Harlan vs. PA - Reactions, Impressions (Try to be civil!!!)

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Rooster Teeth
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Harlan vs. PA - Reactions, Impressions (Try to be civil!!!)

Postby Rooster Teeth » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:42 am

(This was supposed to be put up on the BBS. Instead it goes here.)

First off, the PA guys are assholes. TOTAL assholes. But I love them for who they are, what they do, and for this kind of craziness that seems to follow them around.

Harlan comes off as a terrible cocksucker (which is not the same as saying he gives terrible head, because from what I hear he's a seasoned pro). For someone who writes sci-fi fiction for a living, he doesn't seem to know dick (similarily, his wife doesn't know dick, because from what I hear HE can't get it up unless he's ranting and raving on the gal-darned interweb) about the ins and outs (not even going to say it) of the internet. For one, Don't Feed the Troll. (HAHAHA IRONY...) (And for you who have no idea what I'm talking about, go check out the BBS)

If Harlan was really innocent of not being an asshole, why the big response on his part? Why not simply say "this is stupid, why are you talking about this, stop touching my wife's ass please"? Instead, he reacts like the fucking fourth rule of internet manners was broken and now has to defend himself against crazed cultureless youngsters, running willy-nilly through the internet streets slandering his name (culturelessly).

The only reason I know who Harlan is is because someone said he hated people and was a total asshole, and I like reading the thoughts of total assholes. But after reading his response today, I realized that he is really not a total asshole. He might have been a total asshole once, but nowadays he's just some short old dude who needs to grow up and remember that he wasn't always the psudo-intellectual he is now.

For Harlan specifically (though I leave this open for you all): Smoke a bowl, drop some shrooms, meditate, take a hike, write some more, etc etc. Basically, do whatever it is that you need to do to step back and realize that you too were an asshole once. Don't freak out when it comes back your way.
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Postby David Loftus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:46 am

Ah, an ignoramus who talks big and bad and thinks he's real cool.

Never ran into one of THOSE before.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Ceronomus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:14 am

So I've read the little rant over on Penny Arcade, and some of the things that the internet has spewed forth regarding this matter....sheesh, the internet sure let's people get crazy.

Frankly, the folks at Penny Arcade do a web-comic. It can be sometimes amusing, sometimes not, but that's what it is...a webcomic. They should have thanked their lucky stars that someone put them on the same stage as Harlan Ellison. It puts me in mind of someone that does community theater sharing an award with Paul Newman. The behavior from "Gabe" of Penny Arcade though? More like that of a person who sincerely believes that his work is better and far more important than that of the person that he's sharing the stage with.

Guess what?

It isn't.

If we were to disregard all of his numerous awards but one, we'd still have the Silver Pen for Journalism. When the folks over at Penny Arcade have actually won an award for defending First Amendment rights in the US, then they might finally get it. See, Harlan Ellison is more than just a "writer", the guy is an elemental force who has paved the way for those who follow. A man who has defended the free speech rights of everyone, including the folks over at Penny Arcade.

Instead of being amazed by the dumb luck that anyone would put them on a stage with Harlan, they've ghosen a different route.

There are numerous people who have tried to build on their careers by trying to start a feud with Harlan Ellison...

Yeah, I can't remember them either.

So if Gabe wants to be a jackass because that is his "thing"? Fine. That is his right. However, it should be remembered that Penny Arcade is nothing more than a webcomic. It can be entertaining and amusing from time to time, but it is still just a webcomic.

Harlan Ellison is the real deal. To be honest, I find the fact that Harlan Ellison was asked to share a stage with the folks from Penny Arcade far more insulting of the behavior of the guys from Penny Arcade. The fact that Harlan Ellison was WILLING to share a stage with them in the first place? That shows the sort of person he is.

Of course, in the end, this event will do two things.

First it will cause a large number of internet postings. Some folks will speak in an intelligent manner, others will simply thump their chests and say things like "Maybe you should shut the hell up." In the end, nothing will change.

Secondly, years from now, Harlan Ellison will have this great story about this webcomic artist who thought he was too cool for school. The audience will ask Harlan who the artist was....

And nobody will remember.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:00 am

They are like the college kids I see all around my area. They think they know everything, but they actually know so very little. Too much MTV, too much cheap beer and cheap cultural twinking.

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So wrong

Postby HumanBlood » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:29 pm

I'm not going to rip on Harlan Ellison. I have no reason to. I respect him as much I as I respect any human being. But guys. Humility goes a long way. No matter how much of a literary hero you are, if you walk around like your the cream of the earth, you're only going to garner the respect of those who are to weak to respect themselves (wink, wink). I've never met the guys from Penny Arcade, and they may not be the greatest guys in the world. But if Harlan Ellison was asked to share the stage with anybody he should take it as an honor. By acting like an arrogant child, Ellison showed his complete lack of respect for the award given, and shows me that his years of writing and accomplishments has amounted to nothing more than an overinflated ego. And that's the truth.

God damnit.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:41 pm

Young kids like to bait Harlan, because they know his reputation as a hater of youth fads and tastes.

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Postby Ceronomus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:43 pm

Well, of course. And when you read exactly how little the Penny Arcade story resembles the truth? The fellows from Penny Arcade have behaved in a foolish fashion but ultimately will be forgotten by history and fandom. Harlan Ellison will not be.

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Postby Ceronomus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:45 pm

You know, it is worth pointing out that there is no "Harlan Ellison vs Penny Arcade." One of the guys over at Penny Arcade, confused as to the real sequence of events that he was present for, got all pissy about Harlan Ellison. Penny Arcade FANS, started coming over here to raise holy hell. Harlan Ellison pointed out the truth of the matter.

Now there are those who don't believe Harlan Ellison's side of the story. Funny thing is that his side of the story actually makes sense, as opposed to the Penny Arcade story which strains any and all fabric of reality.

It is also interesting to note that a majority of the Penny Arcade fans discussing this seem to be of the type to whom manners don't even matter. I mean, read their posts and then ask yourself why these people are upset about any display of poor manners in the first place.

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Postby JaySmith » Thu Sep 29, 2005 4:54 pm

I wonder how far this discussion would go if it were limited to the people who actually WITNESSED it?

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Postby ReverendTed » Thu Sep 29, 2005 5:24 pm

JaySmith wrote:I wonder how far this discussion would go if it were limited to the people who actually WITNESSED it?

I mentioned this in the other thread, but I think it bears repeating (paraphrased):
I wonder how far this discussion would go if it were limited to people for whom it was any of their business?

There's a whole discussion to be had there regarding the Internet Mentality giving people the misleading impression that they have an emotional stake in everyone else's business. Since an account was posted on a public site, does that make it "my business"?

But regarding the whole affair, it's sad that people are being judged based on minute snapshots of their behavior. Most of the PA "trolls" have, by their own admission, never heard of Ellison, aside from a single description of a single event that lasted all of two minutes.

Let's assume for a moment that "Gabe's" account is entirely factual and unbiased and that Harlan was a completely condescending prick.
Who among us hasn't been an asshole for two minutes at some point in our lives? If all someone knew of you was a snapshot of that moment, then they might just assume you were a dick all the time.
Many of PA's readers never got to hear about how Harlan went out of his way to help out a Webderlander who had fallen on hard times.

Similarly the Penny Arcade fans. Sadly, in any group it's usually the jackasses the yell the loudest. I'm certain PA has intelligent, insightful readers, but they probably had the intelligence, insight (and most of all, respect) to stay out of it in the first place, while the braying donkeys took their displaced rage into the Pavilion, and became everything the Webderlanders had ever experienced of PAs fanbase.
They never heard anything about Child's Play, a charity Penny Arcade set up which received over half a million dollars ($350,000 last year, and $250,000 the year before) in donations from the "asshole readers" of the comic for the sick kids at Children's Hospitals around the United States.

It's a problem of perspective.

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Postby Hathor » Thu Sep 29, 2005 5:25 pm

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What I have is small, pathetic, dreary, and shattered, but it IS a life. Of that I am beyond reassured, guaranteed and validated.

Sometimes i think the GUPH is on Fumes...........

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Postby JaySmith » Thu Sep 29, 2005 7:28 pm


I think it remains our business because we maintain loyalties to the artists. The problem is that the fans of harlanellison.com got in the middle of this because the fans of PA came here to air their outrage over a perceived attack. We didn't go there to start something. Nor did Harlan come back from Foolscap complaining about two upstarts who were disrespectful. He only answered the charges raised by Gabe and supported by Tycho after the board started to fill with anonymnous insults from people who were simply outraged the same way someone who loves David Lee Roth is insulted when some other burnout praises Sammy Hagar.

The only opinions I respect are the ones that begin with something to the effect of "I was THERE and I can tell you..." because those are the only ones who can give an account of value. Everyone else, including me, is giving an account based on camp loyalty. But even here, we have a large difference in attitudes:

Even if Harlan had come back saying how the PA duo were assholes and it was a shitty con full of gamers and posers and illiterate pondscum, it is unlikely that anyone here would have gone over to their side of the fence to start shit. And that's not because we've got the guns but they've got the numbers...it's because by and large we don't work like that.

At least ONE of us would have said something to the effect of , "Jeez, Harlan... you need more fiber." More than likely we wuld have chalked it up to a mismatch of guests on the part of the convention and shrugged it off to go back at each other over something Frank Church said.

This whole business wasn't started by witnesses at Foolscap or by Harlan Ellison. This was started when an account was written up by the artists on a web site read by the *millions" of fans of PA who weren't there, some of whom took action and currently represent what we know of the PA fan base. You're right. It IS a matter of perspective. Someone who has millions of readers should be professional enough to know his market, his audience and the potential consequences of starting shit like this. The writer has to take some responsibility for what happens as a result of his remarks.

As such, I think someone's feelings got hurt and let his vanity get the better of him. In an attempt to even the score or heal a wounded ego, he let the flying monkeys loose. His reaction to what he witnessed happening on this board erodes more of the veracity of his account than anything else said on either board.

I applaud PA's charitable efforts. I believe anyone who is lucky enough to succeed financially in their field has an obligation to share with those less fortunate and rally others to do the same. Fans of PA should know that Harlan has spent his life as a social activist, he's had a rich and purposeful life that has touched more people than the millions who read PA's comic strip. I'm not talking in a sense of book sales or trophies, but he has walked the marches for civil rights, lectured for social justice, worked inside and outside the system fighting a long legal battle for artist's rights and continues to demand better from the "common" man. This is 80 years of work.

We'll stop the clock right now and give both chaps another half century each to catch up. If their contributions to their medium TOGETHER reach half of those of the guy they think is just a cranky old man, I will come back from the dead and eat my hat.

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Postby akojen » Thu Sep 29, 2005 8:01 pm

Jay, you goddamned liar.

You're not wearing a hat. :P

Foolscap, for those who are indeed interested, was a blast. I might attempt another Pavilion post now that things have died down.
"Now give me some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with ya!" -- Homer Simpson

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Postby Jon Stover » Thu Sep 29, 2005 8:45 pm

Jay, I think you're a fine fellow who wants peace.

I think you're wrong in your post only because events at ye olde webderland over the past couple of years (or maybe ever) prove one basic thing -- we are like the people we say we're not like. The assorted battles, contretemps, battles with other boards and battles with trolls should point that out.

That doesn't mean that Webderlanders are inordinately bad or mean or angry or whatever. They're simply human, and humans on the Internet. Who act badly, carry on wacky battles, pledge money to charities and scream a lot, have interesting discussions and don't have interesting discussions, carry out witch-hunts and send one another well wishes in times of crisis, become fast friends and fast enemies, and so on and so forth.

We have met the enemy, and it is us.

Cheers, Jon

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Postby ReverendTed » Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:00 pm

I'm certainly in no position to argue that Penny-Arcade, the 7-year-old video game comic on Teh Internets, has had anywhere near the influence Mr. Ellison can claim on literature and society.
I don't think influence (as an extension of a "worth" arguement, I believe) is really the issue. If it were anything, it was an argument of character, which is all the more ridiculous when you consider the parties involved.
If I were to try to formulate some sort of "worth" argument, it would probably relate to how Child's Play raised more money for charity than "Gabe" and "Tycho" have ever personally seen, and how they've already accomplished that at their (apparently) "juvenile" age. As you said, time will tell how history remembers them, if at all, keeping in mind that few fads merit more than a footnote in a book about a decade everyone wants to remember as better than it really was.

I can't say anything regarding whether or not an initial post by Harlan would have inspired throngs of trolls to invade the PA forums, but at the same time, it seems that there were considerably fewer "regulars" here in Webderland than over at PA. Not to say PA is more influential - it's a matter of the medium. The Internet is PA's medium, and most of their fans pass through their news post three times a week. The larger the audience for the initial rant, the larger the possibility that there are a handful of excitable morons around to go parading their hero's banner in everyone else's face. Even a friendly link by Gabe or Tycho to something they like or appreciate can cripple all but the most well-funded commercial websites. If Gabe had linked directly to HarlanEllison.com, it's possible you wouldn't have even had the trolling problem in the first place, since the server the site is hosted on could very well have crashed under the load. (I'll admit - I don't know what sort of package or setup Rick is using. It may be able to withstand being slashdotted for all I know!)

I don't say this to try to inspire some sort of "awe" or "respect", as it isn't really all that remarkable.
What I mean to illustrate is simply that Gabe and Tycho have established a relationship with their readership that has fostered trust and respect. (Note that I make no commentary on whether or not I think it's deserved - only that it has occurred.) Their readers believe them when they talk because they've consistently demonstrated an up-front, unadulterated opinion with which the readers identify. That Gabe is an "asshole" is a part of that rapport, and it's expected by their readers. The image they project (genuine or not) is that they make assholish comments but always Do The Right and Good Thing when the time comes. They want to ACT like assholes, but not BE assholes. And Gabe knows that. As you suggest he should, I believe he DOES know his audience, and probably could have guessed the consequences of his post if he'd cared to consider it.
But what WERE the cosequences that he should have considered?
That a brief flame war would erupt on some author's messageboard, and interrupt the polite conversation for a week or two? As unfortunate circumstances go, it doesn't even merit a "meh?", much less the 492 words I've typed so far in this post alone. (Without, I'll admit, having actually SAID much.)

If even half of Ellison's fans read a rant by him about PA, I'm sure there would be plenty of the same crap. (Or perhaps not - the majority of Ellison's fans are probably fans because of his works of fiction, while PA's fanbase at large gets to "participate" in Gabe and Tycho's day-to-day lives via the newspost, in addition to their comic, and thus probably feels a stronger emotional investment in what happens to them. The more I think about this, the more I feel it's a critical point, and not something to be crammed into a parenthetical note. Ah, well.)
But as it is, my understanding of the situation is that only a devoted handful have this same "day-to-day" investment in Harlan's life, and would be the only ones to see any such rant - and those are the ones, like yourselves, who are for the most part fairly reserved and literate individuals, if not perhaps a bit egotistical as a result of the same. (Don't think for a second I don't recognize this trait in myself.) So, as you said, it WOULD be unlikely.

Similarly, I'm sure there were thousands of PA fans who read the post and just thought "So someone told you to f* off? Whoopety-doo!" and moved on, without the first thought towards marching off to war to defend Gabe's honor. The problem is, even if they're the majority, the vocal minority is all you guys got to see.

Anyway, I don't dispute your facts, but I disagree somewhat with your interpretation.

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