Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
Is there a term from finding it amusing when people make themselves look like utter cartoons and don't realise how ridiculous they're being?
Voxificity? Then again, Vox passed from being cartoonishly monstrous to just being deeply unpleasant when he voiced his approval of the Taliban shooting Malala Yousafzai in the head (ditto when he commented about how women couldn't possibly beat up men because he beat up a woman once, then described the incident in excruciating detail that bore the tell-tale markers of a domestic abuse situation). JWC just comes across as a foolish little man.
We still have this strangely static view of the Middle Ages inherited from the Enlightenment that doesn't take into account the vast range of cultures and cultural interactions in Europe over the course of nearly a millennium, which (obviously) included shifting concepts of gender roles. Even the notion of medieval Europe as a Catholic wonderland is laughable...e.g. the Grand Duchy of Lithuania did not convert to Christianity until 1386.
If someone is going to idealise the Middle Ages, could they at least start by trying to understand them on their own terms? Rather than just making things up and projecting their own social views backwards?
I think at this point it's pretty clear that this is never, ever, ever going to happen.
...I'm just saying, once you start idealizing some past period of time (especially one that you, personally, were not alive for) at all, you've already started down the Rabbit Hole of Historical Inaccuracy.
So what is my objection?
My objection is to falseness, insincerity, propaganda, bad drama, bad art, and treason against the muses. My objection is to using art for propaganda purposes. My objection is to Politically Correct piety. My objection is to the Thought Police.
My objection is to the spirit of totalitarianism.
Yes, it all comes back (yet again) to him being sad that people yelled at him for being a raging homophobe back in 2009, and how he'd really like to have the right to say any objectionable shit he likes and never, ever get called on it.
*Not quite schadenfreude because Wright isn't actually enduring any suffering or pain for my amusement. Is there a term from finding it amusing when people make themselves look like utter cartoons and don't realise how ridiculous they're being?
That said, I wasn't too keen on the trajectory the blog took in its later phases, where he'd write exhaustive summaries of the contents of long-forgotten magazines and didn't really offer much in the way of insightful commentary, or where he'd post one week "Recently I've been thinking about getting a copy of [oldgame], but alas, it's so expensive and rare" and then the next week post "A kind Grognardia reader was nice enough to send me a copy of [oldgame], so here's what I think about it..."
And while he is wrong on historical points, he would still be wrong even if it could be shown that no woman ever participated in armed conflict before WWI, since arguing that something should be or not be because of historical existence is wrong in any case.
Of course. Textbook is-ought problem, really.
Sorry, I have a habit of jumping on stereotypes about medieval history.
Unfortunately, he's now mostly known for seriously dropping the ball on a Kickstarter
I actually wasn't aware of that, or for that matter of his religion. I guess I'm just a very superficial reader. I remembered enjoying skimming Grognardia, though. As someone who came into D&D in 3.5 and 4th (Baldur's Gate doesn't count as experiencing AD&D!), I'm always curious to read about people's experiences of the old school game.
*sigh* You guys will tell me if any of you have any skeletons in the closet that should make me swear off Ferretbrain, right?
I may be showing a deplorable ignorance, but who is Mr. Maliszewski?
James Maliszewski was, until the tail end of last year, the guy responsible for Grognardia, a blog focused mainly on what became known as the "Old School Renaissance" in tabletop RPGs (mostly people rediscovering older versions of Dungeons & Dragons and promoting styles of play supported by those games which had become unfashionable in more recent games).
Unfortunately, he's now mostly known for seriously dropping the ball on a Kickstarter - a nasty emergency came up in his personal life, which I can sympathise with, and he ended up failing to communicate with his business partners on the venture for several months, which I am less able to sympathise with because they were sort of left high and dry with tens of thousands of customers' dollars resting in James' account and lacking the legal licensing necessary to complete the product without James. Eventually he signed over the rights to them so they could finish the product and he's re-emerged recently on Black Gate, though the words "I apologise to my Kickstarter backers for failing to deliver the product I promised" have never quite escaped his lips.
I raised an eyebrow at his involvement mainly because he's very religious and very political about it, though unlike Jaycee Dub he has the good taste not to loudly broadcast those opinions in every little thing he does. But he does seem to be part, alike with JCW, of this odd cluster of very culturally conservative guys who are worried about the notion that some modern fantasy fans might not particularly enjoy or care about old school pulp fantasy.
And while he is wrong on historical points, he would still be wrong even if it could be shown that no woman ever participated in armed conflict before WWI, since arguing that something should be or not be because of historical existence is wrong in any case. Explosives were a ridiculous idea at some point and a flying thing, besides the obvious culprits, was either a demon or a monster. Not to mention that whole thing called clinical medicine. And should we just reinstitute slavery and oligarchies everywhere(officially) simply because they have always been? While a hierarchical society with a severely limited education system would probably spare the world from the writings of Mr. Wright, it's probably a lesser price to pay in that sense.
Curiously, many people, at least the people of the ancient world actually believed in some cases in the existence of many fantastical beasts like the hippogriff. A giraffe was thought by some to be a mix of a camel and a leopard, for example. Pliny the Elder and Herodotus are wonderful as a source for that sort of stuff. And for sure, the amazons were believed to be real in some sense. So he is actually wrong in that way as well, since while the Greeks might have thought that warrior women were barbaric, they would not have believed them to be fantastical. Funnily enough Wright seems to think that barbaric in the Howardian sense is somehow a real concept, when the original Greek meaning was just an expression for foreign and included the amazonians in question. Its always funny to see someone so arrogantly use the term "every previous generation" and assume that they somehow would even know every possible opinion that that could include.
@Michal -- and well you should treasure such a thing! (You're a fantastic writer, by the way. I haven't kept up with your blog lately, the post was a nice reminder that I probably should.)
Having only skimmed Wright's article, I think what strikes me most is the historical inaccuracy of it. I know, I know, there are countless other things to jump on, but I can't quite make sense of this:
What we, who live in a day and age when women serve in the military, tend to forget is that for every previous generation the sight of a woman in armor was somewhere between cute and ridiculous, and that the Amazons were no more realistic that the Hydra, or Dame Brandomart than the hippogriff who flies to the moon.
All right, the Middle Ages were not, in fact, a sexless and egalitarian society (though my understanding is that they were markedly better than the Renaissance and the Enlightenment), but don't we enough examples of medieval women soldiers to show up that statement for the nonsense it is? We know of women who led men into battle: I don't recall that Matilda of Tuscany was viewed as cute or ridiculous, to pick one example.
Sorry, medieval history is a bit of a passion of mine. If someone is going to idealise the Middle Ages, could they at least start by trying to understand them on their own terms? Rather than just making things up and projecting their own social views backwards?
Oh god, my sides. And he even wears a fedora in all of his author photos. He's like a satirical cartoon of all that's wrong in fandom given blustery, hectoring life.
Either by the deliberate intent of the reviewer, or by the deliberate intention of the mentors, trendsetters, gurus, and thought-police to whom the unwitting reviewer has innocently entrusted the formation of his opinions, the reviewer who discusses the strength of female characters is fighting his solitary duel or small sortie in the limited battlefield of science fiction literature in the large and longstanding campaign of the Culture Wars.
He is on the side, by the way, fighting against culture.
Hence, he fights in favor of barbarism, hence against beauty in art and progress in science, and, hence the intersection of these two topics which means against science fiction.
Oh wow, this guy is a special boy.
"Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters."
I take it that it isn't about these Strong Female Characters...