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WisCon 35, Hotel, Cable TV

May 31, 2011 By: Hiromi Category: Blog, Business of Writing, On the Road

WisCon 35 concluded—what a lovely weekend meeting up with friends from previous Cons, making new friends, and talking, laughing! Nisi Shawl gave a lovely GOH speech and I loved how she situated the idea of genius as not something individual and anomalous, but arising from and because of community, and that it is possible for all to shine. The feminist contingency from Japan, including Mari Kotani and Madame Robot had an excellent panel detailing their feminist domination of Tokon 10 last year in Japan. I loved the discussions that were generated by the Magic Realism and Diaspora panel moderated by Mary Anne Moharanj with Nisi Shawl, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ibi Aanu Zoboi, and yours truly. coffeeandink has shared her notes from that panel on her livejournal if you want to take a look. The loveliest conversations are held during lunch and dinner– reestablishing connections and proposing new projects. Building a wider lattice of communities. I’m so lucky to have been able to attend!

Intensive socializing, panels and a reading. Sometimes the introvert side took over, over-riding the professional face, sending me upstairs to pancake flat atop my bed. And what a lovely bed it was!

I must confess— I don’t have cable TV at home so when I’m on work trips and stay in hotels I am mesmerized by what is on there! Particularly paid-for programming/advertising. This time, of particular note, was the special cantaloupe skin cream that that model uses…. Whoa—the complete lack of any kind of scientific info and reliance only upon the model’s own face and then shots of the special French doctor and the story of him “discovering” the magic melons follows such a fairy tale narrative. Holy smokes, I think. Why not magic beans? Why not the Japanese magic pot? It’s brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness. And frightening. People want to follow the cult of “anti-aging” and “youth” so very much. I love aging faces! I love the distinct lines, the imprint of experience that is etched into skin. I would stare at older people if staring wasn’t considered rude. (The special melon story is fascinating, but I still would opt for the Spanish snail slime cream they were advertising in Leiden….)

I quickly flipped through the numerous “reality” shows figuring young people partying and being unpleasant/drunk because I find them so very painful to behold. Then I was snagged by an “exposé”-type program that combined catching pedophiles with reality TV on hidden camera…. This was sick on multiple levels. I think it’s a good thing, of course, to catch would-be pedophiles who prey on young people online. But to record it on camera and air it on television is another matter altogether. We watch the pedophile enter the house where he’d been directed to go to by the “bait youth/child” and witness him being berated by the “host” of the program. This is truly disturbing as it situates the viewer as a weird voyeur. I think the viewer is meant to feel some kind of moral righteousness as the would-be pedophile is caught and also a sense of justice and power and superiority as we witness the very public humiliation of the man (I didn’t see any women in the program). The different men frequently claimed they had made a mistake. And that they would never do it again, etc. They were very compliant with their guilt, and several of the men mistakenly thought that the “host” of the program was actually the father of the child/youth he had preyed upon online. What the would-be predator doesn’t know is that there are an enormous number of police officers waiting for him outside. He is allowed to leave the house, thinking he has gotten away, when the spotlights are lit and he is roughly made to lie upon his stomach, told he is under arrest and handcuffed and taken away.

What are we when we observe this spectacle? What are we if we gain some kind of satisfaction from it? There is a kind of displaced mob-justice element, here, that should not be encouraged in our species.

Of course I find the idea of pedophiles and predators disgusting and reprehensible, but I don’t think that this means that they ought to be treated the way they are on the television program. I can understand police officers doing this as a part of their work. I suppose some people would say that such shows, if viewed by predators, could serve as deterrent as he may fear being caught is much the same way. And that this is reason enough for this program to continue. But at what cost for those who are not predators—a far larger number of people? That this is televised and can be viewed as a “form of entertainment” troubles me so very much. It can only sicken our spirit…. But I don’t want to end on appalling television programs!

I’ve written about being a writer and mother on this blog and though I’ve been doing these work trips for some time it’s still lovely to get away from the home front, have ROOM SERVICE and lie in bed whilst eating a clubhouse sandwich!!!! Hahahahahaaaa! Because I was getting into that space of being soooo sick of wondering what I’d make for dinner. Holy shit….

Rumours and buzz: Sharyn November, my editor at Viking, told me that the next new thing is supposed to be mermaids…. I can only hope it will be the man-eating variety rather than the wanna-marry-a-man kind. <weak grin> . I won’t be holding my breath. Tomorrow meetings with my agency and publisher. Finish an editorial. Catch up on emails, business, and back into a groove of writing.

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