Your Happening World (March 16nd)

  • What’s the Deal with Kemono Friends?– I wasn’t even paying enough attention to the announcements or the upcoming anime charts to know that what would become the Japanese anime fandom’s biggest anime of Winter 2017—a moe animal girls show based off of a defunct mobile game rendered in exceedingly poor CG—even existed. But here we are
  • A letter to Apex editors re: the intersectional SFF roundtable – It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.
  • The Anti-Library of Kemono Friends: Fans, Theories, and Everything in Between – With a plot like that, it’s easy to think of the show as a Dora the Explorer thing — except it aired as a late night anime. The more you watch the show too, the more you realize the Japanese fanbase might be onto something. There seems to be a cynical, dark past to Japari Park amidst all this cute girls doing cute things crap.
  • Being an itemised list of disagreements – The main reason RH/BS was able to bully people with impunity for such a long time was because it looked, from the outside, as though the SFF community condoned her behaviour. You’d see a Known Cool Person chatting with her on Twitter as though it was OK for RH to chase people around on the Internet having a go at them,
  • Forgotten Realms: The Isekai Boom of the 90’s – The main difference between isekai then and isekai now is the intended audience – 25 years ago, it was a staple of the shoujo demographic, rather than today’s escapist playgrounds for young men. Ordinary young women were pulled into alternate worlds where attractive young men told them they had a special destiny to fulfill. They went on grand adventures and usually – though not always – fell in love along the way.
  • The 2017 Hugo Awards: Why Hugo? – So no, nominating for the Hugos this year is not an act of resistance. But I think that it can be an act of affirmation. A reminder that just because the world is going crazy around us, doesn’t mean we’re not going to hold on to what’s ours. That just because we seem to be surrounded (and governed) by people who care about nothing and no one, doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep caring about things ourselves–even when they are completely trivial–and keep working to preserve them.
  • Peter Chung on Japanese animation theory – It’s very easy for even a casual viewer to notice that Japanese animation has a different “feel” than American animation. Usually the difference is attributed to a divergent cultural viewpoint. What most viewers don’t realize is how much it actually comes down to the physical differences in the technical processes.
  • Breaking Gender Norms, Healing Trauma and Finding Acceptance in PriPara – It’s never stated that Love is trans, but it’s very easy to make the connection between her self-image to that of many trans women. I personally couldn’t help but view her as trans as I watched the episode the first time and the same goes for later episodes and rewatches. Intentional or not, PriPara made what might be the most positive and accepting portrayal of trans women in anime with Love’s character. Nobody ever bashes Love for her build, not during her reveal or later episodes. She’s always looked up to by the people around her as a beautiful woman whose height and etc. only enhances her lovely appearance.

I blame Heinlein

It’s a day that ends in a “y”, so Sarah Hoydt must’ve said something stupid again. Yup:

The main reason I like first person singular is that for a moment it tricks you into that space behind the eyes of another person, relieving the loneliness of that narrative voice that can only ever describe your own life.

This is a universal and enduring quality. I’ve had teachers tell me — and to an extent they’re right — that first person is “less believable” because you KNOW you haven’t done those things.

Who believes that? Seriously, who believes that? Nobody, that’s who. First person singular is how you tell what you did this weekend to your cow-orkers around the water cooler on Monday. Nobody would confuse that with what they did that weekend. But that’s not the annoying thing about this quote. Rather, the tone of voice is what grates. I blame Heinlein for this. He was a master of selling total bullshit with a straight face, sounding authoritative even when it was clear he was talking out of his hat. But filter it through 3-4 generations of right wing imitators and it becomes what you see here: all the bullshit, none of the authority.

Your annual Hugo sabotage

Well, that made me laugh in the midst of yet another puppy temper tantrum/Vox Day publicity stunt thrown at the expense of the Hugos. As you know Bob, “Chuck Tingle” is a cult writer of increasingly bizarre gay porn, usually about being pounded in the butt by metaphysical concepts. The pups thought it would be hi-larious to nominate his story “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” for Best Short Story, just because it sounded similar to Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” which they still have an incredible hate-on for. And of course also because these are the kind of people who think calling somebody gay is both funny and an insult.

Of course the only real reason it’d bother anybody is because it means some more worthy story lost out because of this stupid stunt, not so much that a bit of gay porn with a sci-fi flavour got nominated in the first place. Tingle nominating Zoe Quinn to receive his award is a great piece of counter trolling. Zoe Quinn was Victim Zero of Gamergate, as her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni involved the shadier parts of the socalled gaming community to harass her. Puppies being who they are they’re of course on the harassing side, so having Quinn accoet is a giant fuck you in their direction by Tingle.

It helps soften the annoyance and pain of having to deal with their shit for another year.

The smell of print comics gives me flashbacks now

Tabletop Gaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem (but don’t think your nerd hobby is any better):

White male terrorism is the white underbelly of the gaming community, meant to terrify and disrupt the lives of those who threaten the status quo by race, gender, or sexuality. It succeeds because the majority of men in the community are too cowardly to stand against the bullies and the terrorists. At best, these cowards ignore the problem. At worst, they join the terrorists in blaming their victims for the abuse. The point of online terrorism is that it is endless, omnipresent, and anonymous.

This is an absolutely disgusting story and sadly all too typical for many women/POC within fandom and nerd circles. I want to believe that this is an American problem and that we’re better here in Europe, but I fear that’s a lie.

How to run an accessible con: some notes

Did you know that hotel carpet can be a pretty big burden on wheelchair users? That it can take up to three times as much energy to move your wheelchair over carpet than over a hard floor and therefore wheelchair users are tired more quickly than normal? When you think about it, it seems obvious, but the trick is to think about it when you’re not somebody with actual experience in riding a wheelchair around a con…

Just one of the things we learned in Vanessa May’s “how to run an accessible con” workshop/demo at Mancunicon. An one hour panel is of course nowhere near enough to begin to understand the subject, but it did provide a good overview of the mindset you have to have to be able to make a con accessible.

And the first question you have to ask as a con is how you define accessibility. Vanessa May urged people to take the broad view, to take into account both physical access needs (for wheelchair users, visually impaired, auditory impaired, etc) and psychological needs (quiet spaces for people with social anxieties to be able to decompress frex) as well as folding in things like religious or ethics based dietary choices under the access umbrella.

That was the theme that ran through most of her discussion about access needs. It’s relatively easy to get the 101 stuff right, to make sure that the hotel can be entered by wheelchair users, but harder to take the broader picture into context of what is really needed to make a hotel con accessible for them. Not just entrances, but baths, toilets, rooms, accessibility of hotel bar & restaurant, capability to get on the panel stage unaided, etc. There are a lot of things you can only discover with the aid of somebody with practical experience of being in a wheelchair trying the hotel out; the same goes for other kinds of access needs.

The other thing May stressed throughout the panel was to keep in mind the big picture. Access should be central to the con, but the ideal convention does not exist. Improving access has costs, both monetary and opportunity wise and they have to be balanced against the other needs of the con. One example being the carpet mentioned above: hard floors everywhere would be better for wheelchair users, but much harder on those walking. Some people argue that access needs should be the first to taken into consideration, but May is wary of that as it can be its own form of privilege. Related to that is the requirement to make the con’s accesibilty known early: what is and isn’t there so people can make decision to come or not before they waste money on memberships and hotel rooms.

Some of the points made by May as well as the audience when talking about concrete examples of deciding accesibility:

  • The venue is the highest priority as infrastructure limits what you can do
  • Assess hotels not just a year before, but also shortly before the con as things may have changed. See not just the rooms picked out by the hotel, but one or two more so you don’t just get the very best of the hotel.
  • Beds: height, type of mattress.
  • Toilets should be higher in accessible bathroom
  • Mobility – Looking for things like doors, level access, lifts (back of house/freight lifts) and CARPETS as riding carpets takes more energy than hard floors
  • Visual: look for things hard to notice (overhanging plants) patterns & colours
  • Echoing spaces for people with hearing issues, hearing loops, alarms that have alternate modes for visual and hearing impaired people
  • Function space: quiet rooms for people to chill out other than your hotel room
  • Does the hotel reset the function rooms each night, because then you have to set them for access again in the morning.
  • Escape seats at the back of the rooms for people with anxiety
  • Mobility spaces in the back or middle so people in wheelchairs/scooters don’t block people behind them
  • Reserved spot next to mobility space for partners.
  • Reserve 1 spot at the front for people with combined issues
  • Involve the concom early to make sure both they and everybody else know access is important.
  • Brief the gophers and note that many abled bodied people do not quite understand disabled needs
  • Listeners: need to be trained, known and trusted because it’s the ideal position for a predatory person to abuse.
  • Audience: Tech team is almost always in the front line because they’re in the room as reps of the con and get the issues first hand
  • Audience: The whole team has to think access.
  • Ribbons as visible clues, rather than as requirement to get help.
  • Social media needs to emphasise access
  • Website: alternative website with big print, screen reading, big easy buttons