Tuesday News: Authors United insult just about everyone, Robin Thicke’s deposition disaster, LEGO’s gender trouble, and portraits of Black Victorians
Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing.
. . . traditional publishing houses perform a vital role in our society. Publishers provide venture capital for ideas. They advance money to authors, giving them the time and freedom to write their books. This system is especially important for nonfiction writers, who often must travel for research. Thousands of times every year, publishers take a chance on unknown authors and advance them money solely on the basis of an idea. By assuming the risk, publishers expect—and receive—a financial return. What will Amazon replace this process with? How, in the Amazon model, will a young author get funding to pursue a promising idea? And what about the role of editors, copy editors, and other publishing staff who ensure that what ultimately ends up on the shelf is both worthy and accurate? –Authors United
The transcripts of the depositions don’t necessarily refute the plaintiffs’ contention in their own summary judgment motion that “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” are not substantially similar for purposes of a copyright analysis, but on the road to a trial that is currently scheduled for February 10, 2015, the Gayes believe they have ammunition to destroy the plaintiffs’ credibility and honor.
“Thicke, for his part, now claims he made all of his statements while drunk or on drugs, none of them true, and he mentioned Marvin Gaye only to sell records,” states the counter-claimants’ court papers. “He also actually testified that he is not an honest person. This complete contempt for the judicial system, and their obligations to tell the truth, can best be summed up by Thicke’s ultimate admission, while under oath, that he ‘[does not] give a f—k’ about this litigation.” –Hollywood Reporter
Family-owned LEGO toys used to be staunchly gender neutral – as self-professed Lego geek David Pickett exhaustively demonstrates. The early advertisements featured both boys and girls playing with identical toys. When minifigs were first introduced in the late 70s – the era of androngyny – gender was downplayed, and the 80s were a golden age for the company. But between the late ‘80s and early ‘00s, the company launched a stream of product lines aimed at girls, none particularly successful and most heavily anchored in pink. These weren’t toys that boys and girls could play with – the company was now making one set of toys for boys (which were often more interesting and challenging to build) and one set of pink, simplified products for girls, including a jewelry line and dollhouses. As Pickett points out, many of these pieces weren’t even compatible with the majority of Legos (i.e., the boy Legos) – and interchangeability is the whole value proposition of the Lego system. –Harvard Business Review Blog
Fittingly, the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall, the influential left-wing cultural theorist who died this year, and whose writings underpin The Missing Chapter project. “They are here because you were there,” he wrote of the black British people whose experience he illuminated. “There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions.” The excavated images in Black Chronicles II provide a crucial and, until now, overlooked way of further understanding that complex connection. –The Guardian