The Answers We Seek…

A few things that have come up regarding the Val D’Orazio and Chris Sims Harassment situation…

One?  Why did he wait so long to apologize?  In an ideal world, Chris would have apologized when he realized the damage he had done.

This is the most damning part of the post harassment.  Chris offered a reason that, while I kind of get it, simply does not absolve this severe lapse in judgement.  His reason was, she had cut herself off, and he did not want to force the situation on her.  But the thing is, had he simply apologized a few years ago there are at least two possible ways it would have played out.  One, maybe she would have angrily said “fuck off, Sims.”  But at least he would have been making the effort.  That would have said a lot for others even if she had rejected it.  Another likely possibility?  She accepted the apology they made peace and the Gamer Gate folks had no (intentional or unintentional) ally.  Chris Sims blew it on this front.  It makes any apology now one that will be severely scrutinized.

Two?  This went on from 2007 to 2010.  Chris Sims started working for Comics Alliance under Laura Hudson’s guidance in February of 2010.  Why did they not vet him better?  My theory is they did not really vet Chris.  They looked at his blog popularity, his general writing style and thought he would add something to the CA world.  How could they overlook this?  I also think the truth is a little harsh.  I do not think many people thought what was going on was “Chris is harassing Val.”  I mean, I read posts where he basically said how much he did not like Val.  But I missed some of the harsher comments he left for her, since it I pretty much only read comment threads where I had commented.  And there were a lot of folks (some more progressive than Chris was at the time) who were coming down hard on Val.  The discussions surrounding threats on line had not hit full swing yet… I suspect the truth is, a lot of folks just did not think of what was happening as “harassment”.  So, it was not treated as such by CA when they hired Chris.  I am actually trying to reach out to CA folks on this one.

Three? Chris paid no price for this.  Here, I find myself wondering what the solution is…does the Chris of today not get to work in comics because the Chris of yesterday was a terrible person? If we are not demanding he be fired…what is the appropriate punishment for behavior from 7-8 years back?  Outside of apology, how must he pay?  How should he suffer?

Listen, I am not speaking in hypotheticals here.  From first through twelfth grade, I got harassed and bullied.  My bullies all got away with it.  They suffered nothing.  I stated on Facebook yesterday that Sim’s comment asking D’Orazio if she was “gonna cry, little girl” fills me with an anger that wants to punch that Chris Sims in the face.  I hate that one comment with a intense anger.  But what…was I supposed to call the WB when one of my bullies was a lead on a semi-popular show of theirs?  I really hate to believe the only justice would be to prevent them from making a living, especially when, in Sim’s case the person in question turned around for the better.  And frankly, everybody who came down on Val paid no price for it.  They all went on with their lives, and if we are going to take this seriously, it is not justice to only demand Sims pay a price.  According to Val, Sims was one of the worst not because he wrote bad things (she indicates his followers wrote far worse)…  so why are the folks who followed his lead not being held to account for not paying a price?  Because they are not about to write an x-men comic?  That seems pretty weak.

Four?  Did I mention Gamer Gate?  Yeah.  Why?  Because what actually started this was not a tweet from Val.  What started this was that Val and her husband were aware Gamer Gate was about to use this as an attack on Chris and Comics Alliance…which explains why Chris e-mailed an apology to Val’s husband.  He reached out to Chris and CA.  People have argued it does not matter.  But it does…because Gamer Gate does not care about Val or her values.  They are using her to attack people who have argued and fought for the same things as her.  GG hate Comics Alliance and their “SJW Ways”, and saw the history with Val as the perfect weapon against people who call for diversity within comics and gaming.  This is not something to be pushed aside.  It is not a diversion.  And it is not an excuse.  It matters.

Chris has now repeated taken responsibility and apologized, which is sadly rare.  If Chris lost the X-Men gig, I would shed no tears (though it is not karma-he did not get her removed from any comics)…but I am really not sure how giving in to the mob mentality now is a critical hit of the mob harassment mentality of then.  What is the price the changed person should pay?

Crawling Towrads Light

Hypocrisy.  What is it?  A lot of people seem to think it is “Do as I say, not as I did.”  That is, however, not true.  If I tell you that I did something in the past and tell you I think you would be better off not doing the same thing?  That is simply offering an opinion based in life experience.  But if, for example, I tell you sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong and a sin, and it turns out I am in the midst of cheating on my wife with a man?  That is hypocrisy.    Hypocrisy is “Do as I say, not as I am doing.”

This whole thing with Val D’Orazio and Chris Sims…it is complex.  Mind you, not the part about the 2007-2010 online harassment.  That is pretty much damning public record.  And it was wrong.  But it is complex…because I like them both.

I first was following D’Orazio and her Occasional Super-heroine blog, which I seem to recall discovering via the Girl-Wonder web community.  I found the stories of the behind the scenes in Pro Comics frustrating.  And my memory of initial reactions were her Identity Crisis blogs sparked anger in a lot of people.  Then, suddenly it seemed to change. I discovered Chris Sims and a large group of bloggers that I also found generally engaging.  And then I saw this (what seemed like an unfair) backlash towards Valerie and her blog.   I did not understand it…but to be honest, I did not perceive Chris as leading it.

I did not read a lot of stuff some of these folks posted on her blog, which skewed my perception of what was going on.  I just saw a lot of people getting down on Valerie. But at the time, as I had slammed people I did not agree with, I felt odd calling out people for saying they did not like a person that I liked.

Then Sims joined Comics Alliance, working with people like Laura Hudson.  And since I had a skewed perspective (by missing some of the harsher treatment-understand, I rarely read online comments on peoples’ blogs unless I also left a comment) Sims got a chance to mature.  The guy I followed there seemed to be getting better and better as a person.  I saw him evolve into a person that I respected.

Valerie was someone I had no issue with, she continued in various capacities to push for comics becoming a more inclusive environment for women…and none of her critics could diminish that for me.

Seeing that 2007-2010 Chris actually posted on her blog “are you gonna cry, little girl?”  That is angering, saddening, maddening….it represents everything the “Chris of Today” seems opposed to.

And that is part of the problem.  That old Chris just got to learn and grow up, while Valerie had to suffer the results of his behavior.  I don’t think it is quite accurate to say he reaped reward for the harassment career wise…rather, it was overlooked…and it was overlooked by a lot of people who condemn online harassment, so Chris got to go a path of becoming a better guy, without the sting of his terrible behavior raining down on him.

I get why his getting to write an X-Men comic (how odd is it that I found out, not from any of the news announcements, but rather from a post on Valerie’s Facebook page) for Marvel stings D’Orazio.  Chris was an utter douchebag in his treatment of Val.

These are not, of course, close personal friends of mine.  I am pretty sure neither know who I am…and my interactions with either D’Orazio or Sims have solely been of the twitter/facebook variety.  I mean, I would like to believe that if I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon hanging out with them (or countless of comics fan/pro/critic personalities I have interacted with on the social medias) it would be an enjoyable time.  But I cannot say I know the “Real Chris Sims” or the “Real Valerie D’Orazio.”

This is not vindication for those kids who hated Sims and Comics Alliance over their advocacy for diversity in the industry…I took the time to read some of the different comments, and there sure seems to be a lot of people gloating because they thing Comics Alliance and Sims are being shown for being great hypocrites.  But here is the thing, Sims is not being a hypocrite to oppose behavior that he has indulged in years past.  People can grow and regret and be horrified by their own actions and former beliefs.

Chris has publicly apologized.  His e-mail to Val’s husband where he mentioned being thrown under the bus was a poor choice of phrase…because he is not being thrown under the bus.  I suspect it was not his intention with the phrase, but there is no way around the fact that it sounds like a “poor me line”.  But he is in a rather odd place…as the people who are angry if he does not apologize, but when he does, every motive is heavily scrutinized.  And honestly?  I kind of hate that.  I support Val.  I think she deserves support.  But if we are going to be a community that allows nobody the opportunity to grow and change, where there are no second, third or fourth chances?  No opportunity to step up and offer regret and apology without folks assuming it is totally false?

I don’t think that is a community worth being a part of.


(As an aside, I see a pretty big difference between this and the Brian Wood situation…Brian did not fully own up to the situation and made an effort to end the controversy with a “you just misunderstood” line of defense…Sims is offering no such excuse)

Where Is the Protest

Ever since the #BlackLivesMatter movement got going shortly after the shooting of Mike Brown there has been an attempt by (overwhelmingly white) conservatives to challenge with a very consistent meme of “Where is our protest?”

The meme works this way…people find an incident where a person shoots and wounds or kills a cop.  They then demand to know where the protesters are.  It is an attempt at a big gotcha for hypocrisy.  Except…it is not even kind of an example of hypocrisy.  And therefore it is not a successful gotcha either.

Here is the thing…the protests related to unarmed black men being killed by cops are not based in “One guy killed another guy.”  So right there, examples where a cop is injured in the line of duty start to crumble.  The specific protest here is that it is a cop doing the killing.  And the reason people are marching in protest is that police represent the system.  They see a problem in the system that they want corrected.

When a criminal shoots a cop, it is always seen as tragic.  It is pretty much never justified outside of the most fringe elements and the cop is proclaimed a hero in local media.  It does not become a nationwide news story very often because…well, their jobs are dangerous and it is presumed there are risks.  If there is not an angle that makes it unique from other “line of duty threats”, such as the shooter citing a national incident, it pretty much remains a local story.

And, the shooter is usually a criminal, which is why there is only candle light vigils instead of protests.  The police will hunt this guy down and no grand jury is going to say, “Nope, no reason to indict!”  The system will demand punishment forth acts of the criminal, not argue the criminal had no choice.  Marching in the streets against a confirmed criminal act makes no sense…what change would people be calling for?

People protest to change the system and problems within the system.  Criminals who shoot cops are outside the system and breaking the law and do not get the cover of the law for what they did.

It should also be noted that very few of the people shot by cops get protests.  By and large, most people killed by cops are never national news, and largely accepted as justified.  It is when there are other elements that make careless police work (to be polite) stand out and people take notice.

So…no, of course there are no protests when cops are shot…everybody thinks the shooter was in the wrong and deserves punishment.  Cops do not get protests, they get candlelight vigils in their memory.



So, Republicans sent a letter to Iran.  And, shockingly, it is not working out the way they expected.  Some Republicans are taking the “It was just a joke” approach.  Lighten up, everybody!

The Daily Show noted that both sides are pretty hypocritical on this exact issue.

What it comes down to for me was content.  It was such a condescending letter, joke or not.  Sending such a letter to the leaders in Iran (most of home were educated in the west) talking as if they are greatly ignorant of our most basic government setup (really?  You need to explain how a President is only president for four to eight years?!) is just bad form.  It looks pathetic and it sure does not make our government look good.

It is almost like Republicans hate America so much, they will do anything to bring her down a notch.

I need to believe that, because the only other logical reason Republicans did this douche move is that they are such monumental idiots, they are unworthy of office…and that is just to scary a thought.

Dig Deep (Digging Up the Marrow, 2014)

Ahhhh…the mock documentary.  A branch of the horror found footage genre that seems to have an endless supply.  On rare occasion, more familiar names from the industry get the itch to make them.

dumposter-digging-up-the-marrowAnd so, Adam Green (Frozen, the Hatchet franchise) assembled Digging Up the Marrow.

The film follows Green as he and his cameraman Will Barratt prepare to make a documentary on real monsters hiding in our world.  They are inspired on the journey by a letter from a fan named William Dekker (Ray Wise) who claims to know that monsters are real and how to see them.

The film opens with a montage of convention footage and people Tony Todd, Mick Garris, Don Coscarelli and a whose who of horror talking about monsters.  Adam’s wife Rileah (playing herself, as everyone except Ray Wise is doing in the film) is concerned that Dekker is a crazed fan.

Upon finally sitting down for an interview, Green wonders if he is not dealing with a guy who has lost touch with reality.  And their early forays of sitting out overnight results in rather bland footage, in spite of Dekker claiming to see things.

Then one night, as they are watching claims the monster is directly in front of their hiding spot, when Will turns on his camera light, they are startles (and startle) a creature.  Dekker is upset about turning on the light, worried that the creatures will seal up and leave the area.

The deeper they go into exploring the Marrow (this is what Dekker calls the home of the monsters) the more confused Adam and Will become about what they have seen.  Adams other endeavors (such as his show Holliston) start to suffer as he becomes more obsessed with the stories of Dekker (and who Dekker really is).

Adam becomes disillusioned a bit when Mick Garris and Tom Holland inform him that he is not the only horror director Dekker approached.  He was under the impression he was unique, only to discover he was one of the last, and the first to bite.

When they dig deeper into who Dekker is, it becomes truly dangerous.  There is something creepy about him, and Adam and Will decide to check out the Marrow without Dekker.

Ray Wise is very good in the film, and Adam Green plays Adam Green convincingly.  The film is pretty effective and uses the fake documentary to entertaining effect.  When it comes down to it, I really did enjoy this one.  Green walks the fine line of showing just enough, but effectively using darkness obscure what we are seeing.  The mystery of Dekker is intriguing.

The only real criticism I have is that the very end sequence does not make a whole lot of sense.  Major spoilers are about to happen…

Continue reading

If Man Created Gods

This weekend on Facebook, someone in my friends list linked to this story.  I suspect they meant so approvingly.

Titled “Christians Did Not Invent Imaginary Sky Friend“, the article proclaims that there is no way Christianity invented God.  On one hand, there is a valid statement there.  Christianity did not invent monotheism.  And Christianity’s starting point is that of the previously established Jewish faith.  But that is not the argument the article makes.  Instead, it argues the Christian God is not created because:

Well, that’s an interesting accusation. But let’s think about it for a minute. If God did not really exist, but we decided to invent Him anyway to make ourselves feel good, what would be some of the traits of this fictitious God? We would want Him to be all-knowing and aware of us as individuals, and to care about us. Okay, so far so good. Most importantly, though, we would want Him never to judge us, and no matter how self-centered we behaved, we would want this God to give us a big reward when the time comes.

But that’s not a description of God; that’s Santa Claus. He knows when we are sleeping, he knows when we’re awake, he knows if we’ve been bad or good—but hey, that doesn’t matter because as we all learned from the iconic Kris Kringle holiday special on TV, at the last minute he always says, “Oh, they’re all pretty nice.” And then on Christmas morning, everybody gets presents! Yippee!

The article continues:

The fact is, if we were going to invent a God, we never would’ve invented someone so perfect and righteous. We would’ve invented someone like the gods of Greek and Roman mythology: larger than life, but more like us, with typical human shortcomings, such as selfishness, deception, lust, and the occasional embarrassing drunkenness.

This is unassailable logic, right?  I mean, people would not create jealous gods, gods who demanded we abstain from certain behaviors and so on…right?  If we made up a god, we would make up one who likes what we like and tells us how awesome we are, right?

Except, if you look through history, it is full of religions that have angry and jealous gods.  Gods who demand to be appeased, worshiped and served.  Gods whose love is dependent on how and what rules you follow.

Mankind is more than willing to believe in and worship gods who demand you follow a hard road.  Define perfect and righteous?  God is given to the same shortcomings as us in the Bible, the most obvious being jealousy.  But because God is “Righteous and Perfect”, his human shortcomings are simply written off as…NOT SHORTCOMINGS.  Suddenly, negative human traits are argued to be understandable and not shortcomings in God, because he is “righteous and Perfect” whatever that means exactly.

Even if you stick to the Greek Gods, they were not happy gods who loved us as we are…they were harsh and toyed with people.

So, from the earliest time to the present, people who appealed to dangerous and uncomfortable gods who demanded much.

The Merry Catholic claims:

Finally, the God revealed to us by the Christian religion offers this warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven….I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

Whoa, that’s not very comforting. Where is the big reward that everyone is supposed to get when the time comes? If mankind invented this God to make ourselves feel good, how come this God makes us feel so uneasy?

But then, most believers think that the evil doers that have to depart are someone else.  Christians take great comfort in an angry god who will punish those of us who do not agree with them.  The verse in question is not comforting for “evil doers”, but it is certainly comforting for the people who think they are not going to be turned away.

People routinely are drawn to hard religions that demand much of them emotionally, physically and spiritually.  And yet they take comfort in the vague unknown plans of their religious gods.  Why did people make up all those gods if those are totally not the gods mankind would create.

In fact, the appeal to Santa Claus made in the article falls flat.  Santa is a judgmental friend as well.  He gives gifts to the good children and punishes the naughty kids.  Part of the myth of Santa exists to keep kids in line…which is certainly a logical explanation as to why we would generate tough and demanding gods.

I guess what I am getting at is this is not a strong argument against the notion that “You made it up”.