My brain has been jumping all over the place and my sleep has sucked, so this post is going to meander more than usual. I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit on how I write posts. Not on the writing itself because that’s usually just put down whatever is in my brain. No, it’s about how I decide what to write about. Normally, there’s something pressing on my brain and I let that flow from my fingers until I’ve said all I need to say on the subject or until I lose interest. Sometimes, it’s both, but sometimes it’s one or the other.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my concentration for reasons I don’t want to get into. Suffice to say, it’s not as easy to get shit done as it used to be. Most of the time, I just grit my teeth and force myself to write the post. It may not be as long as it normally is or very good, but I get it done, damn it. Today, however, I’m going to write about whatever is on my mind with no attempt at coherency. Here we go.
Lil Nas X. I didn’t know he existed until yesterday when I read something about Satan Shoes, his new kicks. That he’s selling. Oh, and he’s a rapper? Singer? Both? Anyway, there are 666 pairs and they contain drops of human blood. That’s all I knew when I made this tweet:
*sees ‘human blood’ and ‘Satan shoes’ and Googles*
*immediately feels old and tired*
I’m not offended or shocked. Just embarrassed for him.
I’ve been struggling with anger in the past week, and now it’s come crashing down around me and has settled into a thick goo of depression. i have a hard time finding motivation for anything, and I have a fatalistic viewpoint. I mean, I do in general, but it’s especially bad right now. I have the tendency to be negative, and the pandemic sure isn’t helping.
Side note: My right eye has been twitching for no reason. This has happened in the past, but not to the extent it’s happening now. In addition, my sleep has been really fucked over the days. Not unusual for me, but it’s reverting back to early days sleep, which is discouraging. I don’t sleep enough, and then I’m drowsy all day. Then, when I try to sleep, I’m suddenly wide awake.
As my readers know, I am a big fan of advice columns. I call them my stories, and I have a loop I do every morning. One of them is, was, Doctor Nerdlove, and I need to talk about it. I want to say before getting into the controversy that while I enjoyed reading his column, I did not like his podcasts or his videos. It was puzzling to me how someone who could write a good column with solid advice could not do videos/podcasts well (in my opinion, of course). In addition, while I agreed with his general advice, his specific tips in dating were borderline cringe-worthy to me. His idea of flirting was aggressive and skewed cliched, and if he were to his tricks on me in real life, I would be very turned off. That said, his general advice was sound, and I allowed it to overcome the grimace I always had when I read his specific advice. This is relevant to the rest of the post, I promise.
So, there has been a spate of stories about sexual harassment in different branches of geek culture. Games and comic to be more specific. Doctor NL wrote a post about a mentor of his who was accused of…not exactly sexual harassment, but of sexualizing the attractive young women in his forum in a way that would assume de facto pressure. He had a lot of clout in the industry (comics), and a leg up from him would do a lot for someone’s career. Add to that the fact that comics are still largely white dudes, and it’s easy to see how he could use his power for evil.
In the comments, there were people who didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Distressing, but common. There was one dude who ‘just wanted to understand’ and kept asking questions. It was clear that he really did want to understand, but he was coming at it from the wrong angle. I had a Twitter interaction with an Asian friend that was crashed by a rando who was ‘just asking questions’ about a racial issue, but it became quickly clear that he wasn’t arguing in good faith. I muted him and moved along with my life. In the above case, however, it didn’t really matter that the guy was arguing in good faith because the starting point was so different for him and for the actual situation. He didn’t think the behavior was bad enough to classify as damaging, which was pretty myopic of him. But, it’s sadly common in that people often feel that they are the standard of norm. I’ll delve more into that in the future.
A few days after this, the doc then penned a post about his own situation. He was at a con in 2017 and was flirting with a woman at a bar. He’s in an open marriage, so there’s nothing there (unless he didn’t mention it to the woman involved). By his own recount, they flirted and had chemistry. He thought it was going well, so he reached over, gently wove his fingers through her hair, and lightly tugged.
I’m depressed. This is not new or unusual as I’m depressed all the time, but I’m even more depressed than usual. Why? There are several reasons. One, obviously, Covid-19 and racism. Two, it’s summer. I fucking hate summer. Heat is the absolute worst. Three, I’m spending too much time online. This is my life in general. I tend to take negative opinions too much too heart, and it’s easier to do absence of context. I was reading a question on Ask A Manager, and it was about deliveries not being done correctly. The person asking (OP) wondered if she should go to management. She was very careful to say that she knew it was last resort and she didn’t want to get the person in trouble, but she wasn’t happy with the issues (not wearing masks, demanding she answered the door, etc.). Most people were pragmatic about it–talk to the delivery person through a closed door, put up signs, etc. But a small minority castigated the OP, calling her cruel and said that she was outsourcing her risk to others.
Now, let me be clear. They’re right. She’s paying someone else to take the risk that she isn’t. I know that I’m doing the same thing, and I’m profoundly grateful to the people who do my work for me. I’m not even taking issue with the ‘check your privilege’ attitude because it’s a good thing to recognize where you have privilege in order to decide what to do with it. What bothers me is that by throwing that out there, they are completely shutting down any communication that can be had on the subject. Scolding someone feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t really add to the conversation. I know I’m biased in this case, but I’ve always felt this way. Even when I’m the minority. Yelling at people about how awful they are isn’t going to get them to change their minds. I’m not saying don’t call out the issues, but name-calling and putting others down is not the way to do it. In addition, it can amount to bullying, which I see happening too often online.
In this case, some people pointed out that one person doing the shopping and delivery for a bunch of other people did cut down on the danger in general. They got jumped on, too. Again, I’m not disagreeing about the base point, but it’s more nuanced than that. In addition, the people typing angrily about privilege, well, they have it as well. They have something they are typing on, most likely a cell phone. Which was probably made in China and boxed by people at Amazon or somewhere similar. Places with miserable working conditions, and in some cases, the places had people jumping off the roof to kill themselves so they wouldn’t have to keep working.
A situation has arisen with Bon Appetit that makes me want to talk about it, systemic racism, the protests, and virtue signaling. I know that’s a lot to cram into one post, but that’s how I roll.
A confession before I start the post. I don’t like Bon Appetit’s videos. When they became all the rage during lockdown, I watched a few of the eight chefs at home videos and could barely get through them, and that was with heavy fast-forwarding. I liked Priya Krishna, but most of the other chefs left me cold. I’m naming one specifically because even while I was watching him, I was thinking that only a white dude (and probably het/cis*) could get away with acting like that. It’s Brad Leone, and I cannot watch him. I don’t doubt he’s a good chef, but his whole persona is the epitome of loud clueless white dude, it’s extremely off-putting. But, putting him aside, there are a few other of the white cast who set me on edge as well.
Back to the topic at hand. Five or six days ago, it emerged that the (ex) EIC of Bon Appetit, Adam Rapoport and his wife had dressed up in brownface for Halloween 16 years ago. His wife reposted a pic to Instagram in 2013. They were dressed as stereotypical Puerto Rican in ‘da hood’, and it’s very cringe-worthy. That was just the tip of the iceberg, however. After the photo was released (along with the story by a freelance writer that her piece on Puerto Rican rice fritters was rejected because it didn’t reflect “what was happening ‘right now’ in the food world”, Sohla El-Waylly described a long list of injustices she had to face at work as one of the few PoC working there. Here’s a summary of the story thus far.
Long story short, Adam Rapoport resigned with a lot of mealy-mouthed words about having to be a better person. Other staffers came out with mea culpas or yelping about how they had to do better. Do I sound cynical? It’s because I am. I’ll get to that in a minute, but let me confess something else.
I’ve always viewed Bon Appetit as a snobby faux-elite website. I’m not saying it was a wholly rational, but they always rubbed me the wrong way. They seemed so self-important and self-congratulatory, and I never payed much attention to them even though I like watching making food videos. The brouhaha over their astoundingly tone-deaf article on pho only cemented my feeling. I had forgotten about that until this shit sprang up, but going down the rabbit hole reminded me of it once again.