Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Crash for Controversy

These days I like to think of myself as someone who will support writers that are struggling to make a name for themselves. It is not a competition as far as I am concerned because if there are more of us out there, with good stories to tell, then it will be the reader who benefits. However, I am always wary of when someone publishes a book based on a scandal of some kind as it comes across as an attempt to make money from the whole thing. This year we have had two examples of this and it still boggles my mind that someone thought it was a good idea to publish them.

The first is Rachel Dolezal's book, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World. I still cannot believe that somebody thought was a good idea to publish. For the handful of people out there who don't know the now famous story, Dolezal was a woman who was born white but then decided she wanted to be black and set about changing herself to achieve this. The whole thing came crashing down after she pissed off the wrong person and he hired a private investigator to dig for dirt. The PI knocked on the door of her biological parents, saw the family photos, and the game was up. Today, she cannot get a job anywhere and is one step away from being homeless. She has managed to write this book (with help) in an attempt to "set the record straight" but it doesn't look like many people are convinced by this. The bulk of the reviews on Amazon are one star, 61% of them at the time of writing this. What is more disgusting is the price, roughly four or five times that of a regular ebook, leaving me to hope some of those who brought the book in the hardcover format have found a better use for it, such as to prop up a bed, table, or hold open a door somewhere.

The second example is none other than the queen of professional victims herself, Zoe Quinn. She has a book due out in September, Crash Override: How Gamergate Nearly Destroyed My Life. It is available for preorder and only in hardcover so far, even Anita Sarkeesian advertised it in a tweet a little while ago. Quinn was held up in high regard by the media as the best example of the damsel in distress after her ex-boyfriend published his blog post about her. She used the whole thing to build a career for herself as an advocate for fighting online abuse with her company, the Crash Override Network and has been seen as a hero by many out there.

However, hardly anybody in the media really tried to get both sides of the whole thing, Eron Gjoni has had various nasty things written about him whilst living under a gag order he had to crowd fund to fight, the only fair interview he sat down for was with Cathy Young for HEATSTREET (disclosure: I know Cathy over social media) and it was a well-conducted interview. It was later revealed (in the smaller press outlets) that the Crash Override Network (or CON) had actually been compiling dossiers on people it disagreed with as a way to take them down, one of her employees, Robert Marmolejo, was exposed to have been using his position in the company to harass over twenty different women and admitted to this before disappearing from Twitter. A series of chat logs from CON were leaked in which members discussed how to take down people they didn't like, either with police reports or doxing. Most notable were some of the members of that group, such as Katherine Cross, Sarkeesian's secretary, and Randi Harper, creator of the now infamous blocking programs Twitter uses. Notice though that the links I provide here are of the smaller online sites and not the more mainstream media out there? That's because not one of them covered it, not one of them, and that speaks volumes to me.

With regards to Quinn's book? Time will tell if it sells well or not, but due to the reporting of her being so one-sided in the past; I have a pretty good idea. This video sums the whole thing up quite well, check it out.

I support any writer out there who has a good story to tell, but these examples are ones that I will criticize and stay well clear of. There are writers out there who are struggling to build a platform for themselves, to put content out and be recognized for it whilst holding down a full-time job. I will respect them far more than a couple of con artists who use their name to make money when their five minutes of fame ended a long. Time. Ago.

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