The big Cinderella story of the summer was Leslie Jones and the Olympics. Jones almost quit Twitter after facing a torrent of racial abuse after a Ghostbusters backlash. Instead of crying or suing: Jones set up a three-screen command center in her house to live-tweet her unbridled enthusiasm for Team USA.
A week later, Jim Bell, executive producer of the NBC Olympics coverage, invited her to Rio as a commentator. Yay America, yay Leslie. She did what she does best: gave us some solid LOLs and was great on television.
Meanwhile, at the center of the Twitter campaign against her sat an unknown Breitbart blogger named Milo Yiannopoulos, who shared fake screengrabs to rile up his base:
Simon & Schuster has come under fire for offering a $250,000 book advance to the blogger, who has openly attacked blacks, Jews, women and transgender people. So here are all the fast facts and strong opinions you need to know about Dangerous and the resulting controversy…
- From the Guardian: “A conservative who led the Gays for Trump movement during the 2016 US elections, Greek-born Brit Yiannopoulos has labeled transgender people as “mentally ill”, called feminism “cancer” and said the Black Lives Matter movement is a “hate group.” He was also a leading figure in the Gamergate controversy.”
- As a rule of very, very rough estimate: a person of note with a lot of Twitter followers can expect roughly $1 per follower on a book advance. This is why there are so many books “by” Kim Kardashian.
- Milo’s @nero account had reached 300k followers and likely would have kept rising through 2016. But he was stripped of his “blue check” and later banned by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Otherwise he could have likely leveraged his bigger platform into a bigger advance. He does have over 1 million “likes” on FB.
- How offensive was Milo? He once used the so-called (((Jew Parentheses))) around the name of billionaire George Soros.
- Dangerous, which doesn’t even come out till March 14th, is currently no. 1 in Amazon’s political commentary category and no. 2 overall. So he’s likely earned out his advance and will start getting even bigger royalties, depending on how the deal was structured.
- The Chicago Review of Books has decided to drop ALL Simon & Schuster titles from their book review pages. Last year that would have amounted to a publicity ban on roughly 2,000 titles.
- It’s hard to imagine a better round of free publicity than this one. And the book deal itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy for Yiannopoulos. He once told the Los Angeles Times that his ban from Twitter is “the most gigantic possible gift.”
- Simon & Schuster defended the deal by saying that they do not support hate speech, but that any hate speech in their books reflects the author and not the publisher.
- Jones responded by simply tweeting…
- The backlash was immediate. Within hours she seemed despondent: “I literally want to put hands to a jaw right now. So tired of stupid people!! And I can’t say shit cause if I do I’m the “bitch”!!”
- Which somehow prompted Stephen King to support by way of Entertainment Weekly retweet.
- When reached for comment today, author Mikki Halpin said: “My dream, and what I think would be most effective, is a media boycott of the book when it comes out. No discussions on talk shows, no essays about it, no reviews, no nothing. No “Milo’s book is out! Here is what I think!” I’d challenge everyone to boycott the book on that level, rather than boycotting S&S.”
- Weirdly: No one has seen the manuscript. It could be a kid’s book. But likely not. Amazon also lists it as no. 1 in censorship and politics. Simon & Schuster briefly responded to the backlash, asking critics to “withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book.”
- Yiannopoulos told The Hollywood Reporter: “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building—but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”
- Many Simon & Schuster authors from other imprints are voicing their opinions: Some like Karen Hunter with books under contract are actively seeking to get bought out of their S&S contracts, while others are smaller YA authors asking you to please not boycott the tiny source of livelihood they and other small writers who work hard deserve.
- FWIW, dude has announced two books before that never happened. One on Gamergate in 2014 and one supposedly titled The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley in 2015.
- The question becomes: When is it an attack on freedom of speech? So this guy goes attacks individuals and groups on his free, fringe website. You can read that anytime without paying for a $16 hardcover. He has plenty of free speech at his disposal.
- I’m an author and Rupert Murdoch signed my first book check. Finding a good publishing team is worth more than any book advance and it was the right move for me. And—please stay with me—I’d like to add my authorial authoritarianism to the fact that digital communication is bullshit. Oh no! Somebody tweeted something mean. Blogging’s antecedent is not newspaper writing, but the email dislist. Ignorable ingroup chatter for the ingroup. Twitter’s antecedent is the mass text. Hey idiots, here’s a dumb thought I had.
- But a book is something else and you cannot judge a book without sitting down and reading it. I’m sure there will be plenty to say about this hastily written piece of performance art. But whether he can punch in that weight class has yet to be seen.
- “Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically,” he told THR. “I’m more powerful, more influential, and more fabulous than ever before. This book is the moment Milo goes mainstream.”
- Only time will tell whether he’s right. But referring to oneself in the third person bespeaks just the kind of arrogance that takes you to the top… or the scrap heap.