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Buy it HERE.

I am waiting on proofs of the print version and after print copies are shipping to backers they will be more broadly available, an update will appear on this site when that happens.

This book exists to record, for posterity, the events of Gamergate from the perspective of someone within Gamergate.

There is a real danger that, what with the media bias against Gamergate, that the other side – the right side – will not get recorded. In the future, anyone looking back is likely to encounter an entirely one-sided version of events from people who have been acting very shadily.

As a participant in Gamergate, that worries me.

As a historian, that worries me.

As someone who cares about truth, fairness and accuracy, that worries me.

Gamergate coverI think I’m uniquely positioned to give an interesting take on what happened. I know the history, I can properly contextualise it within a timeline of other moral panics and responses. I participated in Gamergate. I’ve seen the aftermath of it. I’ve seen how it influenced things and how it fits into the broader culture war that has characterised the twenty-teens. I’ve been targeted by its enemies, who like to portray themselves as good people, and are anything but.

Mostly I want a record from this side, from this point of view. A counter-narrative to the one against Gamergate. Opposition to the stories being told by those who, despite mainly losing the cultural conflict that was Gamergate, are getting to enter their version of events into the record unopposed.

jodie-whittaker-doctor-who-reveal-portrait-300x450The announcement of the new Doctor being a woman has understandably ruffled a few feathers, and there have been a plethora of articles about it. Most of these seem to run along the lines of:

“LOL! CRY HARDER MANBABIES!” and various accusations of misogyny directed towards anyone who regards this decision as anything less than ‘stunning and brave’ or expresses even the slightest misapprehension as to the motivations and effect of changing the show in such a fundamental way.

It seems like nobody is going to write the article we should be seeing, so I guess I’m going to have to do it. I’ve tried, already, in comments etc, to stem the tide of “LOL! FRAGILE MASCULINITY!” but even belabouring the point to excess doesn’t seem to get the point across, so let’s try something else…

Dr Bewb

So by now, you’ve all had a few days to absorb that the next actor to play the role of The Doctor is going to be a woman. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, NuWho has been hinting at this – initially jokily – since 2011 or so. Moffat wasn’t keen and said it wasn’t going to happen on his watch, but he’s leaving and the new guy – Chibnall – is coming in with a new broom to sweep through. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe it’s bad. RTD was getting pretty tiresome towards the end of his run, Moffat had some good stories in him but seems to have run out of steam, a new guy might reinvigorate things, or not.

Similarly, a female Doctor could be a kill or cure moment for the series.

I don’t think you’re misogynists for being antsy, in fact, many of you are women. Many of you who are women have had nerd crushes on the various Doctors. That has certainly been a part of NuWho that people into the original series never really expected to happen, even with the relatively young and pretty ‘New Romantic’ run of Peter Davison (weren’t those costumes great?).

NuWho has already made a bunch of changes, some to the good, some to the bad. Resurrecting the series seemed to require a bunch of changes, changing to a breakneck-speed episodic format rather than a serial format for a start – something I very much bemoan. The scientific and educational aspect has also taken a hit, in exchange for more ‘pure’ entertainment, but it seems to have paid off. Dr Who finally ‘broke’ America. bringing romantic plotlines, especially ones including The Doctor was controversial, and something I – didn’t like, but we coped with that.

If there’s anything this change is similar to it’s when Matt Smith took over. He was too young, way too young. His publicity shots looked like an otter that listened to Green Day. Every time there’s a regeneration people are in an uproar and this is no different. People’s concerns about Smith were justified and he overcame them. People’s concerns about Whittaker are similarly justified. She doesn’t have a penis though, so your concerns and worries aren’t just dismissed as ‘nerdy’ or unreasonable any more. They’re being called ‘misogynistic’.

That’s not fair, is it?

I mean, you love Doctor Who. You want it to succeed and you want it to continue. This is a big change and a risky one that tinkers with the whole story dynamic of the series. So you’re worried. That makes sense, it doesn’t mean you hate women, does it?

This is also happening against a background of other things going on. The BBC has quotas for staffing and on comedy panels. It is discriminating in its hiring and has fired ‘cishetwhitemen’ from positions and shows. Doctor Who has been painfully PC for some time now, to the point of revising history to make it more palatable in recent episodes. In that context, the change to a female Doctor can’t help but look political and seem to be part of a trend. It needn’ be, but it’s understandable that it can look like that. I might just be that Chibnall wants to bring a familiar face with him. It might.

It might.

Being worried about that doesn’t make you reactionary or conservative. You probably just want people to succeed on their own merits and don’t want things to be mucked about with for no reason. You probably think these kinds of policies are sexist/racist or whatever else. You’re not wrong, but we don’t know if that’s what’s going on here.

Maybe you’re worried about the stories. That’s understandable too. Such a shift to the whole story dynamic could change everything. Could be for the worse, could be for the better. There’s no real way of knowing how that’s going to work out until we see it. It’s a risk, but so was a shift to a younger Doctor, and it did change the dynamic and feel, but it worked. This might, it might not.

Your concerns are legitimate. There’s a lot to be worried about. Merchandise sales are down, viewership is down. This is a big risk to take in that relatively fragile situation. People are playing around with something you love and their motivations might be political, the people giving you a hard time and crowing about ‘male tears’ certainly are being political.

Fuck those people. You’re not bigots. You know it, I know it, anyone worth talking to knows it.

But we won’t know if the fears are justified until a few episodes into the new series, and because it’s a woman people are reacting differently to you saying exactly the same things you said about Matt Smith. So have your concerns, but how about we all just wait and see if it’s as bad as it can seem. The whole NuWho project has been one long set of risks, fucking with something beloved and cared about – and its great that people care. Let’s just give it a shot.

And if people could lay off screaming misogynist at you guys too, that’d be great.

792ff0efca4a02382678eb238ac650adJust over a year ago I was standing on the far platform of a railway station, with crusted blood on my arm from self-inflicted wounds and trying to muster the courage to throw myself in front of a train. I nearly did it too. Standing so close to the edge of the platform that the side of one of the trains brushed and almost clipped the tip of my nose.

I couldn’t quite do it though. Not quite. Ended up going back home with my tail between my legs and trying to salvage the pieces of my broken brain.

I was in a very severe depressive slump anyway and then was kicked while I was down by life. One friend died and another, dear, friend turned out to be in a rather harsh home situation. I couldn’t help either of them in any meaningful way and was left feeling thoroughly impotent, even more useless than usual and selfish for feeling terrible. I was unable to ask for support and help when I felt other people needed it more.

Eventually, of course, people found out and were amazingly and wonderfully supportive, as they always are (depression lies to you about that) and while a dead friend can’t be brought back, at least the other friend now has an escape plan that I can – hopefully – help with.

My beautiful and lovely friend, and one-time unofficial, virtual housemate, Katie sent me a care package not long after my bout of suicidal ideation, and while some of the contents were an arcane mystery (a face pack? wtf?) amongst the goodies was The Book of You, a little diary/workbook of sorts with daily micro-actions for a whole year (there’s also an app). I just finished working through it (it was actually useful and not the hippy crap it might look like at first glance) and one of the things it tells you to do is to ‘report back’.

So, what’s there to report back?

I’ve made it 12 months without a relapse. No self harm in that time. No new suicide attempts. Only – relatively – mild bouts of depression and panic. I’m out of therapy but back on the drugs, on what seems to be a semi-permanent basis, constantly trying to anticipate and balance the dose. Summer is the worst time of year for my mental health, the heat I think – and the lack of sleep. I also tend to feel out of place at this time of year, it’s not really my ‘cup of tea’ and there are extra, physical chores that need doing.

I’ve been working hard to try and get back to the self-sufficiency I was at before the last few years’ heavy bouts of depression, but it’s tough. I’ve even been looking for supplementary part-time work but with the depression as it is I just don’t think I’m reliable enough for anyone to hire. This presents its own problems in terms of both self-esteem and finances, wanting to regain that full independence and being – seemingly – unable to. There’s not a lot of options to remedy that either. Seeking assistance or benefits is massively impactful to self esteem if you don’t feel you really need them and austerity has cut funding for such things to the bone anyway. An ‘invisible illness’ would be a tough sell to any assessor or board, especially the kinds that judge terminal cancer cases ‘fit for work’.

There’s no real prospect of ever ‘getting better’ at this point. Just varying degrees of coping. That puts a lot of stress on friendships and relationships, as does the aforementioned lack of independence. There’s things I’m good at, even very good at, but imposter syndrome is a bitch and even having talent isn’t enough in a very tough gig economy with a trashed reputation, caused by sticking up for what you know is right – no matter what. No matter the lies and aspersions. Even when some of the people you were sticking up for end up turning on you.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in spite of being sick. In spite of there being no prospect of ever getting better. These are things I should be proud of, but anhedonia – one of the symptoms of depression, look it up – makes it all but impossible to truly acknowledge and take it to heart even when you do something amazing and against the odds.

I’m still here, but the Reverse SAD is pretty bad, panic attacks are pretty frequent. The abuse and suspicion I’m used to by this point, and when you have severe depression nobody can hate you as much as you hate yourself anyway, so it barely registers.

All of that sounds really bad, but here’s the thing. It isn’t.

It’s just an acknowledgement of status. I’m coping. I’m plodding on. I’m working away on things – bit by bit. I’ve re-organised my work schedule and am much more productive. I have a large body of work on Youtube now. I’m at least looking for ways out of my problem situations and there’s slow but steady progress on every front.

That’s all much better than it sounds.

Thank you everyone who looks after me when I need it, stays friends through tough differences of opinion, doesn’t treat me like some fragile thing all the time and forgives me my failings while valuing my strengths.

Here’s where I was last year, for comparison…

Inside #Gamergate

InsideGG.jpgGamergate was many things to many people, depending on their perspective. For some it was a harassment campaign, even terrorism, for others a key fight for ethics, against censorship.

Sadly the prior view had all the mainstream attention and is likely to be the only point of view that will go into the long term record.

It’s important, for posterity, to present and record the other side.

I was part of Gamergate. I want to tell it’s own story. I want to correct the record.

Linkypooh

I’ve also done an interview about the project – and GG – which can be seen HERE.

tongue sticking out

I got another lovely review for Old, Fat Punks – which is nice, but it came with some problems. As an independent writer with no self confidence, reviews are brilliant both for one’s self esteem (even, often, when they’re negative) and for garnering additional sales. When a couple – both writers and lovely people – both reviewed my book on the US Amazon site, it triggered some sort of automated script that deleted both reviews.

I tried appealing, they tried appealing, but all any of us seemed to get were more automated emails that didn’t seem to stem from a human being. We got nowhere.

You can read more about these shenanigans HERE.

For my part, I understand the need to avoid fake or malicious reviews, but these seems a bit odd. Couples often use the same products, read the same books and are enthusiastic about the same things. Even outside of couples, groups of friends often share housing for years at a time and, similarly, share similar interests. Not only is this creepily intrusive with your data, but it’s counterproductive for Amazon, sellers and consumers.

The really important part is, of course, the actual review…

I loved the book. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to Desborough’s clever wit. The setup is ingenious and hilarious: a group of middle-aged punk rocker friends meet in a pub that’s relevance is waning as surely as their own. After they go several rounds comparing sources of unhappiness and lamenting how futile it is to change the world for the better, they manage to hatch a plan that is as brilliant as it is doomed to fail. Or succeed? Does it even matter? The book is a must-read for anyone who craves another perspective on contemporary politics.

For me, this was a 5-star book, in that it was a thoroughly entertaining read, stayed true to its promise, and had zero flaws. It sucked me in and kept me riveted to the end, and I came to care about the characters and their issues, which are real and wholly felt. It resonated with me, and I think it would resonate with other readers.

But you should check out Lisa’s work as well. Clearly she’s a fine writer with excellent taste!

grimbletideI don’t care about Christmas, but I do care about you.

My friends, my family, my readers, the players of my games.

The people who’ve stuck around, who’ve disagreed with open minds, discussed, defended and worked with one another to muck on through and get shit done. The skeptics, the shitlords, the ‘true liberals’, the artists, the people with the courage of their convictions and a real understanding of friendship.

Thanks dudes.

This last year hasn’t just taken a toll on celebrities that meant something to us, it has taken a massive toll on a lot of people in a lot of ways. Everywhere I look I see people losing parents, friends, pets, marriages, lovers, jobs, money, homes even children – and even their own lives and health.

It has been shit, no question. Politically, economically, socially, professionally, personally, for a whole swathe of people.

The good news is… we survived it (at least I assume nobody is reading this from beyond the grave). It hasn’t all been terrible either. We’re at the crest of a backlash against the authoritarian/regressive/SJW left, the censorious arseholes who have been causing trouble for everyone for years.

The trick will be preventing that backlash turning into an equally oppressive authoritarian right. Perhaps though – finally – we can re-find some balance at the end of this process – in another four years. Perhaps this is also an opportunity (though not one especially being taken up with gusto yet) for the left to modernise and correct its mistakes, rather than doubling down.

We can hope.

Dominant over-cultures create powerful and interesting subcultures. As the dominant force shifts from the authoritarian ‘left’ to the authoritarian right there’s an opportunity for a lot of creative energy to find outlets and it’ll necessarily have to also be anti-PC, there’s bigger fish to fry. I hope and expect we’ll also see the skeptic community turning its ire, fire and focus upon the excesses on the authoritarian right as it did with the left.

I guess, what I’m saying is that there’s hope – and interesting times ahead. We survived the 80s and its constant threat of nuclear Armageddon with a senile, talentless hack actor in charge of the White House. We can survive a corrupt and incompetent ‘reality star’ in the same way. Brexit is shit, but there’s years of negotiations and decisions to go. We can soften it and heck, with the banks abandoning the UK maybe there’s finally impetus to diversify what we do beyond banking services so we can avoid becoming the Venezuela of Europe.

Similarly in Murka, Trump’s incompetence and his blithe obviousness in his corruption (rather than having the good sense to be sneaky about it) may well provide the impetus – finally – to make changes to the American political system to lessen and prevent such things in the future. It may also lead, eventually, to some much needed reform to the electoral college. One can hope the UK also, finally, gathers the gumption in the next swing of the pendulum to reform the hopelessly unrepresentative first past the post system.

Lots of people are despairing, but in some ways things are a bit better. In other ways I see hope. Sometimes you have to burn something down to clear the path for something new.

Anyway, hold onto that hope, try to see the positive changes that have happened along with the negative. Fights never end, they change, but you can acknowledge progress – and the instances in which we were right.

Let’s see what we can do in the new year.

Love,

G

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