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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Pucker up, buttercup


I've never liked ass kissers much.

John Rogers likes them fine. He's a fine writer and a smart man, but, well, in the past, he and I have expressed a difference of opinion on this subject. In email to him, on my own blog, and in his blog's comment threads, I've expressed the view that a great many of his more vocal commenters have a tendency to slobber all over his posterior, a display which I personally find distasteful and unseemly.

John overtly disagrees with me, and I wish I could find the comment threads on a past entry here where he did it, but I can't right now. Nonetheless, suffice to say, he's chided me in the past for making this observation, stating quite forthrightly that he doesn't feel his commenters are overly toadyish, and even threatening to ban me from his blog if I continued to assert otherwise.


However, check out this comment thread to his latest post. 37 comments on Canadian politics, which is fine, in and of itself... but not one person here mentions the first thing that occurred to me... namely, that Rogers' addressing his original post to "Hey, Hive Mind" is kind of insulting.

In the first comment, someone provides the specific answer Rogers is looking for, which is nice. Rogers comes back almost immediately with the statement "Damn, I love the hive mind".

I know John is just joking. Hey, he kids the Hive Mind! He doesn't really mean to refer to all of his readers as some sort of Borg-like communal brain that exists only to provide him with trivia he's too goddam lazy to research himself. He certainly doesn't think of his legion of loyal fans as, you know, some kind of zombie-like subset of nameless, faceless drones with no individual personalities, some mass conformist collective consciousness he can address in casually contemptuous terminology without anyone taking the slighest umbrage. And I certainly shouldn't break into a rendition of Bob Seger's "I Feel Like A Number" for many, many reasons, not least of which because it dates me, even if we ignore how lousy my singing voice is even when I don't have some aggravating throat thing that's making me hawk about four ounces of phlegm every ten minutes.

No. I know Rogers isn't talking to me, because if someone referred to me as "Hey, Hive Mind", I not only wouldn't go fetch their fucking slippers for them like a good little bitch, I'd probably punch them in the teeth. (Well, I wouldn't; I am the least violent of all humans, but it made me feel all manly to type it, just for a second there.)

But I did want to point out that geeks tend to prize themselves on being non-conformists, on being individuals, on being unique. Rogers' audience is largely comprised of geeks (I don't use the word as an insult; I'm proud to be an ubergeek myself), so when he can refer to them with as negative a sobriquet as "Hive Mind" and not only immediately get exactly what he's asked for from them, but get 37 additional comments, not one of which notes the slightest irritation with his enormously condescending (to say the very least) designation of his fans, well...

...there's this scene in Broadcast News where the Joan Cusack character is buttering up her boss. She finishes her utterly obsequious little riff, and her boss agrees with her effusively and excuses himself, and then Albert Brooks says something sarcastic to her, and she replies "Oh, you just think anyone who is proud of the work we do is an asskisser."

Brooks responds: "No, I think anyone who presses their lips up against their boss' buttocks and then SMOOCHES is an asskisser".

Hey, Hive Mind... that's some fine, fine smoochin'.

And John... if you're reading this... I know you're a busy man, and I still admire your writing ability. But if you're going to call your readers Hive Mind, well, you've just lost this one.

Not that you care, I'm sure.

3 Comments:

At 9:59 AM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

I'm definitely an outsider on this debate, and the larger issue strikes me a great deal of unnecessary unpleasantness - there's a large gray area surrounding what is and isn't sycophantic behavior. (Oh, wait, these were Canadians, so that's behaviour.)

That said, and looking solely at the post and the comment thread attached, it didn't strike me that "Hive Mind" was intended as anything pejorative or derogatory. I sincerely believe John intended it (and apparently his readers read it) as more of a compliment to his audience in terms of their being efficient, precise and reliable. I don't believe he had anything mechanically slavish and limited in mind.

The closest thing to a potentially, implicitly derogatory slant would be the analagous presumption that his is the role of the queen (no sexual connotation intended; there's just no ruling king involved in insect hives) and that his readers exist to serve him. I'd be willing to write that off as playful so long as it didn't lead to arrogance.

That's just my quick, isolated reading of it, of course. I'm not plugging this into the larger context of a standard comment thread on his blog.

 
At 10:07 AM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

Oh, btw., I'm looking forward to those Hive Troopers (and OMACs) in next month's Collateral Damage. Even the 15 pt. rookie is appealing, with his Stealth. He seems the perfect piece to place on the Laser Turret, where he can be both invisible to most ranged attackers and have more than one means of attack. Placing him at a strategic point near a choke point and he could be a really irritating 15 points (or even 25, with Armor Piercing.)

Coincidentally, I see that the designers' notes for both are now up on the DC section of Wizkids' site.

 
At 2:22 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

I have absolutely no doubt that Rogers would say exactly what you've already said for him, Mike... he intended no insult, he was just being playful. However, I can only report my own feelings on reading the entry -- offense at being referred to as one small cell in a vast communal consciousness, and annoyance that he was doing so in the context of treating his readers like servants. It's like he was he was placing an order for a diet coke, and doing after waving his hand imperiously and shouting "Hey, Serving Person Array!"... and he's not even in a restaurant, he's sitting on a couch somewhere talking to a crowd of friendly acquaintances. And the diet cokes are in his fridge, down the hall and three steps across the kitchen.

However, my main point still remains -- this is something that only a professional can get away with. If you posted a similarly titled entry on your blog, I would imagine at least a few of your regular posters would remonstrate with you slightly about it.

When someone has become an Insider, they receive a much greater amount of deference than those who are not perceived as being in a position to help out hopeful wannabe industry professionals... and, honestly, fawning lickspittles just get my hackles up.

But, you know, it's possible I'm responding much more seriously than I should to what is obviously meant to be a casual reference. Nonetheless, it rubbed me the wrong way, and while I'm certainly nowhere near as affable as you are, nonetheless, I don't think I'm all THAT different from most geeks. I have to imagine several of Rogers' regular readers found the reference, and his casual assumption that his readers didn't have anything better to do than run errands for him, to be somewhat exasperating... and my point is, in a very long comment thread, nobody said a word about it. Not one comment even mentioned in passing, "Gee, Mr. Rogers, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not be referred to as a sub-unit in an insectile intelligence enslaved to your whim, thanks very much, sir."

I don't know. I simply can't see any way "Hey, Hive Mind" is a compliment, or even a pleasantry. It just strikes me as being unbelievably arrogant. But I'm a surly, bitter old curmudgeon, so most likely I'm getting it all wrong.

Yeah, one of the things I like the most about CD is the new generics. I'm not wild about the new OMACs in the comics, and I pretty much hate the HIVE, but the game pieces will indeed be very useful.

 

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