5/26/09

bsg story contest response

This is a response to the controversy resulting from Brandon Scott Gorrell's story contest.
 
I first heard about Brandon's story contest as an idea he posted on Twitter, to which I replied that it was a good idea to have a story contest on his blog. After the contest began I paid the $7 entry fee to Brandon and entered a story called "Joy Williams" (the story made it to Brandon's "maybe" list for stories he was considering to win the contest). I also donated a copy of Boring Meadows and a copy of Sam Pink's Yum Yum I Can't Wait to Die as prizes for the contest winner.
 
I thought Brandon's idea to host a story contest on his blog was absurd and interesting and I felt happy that it actually happened. I felt that it would be something interesting to pay attention to and to watch "play out" or something. I honestly feel that the main reason the contest appealed to me was that I knew it would be controversial even though "in reality" it was just boring and inconsequential. That people seemed genuinely "fed up" when the contest began was entertaining. I thought about how people were getting angry over something they had no reason to feel compelled to pay attention to. This is something that happens continuously on the internet. Despite their apparent dismissal of people like Brandon and their writing, these people seem obviously quite invested in it. I think Brandon pointed out that the majority of people commenting/shit-talking on his blog were not actually people who had entered the contest and felt like they had been treated unfairly; instead these were people who would, it seems, claim to dismiss Brandon's contest/Brandon's writing/Brandon's internet presence for various reasons, including things like being a "carbon copy" of Tao Lin, or having no "actual literary talent" or something. But instead of actually dismissing Brandon and his contest, these people seem to put a lot of energy into responding to it, as if it is something they actually care about very much. I don't understand this process. These people seem invested in "correcting" something they don't even care about. Did they want Brandon to have a different kind of contest? Do they want Brandon not to have a contest? Do they want Brandon to pick a different winner for his contest? All these cases would seem to be predicated on the idea that these people care about Brandon and his contest and what he is doing on the internet.
 
I have written a little before about being confused about the motivation of shit-talkers. I think this is the same issue and that my confusion continues. I think that I am genuinely interested in a real explanation about why people behave like this around things they intensely dislike. I do not understand people's motivations, but it is funny and entertaining. I feel glad that Brandon's contest has resulted in semi-widespread controversy. I feel good about the winning story and that Sarah Schneider will get the prizes/entry fee I donated to the contest.