Monday News: Academy Award changes, victim-blaming redux, Ursula Le Guin’s free writing workshop, and the “Human Library”
Academy Board Endorses Changes to Increase Diversity in Oscar Nominees and Itself – Hoping to double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the governing board has voted unanimously to implement a number of changes, focused on both short and long-term change. Not everyone is confident that the new steps will effect the hoped-for change, but there appears to be optimism about the fact that the Academy was willing to make changes so that its membership will better represent societal and industry diversity. If only the publishing industry felt similar urgency to foster and promote greater diversity.
The most striking of the changes is a requirement that the voting status of both new and current members be reviewed every 10 years.
Voting status may be revoked for those who have not been active in the film business in a decade. But members who have had three 10-year terms will have lifetime voting rights, as will those who have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. . . .
The academy will also expand its governing board by adding three new seats. Those are to be filled by the group’s president with an eye toward increasing the number of women and minorities on the board. Currently, about a third of the board members are women and Ms. Isaacs is its only African-American. . . .
Without providing details, the academy’s statement also said it would “supplement the traditional process” by which members are recruited — an invitation process meant to focus on achievement — with “an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.” – New York Times
KMM, Phil Gigante, & I Guess It’s Okay When It’s Not YOUR Daughter – Over the weekend, Karen Marie Moning’s terse “apology” Facebook post gave birth to some of the ugliest victim blaming, unquestioning author idolization, and denial/minimizing of facts that we’ve seen in a while. And while some curious pockets of silence still exist in the online community, especially among authors, more are speaking out. I have chosen to lead with this piece from 38 Caliber Reviews because it provides a good chronicle of the situation and links to a number of other posts, including those by/at Bibliodaze, Jenny Trout, Jeanine Frost, and The Gilded Earlobe. There’s also this post from Red Hot Books and one from Melanie Simmons. Also Has from Bookpushers and Tori from Smexybooks. Authors who have spoken out are being one-starred on Goodreads, and apparently the site is now removing reviews that address the KMM/Gigante incident (let’s face it, they have a history of that crap). I know there are more links that I am missing, and I will update the post as I find them. Feel free to post links below, as well.
In a genre that claims to be pro-women and sex positive, the victim blaming and minimizing we’ve seen over the past days undermines and contradicts nearly every positive claim readers and authors like to make about Romance. And the message that’s being sent to girls and young women — girls and young women who may even be reading Romance — is that their safety and integrity doesn’t matter, and that we aren’t going to defend and protect them if it means we can’t have our favorite audio narrator work on a book. Which is so important in comparison with the safety of children. Or if a favorite author assures us that she knows “the facts” that “he did not do what he was charged with,” allowing her fans to almost giddily trash, unimpeded, the reputation of a 14-year old child, on the basis of absolutely nothing. To say that it (and the attendant silence) reflects poorly on the Romance community is an understatement of epic proportion.
Also, this situation with Gigante was kept quiet for at least six months (he was arrested in July after a seven-month investigation), and some people in the publishing and audiobook industry had to know what was going on. Given the fact that Gigante was narrating everything from Romance novels to Christian non-fiction, the silence was and continues to be extremely troubling. If you’re still catching up, here are the details on the felony charges and the plea deal. Note that his attorney is an expert in criminal sexual conduct cases. Note also that more than 9o% of federal and state criminal cases end in a plea bargain.
Ursula Le Guin Gives Insightful Writing Advice in Her Free Online Workshop – Regardless of her involvement with Authors United, no one can deny Ursula Le Guin’s influence on Science Fiction and Fantasy. And now you can see her online workshop, during which she responds to reader questions on everything from dialogue and description to getting a story off the ground.
Le Guin stated last year that she no longer has the “vigor and stamina” for writing novels, and having given up teaching as well, said she missed “being in touch with serious prentice writers.” Thus, she decided to start an online writing workshop at the site Book View Café, describing it as “a kind of open consultation or informal ongoing workshop in Fictional Navigation.” In keeping with the metaphor of sea voyaging, she called her workshop “Navigating the Ocean of Story” and declared that she would not take reader questions about publishing or finding an agent: “We won’t be talking about how to sell a ship, but how to sail one.” Reader questions poured in, and Le Guin did her best to answer as many as she could, posting advice every other Monday for all of the summer and much of the fall of 2015. – Open Culture
Human book project opens new chapter in Vancouver – Has anyone participated in a Human Library and checked out a “human book”? The idea of a 20-minute exchange is such a great idea, given how much people learn from traditional books.
The project is a part of the 2016 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and allows library patrons to “check out” a human book for a 20-minute face-to-face chat.
“This is the fourth year we’ve done this project, so it’s amazing how much of a continued response we get,” said project co-ordinator Dave Deveau. “Anyone who’s been to the project in the past — they keep coming back.”
The first-ever Human Library is believed to have been started in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a way to combat stereotypes. To date, human libraries have been hosted in 70 countries. – The Province