Far too much self gratificationMAOTE: More of this?
ME: Well, I have a lot of different little things to post about, and I could do one of those ‘grab bag’ posts, but whenever I do, I get zero comments. I mean, ZERO.
MAOTE: But the self gratification stuff…
ME: Well, people say they like it, and usually I get at least a few comments.
MAOTE: And it’s all about attention.
ME: Pretty much always, yeah. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t keep our journals on the goddam World Wide Web, would we?
MAOTE: Excellent point. Plus, you know, whenever you do this you really piss off all the heeby-jeebie Modern Age fans who lurk around on this blog waiting for you to show your ass.
ME: Pissing off heeby-jeebie Modern Age fans is never a bad idea.
MAOTE: Okay, so, first up…?
ME: No, no, you’re supposed to ask me leading questions and shit.
MAOTE: Ah. Well… so, what do you think of your girl Katherine Harris now that she’s won the Republican primary ?
ME: I think I won’t be surprised if a tragic accident occurs to her fairly soon, so the Repubs can put a candidate into the race who might have a shot against Nelson. Harris is poison in a statewide race in Florida, and everybody knows it.
MAOTE: Will you weep for her?
ME: No, I’ll just consider it evidence that karma actually exists.
MAOTE: Okay then. So, you mentioned how it was all about attention. So what do think about this story on all the NFL’s wide receivers who act like assholes, in order to get attention?
ME: I think it’s very ironic. Team publicists trawl through all those articles looking for any mention of their own players, because any publicity is good publicity. The Bucs have two of the best wide receivers in the League in Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton, but since Galloway and Clayton are well behaved, professional, and team players, there’s no mention of them, or the Bucs, at all.
MAOTE: So the lesson is…
ME: You want ink, encourage your players to behave like jackasses. Honestly, it really is ironic. And if you read the article, it tells you nothing you don’t already know – I mean, what football fan in the world doesn’t know T.O. acts like a dipshit to get attention? It’s an entirely pointless piece of non reportage that some guy obviously sat down and typed up simply to make a deadline. Yet because it’s out there, the perception will intensify… you want the spotlight, be an asshole. If you behave like an adult, nobody writes about you.
MAOTE: That doesn’t seem to work in the world of blogging. I mean, you’re a gigantic asshole, and yet…
ME: Well, I’m not doing it on Monday Night Football.
MAOTE: So, do you think there’s some way to get these guys to stop? I mean, maybe if the media stopped rewarding them with attention for this nonsense…
ME: Oh, that will never happen. The media serves its own best interest by playing this crap up; it’s what the audience wants to see. The audience tunes in to be entertained, and T.O. may be a fuckhead, but his tantrums are entertaining. So rampant jackassery will continue to be rewarded with high levels of national attention in the media, and that’s just how that’s going to be in our entertainment driven culture.
MAOTE: Uh huh. So… we just put up with it?
ME: Well, the League could make these guys cut the crap out a lot by getting serious with the punishments they hand out for this shit. You moon the fans in the end zone, you get suspended for three games and hit with a $500,000 fine. That sort of thing. Attention is great, but in these guys’ case, the attention translates into more job opportunities, because teams will pay more to have them, because if you’ve got T.O., more people want to watch your team on TV so they can see what T.O. is going to do this week. And in pro football, as in all the pro sports, it’s all about television revenues these days.
MAOTE: So the League has to do it.
ME: Yeah, but the League makes money off the TV ratings, too, so in the end, they like anything that gets people watching. So they’ll slap people on the wrist a little bit, but, essentially, poor sportsmanship makes them money.
MAOTE: So we just put up with it.
ME: Well, if the fans felt strongly enough about it they could organize a boycott or something… refuse to watch games with these idiots in them, refuse to buy these guys’ merchandise. But we’re all lazy and hey, we like being entertained, too.
MAOTE: And honestly, what harm are these idiots doing? I mean, really.
ME: Uh… I don’t know. I guess they’re teaching anyone who watches pro football, or pro sports in general, that if you act like an asshole, you’ll be rewarded for it. And we wonder why our culture is becoming less civil. I mean, if a kid who wants to play football sees Michael Clayton behaving himself, and he’s rookie of the year and has great stats but he makes like a tenth of what Terrence Owens makes, and yeah, T.O. has better stats than Clayton and has been in the League longer, but still, this kid knows most of the difference in salary is because Owens acts like a douchebag in public while Clayton is a professional and a team player… what’s that kid learn? Be cool? Or be a tool?
MAOTE: I don’t know. When do you stop letting someone be a role model, and start letting them just be human beings?
ME: Let’s turn that around. When do we start asking for adults in all walks of life… regardless of whether they are, in fact, role models for millions of kids… to behave like adults, and not jackasses? To show a little bit of decorum in their public and professional behavior? To act as if there might be something a little bit more important than just their immediate self gratification, and eventual self aggrandizement?
MAOTE: Wow. Man, you’re pretty harsh. Expecting grown ups to act like grown ups. I mean, seriously. That’s hard core.
ME: I know. It’s really very unfair of me. Honestly, I should lighten up.
MAOTE: Ah. So… let’s see… you discovered the origin of the term Cat Piss Man …?
ME: Oh, yeah. You know, it was such a striking phrase, when one of those morons in one of the We Hate Doc Nebula chat threads referred to me that way… I ran into it somewhere else and decided to track it down.
MAOTE: And it means…?
ME: Well, it means one of those freakish comics fans who doesn’t bathe or brush their teeth… the kind of socially inept, hygienically challenged ubergeek who we all dread running into at a con or a comics shop. You know, one of those PTA poster children for why parents shouldn’t let their kids read comics, or play D&D, or read SF, or watch Star Trek… whatever.
MAOTE: And you’re one of those guys…?
ME: Well, if by ‘one of those guys’ you mean someone who bathes regularly, brushes his teeth, does his laundry… yeah, I guess so.
MAOTE: So why do you think this particular idiot called you that?
ME: I guess it’s become a common usage insult in comics fandom. I guess, if you’re really really stupid, and you read something that somebody wrote on the Internet about your favorite superhero that you really disagreed with, well, you’d call the writer a Cat Piss Man, because, you know, he must be a Cat Piss Man, if he said something bad about Frank Miller’s first run on DAREDEVIL, which you regard as sacred literature, or something.
MAOTE: Maybe they don’t have any idea what a Cat Piss Man actually is.
ME: Well, I’ve discovered that those who heap personal insults long distance on people they’ve never met based solely on something that person wrote about frickin’ comic books, for chrissake, generally know very little about anything at all.
MAOTE: So you’re not a Cat Piss Man…?
ME: Well, no. But let me say this… after reading the article in which the phrase originates, and seeing such wonderful observations as
MAOTE: Wow. He hates customers who don’t dress up for him, he hates Magic players…
ME: And thinks we’re all thieves! Loud, shrieking thieves!
MAOTE: …and he can’t stand fans who are, you know, actually devoted to the characters they like. Who are this guy’s customers? Is he actually in the business of selling geek stuff to geeks?
ME: Yeah, I wondered that myself.
MAOTE: Maybe he hires more pleasant people to work the counter for him.
ME: It’s possible. But I guarantee you, if he ever works his own register and he lets his honest opinion of most of his customers show even once, he’s going to be boarding up his shop a few weeks later. What a turd. If I bought comics from him and then read that article, I’d find some place else to get my fix.
MAOTE: Well, he’d probably be glad to see the back of you.
ME: So many would be. Ah, if only I had the time to leave behind all the places that would love to see me go…
MAOTE: That’s you, spreading joy wherever you leave.
ME: We all have to have a gift.
MAOTE: But, honestly, don’t you think that perhaps comics shop owners might have some legitimate issues with some of their clientele? Geeks are, by and large, socially challenged. Gaming geeks do tend to be pretty loud, and the younger ones who are feeding a cardboard crack habit most likely do tend to shoplift… in fact, I’ve heard that shoplifting is a chronic problem in most comics shops. And many, many geeks get very confrontational when someone tells them ‘no’, or even ‘well, I disagree with that opinion’… as you yourself know.
ME: I hear all that. But, first, I think the nearly psychotic level of murderous hostility towards a large sector of the fans this guy services is pretty evident throughout that article, and if this is how this guy feels about the people whose money he takes, he needs to get a job doing something else. Yes, many many geeks are obnoxious and hard to take. However, if you set yourself up in business taking their money, you need to deal, or you need to rethink your line of work.
MAOTE: Even with Cat Piss Man?
ME: No, Cat Piss Man represents an extreme that nobody running any business should be expected to put up with… or would put up with, for that matter. But for God’s sake, this guy says he wants to set up a dress code, not just for comics shops employees, but for comics shop customers. How insane is that?
MAOTE: Many restaurants have dress codes for their customers…?
ME: How many geeks eat at those restaurants? How many geeks are going to put on a coat and tie, or even make the slightest effort to think even vaguely about their appearances, before they wander up to the geek shop to get some comics or some cards or some action figures? Besides, most comics shops SELL comics related clothing… t-shirts, specifically… that would be in violation of ANY kind of sane dress code. He’s going to tell his customers they can buy stuff from him that he won’t let them wear into the store? Is he retarded?
MAOTE: Well… he does seem to have issues.
ME: Even a dress code for comics shops employees is stupid. Comics shops employees get paid jack shit. They take the job because, usually, it’s marginally better than any other six buck an hour job they can find, and that’s because it’s usually a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. That’s one of the perks… maybe the only one. You start telling your employees at the comics shop that they can’t wear their scruffy blue jeans and their LADY DEATH t-shirt to work, and you better double their pay, too. Otherwise, they’re off to some other minimum wage job, where they don’t have to put up with a dickhead like you.
MAOTE: Hey, not like ME, dude. If I owned a comics shop I’d let my employees wear anything they wanted, as long as they bathed regularly and didn’t call the Magic players thieves.
ME: Well, I’d buy comics at your shop.
MAOTE: Thanks. Now tell us something amusing about your job.
ME: Uh… okay. Here’s an email we got yesterday from one of our team leads, forwarded on from our supervisor:
MAOTE: Wait. She’s a team lead, and she wants less stress, so she’s getting back on the phones…?
ME: Yeah. Let me tell you, in a call center, you do everything you can to get OFF the phones if you want less stress. And in our call center, as in every call center I’ve ever worked at, the team leads do very little, compared to the people who work above them, or the people who work below them. And this particular team lead…? If she has any particular area of expertise, it’s avoiding work. She does the least work of any team lead at any call center I have ever experienced.
MAOTE: So you’re thinking this is bullshit.
ME: Big time bullshit. I’m thinking that the fact that this team lead does very little work as a team lead, and doesn’t know jack shit about anything, and frequently gives bad information, and is generally loathed by nearly all the CSRs here, including me, has much more to do with her getting back on the phones, than her wanting to ‘avoid stress’.
MAOTE: Well, yeah, I guess that’s amusing. So… anything else new?
ME: Still deliriously happy with SuperFiancee and the SuperKids, which is terribly boring to anyone who isn't us.
MAOTE: But, elsewhere…?
ME: Well, there's always something. I'm hearing a lot about Harlan Ellison feeling up Connie Willis during an awards presentation at a big con lately…
MAOTE: Are you outraged?
ME: Well, everyone else seems to be. On behalf of all women everywhere, I guess. You know. This is just another in an endless barrage of humiliations and degradations that men have heaped on women and it is especially indicative of the poisonous atmosphere female fans and professionals have to put up with within the SF or comic book or other geek type reality tunnels… yaddity yaddity, etc, etc.
MAOTE: You don't sound outraged.
ME: I hate people taking someone else's situation and claiming it as their own. Stamping their flag on it. Making it an issue for their focus group. Has anyone asked Connie Willis if she really wants this thing to be a public cause for every feminist on the planet? Beyond that, I dislike the fact that, if this is going to be an issue – and it is – then it's now been claimed by one group of humans, when in fact, it's a problem for all of us… something we should all deal with.
MAOTE: You mean we all have to deal with how men treat women…
ME: I mean we all have to deal with the thoughtlessness and stupidity that human beings seem to continually show towards other human beings. The issue here is, one human being put his hands on another human being in a way that she did not want, invite, or consent to, in public, and he thought that was okay. You don't do that. It's inappropriate. It would be inappropriate regardless of the genders of the people involved. If one guy did it to another guy, or a woman did it to a woman, or a woman did it to a man, it's no better. You don't put your hands on another human being, especially in a specifically sexual manner, without their consent. Any where. For any reason.
MAOTE: Ah. But suddenly, this is all about…
ME: The terrible way men treat women, especially in the male dominated worlds of SF and comics. I mean, please. This is about the rotten way people treat other people, or, if you look at the other perspective, the spectacularly shitty way Harlan Ellison just behaved in public towards Connie Willis. Either it's entirely their problem to resolve… or it is all of ours. But it isn't simply about This Evil Majority Against That Oppressed Heroic Minority. The idea that all men would behave the way Dickhead Ellison did is simply moronic. I refuse to allow Harlan fucking Ellison to be used as some kind of symbol of my entire gender, just as I refuse to allow myself to be forcibly identified with the behavior of other members of my gender – or, for that matter, any other set or subset I belong to without my consent – that I abhor. But now that this has happened, every other female professional in SF or comics, and every other fangirl, is trotting out their own atrocity stories, about how they got felt up in an elevator at a con, or how demeaning it is for them to have to draw superchicks with gigantic hooters all the time, or the terrible leering expressions they have to put up with on guys’ faces all the time. And this isn’t about how men treat women, in SF or comic books or anywhere else. It’s about how Harlan Ellison treated Connie Willis at a WorldCon during an awards ceremony, or it’s about how fucked up human beings treat other human beings. It’s one or the other. But making it about how men treat women is simply hateful, biased, provincial, backwards ass thinking. I’m a man, and I do not treat women the way Harlan Ellison treated Connie Willis.
MAOTE: Okay. I think I get it. Something you said, though… "put his hands on". That sounds like a firm line you're drawing, a point of definition. Are you saying that inappropriate social behavior begins with touching someone without their consent? That, for example, harassing speech, should be forgiven? If, for example, Ellison had made a crude remark about Willis' anatomy 'all in good fun', but hadn't touched her, that would be okay?
ME: I'm saying that there is no subjectivity about putting your hands on someone when they don't want you to, in a specifically sexual manner. That is, straight up and objectively, violence, and unless you're in a situation where violence is clearly justified, you don't do it. And I'm also saying that sexual touching – fondling – is the sort of thing that responsible adults need to always assume is unwanted and unwelcome, unless they have specific information otherwise.
MAOTE: You've never put your hands on someone, touched someone, without their explicit permission?
ME: Not sexually. I'm not talking about a touch on the shoulder or putting your arm around someone or a hug, something like that. I'm not saying that's okay, I'm simply saying, there are circumstances where it's okay; there's some subjectivity. But sexually touching someone without permission… no. You don't do that. And it doesn't matter what gender is touching which. If it's sexual, and it's nonconsensual, it's violent, and it shouldn't happen.
MAOTE: Okay, but back to the other thing. So this is where you draw the line on unacceptable social behavior? Sexual touching that one party hasn't consented to?
ME: No, I'm including that in my definition of 'violence'. We can agree that there are very few occasions on which violence is appropriate social behavior, right?
MAOTE: Uh… well…
ME: Connie Willis wasn't coming at Ellison with a chain saw or anything, right? He can't argue that he was trying the infamous Boob Grab defensive maneuver as seen in that cool episode of Star Trek where Kirk has to fight in the arena against the alien gladiators, right?
MAOTE: You mean where he has his hands chained behind his back and does that really cool backwards shoulder roll to get them in front of him and…
ME: Yeah, yeah, that one.
MAOTE: I love that episode.
ME: All us geeks do.
MAOTE: But, anyway. So, you're saying, non sexual touching is okay, and talking is okay, but when you touch someone in a sexual way without their consent, or you pop someone in the schnozz, then you're out of bounds.
ME: I'm saying there's no subjectivity to it at that point. Speech, facial expressions, non sexual touching… there are situations where it could be justified. Someone can make an argument. It could just be a misunderstanding, and adults have to take some responsibility not simply for their own potentially offensive behavior, but for how quick they are to take offense at someone else’s behavior. But you grab someone by the tit or the genitalia without them specifically signing on for the treatment, you're out of line, just as much as if you knee someone in the solar plexus for no good reason. These are objective standards, and inarguable. You cause someone physical harm, you touch them deliberately in a sexual area, you’re just wrong.
MAOTE: Yeah, okay. But admit it. Men do tend to do more sexual harassment of women, than vice versa. And what Ellison did, well, no, not every guy would do that, but a lot of guys do, and it probably is a problem in the specific reality tunnel of SF and comic books, given that those reality tunnels are dominated by male geeks, whom we’ve already established, are largely socially clueless. And your insistence that this isn’t a feminist issue, or a man/woman issue, is at least somewhat motivated by the fact that you understand your gender does tend to be guilty of these offenses when it can get away with it, so there is some justification to the mass outrage at Ellison publicly groping Willis by female fandom.
ME: Wait. What was the middle thing…?
MAOTE: Fuck you, bitch! Admit it! It pisses you off that chicks are up in arms at every guy in the world, especially every guy in fandom, over what Harlan Ellison did, but still, they’ve got some righteousness on their side, because male geeks are for the most part pretty fuckin’ horny. SAY it.
ME: Yeah, okay, it pisses me off that many of my fellow geeks who happen to be male behave boorishly towards other of my fellow geeks who happen to be female, enough so that they feel righteously indignant on behalf of Connie Willis, as well as personally injured, when a dickhead like Harlan Ellison gropes her in public. But it also pisses me off that because I’m a guy, I’m apparently not allowed to be indignant on Connie’s behalf as well, in fact, I’m assumed to be part of the problem, and I’m not. And it pisses me off even more that, again, this whole thing has become a huge deal, and nobody is asking Connie Willis if she wants to be anyone’s martyr to propriety.
MAOTE: So you are outraged.
ME: Well, I’m more outraged about the last two Presidential elections, but, yeah, if they need volunteers to whack Harlan Ellison’s pee pee, I’d like to put my name on the list, certainly.