Follow ups, election day, WorldCon, links

I’m pretty sure I promised Stephanie that I would review The Deep ASAP, so that she can borrow the graphic novels off me.  But I’m tired, I’m arthritic, I have a cold.  So here’s a whole bunch of things.

Further to previous posts

1.  In my second Dance Academy post, I said some nice things about Ben Tickle, to wit, that I was unfair to dismiss him as a creepy and annoying Nice Guy.

As of last week’s episode, I hereby take that back, and every other nice thing I said about him as well.  SO THERE.

2.  After I posted about the general whiteness of Adam Bandt’s campaign posters, I started to think that maybe I hadn’t given the Greens enough credit for what diversity they did have.  For example, Stephanie posted this to Instagram.

(I also learnt that Stephanie herself could have featured in the advertising, but people thought she was too busy and didn’t need the extra stress.  When will we learn: Stephanie always needs the extra stress.)

(Not really.)

Anyway, I still maintain that there’s an uncomfortable white saviour narrative at work in the Greens’ visual presentation, but the Greens were doing better than I had realised. And I am really happy that Bandt kept his seat (and sorry that my local Greens candidate, Tim Read, didn’t beat the Libs into second place behind Labor.)

(Living in the second safest Labor seat in the country, you take what you can get.)

Yes, there was an election

And the capitalistic, socially conservative Liberal Party won.  They claim they have a mandate, even though the swing away from the ALP generally went to new parties such as Palmer United, and even though it looks like three Senate seats will go to extreme fringe parties: the libertarian Australian Liberals, the Sports Party and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

There has been a lot of classism about the Twitters with regards to the Motoring Party’s new senator.  I’m kind of hoping he turns out to be a brilliant leader, just to shut that up.  But as his Facebook revealed that he’s a 9/11 truther and a misogynist, I’m not holding my breath.

As usual after a conservative win, there has been a lot of gnashing of teeth and threats to move to Canada (where Quebec is banning “prominent” religious symbols that coincidentally are mostly used by minorities) and New Zealand (which already has a conservative government and shite economy).  I like Stephanie’s response best:

This country will have to be pried from my dead, cold, queer asian hands. It’s mine and I’m staying right here and kicking everything over until I’ve got my fingerprints all over the furniture and everything is just the way I like it. 

Now that it’s almost over, we’re down to dissecting the campaign.

I, for one, was quite troubled by the Liberals’ strategy of silencing their candidates of colour so as to avoid gaffes and difficult questions.  This was the case in my own electorate, where candidate Shilpa Hegde did not participate in any public forums or interviews with citizen journalists.  Nor was she seen out campaigning.

As a Commie leftie pinko, I should be glad to see the Liberals mis-step, even if they still win the election, but I think this is a pretty shitty approach.  It’s not enough to have people of colour as your candidates, you have to let them be candidates. Allegedly, or so I read in the mainstream press (probably a Fairfax paper, but I couldn’t tell you when or which one because I’ve been site-hopping to avoid their paywall), the strategy was conceived after Jaymes Diaz famously stuffed up an interview.  If they’re so worried about candidates looking stupid, though, they would have put a lid on Fiona Scott before she could tell the world that refugees cause traffic jams.  Funny how it’s only the non-white candidates who were told to shut up.

And as a person who quite likes democracy, thanks, I’m pretty horrified that the Liberal Democrats got into the Senate by setting up front parties to funnel preferences their way.  (They also got votes because people apparently mistook them for the actual Liberal Party.  Sadly, we cannot legislate for reading comprehension.)  I’ve also been less than impressed with the backroom deals done for preferences, although that had the advantage of destroying the Wikileaks Party, and wow, what a tragedy that was.  Really.

The ABC’s Antony Green has an interesting article here, looking at the history of such developments, and ways we can better regulate Senate nominations without undermining democracy and shutting out smaller parties all together.

Then there was WorldCon

And the annual recriminations that follow.

Things for which there should be no recriminations whatsoever: the excellent Tansy Rayner Roberts won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, making her the first Australian woman to win a Hugo.  And I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

Chicks Unravel Time, to which I contributed, did not win the Hugo for Best Related Work, but I’m told that Writing Excuses, the podcast which won, is excellent.  I’m mostly glad that CUT didn’t, say, lose by one vote, because I couldn’t spare the money for a supporting membership with voting rights.

(Every month, it was like, “Hmm, well, it’s only $50 … but my mobile bill is coming up, and that’s going to be $70.  Next month!”  Self, mobile bills are a monthly curse.)

This brings up the first round of recriminations and “what’s wrong with WorldCon” debates, “It’s too expensive.”  Which, sorry, Lolmericans, I know $250 for a five-day con seems like a lot to you guys, but here in Australia, we pay that much for a three-day con.  Aussiecon 4, back in 2010, was close to $400.  (Luckily — or not — my mother was getting married that weekend, so I could only attend for a couple of days.  Oh yeah, her divorce is being finalised next Monday, so congratulations Mum!)

I realise that going from “The supporting membership was too much” to “LOL, only $250 for attending!” isn’t exactly logical, but priorities.  (And also, international travel has really done a number on my credit card.)

There was talk a couple of months ago of introducing a cheaper voting membership, but apparently that’s not practical with the (amazing and brilliant) electronic pack of nominated works.  May I humbly and cheaply suggest that I would buy a voting membership without the voting pack?  I mean, I’d rather have the pack, especially since I don’t usually get access to the short stories and novellas otherwise, but it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make in those times when I have to choose between voting in the Hugo Awards and paying my bills.

And if your con is significantly more expensive than others, and you’re widely perceived as being less friendly and less fun, these are things you should maybe be looking at.  I enjoyed AussieCon 4, but I wouldn’t say it was a fun experience (except for the times L M Myles and I spent in the bar, or making fun of terrible Doctor Who panels), and it wasn’t as friendly and open as other Australian cons I’ve seen attended.  Which is, okay, Continuum.

HAVING SAID ALL THIS, I am really hoping I can get to LonCon next year, and Nine Worlds the weekend before.  Lots of people I know and love are going, and it’s London, and … stuff.

Some links to WorldCon discussions:

Three Gray Fandoms – Ursula Vernon on her three fandoms, and how only one is unwelcoming to young people.

WorldCon has some Happy Things Plus Some Problems – an overview of LoneStarCon’s successes and failures.  Includes an account of a wheelchair-using panellist who was unable to access the daises on which the others sat.  A quote: “That’s not cool. It was an oversight in a huge, fan-run convention, so it’s not worth a rage-fueled rage.”

I have to say, I did have a rage-fueled rage about it, because this should be basic Conrunning 101.  Which brings me to…

Disability, Diversity, Dignity – a further discussion of the issue.  The panellist herself pops up in the comments, along with a committee member who, I have to say, does not cover herself in glory.

There are more posts over at RadishReviews — I’m cheating because I haven’t had time to read them all yet, and I’m trying to rest my mouse hand so I can play Mass Effect 2 later.  Hashtag arthritislyfe.

Finally, opera

Hey, I was surprised too.

See, I don’t know much about opera, but Barbara Hambly’s Die Upon A Kiss (part of her Benjamin January series, about a free man of colour in 1830s New Orleans who teaches music and FIGHTS CRIME) is set in the opera season, and is very much concerned with the cultural differences between French and American opera fans, and also a controversial performance of Otello.  (Controversial ‘cos … well, it’s the South.  And Othello is quite famously black.  Except when — anyway, even a white actor in blackface was too much for some historical racists.)

Every time I read that book, I think, “Opera is really interesting.  I should learn more about it and maybe, like, see some and find out if I like it.”

And then the opera community goes and does something stupid, like the Melbourne run of Nixon in China where all the Chinese characters are white people in yellowface.  Or, as I discovered yesterday, Queensland Opera’s Otello, with an all-white cast.

Apparently, or so QOpera said on Twitter when people began asking very pointed questions, modern thinking is that the power of Otello comes from the psychology, and race is a secondary concern.  And also, they did it in South Africa with a white Othello and black cast, so what’s the problem with an all-white version?

Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeah.  You want to make the traditional SF fandom and community look good?  Go look at opera.

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