A scene from the new Ghostbusters, which wisely makes everything look more badass.
“[Psychological reactance is] the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men, in particular, are concerned to show that they do not accept domination.”
Prof. Johnathan Haidt, describing the phenomenon of psychological reactance to Thomas Edsall in the Times. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link.
I have not seen the new Ghostbusters movie, so I cannot say if it is good or important. Judging by the trailer, the decision to cast women is the most interesting thing about it. I am not as interested in the promise of worse jokes but better effects, or in the decision to remake a hit from 30 years ago whose charms are not just fondly remembered but hard to explain. The first Ghostbusters should not have been good. I’m not sure lightning is going to strike that premise twice. Yet rather than not seeing the new Ghostbusters because it doesn’t look funny, large numbers of men are not seeing it because it’s “all women.” On Twitter, they are not seeing it so aggressively they sent threats and racist memes to Leslie Jones, who plays the black Ghostbuster who isn’t a scientist like the other three. After Twitter banned Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos for inciting the abuse, the hashtag #FreeMilo cast him as a victim of censorship. Clinical discussion of what makes people so awful after the jump.
Author and feminist Eileen Myles
You may have noticed that Combat! blog has gotten later and crappier recently. That’s because I changed my workflow. I generally break my writing day into two-hour slots, with 15-minute breaks between. Combat! used to be the first slot of the day, because it’s an unpaid, non-deadline project and therefore the easiest thing to not do. Now that I’m actively writing prose fiction, though, that’s the easiest thing not to do. So I do it as soon as I wake up, when I am still groggy and mistakenly remember writing as fun, after breakfast but before I do anything else. I used to read the newspaper a little, just to get my brain going, but I changed that policy after I read this interview with Eileen Myles in the New York Times. I quote:
I think it would be a great time for men, basically, to go on vacation. There isn’t enough work for everybody. Certainly in the arts, in all genres, I think that men should step away. I think men should stop writing books. I think men should stop making movies or television. Say, for 50 to 100 years.
What am I to do with that?
John Cornyn is a lizard who sees a cupcake.
Yesterday, a person who claimed to represent the “hacktivist” group Anonymous posted information to the data-dump site Pastebin that outed various public figures, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, as members of the Ku Klux Klan. There are a lot of reasons to believe that data is not real, and no good evidence to suggest that Cornyn or any of the other figures named in the documents are involved with the Klan. I totally fell for it yesterday, partly because “Senate majority whip is a Klansman” is such a good story—too good, in retrospect, to be true. But in my defense, Anonymous has been planning to out Klan members with a document dump on November 5.
Unlucky poetry judge Sherman Alexie
Yesterday, we learned that Michael Derrick Hudson has a poem in Best American Poetry 2015 he submitted under the pen name Yi-Fen Chou. Ben al-Fowlkes sent me Sherman Alexie’s explanation of how that happened, which I like as much as anything he’s written in years. Alexie wisely begins from his own perspective as a writer, which is the familiar mix of high ideals, envy, and conspiracy theory. I find contest judges are unfairly biased in favor of writers who aren’t me. Alexie feels about the same way, albeit for better reasons than I do, and when he becomes guest editor of BAP 2015 he resolves to judge fairly. He also resolves to uphold Rule #5:
Rule #5: I will pay close attention to the poets and poems that have been underrepresented in the past. So that means I will carefully look for great poems by women and people of color. [snip]
Enter Yi-Fen Chou. Alexie read his poem carefully and thought it was great. After he picked it for the anthology and Michael Derrick Hudson unmasked himself, Alexie was enraged. Then he read the poem again and liked it just as much, so it stayed in.
Michael Derrick Hudson, who has published poems as Yi-Fen Chou
I apologize for the lateness of the hour; my plan was to hold today’s post until I could link to a pleasant surprise, but that surprise is not happening until tomorrow. In the meantime, look what Michael Derrick Hudson did. Hudson is a white person and poet who occasionally submits poems under the pen name Yi-Fen Chou. Here he is explaining his method:
After a poem of mine has been rejected a multitude of times under my real name, I put Yi-Fen’s name on it and send it out again. As a strategy for ‘placing’ poems this has been quite successful for me. The poem in question … was rejected under my real name forty (40) times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou (I keep detailed submission records). As Yi-Fen the poem was rejected nine (9) times before Prairie Schooner took it.
The “poem in question” here is “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve,” which Sherman Alexie selected for the 2015 edition of Best American Poetry. Surely it means something that readers rejected one of the best American poems of 2015 when Hudson submitted it and liked it when Chou did. But what?