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Jesse Singal Jan 29
1/ As I've said before YA (young adult fiction) Twitter is an intensely toxic and broken internet subculture. Now it's going after an apparently talented debut author -- things are getting out of control and I wanna help shine a light. General background:
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
2/ One tendency in this community (and others like it) is to target people who achieve a certain level of success. In this case, people seem to be attempting to torpedo Amélie Zhao and her (I am told) buzzed-about debut book, Blood Heir, coming out this summer. I was tipped
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
3/ off to what looked like the start of a whisper campaign last week. I have myself been hit by stuff like this, and it always looks the same way -- just really vague and rumor-y, with no verifiable details. Designed simply to spread slime about someone across the internet. Here
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
4/ Zhao is accused of "gathering screenshots"... okay. Five days later things have escalated. People seem to be attacking Zhao and her book from any possible angle, and as is often the case with YA Twitter blowups, it's hard to find any solid evidence the book is evil in the ways
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
5/ people are making it out to be, in part because hardly anyone has read it (there are advance reader copies out there, but lots of people seem to be opining loudly from a place of zero knowledge of the book). Some people are outraged that in the fantasy world this book takes
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
6/ place in, "oppression is blind to skin color," as per the book's PR materials. The argument seems to be that because oppression isn't blind to skin color in our world, it's racist to conjure a fantasy world in which it is. There's also some controversy (spoilers ahead) about
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
7/ a character who people are saying is black, and, on the basis of that assumption, accusing Zhao of treating in a problematic way. But that character's skin color is described as "tawny" and "bronze," which definitely doesn't translate directly to black in that sense, even
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
8/ assuming it's fair to accuse an author of racism because of what happens to a darker-skinned character in a fictional setting. And yet people are running with the idea that Zhao is racist because of what happens to a "black" character who... doesn't sound like she's black?
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
9/ This person, at least, came close to picking up on that, but didn't quite. Anyway, as these things tend to go, we've now reached the point where fairly big and influential names in the community are piling on to Zhao in attention-getting ways to show just how much they are on
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Jesse Singal
10/the right side of this. Though sometimes, whoops, their callout is itself problematic. A bunch of people who haven't read Zhao's book now KNOW that it's racist, that she attempted to harass her critics (because she is rumored to have gathered screenshots[?]), and so on. I HATE
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
11/ these kinds of pileons. They are deeply unfair to the target. Maybe there are fair critiques of Zhao's book. Maybe when people actually read it they'll have legitimate reasons to get mad. But this smells like a half-dozen other dysfunctional YA Twitter blowups that are way
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
12/ more about terrible online dynamics (including the inability of anyone to say "slow down" without themselves getting tarred as bigoted) and rumor-snowballing than actual, principled concerns with the work of literature in question. People should slow down and take a deep
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
13/ breath and realize what social media does to the human brain. And yes, I realize that by tweeting screenshots, there's a chance people will then be mean to the people being mean to the people being mean to blah blah blah. I don't know a way around that. I blacked out smaller
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Jesse Singal Jan 29
Replying to @jessesingal
14/ accounts. I just think in situations like this, it's important to stand up for the person being attacked, even in a small way, and especially when few in their community will do so publicly.
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Jesse Singal Jan 30
Replying to @jessesingal
15/How this works (screencap is YA author): 1. A bunch of successful authors team up to try to kneecap a debut author's career with baseless accusations and rumor-mongering 2. I point this out and say it's bad 3. Now *I*, not they, am the person committing an act of harassment
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Jesse Singal Jan 30
Replying to @jessesingal
16/ If you make the mistake of engaging with these awful SJ-oriented communities you gotta recognize that they view calling out their own harassment as an act of harassment
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Thomas 🚀 SFF180 Jan 30
Replying to @jessesingal
And frankly it’s a bit rich to pat yourself on the back for “standing up for the victim” of an online backlash while posting the names of her critics, thus opening them up to online backlash.
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Jesse Singal Jan 30
Replying to @SFF180
This idea that they are allowed to make unfair claims about someone under their own names, but then that anyone who criticizes them online for doing so is in the wrong, is not something that anyone outside a broken internet community would take seriously
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