A comment on my battletech review over at discord a while back asked why I made a fuss at all about the SJW stuff in it? If it made someone happier to see odd genders included, or a "diverse" command staff (that was hispanic, oriental, etc., no white men, or even whites), what does it hurt?
Similarly, over the latest Comicsgate kerfluffle, a regular blogger over at Superversive wrote On Nike and Vox Day And Why You Shouldn’t Care About Either. To wit, why virtue signaling and staking territory in the culture war is a losing game and doesn't matter.
First comes Nike and their decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their ad campaign not three days before opening kickoff of the NFL season. At a time when the league would like the focus to be on football, we’re right back to arguing about the National Anthem instead.
Second comes the controversial, Vox Day, who announced a third comic book imprint named, ComicsGate. Basically, Vox has commandeered the hashtag of a recent movement of consumers tired of having identity politics crammed down their throats by the SJW-infested traditional comic book publishers.
This move has the anti-CG crowd screeching that this proves the movement actually is just a bunch of racist white supremacists (never mind that at least 50% of the movement and the indie publishers attached to it are minorities). It also had the pro-CG side screeching about Vox bringing in this garbage in the first place.
You want to know a little secret? This screeching over both issues from both sides? It is exactly what Nike and Vox Day were hoping for.
Because their actions are not targeted against the side that opposes them at all. Both are looking at drumming up sales from the customer base they already know they have on their side. By stirring up the pot like this, they earn free publicity and fire up those inclined to buy their products to actually get off the couch and spend their money. And all in the name of “sticking it” to the other side.
I sens a bit of projection here. Hey, it's just words and publicity, no-one actually means this.
But I do have a theory on why Vox does some of the things he does. I think he likes playing the provocateur. And if it allows him to exact some revenge on a group of people he feels wronged him several years ago, that’s just more of an incentive for him to do so.
He’s a smart businessman and knows when to exploit an opening. He’s done it twice now and you cannot deny he’s getting exactly what he wants: You and I and many others are talking about him and his publishing companies.
What’s the old adage? “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Vox, like Nike, know this and they are cashing in on the publicity they’re getting this week in a huge way.
Someone here is very focused on marketing/appearance rather than substance and structure. I'd be willing to bet they don't spend. alot of time in ASL or similar games.
The downside is that while Vox is getting his brand recognition, serious issues are getting trampled over and not being resolved. In fact, Vox is only making things worse for those who actually hoped to accomplish something positive.
Note that what Castalia/Arkhaven/Vox wants - to develop a sustainable infrastructure for selling books/comics/etc. that are friendly to our side of the culture war that can't be boxed into uselessness - isn't what he's concerned about, or considered an acceptabe form of accomplishing "something positive"
When the Sad Puppies tried to get the Hugo Awards to recognize what they were doing wrong, Vox barged in with the Rabid Puppies and blew the whole thing up. Which was likely his plan all along. Not only did he get the “publicity” he also got to nuke the award his enemies so prized.
The end result? The Hugos are a joke, the Nebulas are a punchline and both are beyond salvaging.
Publicity again. Hmmm. Ever watched Vox try to market? Marketing genius he is not. Strategist, yes. Builder, yes. Marketer? No.
The author also implies a causal relationship as if Rabid puppies turned the Hugos into a joke, vice revealing them to be a joke so rotted out it cannot be salvaged. Also, Worldcon and the TruFan crowd blew it up completely out of proportion in response to what were mostly reasonable, and a couple provocative, actions on the part of the puppies. The rabids did the few provocative ones, but mostly played it straight.
It was the trufans voting to no-award damn near everything, and running to the media for coordinated hit pieces, and handing out ass-terisks that really showed how rotted out it was. They had the opportunity to be adults and prove the puppies wrong.
The puppies catalyzed it, but didn't cause it. It had been in process for years.
Here's another bit. Comicsgate and the related parties were supposedly about not having politics in their comics.
It sounds grand until you realize that outside of the virtue signaling going on - not actual politics - politics and the underlying philosophies that drive them are a part of all stories. Simply by not signaling a current-year political issue within his work, even leaving aside the inherent worldview of the story itself, a creator is taking a political stand.
When everything is soaked in virtue signaling leftism, simply removing the virtue signaling looks like "not politics".
I submit instead that while "no politics" is - maybe not "catchy" - pithy, it's inaccurate.
If you listen to the complaints, sure, it's about "not having politics rammed down our throats". The deeper issue is that the only politics allowed were leftist. Sure, virtue signaling and overt preaching are usually lazy writing no matter what side of the aisle you're on, but instead the issue should be that we should be able to tell the stories we want, with as much or as little signalling as we want, and to see if the fans will buy them.
This includes "right wing" politics.
In short, creators weren't allowed to write the stories they wanted (unless leftist), and readers had to put up with stories full of crap they didn't want (unless leftist) with no other options allowed to be made available. It wasn't just about not having racist/sexist/whatever comic books/games/SF&F, you had to actively approve.
[edit - added] It's when neither the creators nor the readers have a choice in the balance of politics, that it is being rammed down their throat.
And I've noted before that Rebel and her outfit was a bit of a deliberate poke, but she's only one character, in a broad range of well-drawn characters with different backgrounds and beliefs. And that "poke in the eye"? A internationally recognized symbol of rebellion against authoritarianism that a mere few decades ago was used by the good guys in an iconic TV series.
The fact that supposedly right-of-the-left, much less right-of-center individuals would have an issue with the battle flag is in and of otself an indication of how far the left has pushed things.
Now, when the people behind Comicsgate were hoping to show the Traditional publishers how wrong the path they were on actually is, Vox charges in and blows everything to hell once again.
Because it worked so well in Gamergate and the Puppies to warn the SJW's how they were excluding people and going broke getting woke. Not that it stopped the SJW's from calling everyone Nazis.
Also - you have copyright, trademark, and then distribution channels. Anyone who has seen domain squatters knows that not registering something can have painful consequences down the road. Yes, Vox registered the imprint. No-one was required to use it. If they wished to use it, they automatically had a built-in delivery-on-demand distribution channel to go with it.
Did it make it easier to say "you're associating with that eeebil (mexican/irish/native american) 'white' nationalist 'racist'". Sure. They were already being called that, complete with credible threats of violence. What else is new. This is what I meant earlier when I discussed embracing being called a Nazi, but not actually being a Nazi. You can't suck up to them hard enough to make them like you until you're dead.
Enough about John McCain though....
But then conservatives and all too many leftist neocons and recent converts are all too willing to signal how not-racist they are aside from the one heresy or so that separates them from the SJWs. As demonstrated above, they want to be accepted by the club, not build a new one.
Oh, the other side is going to lose this fight. There is no doubt about that. The dwindling sales numbers clearly show the downward spiral they are on. But it didn’t have to be another ugly cage match like we saw with the Puppies.
The cage match stripped off the pretense and freed people up to choose a no longer pretty lie or begin with something new. Otherwise it would have been hidden for years.
But I’m pretty sure that doesn’t matter to Vox, any more than the after-effects of the Kaepernick ad decision will have on the NFL matters to Nike.
They got their publicity. They got their brand recognition. They’ll get their Benjamins. They’ll get the gold mine.
Someone is really focused on this marketing thing and not on what has been repeatedly stated over years. Focusing on these kinds of publicity stunts instead of focusing on consistent quality of product is why companies fail. Also, it doesn't appear Nike is swimming in the dollar bills.
You all can go to hell. I’m wasting no more time on people who just don’t matter. I’m too busy writing novels and getting ready to launch my own graphic novel next year.
My advice to the rest of you?
Create your own books or go out and find some great indie creators and enjoy their work instead of wasting your time, your money and your energy on these idiots.
People who are building sustainable infrastructure and not just one-offs matter. Because when you go write your book, you can get help getting it distributed and published and edited and a good cover - the things publishers do that actually add value - and return to focus on your writing.
Or you can waste time trying to reinvent the publishing pipeline wheel instead of, you know, writing.
And yes, I know, some, like Nick Cole, have done damn well, at least in Amazon, with their ebooks. Who are they pushing their older work, and print versions through in many cases?
Speaking of new books to keep an eye out for, the first book of the six-book Timeless series is due out later this month. If time-traveling space pirates trying to save the past in a steampunk universe appeals to you, this is the series you’ve been waiting for.
If you look at the original article, you'll see the cover of his latest work. It seriously needs professional work. I'll grant it's better than no book, but cover art matters, and that one is obviously not up to snuff.
This attitude - that it doesn't matter (yet simultaneously it looks bad when Vox steps in) goes hand in hand with a failure to understand that this is a culture war. You stake a position. You defend your ground. You develop an infrastructure and cultural-generation engine. It's like Go - which can seem almost passive aggressive at first but is all about staking out territory, reinforcing it so it can't be seized, and surrounding it to seize it.
You can only count so long on it being easily done through third parties like Amazon, etc., you need to put infrastructure in place - repeatable infrastructure, to distribute the work you're doing if you wish to have people read it, much less pay you for it.
So we conclude this first part. Brian over at Kairos also had some good commentary.
Later we'll get into why the SJW signaling does matter,