Thursday, February 17, 2011

This Shared Fiction (A Grudging Apologia)

In recent days a certain Rick Anderson from the Seattle Weekly has chosen to cite this blog on his own. In his post he supposedly makes an objective observation that Perry lost his case against WWU at the State Supreme Court level.

And due to the old adage that pictures speak 1000 words, and the newer one that 100 words without any pictures will go unread, he plucked a couple of images from our blog here to illustrate some kind of point.

The first image was of Perry's id card, which some of you will remember from the Feburary 21, 2008 post, reproduced below.

The second image Anderson chose was this one, from June 20, 2009:

Anderson describes this second image as being "from Mills' webpage", regardless of the facts that:

1. Mills does not have a webpage.

2. This is not Perry Mills' webpage.

3. This is a blog, started and maintained by former students of Perry Mills in support of his case.

4. This blog does not pretend to be an objective news site.

5. This blog has stated its bias in Perry Mills' favor both in clear wording (the very first post, for example, wherein Nick Johnson describes this as a "fan site") as well as its tone and, we be damned for it, its amplification of the ridiculous (the effectiveness of which, for those of you who find this blog desperately unfunny, has no bearing on the fact of its intention, which should be painfully clear to anyone spending any amount of time here.)

Anyhow, regardless of these facts, the larger fact -- that this image is not a photo of Perry Mills surrounded by guns, ammo and guitars (Mills does not own a single guitar as far as I know), but rather a composite image of some unknown fat guy with guns and guitars, and the exact same face from Mills' ID card pasted onto it -- is that this was intended as a simple joke.

Basically: Rick Anderson chose an image with 1000 words that had nothing to do with the outcome of a court case he was, supposedly, reporting on.

Hateful Thing Number 1: having to describe a joke. I hate doing this. Likely the majority of you folks reading this hate doing this, and hate when someone else does it. However, since this is beginning to spiral out of control, what with The Huffington Post now taking up the thread of Anderson's initial bad weaving of misidentified details, I decided that the lesser of two evils should occur.

When I put that photo together I did so in order to entertain the few (what I believed at the time to be roughly 5.6) people reading this page -- all of whom I imagined to be in sympathy with Perry Mills' situation -- because there was no news to share (the wheels of justice grind as slowly as that of academia) and all of them, I figured, would get the joke.


This entire story, in my humble opinion, shared by the equally humble opinions of the 5.6 people I envision when I think of the readership of this Brutal Battle Blog, began because of a moment of hysteria that has spun completely into the realm of absurdity. That hysteria was containted in the reaction of one student to a Playwriting Teacher taking out a knife in class in order to demonstrate the ending of a play in which a knife is taken out.

The photo of a fat man dressed in tight swimming trunks holding a gun was, to me, at the time, a wonderful tongue in cheek jab at the very hysteria that:

1. Began this awful chapter in Professor Mills' life

2. Ended up leading to people like Rick Anderson spreading more hysteria; The Huffington Post furthering it; godknows how many people planning to print t-shirts of it, etc.

I.e.: it was ironic. Not to be taken literally. How anyone with any actual journalistic credibility (sorry, Mr. Anderson, I know all of your fans out there have your award-saturated resume in hand to back you up) could have looked at that photo and decided that it was something to be used to illustrate the Perry Mills vs. WWU (and WWU vs. Perry Mills) story is beyond me.

As I pointed out in the oscillating comment string on Anderson's blog, he could have very well used the image I slapped together of Mills as the Robin Williams character in The Dead Poets Society. The identical Perry Mills face was used in that ironic image, too. However, using that photo wouldn't have propelled the hysteria.

Lastly (thankfully), I would like to add this:

Anyone interested in plucking images from this blog in order to represent the 1000 words you actually intend to write, please do so because you are writing a story about this blog and not about Perry Mills' court case.

And if you want to keep mirroring that silly gun-guy image in question, please do so because you want to write a story about how fat Perry Mills is. While that's not actually his body at all, Perry Mills is, indeed, a fat man. However, I think he may be even fatter than the loony in that photo. So, maybe you ought to just cut and paste Mills' head on another photo of a fatter man. That way you can squeeze 1001 words of your choice into the minds of your readers.

And please, do have a nice day.


AB said...

I have been following your blog. I sent a letter to the editor of the Seattle Weekly and have requested an amendment to the Huffington Post article as well. Perry was a teacher of mine for a few years and contributed considerably to my education and sense of humor.

In some ways, I can't believe it has taken WWU this long to find a way to oust him. He has to be one of the most vocal, opinionated and outspoken people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. As our educational system becomes more watered down and "safe", people like Mills are the first on the chopping block. He is the antithesis of Robin Williams whispering motivational speeches in your ear while tucking you into bed. Perry tells you what you don't want to hear. Sometimes it is brutal. Sometimes it is wrong. I accepted it as such and took up his challenge. This helped me understand and appreciate an unspoken aspect of learning; no one is going to do it for me.

Spartacus O'Neal said...

Let that be a lesson to you! A sense of humor is indefensible to the PC.

J. Buckley Sykes said...

AB: Thank you for your efforts. They'll probably listen as readily as any tabloid when offensiveness and bad reporting occurs in their own ranks. But I appreciate your attempt to counter the stupid alarmism.

Spartacus: Shit! I mean to say: No shit! I vow to never laugh again unless the joke's in proper syndication and cheerily passed the censors.