I’ve got some folks that I would consider myself a huge fan of, or even consider to be some of my heroes. Some are broadcasters, some are writers and authors, while others are filmmakers I follow their work, what they do and what they say. and the majority of the time, I agree with them. Every once in a while, I am lucky enough to learn from them or actually am inspired by something they’ve said. But then you find things they have said or created that have been bigoted, racist, sexist, transphobic; any or all of these in combination could be the case. You see something like that, and your heart just sinks a little bit. They are people that you’ve admired, that you know have affected you, and then it feels like you’ve been dealt a severe.
What I’m talking about is a post that I found on Tumblr earlier this evening. I normally don’t link my Tumblr around here, but for right now at least, stick with me. It had links to things that were posted or said by writers that are so incredibly disappointing to me. Seeing things like Neil Gaiman’s comment on Native Americans or Wil Wheaton’s post of a Condescending Wonka meme that seems to place at least some of the blame on people of color, specifically african americans, for fights against same-sex marriage.
In the content I found, Gaiman and Wheaton both hit me hard. I’ve had a huge respect for them for a long time, and their books, specifically Wheaton’s Just a Geek memoir and Gaiman’s American Gods and Fragile Things, helped me realize my love for reading for enjoyment again, and actually got me to start writing again; first writing on my blog which has jumped from site to site and service to service over the years, and now into writing film and media essays along with my attempts at scripts and novels and short stories. Those two and their work have meant a lot, and very well will for the foreseeable future. Both of them are influences on my voice in the way I write now, and in the way I plot and write about myself. With Just A Geek, it helped me move to be unabashed in what I love to love. Made life a lot better for me.
That doesn’t excuse what was said or posted by either. It disappoints me greatly to see that these things were said. Do not misconstrue this with me saying I believed that these are people without fault. I’m not one that is so blazingly optimistic that I believe there are people above reproach and that are perfect. That doesn’t happen. We’re human beings. I’ve done some shitty things in my past as well. I recognize that. I refuse to be that anymore. I’ve seen Gaiman made an apology and tried to speak more on the subject. He acknowledged what he’s said. I’ve not seen anything as such with Wheaton, which disappoints me almost as much as the original post.
Now, do I call them racist? Honestly, I do not. I don’t believe that was any malice or hatred behind the words said.
Do I call the statements and the post ignorant and possibly racist? Absolutely. There is no way I can deny this in any way, shape or form.
I respect them a bit less tonight than I did a few hours before, and I hate to have to say that about anyone, but I won’t shy away from that. I’m going to speak my mind, and I hate that this is something that I’m seeing from two writers I have respected greatly. I want to believe the world and the people in it are better than this, and maybe one day, I can be proven right. For now, though, I can only speak truth to the present and point out the things that are wrong, even when they’re from people I’ve followed for a long, long time.