Propaganda in the Service of Mammon

Everybody is quite aware of the propaganda prevalent in the world today. Lies by omission and commission are used in conjunction with imagery to push certain lines and agendas. What perhaps isn’t so fully realised is how propaganda works and feeds. And to get a fully understanding one should read Propaganda by Edward Bernays.

In it Bernays explains where propaganda came from, what its uses are and how to employ it effectively. He gives us some remarkable insights. For example, he provides a prescient  summary of how the modern Cathedral works when he says, ‘Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.’ When he talks about how effective propaganda can be, he ominously uses the women’s suffrage movement as an example, saying, ‘If the suffrage campaign did nothing more, it showed the possibilities of propaganda to achieve certain ends.’ And those ‘certain ends’ continue today. But he reveals his true motivation later in the book with the following statement: ‘Social progress is simply the progressive education and enlightenment of the public mind in regard to its immediate and distant social problems.’ Propaganda is a psychological tool that could have been used for the better; unfortunately it has easily been utilised as a weapon.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book is how propaganda has been fully realised within the business setting, even though it was originally used by governments during war time. To effectively persuade consumers, businesses must understand the common sentiments (or what are felt to be common sentiments) of society in terms of likes and dislikes. So a general swell of support is amplified by businesses in their advertising which then affects consumers. See my post in how it relates to movies and advertising. Bernays was extremely influential and his teachings have only become accelerated as politics and business use propaganda in ever more audacious ways. The fact that people in power switch between business and politics clearly shows how the two intertwine. But more than the world of 1984 where governments rule over us, we have to be more wary of the ways in which business influences are decisions, choices and beliefs.

I work for a media company, and recently we were sent around a info deck from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, a group that follows consumer trends. So if you ever wondered why it seems like advertising companies all seem to push similar vibes, agendas and politics at roughly the same time, this is one of the reasons. I’ve pulled some screenshots from the deck for some brief discussions.

 

intro

Obviously you can see from the intro that there is will be one of the most pozzed documents your eyes will ever see.

 

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This is definitely a trend I noticed. Accelerationism is in full force. Women don’t want feminist stories any more. They want the next thing! It’s not all about women, it’s about breaking down gender barriers completely and exploring every aspect of sexuality and identification. Interesting that there are so, so many slides directly related to feminism, and the only ones related to masculinity are how to dim it down. For example…

 

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I honestly don’t know about ‘legions’ of men wearing makeup, but that certainly sounds like propaganda to me. Notice how beauty products are ‘transformative’? Everything has to be changed, but only via buying stuff. Apparently makeup has always been to conceal ‘perceived flaws’, but if you are using your face as a canvas, then you are still hiding yourself!

 

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The only time where race is real is when you can make people pay for it, or when it isn’t white people being interested in it. Make no mistake, they will draw every last cent out of your genes and DNA.

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Do I really need to discuss much about the idea behind ‘artificial nature’? Bread and circuses, my friends. In fact, as Bernays notes:

It was the amusement business—first the circus and the medicine show, then the theater—which taught the rudiments of advertising to industry and commerce.

 

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No one seems to question why there is such a rise in mental health like anxiety and depression. Just saying, it might have something to do with materialism? A complete lack of meaning that can only me temporarily filled by consumerism? The two-faced nature of selling psychological health is sickening.

 

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As if you didn’t already know, plus-size is so hot right now. This is so audacious I can’t even tell if that is a deliberate pun in the last paragraph…. Either way accepting who you are is the talk of the weak, and chasing an ideal has been the driving force behind our culture. Sure, the ‘ideal’ pushed by consumerism is false, but combating consumption with more consumption feels self-defeating. A pity the notion of finding yourself has been perverted for propaganda purposes. To blithely state the the average size has increased and not even blink is worrisome. No, we don’t need to accommodate all shapes and forms, we need to try and reduce our clothing size.

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Wow, two awful demographics in one, who would have thought we could sink so low?

 

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And here we have the full force of propaganda in a nutshell. Let’s take a recent Australian example: gay marriage. A huge array of Australian companies have come out in support of gay marriage, urging the government to ‘make the right choice’. This is of course a branding exercise, and if you are seen to oppose such an obviously progressive stance – like Coopers Brewery apparently were – then consumers will ‘vote with their wallet’. You have to be making a political statement in the Current Year if you want to have any chance of gathering an audience.

The fundamentals of propaganda are deeply rooted in psychology — Bernays was a distant cousin of Freud. He notes that:

These special types of appeal can be popularized by the manipulation of the principles familiar to the propagandist—the principles of gregariousness, obedience to authority, emulation, and the like.

Manipulation is the key word. The propagandist can manipulate via emulation in that we humans have a tendency to copy what others are doing. I mean in this in the most basic sense in that we tend to even copy the gestures and body language of those we talk to. We also have a tendency to appeal to authority. Even if we profess to not believe in religion, there is always a Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs. And of course, we want to be seen to be happy and agreeable, so it is best to go along with whatever seems to be positive. Using these basics of the human psyche businesses can use imagery, words and a whole range of weapons to shift opinions and sway the masses.

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Again, this is nothing we didn’t know already, but it just shows the pathology of having no standards. Atomised consumerism is death by a thousand cuts, or in this case, by a thousand subscription services. By the way, there was no slide on single men.

 

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‘Consumers are looking for comfort and reassurance in divided times…’ So let’s continue enforcing that bubble! We’ve all noticed the crackdown against the ‘AltRight’ (I use that term to cover everything not progressive) whether it is actual Twitter bannings or endless opinion pieces giving normie readers the juicy gossip about what goes on in the Dark Web. Expect brands to continue to make themselves sterile.

 

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What can I say, it’s a disgusting mindset. Blasphemies against the Church, insinuated underage vibes… This is degeneracy with full advertiser backing.

 

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Aside from the heresy invoked here, I find it quite an interesting and provocative statement. Is Christianity and the West providing enough female autonomy? Or have we just failed to express to women the power that they do have? I wouldn’t say that last paragraph is wrong, but all that means is that we should have done something to fix the situation a long time ago to avoid women falling into covens.

That’s just a snapshot of what brands will be looking doing in the near future (if they aren’t doing it already). Politics feeds business which then feeds the public. It is a feedback system that is near impossible to break apart. Most people can’t see it and to them propaganda is just a thing for war time and politics. You, however, can see it all around you, and there is nothing you can do. The only option is to retreat, to block it out and work on more important things, to banish materialism from you life. You must go beyond what is presented to you. As Bernard says:

Truth is mighty and must prevail, and if any body of men believe that they have discovered a valuable truth, it is not merely their privilege but their duty to disseminate that truth.

If only lies were not propagated as truths.

Fear of an Amazonian Future

For a good number of years now pundits have discussed the ominous rise of tech companies. Google, Facebook, Apple: all of them groping for control in different ways. But personally, particularly because of the industry I work in, I have always been most fearful – and most in awe of – Amazon.

Amazon grew off the back of selling books. At the time during the 1990s this would have seemed ludicrous. How could this internet upstart challenge Barnes & Noble or Borders? But challenge them – and win – it did. If you can systemise and sell a product as varied as books, you can sell anything. Books come in all shapes, sizes, and page lengths. The added bonus is that nothing is as intimate as a book, and as the old adage goes, you can tell a lot about a person from their bookshelf. 

So while Google, Facebook and Apple were all gathering data on you via your direct interaction with platforms, Amazon was analysing your buying habits – a far scarier prospect. For years they went hard on scale, with massive investments in warehouses, and monetarily never made much profit, with hard discounts and reinvestment of revenue back into R&D. This strategy  paid off like little else. From books they have expanded to general goods, groceries, cloud computing and more. Heck, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. They’ve got their fingers in so many content pies that they come across as anything other than humble. Sinister is the word I would use.

See, the key to Amazon is content. If they have all (relatively speaking) of the content, then it doesn’t even matter if they have the ‘best’ content. Amazon are now the biggest publisher of translated books. Did you even know they have publishing houses? Not only do they have a monopoly on ebooks, print books, and self-published books, they now have a majority share in foreign language translations. Content is king. The more you have, the more you sell. It’s simple physics. And the more you sell, the more customers you have with which to sell other products to. There is nothing scarier, in my eyes, than a Singular Retailer, one that can almost literally spoon feed you products. Science fiction writers showed us the horrors of a consumer dystopia; I’m just surprised horrorfied by how easily we took it up. Their tactics are truly forward-facing, and truly evil if you are a small business. And it’s all because of books.

The easiest and most frightening future I can imagine is one where civilians watch their Amazon TV, read on their Kindle (or maybe just listen to the books on Audible), receive their groceries via Amazon drones and then skip down the street to their local Amazon coffee house. And then, latte in hand, you go to your work – at the District Amazon Mega Warehouse. The local is dead and the globocorp is real. 

How can one combat this juggernaut? Not very easily, because convenience is key to the heart of the consumer, and Amazon thrives on making everything as not-difficult as possible. The fact is, most people in cities have grown up buying from corporations. We are indoctrinated into getting things cheaply, easily and nastily. Amazon promises to deliver that in spades, and in doing so destroy its competitors. We will barely notice the shift.

The Most Important Question in Philosophy

I have to get some thoughts out. They will probably be incoherent and inconsistent, but I am more resolved to this reality these days as it is, after all, how reality works. Anyway, the Most Important Question is:

What came first: the chicken or the egg?

Hasn’t this been answered? Apparently. But it’s the metaphorical implications of the question that are important.

I do a lot of reading, especially of blog posts. Slatestarcodex, OvercomingBias, Xenosystems, MarginalRevolution. So obviously rationality is a big part of all this, how we think. Epistemology and how important it is. And whether what we think is actually genuine at all. From all this some things floated to the top, specifically what Jordan B Peterson talks about and what David Chapman talks about in Meaningness and how really they are coming at the same thing through slightly different methods and naming conventions. And then I realised YouTube star Elliott Hulse is ALSO doing the same thing when he talks about Breathing Through Your Balls and his holistic weight training service. And then I realised what all these people are doing is creating a big mess by trying to sort through the chaos that is Truth and Justice and Meaning. I mean, for example, I can get inspired by what all three of these hunters are, you know, really get uplifted by reading their thoughts and having Eureka moments. Each of them has something I can wrap my mind around.

But then I get brought back down. I realise they haven’t yet grasped the nature of the whole. They’ve flipped chicken and egg or vice versa. Often they put the cart before the horse. And I don’t specifically know how I personally understand that they haven’t achieved Finality but that there are definitely missing links in the chain.

So, systems. Different strokes for different folks. Is this where we drop metamodernism?

(On that note, are we must be at the last column of Chapman’s grid and that metamodernism is post-postmodernism.)

Each of these gurus discusses how various systems explain different truths, but then pronounce that their path is actually the one true path that explains ALL truths, which of course undermines their own argument. Hmm. Then I found this post and it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Fascists tend to adopt various myths and symbols, whatever is convenient really, to help justify their own dogma. (Separate from Bolsheviks who invent their own myths because then their dogma is harder to pin down and argue against.) Is this what these Truth Gurus are peddling? A bit of Cyclical Theory, a bit of St George storytelling, some Angry Breathing Therapy and voila, you have a mythical understanding of Reality?

What I think we can learn from this is that things are complex, and resting on your laurels is not beneficial for anyone. There is no single answer. Gender pay gap studies always blame discrimination, even though the actual nature of work is so, so very complex that blaming ‘discrimination’ is a complete joke. Not only do you have a huge range of actual types of work, which all pay differently based on anything from industry to temperament of the employer, you have a huge mish-mash of individual people with individual preferences, some who like to work really hard and some (most?) who don’t. So of course there will be differences in pay. In fact, all things considered I’m surprised the ‘pay gap’ is so small. This is a perfect example of an ideological group trying to sustain a truth via a single filter or lens. Another would be young Australians blaming the Boomer generation for unaffordable housing. Sure, some of the blame can be attributed to greedy Boomers, but there is much more to the story. And blaming others for your ‘loss’, whether a mysterious pay gap or not having a 4 bedroom villa, is ultimately a cop out and weakness.
But now I’m going to drop my own true systemic understanding of Truth.

Let’s say life is based on systems.

At the bottom is Mathematics. It’s pure but only because it isn’t ‘real’. As in, it isn’t physical despite being very real. Mathematics is probably as close to absolute truth as you can get.A step up is Physics. A complicated state of mathematics, physics has real world consequences. A rock is a creation of physics.

The next step up is Biology. This is a complicated arrangement of physics and mathematics, mostly dealing with entropy and the conservation of energy and matter.

So you can see that Mathematics feeds into Physics which feeds into Biology.

(This feels so obvious that it has probably been taken for granted for a long time, so let me know how far I have to go before I am Even On Your Level.)

What’s next?

The next step would have to be some form of consciousness. I haven’t read Schopenhauer, but I have read about some of his ideas, and I think this is where the concept of Will comes in. Will could very well be a real energy, a life force. At the lower end it inhabits plants, which enact their Will on things such as turning with the Sun. Animals exert their own Will but have a more complex Biology that allows them to better direct the energy of Will. And humans have developed a very complex Will machine, called the brain. We can project our Will through time as well as in physical space. That’s some pretty powerful stuff.

But there is another element to Will and that is the notion of Incentive. So let’s go back to house prices and gender ‘pay gaps’ for a moment. These are based on incentives. The people blaming Boomers or the ‘Patriarchy’ have an Incentive to do so. The causes of these ‘problems’ have their own Incentives, such as women preferring not to work as hard as men (which is perfectly sensible, let’s be honest) and young wannabe homebuyers not wanting to save money when they could spend now. So you have a struggle between Will and Incentive in some sense, and the question is: what came first, the Will or the Incentive?

If we go right back to looking at the problems that Peterson or Chapman discuss, it is fundamentally that people lie to themselves. Constantly. Cognitive Bias and a range of other subconscious mind tricks that allow doublethink to dominate our habits of mind. So we can say that we are enacting our Will when making a decision, but actually there might be a hidden Incentive that we are not admitting to. This is what we talk about when we talk about the Cathedral. This is what people mean by the Deep State. This is what Bolsheviks mean when they talk about Patriarchy. Hidden Incentives that appear to be the malignant Will of a certain group. And when these systems are in place, the tendency is for people to continue using their Will to facilitate themselves. Self-perpetuation is an Incentive. Victim culture is an Incentive. Capitalism is founded on Incentives. Everything, really, is Incentives. And we all lie to ourselves that it isn’t.

This is a fair bit longer than I thought it would be. It’s also highly probable I have presented nothing new whatsoever. Do let me know how wrong I am in the comments.

But I will finish with one last thought. If life is based on the sciences then what is fourth in the stack?

Mathematics, then

Physics, then

Biology, then…

(Dare I say it?)

Economics.

Weekend Watching: Black Mass and Train to Busan

Spoilers for Train to Busan.

To say that movies are a product of the culture they are made in is to state the obvious. American films are different to Australian films are different to Chinese films. They share similar modes of communication but the final results all have inherent differences

Take Black Mass. This is a good example of the try-hard Serious American Drama (S.A.D.). Set in Boston. Check. Big name actor with a ‘standout’ performance. Check. Based on a true story. Check. This is an ego vehicle for the director, a chance to show off the talent of Johnny Depp who plays the character James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. Aside from Depp’s strong acting and the aesthetically pleasing – if somewhat contrived – camera shots, this is not a movie overly deserving of praise. Indeed, the other acting is sub-par (Australian Joel Edgerton is woeful and unconvincing, partly due to the script) and the plot itself drags along. What need do we have to see yet another example of the criminal underclass in American society? If anything is to be gained it is that the movie depicts yet another example of FBI corruption.

American film makers (or goers?) seem to be obsessed with the ‘true story’, the biopic in particular. To rattle off a few from the last year: Sully, Hidden Figures, Deepwater Horizon, 13 Hours and The Finest Hours. They don’t even have to be particularly enthralling stories, so long as they are true. Sometimes it helps if there is a political message that can be pushed alongside the narrative. Whatever the case, a basis in reality is the underlying feature, and they are used to showcase a director’s talent with the camera or an actor’s dedication to reenactment. As a result we are left with bland money laundering exercises.

Personally, I prefer my stories as unrealistic as possible. They say nothing is truer than fiction, because the truth, the exactness, is whatever is written and you cannot change it. You just have to be willing to go along for the ride.

Train to Busan is a great example. Nominally a zombie movie, it manages to surpass other recent attempts at the genre. It does fast, wave-like zombies far better than the turgid World War Z. It has a stronger emotional element than The Walking Dead. And it manages to bring back a beautiful apocalyptic mise-en-scene reminiscent of 28 Days Later. The story is simple: a despondent father decides to take his daughter to visit her mother (his ex-wife) by taking the train to Busan. This also happens to be the day a mass outbreak of the undead occurs. One infected woman boards the train (women, am I right?) and all Hell breaks loose. But it’s what happens in-between that matters. The fight scenes are fantastically choreographed, and while the acting is pretty stock-standard, there are characters to both boo and cheer. It is a confidently crafted gem of horror-action cinema.

It is also a stringently Korean film, with the flair and attention to detail of Old Boy and The Host. The movie critiques modern Korean culture (with an eye on the West too). The main character, the father, is a fund manager who is too busy and self-centered to pay attention to his daughter. Throughout the course of the movie he redeems himself, and Christ-like even sacrifices himself so that his daughter and others may survive. There is strong discussion of fatherly responsibility and the importance of family and loved ones. The dog-eat-dog world of comfortable liberal democracy goes out the window when your life is on the line. Aesthetically it is a delight as well. The two hour runtime goes by without you noticing: this is a fast-paced plot with little time to breathe. What really impressed me was the originality of some of the set-pieces. If you think you know zombie movies and have seen it all, you will be pleasantly surprised here. Korean cinema has been one to watch for a while now, and Train to Busan continues that legacy.

So what is it about the culture in which a film is made? Is it too much money and not enough focus on the artistry that has dragged Hollywood down? Is it a focus on story-telling as opposed to marketing points that makes foreign films a delight to watch? For me, Hollywood is past its used by date. There is still titillation to be had, but little more. And who would have thought a completely unrealistic zombie movie would have more to teach about life than a true-to-life story?

Neoreaction is True Acceptance

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The first sentence is how the world in general sees life. ‘This is good, and that is bad’ is the general mantra of the government and populace. An obvious example is immigration, and specifically Islamic immigration. Acceptance doesn’t mean you rollover and take it, pretending it is beneficial.

Acceptance should be acknowledgement of negative elements and either working at the margins to create a better reality, or to create an alternative reality for when ‘acceptance’ collapses in on itself. This is neoreaction. The two strands sit together: one for change, one for what comes next.

The above image is a quote from a book on CBT, which on first principles looks to me like little more than a more engaged form of Stoicism. So, thinking through negative thoughts and combating them with acceptance (not the kind where you pass it off as good). This manifests itself in so many ways and facets of life. But the bad form of acceptance is directly linked to the thought processes of the democratic society we live in. There is a deluge of bad things happening as it all breaks apart, and the majority accept and endorse this collapse. They don’t take the time to think through their reactions. And that is where NRx steps in.

Keep thinking of alternatives and what comes next.

To the Ancestors – A Poem

I haven’t written a poem in about 10 years, but I guess reactionary reading and reactionary fellowship has inspired me more than any Leftist dogma of the last 10 years.
***

To The Ancestors

To those anonymous heroes past

Who knows what you would think

Of the current year compared to last

Though in reality deeper is that stink.


To those who fought so hard before

Not only in battle, but just to see the day through.

What life must look like now we’ve changed its core:

A listless ship lost at sea, ghosts for its crew.


And in what ways have we become the damned

I can count the ways – three.

Aimless, helpless and hopeless: all crammed

Together cruelly to crush our commonality.


If time is an arrow then we have lost

All force and inertia pulls us down.

One cannot deny physics; one must pay the cost.

Rue the apple that fell on Newton’s crown.


Once we understood the bullseye, that glorious prize.

But our aim has wandered as we wondered,

What else is out there? Life took us by surprise,

And showed us an abyss into which we fell and blundered.


A lack of focus left us helpless as a babe.

Our curse is the loss of children,

Each generation weaker, and yours no doubt dismayed

That from such beginnings degeneracy comes unbidden.


All our aid goes to the endless symptoms

That are the result of cancerous ideals.

To take the log from our eyes, an ancient dose of wisdom,

Would cut away the malignant growth it reveals.


With no goal nor support, hope itself disappears,

Like a fading mirage the future teases cruelly.

What could have been will never be, our debts in arrears,

We’ve squandered it all, our will power too unruly.


Everything moves quickly, so fast no one can see

That even those who cling to hope are idealistic fools.

All that is good and evil is the result of technology,

But can you decide which is which? There are no longer rules.


And yet from amongst the ruins some rise,

some reach out to grasp their destiny.

Some recognise their ancestors cries

As the world continues its manic spree.


There is a hole with which we must cope,

That must be filled no matter what.

Aim high; get help; hold on to hope.

Only then will we achieve what others cannot.

You Must Be By The Book

When it comes to pop culture fame, the fans are fickle. Especially in the modern age where SJW-ism can lead to turns of fate that would be unrealistic in any novel. Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham and more have all been thrown under the bus the moment they speak out of turn. The revolution eats its children, because if it didn’t how would it progress?

Let’s take a recent example: Veronica Roth. This young author shot to fame with her Divergent series and the accompanying movies. This is the type of meteoric rise we saw for other series like Twilight and The Hunger Games. And who is the main audience of YA? Young females, 15-30, and therefore almost definitely woke as fuck.

Back to Roth. Her latest book, Carve the Mark, recently came out, and sales are definitely not on the level of Divergent. Compare to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (a goddamn theatre script) which brought fans back in droves to make it one of the bestsellers, worldwide, of the year. Now as to why Carve the Mark has certainly performed below expectations (Divergent was one of those phenomena books, selling hundreds of thousands across the globe) is difficult to pinpoint: previous sales were based on the movie, not releasing the book for Christmas, any number of seasonal reasons. But if you look through the Goodreads page, we discover another narrative.

The fans are not impressed with Ms Roth. Here is a smattering of comments.

But now instead of telling you why this book is racist, as there are better voices, I will direct you to Justina Ireland who has spoken out about this book –
http://justinaireland.com/dammit-this…

What I want to address is the ableism. Recently Veronica Roth did an interview with NPR where they discussed how the current gifts in CtM were inspired by chronic pain. The interviewer says that chronic pain can be a gift, to which Roth agrees and goes on to say that part of the book is Cyra figuring out why her and others are worthy of pain.

This to me was so upsetting. I have lived with chronic pain now for 7 years. It is something that has taken over my life and caused a lot of harm. Some days it is so bad I can barely sit up, let alone get out of bed. And to see someone equate it with a gift or say people are worthy of it makes me feel sick. Whether or not Roth has chronic pain herself, I am not one to say she is lying, that does not take away the harm. It is not a magical shield to be pulled out when you’ve hurt people.

*I want to note that this book has problematic issues within it that I didn’t pick up on while first reading it. Learn more about these issues here:http://justinaireland.com/dammit-this…

I’m sorry that I didn’t recognize these issues. I’m listening and learning and will strive to do better in the future.

I don’t feel comfortable supporting this book anymore despite initially enjoying the story. I’m leaving my rating blank & adding this disclaimer after all of the controversy so people can be informed to make their own decision:

My original understanding was that both cultures viewed each other as “savages” and that the Shotet were far more powerful and advanced, but it’s extremely possible that I misunderstood the worldbuilding — you can see in my original review that I was suuuuuper confused. (The worldbuilding was unclear to begin with and then the ARCs had a giant “uncorrected proof” printed diagonally across each page that made it very challenging for me to read/focus on). So I won’t be going back to read this and think it’s sufficient to throw the warning out there that the way race and chronic pain are handled here have upset a lot of people. And I do apologize if my support of this book made you feel disregarded in any way.

Personally, this was the first word of harmful representation of POC that I had heard & as it was brought to light after I had posted my reviews, I was not aware of these issues when I originally read the book. If you would like to read my apology on not recognizing/addressing these issues in my own reviews, you can find that here: https://twitter.com/emmmabooks/status…

There are SO MANY MORE sources on information regarding the problematic content of Carve The Mark that are so easy to find, but I wanted to provide you with a few that helped spark this important discussion. Do with this information what you will, but I am just asking that you take the voices of those who may have been harmed by the racism & ableism expressed in this novel into consideration before making you decisions about reading/purchasing this book. It’s crucial that we listen to the marginalized voices in our community if we hope to make a change, and I hope that you all take the time to educate yourselves on an issue that has massive effects on the publishing world and our beloved book community.

I am removing my rating from this book because of the harmful nature of the book. At first I felt compelled to keep it intact because I was paid to review it, but at this time, I don’t feel comfortable rating the book highly when it has hurt and offended so many of my followers and readers in general. I’m sorry to anyone who saw my previous rating and was shocked or disappointed in me for giving it support.

1/18/17 Update
It was brought to my attention that this previous update may have been construed that I was paid to rate the book highly. This is untrue. The way that I rated the book originally (4 stars) was not because I was paid. I would have rated the book 1 star even if I was being paid (or, ideally, I would have canceled or backed out of the sponsorship completely), but at the time that I was reading it, I didn’t recognize any of the problematic aspects and therefore somewhat enjoyed it enough to give it a 3.5-4 star rating. I debated removing my rating after all of the criticisms of CtM broke out, but I was paid to post a review, not necessarily a positive one, and I had thought that removing my rating would be discontinuous with the video I had made for CtM, which was also paid. Long story short, if I were to delete any of the reviews or posts about CtM that I made, I would be breaking a contract, and I had lumped the rating I gave the book into that group of un-deleteable content, lest there be consequences. Now, however, I feel it’s best to remove the rating because my original review is still available for reading and viewing and I don’t want to give false promotion to a book that makes me uncomfortable and that has hurt so many people.
I definitely didn’t rate it highly because I was being paid, and I didn’t remove the rating sooner because I was weary that I would be breaking a contract. Now, however, being transparent with my audience takes more of a priority and I will keep the book unrated unless the publisher raises concerns about it.

**A NOTE- It was brought to my attention via twitter (link:https://twitter.com/justinaireland/st…) that this book plays into some potentially harmful tropes regarding race and portrayals of antagonism. I deeply regret that I did not pick up on this when I first read the book, but I wanted to edit my review in order to alert my viewers that POC in this book may be portrayed in a toxic light. Please proceed with wariness if you intend to read this, and bear in mind the consequences that Roth’s writing may have on marginalized people. Additionally bear in mind that supporting an author who writes about problematic themes potentially takes away money and readership from authors who write #ownvoices books, so you may considering reading one of these instead if you have now become skeptical about this book:
Muslim authors: https://twitter.com/AvidReaderBlog/st…
Diverse/#ownvoices reads: https://twitter.com/novelparadise/sta…
Diverse recommendations: https://twitter.com/chasingfaes/statu…
LGBTQIA+ books: https://twitter.com/Bookishwithtea/st…
Diverse books: https://twitter.com/thebookvoyagers/s…

I could go on. But these people really do labour whatever point they are trying to make. Honestly, the amount of times these reviews say something like, ‘I didn’t notice it at first, but then I totally saw it when some Marginalised Sufferer pointed it out, so I am so like sorry,’ makes me sick. Maybe if you didn’t see it, it a) wasn’t there, or b) doesn’t matter. The hand wringing that goes into appeasing uppity minorities really is overdone.

For a breakdown of the issues at stake, see here:

The bottom line is that books like Carve the Mark and TheContinent both utilize AND reinforce cultural white supremacy. It’s only because of cultural white supremacy that readers are able to code these cultures as evil. And because readers code brown-skinned people as evil in a literary context the cognitive paths for them to code brown-skinned people as evil in a real are reinforced.

There’s more to be said about the way the plot elements reinforce the initial worldbuilding truths in both books (Cyra of Carve the Mark is the perfect example of a talented tenth Negro or an educated savage, the person who manages to rise above their genetics and culture) but I think there’s already enough here for readers and writers to chew on. We should all be critical readers and writers who consider the implications of our worldbuilding more fully, by reading more broadly and understanding the impact of the story frames we use.

Key here is the inability to face up to reality. I could perhaps criticise the writers for being lazy in transposing real world facts to a fantasy world (but then, why couldn’t it be the case) but this clawing for facts about White Supremacy are unjustified. White Supremacy does not code anything. If an author lazily uses facts to build their world, so be it, but to read racism into it denies reality. People and groups of people are seen in relation to others. Stereotypes exist for a reason. Getting on your high horse won’t change a thing.

But all this could have been avoided if only the publishers had hired keen readers to pick up on all examples of racism, sexism and ableism!

“Sensitivity reader” is a person who, for a small fee, will provide feedback about the book based on self-ascribed areas of expertise like “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities” or “transgender issues”, according to The Chicago Tribune.

 

That Chicago Tribune article sums it up:

Sensitivity readers have emerged in a climate – fueled in part by social media – in which writers are under increased scrutiny for their portrayals of people from marginalized groups, especially when the author is not a part of that group.

This potential for offense has some writers scared. Young-adult author Susan Dennard recently hired a fan to review her portrayal of a transgender character in her “Truthwitch” series.

More great quotes:

“Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

Still, some sensitivity readers feel they are in part contributing to the problem. Clayton said she’s unsettled by the idea that she’s being paid for her expertise, but also is helping white authors write black characters for books from which they reap profit and praise.

Cue the ‘rehhhhhhing’.

As we’ve seen though, diversity and equality is getting its mendacious claws into everything. Just the other day I was told of a UK publisher who had to undergo diversity training, and were told not to use ‘African covers’ for their books written by African authors. Referring to one particular example, the book did not sell well without the African cover. Those bloody racist consumers!

Entertainment, specifically the book industry, is besieged on all sides by the forces of diversity, equality and Otherness. As the English speaking world becomes increasingly less white (and the biggest book market in the world is the English language market) we will see greater and more powerful forces arrayed against literature. Do not publish White Men. Do not even think of reading White Men, you heathen. Only publish books with minorities that are written by minorities. Only publish books about white culture written by POCs! Publishers, a tiny industry as it is, is having to hire more than just White Women. This is spreading out the power. Just when Amazon is atomising the industry, Others want to atomise it further. Publishing is dead, cannibalised by Amazon with the remains picked at by opportunistic and selfish SJWs. It may not be visible, but just give it a few years.

reality

Reality isn’t comfortable, darling.

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Current Year!

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Marginalising version of ‘Current Year’

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Because of Blasian babies? Da fuck?