Yeeeeaugh! More on the fantasy throwdown

frankenstein-castle-torch-mobSomething awe-inspiring happened today.

People actually… uh… read this blog.

Unfortunately, they all hate me.

(More after the jump.)

I set up FanDumb because, one, the name is fuckin’ genius. Am I right? Huh? Also, I hoped to strike a sympathetic chord in at least a handful of people who, like me, feel that fans often behave in risible ways, and it’s fun to mock them. (But they also do smart and charming things sometimes, and that’s worth noting as well.) I did indeed strike a chord, and it was indeed with a “handful” of people. Like, a couple hundred.

 Then I wrote this bitchy post about fantasy readers, and all these fantasy readers found out about it, and they all came over here to tell me I suck. Right now my post has 40 comments. 40!

lucy-pompousIt’s actually impossible not to feel proud of that many comments. That said, I haven’t brought myself to read more than 10 of them. For one thing, I’m pretty sure the only pro-Tuffy comments are from my ol’ pal trite. For another, I don’t think I should actually respond to any of the people who are mad at me. What am I supposed to say? “I know you don’t think you’re a culturally myopic philistine, but you are mistaken in that belief. Let me educate you.”

Yeah, that’ll be productive. But I actually think I deserve some props (that’s short for what the kids call “propers”) for sticking to my guns on this. My first impulse was in fact to address their criticisms, try to find some middle ground, etc. Then I realized how passive-aggressive that was. I wrote this mean, bitchy post, and I have to resist the urge to backpedal and make nice. Therefore:

I’ll have you know, Sirs and Madams, that it is not I who suck, but you. Stop bragging about how much fantasy you read. P.S., you suck.

Oh, and…

  heathersAlso, you idiots, you can’t start off your comments with “Bitter Much” or “Overreact Much”!! That’s exactly the same as saying “Cranky Much?” — which I already said in the title, in reference to myself! I know it’s fun to say “X Much,” it’s got a Heathers-esque smirk to it, but you can’t just repeat someone’s self-deprecating line back to them. Dorks.

P.S. Here’s my slightly more thoughtful response to the original post’s comments.

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  1. Tuffy get off the stage!

  2. Hey, man, I say stick to your guns. I’m sick and tired of soft and cuddly postings and like to see something with an edge, an opinion. As someone who has earned the ire of fantasy and SF fans for my rants and rambles, I can only sympathize with you. Those who flame away at you are thin-skinned and wooly-headed. No sense of humor or irony. Next to romance readers, fantasy fans are the least demanding of their authors–that’s why they’re stuck with the likes of Robert Jordan and some of those execrable scribes you cited. The genre will only grow when fantasy authors rise beyond being mere Tolkien imitators and do something interesting and new. Of course, then their stuck-in-the-mud fans would scream in protest. Keep doing what you’re doing (but don’t ever expect praise for it).

  3. I dont hate you
    By the way, my name is Gossip

    sincerely sofia

  4. I have read the comments – all of them – and I don’t believe they actually hate you, Tuffy. They are responding to certain statements made in your previous post that they felt was unfair.

  5. “We’re not nerds. ” Maybe not, but at least readers of the “bodice rippers” know their genre is to literature as Entertainment Tonight is to CNN. Most would admit it’s a guilty pleasure, not high art. But if you equate Milton and Shakespeare with the rest of the genre, well, there’s no point talking to you really, you might as well say Milton and Shakespeare suck, and be done with it. Please don’t suggest authors to me either, I’d rather finish all the classics I haven’t read. Oh! Tolkein, what hath thou wrought? Stick to your guns, I say.

  6. I know I don’t hate anybody. Well, except maybe.. eh.. never mind.

    The main issue is that you read WAY too much into the word “Challenge”, and based the entirety of your rant on incorrect information. It was meant in the same vein as you intended your challenge, to get people who might not normally read fantasy to give it a shot. The fact that a lot of the people who participated were already fantasy fans shouldn’t enter into the equation at all. I know I thought, “hey, I’ll read some books and maybe win some prizes, how cool!” End of story.

    On a side note, I think it’s a bit unfair of you to make such a blanketing statement and then not even read the things that people had to say, whether criticism or not. It’s not about saying “I’m right and you’re wrong”, it’s about making the effort to understand WHY people are upset, even if you don’t think they should be. If you want to live in Tuffyland where Tuffy is the absolute authority on what is good and what is crap, that’s fine. But you don’t have to make an ass out of yourself by blasting away at a group of people who just wanted to get together and share something they love.

  7. Hey everybody, thanks for the comments! Just a couple of things, with responses to Project-D, Cliff and Asara:

    1) I’m not really worried about being “hated.” Never fear!

    2) Project-D: Yeah, actually I wonder how much any genre can get better. I mean, genre fiction basically exists to satisfy fetishes — crime fetishes, spaceship fetishes, fetishes for ancient stone castles and dragons and such. Which is fine, but inherently limiting. Whenever a genre writer becomes recognized in the wider fiction world, it’s always because they manage to rise above the genre’s limitations and make us think differently about the genre. Which is fine, I think. But fantasy readers are determined to raise their whole genre to the level of “Literature.” I guess they can’t bear to acknowledge that 90 percent of their reading is just self-indulgence.

    3) Cliff, thanks for the comments. I agree. I haven’t read your blog before and I’ll check it out.

    4) Asara: I do actually plan to read the comments, I just haven’t decided how to interpret them yet. And yes, as a matter of fact I DO want to live in Tuffyland “where Tuffy is the absolute authority on what is good and what is crap!” Doesn’t everyone?

    (Sofia/Gossip, thanks for the URL, I’ll check it out when I get a chance)

  8. That’s fair, and I respect that.

    Let me apologize in advance for calling you “sir”, I made an assumption myself based on your name. I don’t put a lot of stock in avatars, having seen too many girls with guy avatars and vice versa. Sorry about that.

  9. Ah, so you liked the way I started my first comment echoing yours. Nice! 😉

    I don’t think you are hated. Far from it. I just think you did a poor job in criticizing a specific small group of us if your point was only to go off on your dislike for ‘fannish’ people. The biggest problem people had with your post was not that they disagreed with what you were saying, but that your arguments were poorly thought out and based on a really bad misinterpretation of what our challenge, and what reading challenges in general, are all about.

    I always find it entertaining when someone says ignorant things and then feels that they have somehow won a great battle for intelligence and reason when it does get a rise out of the group they insulted. It is an interesting playground phenomenon that I am just as foolish as you are for having participated in and for continuing to participate in.

    I’m happy for you that people are reading your blog. It is always fun to know the time you spend writing stuff and posting it isn’t falling on deaf ears..or eyes as it were. I hope you can continue to generate responses from people in the future on posts that are based less on unintelligent criticism of others, especially when your site demonstrates that you are of the same nerd ilk you seem to want to insult.

    I’m all for you sticking to your guns. I just wish you had a good foundation to stand on rather than one based on misinterpretation of other’s actions and a wishy-washy stance on the genre you seem to want to loathe (considering you give examples of fantasy that you like). Very strange.

  10. Tuffy, here is what I would like to see:

    I don’t care if you respond back to all the individual comments. You need not, Trite has done that quite immaturely for you already. What I would like to challenge you to do is give all of us a reasoned defense of your original post…one that addresses all inconsistencies and misinterpretations in your argument.

    One that doesn’t use phrases like “But none of these books are challenging” or those in your follow up comments here like “genre fiction basically exists to satisfy fetishes” and “I guess they can’t bear to acknowledge that 90 percent of their reading is just self-indulgence” and instead rephrase them to something that actually has some fact behind it or provide some supporting statements. As it is these are the same old saws that every reader of a particular kind of fiction uses to disparage the types of fiction they don’t like. Follow your own advice and take one of those local community college classes that discuss how to support your thesis with statements based on fact.

    You say nothing new and you do not even bother to provide a reasonable basis for your opinions. And that is okay if all you are doing is giving an ‘opinion’, which is what blogs are essentially for. However, when you go on spouting words of wisdom like “fantasy readers are determined to raise their whole genre to the level of “Literature.” ” without providing any concrete examples…or for that matter defining for us what you think ‘literature’ is, then all you are doing is being a pompass blowhard.

    And please get over the idea that somehow having people come over here to vehemently disagree with you proves the points you were trying to make. If you transplanted this conversation to any genre of fiction…in fact to anything at all…you would get the same results, be in insulting a person’s reading, religion, race, culture, etc. The fan outcry over here does not prove your point, it only proves that people the world over get passionate when they read something that is innane and unsupported by logic or common sense.

    So the challenge is out there. If you decide to take it on, drop me an email so I can come over here and read it. I would love to see you do something besides offer the same tired arguments for a position that has no merit. Fantasy, in the broad sense of the definition (which is what we are talking about) has been with us since time began and it will be with us for time immemorial. And hundreds of years from now someone, somewhere will be using the same tired old cliches that you do to disparage a genre of fiction that has managed to change and grow on continue despite its detractors.

    Maybe you can prove me wrong with a well thought out argument. We’ll see. I won’t hold my breath, however.

  11. “The genre will only grow when fantasy authors rise beyond being mere Tolkien imitators and do something interesting and new.”

    I definitely agree. The thing is… THIS HAS HAPPENED ALREADY. It has been happening for decades. But of course, someone who swears off fantasy without ever having actually read it wouldn’t know.

  12. I think tuffy has a completely misconceived idea of where “genre” came from. It’s an artificial concept, devised mainly for libraries and bookshops. It was never meant to convey any sort of value judgement, and a large proportion of books use more than one genre – it’s just a convenient labelling system.

    “Literature” is an individual or collective value judgement, but it’s not, as tuffy seems to think, a box that certain books or authors are definitely in, and others are not. There isn’t a checklist that if you can tick off 80% of the items, you’ve written “literature”.

    So the whole premise that genre fiction can’t be literature, or even that most of it isn’t literature, is completely undermined by the fact that tuffy is using inaccurate definitions of both “genre fiction” and “literature”.

  13. Tuffy, you are, as always, too funny. If these fantasy readers, and I am a fantasy reader, though not in their group, can see why their flailing and wailing is hilarious, they never will.

    That’s no excuse to stop poking them with sticks.

  14. This has been absolutely fascinating….I did have something huge to say but totally forgot about picking my son up from school and now it is 3 hours later.

    I have seen a lot of people insulting T’s grammar as some form of defense over their books.
    I have seen people use the excuse that a book (fantasy) book is an escape and therefore allowed to be light…..

    basically a lot of excuses.

    How about freely admitting that there is a good deal of absolute dreck when it comes to fantasy and sci fi.
    I mean some of this stuff out there is the elf version of a harlequin romance.
    There is some bad stuff…..

    And that has nothing to do with taste or whatever….there is just a lot of garbage out.

    And while any fiction can be an ‘escape’ it should still be written well.
    I prefer books that challenge me a bit…..
    I can’t read a poorly written book.
    I can’t read something that is just a rip off of something else.
    I get fed up with all the cute elves stuff that is out there.

    But that is just my taste.

    I really wonder at why people got their knickers in a knot. A nerve was obviously touched..but there hasn’t been much of an argument.

    I didn’t see too much actual VALID defenses of these books.
    What makes the books good to you guys?
    And don’t just go on about an escape or pure enjoyment….tell us why the books you are so upset about are worth reading.

    Rather that than just taking swings at Tuffy.

    Genre writing should still be good. The poor quality is why it gets such a bad rap..I think some people read this stuff out of sheer bloody mindedness sometimes.

    Plus the good stuff doesn’t get the publicity it should….it is all stereotyped into your Harry Potter fans and so on….look at the cutesy book with the cutesy fans.

    I am all for having fave books….but I try to mix it up and I try new things…but the pickings are slim in sci fi and fantasy and it takes more digging all the time.

    And this site rocks by the way……

    With the amount of con’s and so forth that I have attended over the years….mockery is a necessity.

  15. Crunchy.. sometimes the escape IS what makes the book worth reading. I don’t know how else to say it. What I like about my favorite books is the way I get drawn into a story. It doesn’t matter how technically well-written it is, I can get just as much into a volume of the Saddle Club, because it stimulates my imagination to the point where I can see the story in my head. Like that scene in the Neverending Story, when Bastien first walks into the bookshop and the store owner asks him, “Have you ever been Captain Nemo, when the giant squid is attacking you?” That is what I love about my books, my Mercedes Lackey, and Harry Potter, and Kate Elliott.. that’s why I generally shy away from the more “serious” writing.. I get plenty of “serious” out of real life, I want my spare time to be fun!

    The way I see it, this whole thing is just a matter of perspective and opinion.. in Asara-land, the fluffier the book, the better. Tuffy likes ’em weighty, and apparently so do you. Why do we feel like we have to justify our own preferences to the point that people are arguing about it? If we all liked the same thing, there wouldn’t be the variety in literature that there is, and that’s precisely what makes it so valuable. That no matter WHAT you like, you can find it if you look hard enough. Even tentacle porn, though I’d imagine you wouldn’t find it at your local Barnes & Noble. I could be wrong, I’ve never looked, but there you are.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

  16. I wonder why a person would get so worked up about other people reading fantasy, under the pretense of being more intelligent, while that person is obviously completely immersed in other types of mainstream media (television, comics, anime, etc.) I find it sad when the only way people connect to others is though being negative, and in opposition to the opinion held by the writer of the first comment, it is possible to have an opinion without insulting others (and incidentally by sinking to the writing level of a high school student.)

    As an aside, I think you missed that the Challenge included other genres that are related to fantasy, such as mythology. If you fail to see how they are connected then I suppose you are just one of those people who cannot relate to the mystical side of life (and that is OK, though I venture to say that you are missing the richness of what it is to be human.)

    The problem with being critical in such a negative way is that it is difficult to do so accurately. I think it is a far better use of time to do something constructive, like reading. Even if a book doesn’t meet the Classics or Literature standard, reading is a far better use of time than TV, for instance. Jim Trelease has a lot to say about this in his Read Along Handbook; kids who read (including comics, and ‘shock,’ fantasy books) instead of watching TV tend to do much better in school.

  17. Hey Crunchy, to be fair, I did call them nerds. That’s pretty much inviting them to take swings at me.

    I’m putting up a general response over in the other post’s comments section, FYI.

  18. I call myself a nerd and a geek..I tend to not take umbrage if someone calls me the same

  19. Well, yeah. But for some reason it drives them crazy!

  20. nerds in denial…..verrrrrrry dangerous

  21. I call myself a nerd all the time. I’m not ashamed to do so. But I think it’s like some of the african-american population (i’m not racist, this was just the first example that came to mind).. they can call each other “nigga”, but if a caucasian person calls them that, it’s outright war!

  22. hahaha you nappy-headed nerd!

    No what I was trying to say there was that I am also a nerd. It’s actually funny how the dotcom era has reclaimed the word “geek” but not the word “nerd.”

  23. I admit it. I don’t really like you. It was a bitchy, unnecessary post.

    Whatever. If you feel the need to give yourself props because no one else will, yippy for you.

    I won’t be back. I won’t link to another post of yours and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention my blog or me anymore.

  24. I believe Tuffy mentioned you a grand total of once, little Miss-Center-of-the-Universe.

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