wJul 14, 2008

The Internets Never Sleep

Firstly, I will remind you all (as Dave reminded me!) that the first Act of Dr. Horrible goes live today! These are only staying live until midnight of July 20th.

I'd really like to know how the conversation went when deciding on the cover of this week's New Yorker. "It's okay for white people to be racist, because we're being ironic!" No.

Black Lagoon is one of my favorite anime series, and it's been announced that it will have a third season.

Last Sunday, I went to see the movie Wall-E with Creighton, Carolyn, Gordon, Antoine, and a couple of friends of C&C. I had forgotten to mention that, but I did find the movie incredibly sweet. Probably the only critique I have of the movie is its treatment of obesity, equating it with laziness, stupidity, and ignorance. There is an article describing this, and why it sucks, here.
Wall-E is an innovative and visually stunning film, but the "satire" it draws is simple-minded. It plays off the easy analogy between obesity and ecological catastrophe, pushing the notion that Western culture has sickened both our bodies and our planet with the same disease of affluence. According to this lazy logic, a fat body stands in for a distended culture: We gain weight and the Earth suffers. If only society could get off its big, fat ass and go on a diet!

But the metaphor only works if you believe familiar myths about the overweight: They're weak-willed, indolent, and stupid. Sure enough, that's how Pixar depicts the future of humanity. The people in Wall-E drink "cupcakes-in-a-cup," they never exercise, and if they happen to fall off their hovering chairs, they thrash around like babies until a robot helps them up. They watch TV all day long and can barely read.

It ought to go without saying that this stereotype of the "obese lifestyle" is simply false. How fat you are has a lot more to do with your genes than with your behavior. As much as 80 percent of the variation in human body weight can be explained by differences in our DNA. (Your height is similarly heritable.) That is to say, it may not matter that much whether you eat salads or drink "cupcakes-in-a-cup," whether you bike everywhere or fly around in a Barcalounger. If you have a propensity to become obese, there's only so much that can be done about it.

That's not to say that our circumstances can't lead us to gain weight. But there's little evidence that overeating causes obesity on an individual level and no real reason to think that anyone can lose a lot of weight by dieting. (Most of us fluctuate around a natural "set point.")
The article should be read in its entirety. It contains many links, sending you to lengthier discussions of these issues. Perhaps someone could forward a link to Rachel Moss.

I don't know how many of you have been following the Helix kerfluffle, but the most absurd exchange I've read thus far has been when writer Yoon Ha Lee contacted F&SF Helix, asking them to remove her story from its archives. She no longer wants to be associated with them after a writer posted their rejection slip on LiveJournal, showing that it contained negative views of Muslims. Emphasis is added by me.
Sanders flounced off in a huff, stating that the story "never did make any sense" and that he only accepted it to "please those who admire your work"--what altruism!--"and also because (notorious bigot that I am) I was trying to get more work by non-Caucasian writers." If I were a writer currently submitting to Helix, I would kind of worry about that bit--all things considered, if a story really does suck, I'd rather have it rejected so I can fix it.

He then played psychic and claimed that I only asked for the story to be withdrawn "because, let's get real here, you feel the need to distance yourself from someone who is in disfavor with the kind of babbling PC waterheads whose good opinion is so important to you, and whom you seem to be trying to impress with this little grandstand play."

He closed with: "There was a suggestion I was going to make, but it is probably not physically practicable."

I'm actually totally okay with being told the story makes no sense; I'm fond of "Shadow Postulates" for my own reasons, but it is indeed a flawed story, albeit a flawed story that several readers have enjoyed, so it's not all to the bad.

In any case, there it stands. As for my literary career, small thing that it is, maybe it'll survive, maybe it won't. We'll see.

Meanwhile, if you are a fellow chromatic writer who writes stories that make no sense (and trust me, I have done this LOTS, and I have friends' comments and the rejection slips from F&SF--which I am, note, not posting--to prove it), try Helix! Send 'em in! There's a home for us now! (Well, y'all rather than "us," because I suspect anything I hypothetically sent to Helix would be deleted unread.)

What a jerk! Where do these people come from?

Sanders has now said that any writer who wants a story removed must pay $40.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 10:39 PM

You said "Yoon Ha Lee contacted F&SF, asking them to remove her story from its archives."--she didn't ask F&SF to do anything like that, it was *Helix* she asked to remove her story. F&SF's a print mag, so they couldn't do any removing of stories from archives.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:00 PM, July 15, 2008  

Thank you for correcting me! I edited the post here and on my LJ, and will point out my mistake in the next post I make.

By Blogger Jackie, at 12:07 PM, July 16, 2008  

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