don't judge us all by the bad apples!

shadocat said...

You tell 'em Daisy!

I started school in 1960, and although my parents considered the n-word a "bad word", many other people we knew did not. It was not at all unusual to hear it in the classroom, from students or teachers. And I was taught by nuns!

Language said...

Oh, and as iminurmefi said, you shouldn't have to pay $5; the admins have a policy of letting the subjects of threads join without the usual formalities. And a lot of people, including me, would welcome your input.

shadocat said...

BTW, I think you are a TERRIFIC writer; creative, colorful, intelligent without being elitist (unlike SOME people), and often very funny. This is one of the few blogs I make sure I read EVERY DAMN DAY!

23skidoo said...

So many, many people really loved your piece about your name that I think it's a shame that you imply that anyone who doesn't like what you've written is an elitist, reactionary snob. It's really a case of different strokes for different folks, and keep in mind that the nature of a big community blog is that people post stuff, and then everyone else says some version of 1)that's good, 2)that's not good, or 3)that reminds me of something that happened to me.

It's not a bad, bad thing to post a #2 type comment on a community blog. If they come to your own blog and do, it... hahahah, that's a different story. Civilized discussion is good. Keep on doing your thing.

Nicole said...

Just discovered your blog via the "black first name" post, and wanted to tell you how much I love both the post and your blog. You're a great writer - down to earth, yet thoughtful. I'm highly enjoying reading the archives.

The internet is mostly a miasma of stupidity and misogyny, and youngsters who think they know everything, but in fact know nothing. Don't let it get you down.

Also, as an old Deadhead, let me say how much I love both the blog's name and the Steal Your Faces at the top. My friend used to have a Dead oriented radio show also named "Dead Air."

Anonymous said...

Hi Daisy,
I'm so glad to hear that metafilter is carrying on the age old tradition of women bashing women. In the good old days, we used to do it face to face--lesbian vs. straight, people of color vs. caucasians, etc.
I'm not dismissing racism, homophobia, agism any kind of this is my club and you can't play kind of thinking.
I'm merely saying, when will we ever learn. We're doing the "man's" work for him.
I love your posts. Keep writing.

Daisy said...

Elaine,

1) If I did not make it clear that I believe the illustrations are racist, rest assured, I do. I thought that was obvious, but I guess not.

2) Pardon my cynicism, but I think your snipe at me is really to get even with me for this post.

3) As I said, I've had 6500 hits yesterday and over 5000 hits today... I think it's fair to assume at least a few of those people don't have a clue about Amandagate, so I was polite and did a recap. (Why would you believe it wasn't "needed"? How famous do you think Amanda IS?)

4) I have linked you since first starting my blog, because I deeply respect the work you do for animals and admire your vegan zeal, which in me runs fairly tepid. But anyone who categorizes me as "ready to bet" rather than as someone who takes anti-racist activism very seriously, either doesn't know me very well or is deliberately trying to piss me off.

5) After some thought, I've decided I don't need to be insulted by people I imagined were my friends, and I have delinked you.
Since you were never polite enough to link me reciprocally, no loss.

Feel free to visit anytime you like, as I still visit your blog.

John Powers said...

You are a very fine writer! When I scroll down my list of blogs a new post by you always gets and instant click because I know that I'll be enlightened, humored, provoked and delighted by it. You inspire me and the only way I know you is by your writing, so the notion that you are hiding your identity strikes me as ludicrous. Nevertheless in reading your wonderful post "On having a black name" it was easy to resist trying to wonder too much about what your name really is because you've got boundaries. That's why you're a great writer, you have voice, and with your voice you define who you are.

Ravenmn said...

Daisy, my twin spirit, this is an awesome post and well-timed seeing as you are getting all those hits. Way to be a great ally!

I have to admit that I love checking metafilter and reddit and other blogs like that just to find links to popular shit. I never read the comments. Which is apparently an amazingly wise choice of mine. I highly recommend it.

BUT, I am impressed by folks who have mentioned that they came here via metafilter and decided to stick around a while. That's wonderful.

Daisy said...

Some updates on Amandagate:

Update from Seal Press, apologizing for art in Amanda's book.

On Hugo Schwyzer's blog - Lorna the Jungle Girl and the dark-skinned natives: a reluctant challenge to Amanda Marcotte: UPDATED

Natalia Antonova: will take you straight to Amanda's apology and other commentary on the situation

Octogalore said...

Daisy -- another awesome post. Even without the underlying context of your other writings, it's crystal to me from this post exactly where you stand on Amandagate. And you did this without the spare change, aka drama, that would simply have made it about you. Kudos.

Stacia said...

I loved your post on your name - and the people on MetaFilter are often young 20-something upper middle class white kids fresh out of college and who have not experienced much. Whether it's because of privilege or cultural blindness or stubbornness I don't know, but the "that could never happen" refrain is common with them. I wouldn't take it to heart.

I had read about Amanda Marcotte before but didn't know anything about the Seal Press flunkies. Interesting stuff. Amanda apologized yesterday, but with a qualified apology ("I didn't know they were using those pictures") and supporters started praising her like she was some kind of superheroine. Someone called her "an inspiration". No... no.

La Lubu said...

Daisy,

Don't pay any attention to criticism from MetaFilter. You're a great writer. (and frankly, I'm not sold on the value of things like that anyway---for every gem like your recent post that shows up....there's a hundred or more boring, mainstream-y pieces of crap. I always find the good links by visiting blogs I like!) I also thought it was crystal-clear how you felt about the recent racist activities in the so-called feminist blogosphere.

Shit. It's been a bad week. I've been busy as hell at work, and simultaneously fighting off some virus or another, and I come back to the internet and yet one more of my favorite writers (BA) is gone. I'm in a real "fuck it" mood--a mood you gave me a lift from by reminding the kiddos that SNL has been around since 1975!! Heh. Me and my dad used to watch it together when I was a kid. Sometimes it would be hard to hear the dialogue with him yelling at my mom to "get up! you're gonna be late for work! ("I am up, dammit! mind your own f$%#@in' business!!") I miss Gilda Radner. (Just goes to show ya, it's always somethin'.)

I enjoyed your post on having a "black" name. My mother gets that a lot; her name reads as "black" to people in the northern U.S., but when combined with her last name, it reads as "latina"---she gets a lot of junk mail solicitations in Spanish.

Amie Stuart said...

Yes, I heard the n-word in school, even spoken by a teacher on one occasion. The word was not DIRTY then, it was considered an almost mischievous, cute thing to say.

For what this is worth (and it might not be worth much) in Texas (at least where I am in Texas) the Civil Rights Movement is glossed over in HS -- remember this is pre-Black History Month and pre-MKL day okay. I didn't learn didly-jack about it until college.
And my adoption papers--circa 1969--say I'm a negro child.

A friend sent me over here. And I don't know who the heck said you couldn't write but I think you're a fine writer.

BTW I loved your post--LOVED IT. It's sad...but sadder still because it's not surprising.

Avalon's Willow said...

Hi,

I linked to your post about your name on my personal journal. But I'm now commenting via my - I am loud and black and calling you out, blog.

Thank you, sincerely, for putting a face and a voice to something that often goes invisible and unspoken- despite the study.

You mentioned getting a lot of hits. I hope you won't mind ending up on my public blog roll or me feeding your journal.

Or that I might point you out to various blog Carnival organizers (of which I am one).

Anonymous said...

I once got busy in a Burger King Baffroom.

Burket Kang did you HEAR ME!>!?

-Ibod Catooga