writing rengeek magpie mind

September 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

Hey, Harlan?

This is so not okay.

***

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No, it really isn't. I keep seeing people saying, variously, either "oh, he's just a jerk, he's always been like that, it's not really surprising in the context of everything else he does" or "HA! He really is a jerk! See, Ellison fans? SEE?"

and for fuck's sake, this is not just another "being a jerk" incident. -- because, I'm a jerk sometimes-- not of Ellisonian proportions, because I'm also shy and retiring -- and I've never grabbed somebody's breast uninvited. It's a whole universe away from mere snottiness, drama-queenage, or provocative whatever. This is disgustingly sexist behavior, and it is not okay to class rank sexism under the jerk umbrella, as if it's something we'd all do if we lacked social graces and let our id take control. Being a rude and abrasive person is one thing, and treating women's bodies like public property is another, and it comes from a different kind of fucked-upness, and one person may do both, but they're still not the same. pnh's bit about the 'meaning of the tit-grab' was so absolutely right. It drives me nuts to see this classed in the same category as other amusing Ellison anecdotes (I admit, I do find a lot of them amusing, or did.) It's not. the same. thing.
so now he has gotten to Jerk Emeritis.. I don't like his writing, and i don't like what he did to science fiction, and i have a feeling i wouldn't like him, if we ever met.. He helped turn a genre for engineers with imaginations into a dopeadelic angst fest...IMHO..

Not to say that SF didn't need a shaking up, not to say that a lot of great stuff didn't come out of the "Dangerous Visions Movement", not to say that he didnt open doors for a lot of Women and other non-standard-isssue-white-male-writers... But a jerk and master of the hollywood cheap shot..


Skroom.
Having met the man, I can say that Harlan Ellison is a horrible little troll, and a pompous, self-important douchebag to boot.

Of course, he can be a very entertaining horrible little troll, but...

I've been going to I-CON for many years, first as a patron, and then as staff. He's usually there. I've picked up some tips with dealing with Harlan over the years.

First off, he's sensitive about his size. You can use that. That will, however, make you an enemy.

Second, he's the sort of horrible, little man who has to try to be the alpha male. He won't respect you unless you put him in his place -- which means to get into the pissing contests he organizes and to dominate them by using cheap shots. The only real way to deal with him and get him to give you respect is to savage him right back. If he groped a female, I think that the proper course of action would be to slap him -- or, hell, a closed-fist punch across the jaw, followed, again, by insults, particularly calling him a little bastard.

I've got a friend who nearly decked him 'cause he made a kid in his autograph line cry.

My experience was better some. I came into I-CON on the first day to get my badge, and was immediately set upon by the staff wrangler, a friend of mine. "You! You're big an imposing! C'mere, we need someone to escort Harlan Ellison from this panel to his next one." (I'm 6'4" and solidly built.)

I thought this was kinda neat -- while I had never liked his writing -- he's got great ideas, but his propensity for using fourty-dollar words when ten-cent ones would be most appropriate made trying to read anything by him a chore. (I've got a rather respectable vocabulary myself, but I had to scrounge for a word in the dictionary about once a paragraph.) But, hey, I was meeting Science Fiction Author, one of the Names in the field to conjure with.

I came up to him (looking well down to him) as he was getting his stuff together, introduced myself, shook his hand, lied and said that I loved his work, and asked, apologetically, for him to quickly give me his autograph in the con book I was holding, opened to the right page, and with pen attached.

He refused, nastily, and ... gave me some Hershey's miniatures instead.

Oh well. At least I got chocolate out of it.
better than some people's, even. Sheesh.
...

And this from he who wrote the essay "Xenogenesis"?

Almost reflexively I went to look at Neil Gaiman's blog to see if he had anything to say about it, but no. Or maybe not yet?

Every once in a while I have an all but involuntary vision that Ellison would materialize before me and rip my throat out the moment I dared to pick up a pen to write something down.

And of course, a certain quote of his springs to mind, which I needs must paraphrase.

I'm not interested in being the next Harlan Ellison. I want to be the first Me.
*sigh*
*very heavy sigh*
Fandom created a monster - or, at least, enabled a monster to be created - in Harlan Ellison; they've petted and indulged it ("Oh, that's just Harlan!") for years. And when it bites, they're surprised?
Exactly.
Someone should try groping *him*...I'll volunteer! ^_^ (googles picture) On second thought, let's nominate Dubbya...They can grope each other...:P
Being a ***k is his schtick.

What he did though, from all accounts I've seen, crossed the line into horribleness. I may have regretted not going to Worldcon, but I don't regret missing seeing that in public.
Just to play devil's advocate, someone whose opinion I trust, who has known both people involved personally for many years, and who was sitting inthe front rows watching the actual moment in the flesh, says that reports of what happened have very little to do with what actually occured.

Me, I didn't see it, only heard second-hand reports after the fact, and so am in no position to add to the commentary further.
Presumably somebody was filming the ceremony and therefore we don't need to rely on conflicting eyewitness reports?
My only encounter with him very nearly -did- end up as "my fist, his face" followed up with a round of "Steel toed boot meet ribs."

I didn't care that he was an ass to me, that he was generally rude and offensive and annoying to the other adults in the room.

But he ripped into a little kid...she couldn't have been more then 12, 13. For being in costume at a con where there were a lot of gamers. And daring to ask him to sign her book.

I was about an inch from taking off my security armband, handing it in, and stomping a mudhole in his ass to remind him that gentlemen do not behave in that manner towards women or children. Ever.

I have quietly despised him, ever since.
I don't know him, and have never met him, and cannot comment on him as a person, so I'm certainly not going to proclaim any opinions there.

My goal right now is to draw attention to the fact that it's not okay to put your hands on somebody else in an aggressive or sexual or teasing fashion without permission, at least implied.
As the Meerkat said, eyewitnesses differ on what actually happened. Me, I was about as far from the alleged incident as you can get and still be in the continental US, so I'll reserve judgement.

I _will_ say that rumor spreads fast and details change in each retelling.
Well, the first of those two stories I linked is the account of the woman it happened *to.* (Not Connie; another writer.)

Whatever happened at the Hugos, the behavior in the first story is not acceptable.
Well, Harlan should not be allowed out without his wife. But he has his very kind side, and has done many hidden good deeds. And even though I have had some very testy (I hear him laughing at that word -- fucking invective is more like it) verbal encounters with him over the years, over business, he has been unfailingly courteous, and even affectionate, with me in person on a social basis.

For what it's worth.
Indeed. The man has done some very good deeds.

And it's obvious that both Connie and Rachel can handle themselves.

But I think introducing yourself to a younger writer by poker her in the stomach is a bit beyond the pale.
So... he got through both of these instances... without any broken bones? ::blinks in confusion:: Sounds like he could use a bit of a physical reminder. ::grumbles:: *Way* uncool.
juliansinger makes some interesting points in her journal about the problems brought about by personalizing/particularizing incidents of sexual harassment.

Conversations *keep* ending up being about Ellison and his habits of offensiveness (pro or con) rather than being about the fact that someone groped someone on stage and was allowed to get away with it. As I've been saying in the discussion over there, people talking about what a horrible person he is, is clearly *not* any kind of negative consequence let alone preventative measure.
I'm all for public censure.
I sort of wonder what the reaction would've been if Connie'd decked him. If people would be saying, "Boy, she overreacted," or if they'd be cheering her. Complicated thing, human reaction. And human idiocy...
I am not certain Connie is the decking type. However, a "Harlan, please remove your hand, or I will remove it for you," would certainly have not gone uncheered.

God, that's upsetting. I'd go to war for Connie Willis. Is SF such a good-ol-boy's-club that he thinks it's okay to disrespect her? I spit on him.