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Mon, Aug. 28th, 2006, 12:26 am
LAcon IV

It was well-run. It was a lot of fun. It went by in a flash. The Hugos were of course enormously satisfying to both tnh and me. The programming we were on was good. We're very grateful to the committee for moving the blogging panel--the one we shared with Kevin Drum, Cory Doctorow, Phil Plait, and MaryAnn Johanson--to a time slot where we didn't have a previous commitment.

That said, here are some notes about the not-so-great which I'd like to get down before memory fades.

(1) I'm acutely aware of the extent to which no Worldcon can possibly use every SF professional who wants to be on the program, and I'm equally aware of the way that every modern Worldcon gets slagged off by pros--usually minor pros--who think they ought to have been granted more appearances before what they fondly imagine to be their adoring public. My usual advice to such complainers is to stop being ridiculous; the World Science Fiction Convention is a service organization for science fiction fandom, not your personal publicity agency. That said, however, it's appalling to read that David Marusek was told they had no use for him on the program. Come on. Knowing about contemporary SF isn't some kind of optional "special interest." If you have nobody on your committee who has a clue who the interesting and major upcoming SF and fantasy writers are, you should be letting someone else run the Worldcon.

(2) The kaffeeklatsch setup was a disaster on stilts. They were held in a curtained-off area just a few yards away from a large stage hosting an ongoing program of music and spoken words being blasted out through a PA. There's no tactful way to say this, so I'm not going to be tactful: This was the biggest fuck-you to hearing-impaired Worldcon attendees since Glasgow in 1995. Given Teresa's hearing loss, there was no question of us actually conducting a kaffeeklatsch in this environment; instead, we led our people out of the Arena lobby, up the escalator to the second floor, and into the Green Room, which was happy to offer us a large round table and the use of their coffee service. This solved our problem, but it did nothing to solve the greater problem, which is Worldcon organizers who are insensitive fuckheads about the very large number of people in any human population, not just fandom, who don't have the hyper-acute hearing of a 21-year-old. I want to know who was responsible for putting a program item devoted to low-key round-table conversation next to a gigantic PA system, and once I know, I want their personal and public apology. I want to see some pain, some embarrassment, and some institutional memory among future Worldcon organizers. This is going to stop.

(3) Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis on stage at the Hugos wasn't funny and it wasn't okay. I understand (from third parties; I haven't spoken to her about it) that Connie Willis's position is that Ellison has done worse and she can handle him, but I really didn't want to watch it and neither, I think, did a lot of other people in the audience. Up to then the comedic schtick aspects of the Hugo presentation had been genuinely funny. After that, I think, many of us just wanted it all to stop.

Just as with George W. Bush's now-famous uninvited shoulder-rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the basic message of Ellison's tit-grab is this: "Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you'll never be safe. You can be the political leader of the most powerful country in Europe. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will."

It's not okay. It's not funny. It wasn't a blow against bourgeois pieties or political correctness. It was just pathetic and nasty and sad and most of us didn't want to watch it. It's another thing that's going to stop.

Tue, Aug. 29th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC)

Here's what I remember happening:

Ellison came on stage and started acting up. (To be fair, Willis's introduction of him was slightly provocative -- when the first thing she mentioned was The Last Dangerous Visions I for one wondered what he was going to do, and judging by the crowd reaction I wasn't alone. Of course this no excuse.) For instance, shortly after coming on he put the microphone in his mouth. (I hear the con ended up having to buy that mike.) A little bit later, the two of them hugged, in what I assume was a pre-scripted moment -- although I could easily be wrong. As they came together for the hug, Ellison moved his hand so that it would land on Willis's breast. Willis immediately grabbed the hand and moved it to her shoulder. The whole thing was over very quickly. There was a little bit of rumbling from the audience; but by the time I (and, I guess, much of the audience) realized what had happened, Willis was already continuing as though nothing untoward had occurred.

Tue, Aug. 29th, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC)

A little bit later, the two of them hugged, in what I assume was a pre-scripted moment -- although I could easily be wrong.

In this case, none of this was scripted. Not Harlan's awkward entrance, not any part of their banter, and certainly not the hug. Laurie Mann, who was holding the Hugo while Harlan read the nominees names, was his handler for the evening. He had refused to come to any rehearsal, even for five minutes to view the stage and the stairs in the wings. He had been rude and insulting during the pre-Hugo Ceremony Reception. He vacuumed up the reception food, claiming that he hadn't eaten all day, when actually he had been cadging food from fans in the concession area during lunchtime. He refused enter the line from the reception area to the seating area, claiming that the last time that Jews had lined up, the end result was the gas chambers. He then complained that he did not get a decent seat. He refused to enter from stage left, where the envelopes and Hugos were, making a awkward hand off to get his nominees envelope. He even refused to come on stage for a few moments, making Connie beg him to appear. I guess I have to be glad his ghastly appearance was at least short lived.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)

I'm really starting to worry...last time I saw him at a con, the folks running it didn't say he was *that* difficult...but that was several years ago.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)

(here via pnh) Wow. That's WAY outside even what I've heard about as "the norm" from him. It's enough to make me wonder if there aren't some health issues involved here. Maybe he needs not to go to any more cons because he's just deteriorating mentally beyond the point of having acceptable inpulse control.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)

Oops -- losing track of whose blog I'm on, following all the links! Sorry, Patrick; I'm actually here via a link someone else posted in a friend's journal.

Wed, Sep. 27th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)

k-rist, what an epic ass.

i used to like his stuff quite a bit: high school and early college. i think that's about the right time for him unfortunately he himself never grew out of himself.