Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Plane of Sexuality

## This story is not meant to offend anybody, and is published in the original format. I don't want to have explain it anymore, in fact there is an interesting analysis of it from a reader at the bottom of the story. The story has already been copied and reposted so to have taken it down was clearly an exercise in futility which is why I have simply re-posted it. I was quite fascinated by the debate and discussion taking it down promoted, which simultaneously reinforced both the negative and positive aspects of twitter and social media, which i referenced in my first blog. Again it's just a story, criticise the writing if you want, and/or how perhaps the points or references I was making haven't come across, or how elements of identity have been confused, but don't accuse me of bigotry, if one can't mock or insult aspects of life then whats's the point. It's just a story. ##


## A proviso: all my stories are written as fictional anecdotes, scenarios or observations, they are not intended to be offensive or representative of any specific view on my behalf. It's called fictional writing, but even so I have no intention of ever getting into politics. ##

LIKE ALL POSITIVE MINDED OPTIMISTS, I approach life with a glass pretty much full mentality. I console myself in all negative situations with the caveat that at least I'm not dead. I always think the worst thing would be to simply no longer exist. No more. Gone. I don't see how that can be beaten. Except perhaps when it comes to airports, and traveling on dodgy airlines. Then I can almost see the basic appeal of non existence. These places hurt me emotionally.

(This story has been removed because I am tired, and bored, of the emails and questions about it. It was an early piece of writing, and I'm not in any way attached to it, so it is easier to take it down at this stage).

http://fourheartclover.blogspot.com/

59 comments:

  1. Wow...that was intense, and engrossing all in one. If this were based on fact, kudos to you for having the guts to say what the rest of us are thinking. And I hate when flight attendants (as they're called in the United States) get all peppy on you. It annoys the living hell out of me.

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  2. Okay, so I read your disclaimer, and I'm trying to disclaim this... but I can't. I really feel the need to go curl up in a corner and cry. I have flown with gay male flight attendants before. Hell, I've been to dozens of drag shows before. And I have never seen someone act as you have written above. This is just so incredibly homophobic and bigoted. If your plan was to write something to make people uncomfortable and think, than well done. If this is your actual life view, well. Please see back to crying in a corner. I just don't know what to think right now. I understand that this is fictional, but I just can't see someone who is as open as you seem to be having this POV, so maybe I'll return to my happy bubble and pretend this is a mocking look at others?

    I have a college minor in English and a major in Philosophy - I should be able to GET this!!!

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  4. Em, 'theharshknight', it is a story, a tongue in cheek satire, you should read David Sedaris..... There is an eminent problem is writing sometimes because people take things as literal. I have many gay oriented friends, and it is not even about that, it is a small commentary on a certain aspect of life and the character of 'I' is a creation, not a reality.

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  5. oh thank god. I'm sorry, I couldn't see you as having those views, which is why it completely freaked me out. I'm sorry for my utter flail, but it was written so literally that the only line that made me wonder was "homophobic purgatory." You are obviously an excellent writer, but you almost crushed my crazy fangirl dreams! And I'm an adult - I shouldn't even HAVE crazy fangirl dreams!

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  6. Aren't many of David Sedaris's writings autobiographical? So now I'm confused. Is it fiction or autobiographical?

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  7. Well done on putting the story back up, I think you've done the right thing.

    Janine x

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  8. wheeyy!

    Thanks Eoin, for putting this back up. I hope the haters will back the hell off :)

    much love, xxxxxxxxxxx

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  9. I see this as a satire on two different levels and find it rather interesting.

    1) The stereotype of the gay man which has become to homophobic people the majority of the gay community which is so not true.
    2) The view of a homophobic male (not Eoin himself but a character), in thinking that just because someone is gay means that they have an interest in them which is truly not true.

    I can see where some people might find it offensive, but at the same time maybe they haven't read much fiction in the first person point of view.

    As a lesbian with a gay brother I see nothing wrong with this, as it's a commentary on our society and how people view the gay community. If we take it out of the first person point of view it could be possible that all these instances are in the main characters head but maybe I'm digging too much into it.

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  10. Glad you put this back up, I wanted to see what all the commotion was about. I tried googling it but the only results I found were gay blogs about the appearance of your bare arse in Siren. I can't understand why anyone got offended, it's fiction.

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  11. I see the satire more in the stereotypical gay man than in the character. For me, it shows the sad POV of how a lot of homophobic and vaguely misogynist people would react in this situation. In that regard it's scarily well done.

    However, and here I'm reviewing this like I would any fiction writer, I think there may be a better way to make the message pass, whatever that message may. It's a satire but it's not really funny and it's not really making fun of the main character (or the gay one) either because the gay hostess is so completely caricatural an unreal that it's impossible to get any human "vibes" from either of them.
    I think the character that actually convinced me the most was the smirking!old lady. You should develop her in another fiction, I'm sure she'd be awesome.
    The only believable moment was when he said was so put upon to be chastised by a non-masculine man, and the one when he was talking about how gay men wanted to be bent as women but could actually tell the guys how to do it properly. The homophobia and misogyny there was very well written, and it actually made your character have some sense because he hates gay men because for him they are rejecting their masculinity, which is everything he's proud of.

    Somehow, this looks a bit more like a novelized script, where the role of carrying the emotional part is happening after, with the actor, the director and the cameraman.

    I'm curious to see more of your writing, however.

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  12. Awesome, my comment from the first posting is still on here. How that happened, I have no idea, but I am not complaining. Thank you Eoin for not letting the hatred get the better of you. I know what it's like to put your words out there and people not accept it the way you wanted them to.

    And as ever, I am very curious to read more of your work.

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  13. I am so glad that this is back up. So glad in fact that I did a stupid gay dance while lying on the settee.

    When I read this through the first time I thought that the voice of the narrator was so strange and confused and then I realised a few things later when I was thinking back to it.

    Firstly when he's saying about giving 50pence to homeless people and feeling good about it for ages- That was brilliant, and something that I could pick out as being so true in so many people.

    And then there was the complete paranoia of the guy: didn't want the air hostess to touch him, the 'drugged' juice and the smirking old lady- was she really smirking or was that him just projecting (ah, my psychology degree finally comes in useful ^_^)

    The talk about the phone. That probably made my morning when I read it originally. The voice in my head ended up being the voice of my ex because that is exactly what he would have ended up saying.

    And the air hostess himself is just so... over the top and unbelievable. I ended up wandering if he really was like that at all or if that was just the narrator, again, being paranoid.

    Of course this then led me to wonder if the narrator was actually repressed homosexual himself. His over the top reaction, his nervousness, his need to talk more when asked to turn off his phone, the fact that this man is so noticeable to him and really just everything about it.

    Even the closing line about the pinch on the bum made me wonder because he's been so clear about his reactions to everything this man has done while on the plane, all of which was part of the man's job, but now, the pinch on the bum, it's just so matter of fact with no react to it and it just makes me wonder.

    But then I was the person in my English Lit class who, when reading Shakespeare's Othello, put together an argument about why I thought that Iago was repressed gay. I see a pattern emerging in the way I see men in the things I read, and more specifically the bastards in the things I read.

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  14. Robert_frogg and Aliliypea I appreciate eye analysis, the only reason I started a blog and then put it out on twitter was because I was intrigued by people's opinions and comments, it's interesting because many different takes come from other uninvolved readers. I took it down to not offend people, as that is not my attention, and I yearned to explain it, I don't have the inclination to explain any pieces, and Abi your points are valid and fair enough, you could be right, what I don't want is to be seen as bigoted as I said; for clarification, the piece is entirely fictional, has no grounding in reality, never remotely happened to me, and is actually about a narcissistic paranoid homophobic, possibly repressed male, because I found the concept funny, as did people I know who read it. I realise now I cannot please anybody, and my next piece will probably be about sunsets and clouds and shit to be honest. It's just momentary pastings of thought like the poetry etc....

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  15. I don't see why people can't understand that you can write something without it being your own personal opinion. Many writers try to tackle issues like sexuality and it's always considered controversial but satirical works like a this are needed. They are more about highlighting the stupidity and close mindedness of their protagonists for whatever prejudices they hold (in this case homophobia)than encouraging those prejudices.

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  16. Thanks for reporting this. I really liked it. It reminded me a little of a book I read recently called Hell (I forget the author's name) or John Irving. You inspired me to get working on my own story.

    No matter what keep writing- on your blog, in a journal, for movies, TV-on cocktail napkins if you need to. Write because you want to- you don't need any other reason. You certainly don't need to show anyone if you don't want either, although this is very good and I'd very much like to read some more of your work.

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  17. I meant "reposting." I have fat fingers.

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  18. Hi Eoin,
    It takes a lot of courage to allow those on the outside to read, or observe your creations. I write, but have never had the courage to allow anyone to read my work. I don't have the courage because I am afraid of the criticism, rejection. I am, for some odd reason having not known you, proud that you have re-posted your story. You wrote from a foreign place with a pure intention. That’s all anyone could ask for. It took courage to write your story and even more to allow the world to read it. Alas, you have unintentionally passed your courage on to me. This is a… well I guess a poem I wrote a year ago that I’ve never shown anyone.

    I feel like road kill,
    Stuck on the highway of life,
    No one there to scrape me off the burning asphalt,
    Vehicles veering left and right to avoid my carcass,
    Some, running over me again to ensure no piece of me be left recognizable,
    The stench of my rotting flesh overwhelms,
    Yet no one acknowledges my presence,
    Other than rolling their windows and driving around,
    Disregarding my bloody body,
    Laying broken, mutilated, helpless, alone,
    I am alone.

    Thank you Eoin, for courage is what I lack and this has given me a taste of it.

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  19. I had a long comment written which Blogger lost (thanks technology)!

    I enjoyed it, you write very well Eoin, you never gave either character a physical description but I have a clear mental image of both.

    I can't even remember everything I had on the lost comment, so I'll leave it at this and just add that I hope you share more of your writings with us.

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  20. I'm really glad you've put this back up. It allows people to actually read the piece instead of taking another person’s word on what it says.

    What I believe to be so great about this piece of writing is that, to a socially liberal-minded person, the knee-jerk reaction is “Oh god, displaying homophobic ideas, reject, reject, reject”. And I must admit that this was my first reaction. However, because you’ve written the flight attendant as completely beyond the stereotype of a gay man it didn’t feel right to put this straight into the category of “Things I Don’t Want to Read Because They Make Me Angry/Sad for the World”. So I re-read it. And it showed to be a much more layered and insightful work than upon first skim.

    I think that it’s through the character of the gay flight attendant that we are able to see this as a satire. Because he is so over the top, it is a reinforcement that we are seeing the interaction through a tinted lens. And so the writing becomes a commentary not on the gay flight attendant, but on the protagonist and the way he sees the world.

    I agree with the woman whose analysis you’ve posted. I don’t see this as a commentary on just homophobia, although homophobia is at the forefront of the story. I interpreted it as much more of a look into how people allow themselves to stay comfortable in their own view of the world.

    Hopefully that all makes some sort of sense, and is not too repetitive of what has already been said.

    I also hope you were not put off by any of the people who were upset by your post. Like I said before, I think many people had an instinctual defensive stance that did not allow them to immediately go back and review. It is a brave and bold move to put up a piece of writing that focus on such a sensitive topic to so many people. But that homophobia and prejudice are such sensitive topics, I believe, gives you all the more reason to post it. For after all, what is writing, and fiction, if not a way to start discussion on the way we as people think, feel, and interact?

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  21. Hello Eoin, I just wanted to say that I've come to know about this from the hassle brought up on tumblr. Honestly, I don't get what the hassle is all about. It's clearly stated that this is fiction, not reality, and in my opinion that's what counts. Maybe some people are confused since it's written in first person, but I still don't understand why it's so confusing; I write fiction myself and find it easier to write in first person. That doesn't mean I actually agree with what's being written. It's just a way of letting your imagination go wild.

    Now, about the story... I think what you wrote up there is how most people see gays, unfortunately, which would mean that there's a lot of homophobia in this world, even though there are also a lot of people fighting against it. It's interesting to see it written down. As a matter of fact, it actually made me kind of laugh. His discomfort was clear, yet in my opinion he also had a hint of curiosity. The only thing that made me cringe was how he referred to the gay man as "It", which is also a reflection of reality. I remember that I had not one, but two friends who talk about gays as if they were some kind of monsters. That's what sad and disgusting, not a fiction about it.

    Anyway, I thank you for putting this up once again. It was interesting to read. Like others said; keep writing and sharing. Some criticize, some insult, some don't understand, but I'm sure others do.

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  22. Don't understand why a lot of people are fussing about this !!! It's a well written story and as mention fictional! Thanks Eoin, for putting this up again! Wouldn't have wanted to miss this one!!!

    Cheers

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  23. Interesting, and I really hope you don't devolve to posting stories of sunsets and bunnies. There are countless middle school writers to fill that niche.

    Art, whether visual, literary or performance, is best when it evokes a reaction. This piece clearly touches nerves in our politically correct world. But if whe have come to the point where we cannot even represent unpleasant behaviour or thought processes for fear of offending, we have gone a large step too far.

    You are not glorifying homophobia, but stripping it naked so we can see it in its ugliness. That *should* make us uncomfortable.

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  24. I said on twitter that I didn't get to read this but now I have.. The analysis too.. Sure the perception made me frown a bit but it's merely a representation of one of the unfortunate prejudiced views, something I have personally known people to have.. Much more than that I could see the humour where the narrator is the one who becomes a caricature of what they think themselves to be in alienation to the world around him.. It shows that such views though existing are not the general opinion (as shown by the little old lady) and are ultimately deterrents to the prejudiced person themselves.. Even the narrator accepts that this "emasculated" person is actually the more powerful and the narrator becomes a worshipper in front of the demi-god.. I agree with the analysis quite a bit.. Ultimately this becomes a satirical caricature of the smug narrator who is nowhere near as optimistic or generous as they think themselves to be... Thanks for putting it back up and I hope that the negative comments stop and if people can't be bothered to analyse it then they at least read the available analysis before narrowing its interpretation and calling this your view, which you have clearly stated it is not..

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  25. I read this with great interest, Eoin. Though I think I understand the issues some people took with this piece, I can't see anything that would offend me.

    Instead, I found myself smiling pretty much all the time, because this "narcissistic homophobic" is well-depicted. If you opened a narcissist's head, you'd probably find thoughts like those there (in particular when the narcissism is highly pathological).

    Narcissists live in their own prison - big ego on the outside, but an insecure little person on the inside: torn between what they feel they should be and the fear that they'll never be exactly that (and that everyone might notice, if they didn't pay attention). It's quite sad, actually.

    I think you showed that rather well, here. I also believe that a sad story is easier digested with a dash of the ridiculous.

    I don't mean to say that narcissists (pathological or not) are ridiculous. I do feel for them, because they often are in more pain than they are able to show on the outside. It's a very lonely place.



    As for the reactions of some of your readers... well, I know how hurtful those can be. I wrote a piece for a blog once and got so much flak that my head was spinning.

    No matter how politely I tried to explain my point of view (and explain where my words had been misconstrued), attacks kept coming until I had to decide to withdraw from the discussion.
    It was a - let's say - very interesting experience.

    This is your blog, Eoin, and you will decide what you want to put up, of course.

    I do hope, though, that this incident didn't get to you, not really, and that you will continue to post whatever you like. It's always a risk, and the internet is a double-edged sword.

    Here's a poem I put up a few days back. Somehow I think it fits... in a strange way, I guess ;-)

    http://jas-tothineownselfbetrue.blogspot.com/2011/12/paravent.html

    I'd like to thank you, Eoin, for being gutsy. I believe you are.

    Best always, Jas

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  26. Here's another of my far fetched ideas that isn't really based on much evidence at all... It's probably overreading a bit too...

    The protagonist is very flawed, but also very human. I see a bit of him in lots of people, including myself. No matter how much we try not to feel self important and be self loving, there are occasions where it pops out, though hopefully not to the extent of this protagonist.

    We also probably have prejudice lurking in our minds, again hopefully not to the extent of our protagonist. Prejudice isn't necessarily limited to gender, race, class, religion, sexuality etc. It's easy to have prejudice against people of certain age (teenagers, senior citizens), people of certain dresswear/hairstyle/appearance, people with certain health issues, people of certain occupations.

    I'm not defending the protagonist. I'm just saying people like him are everywhere, though there would be different extents of prejudice, and thus, how much it cripples them in life.

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  27. Eoin, I am pleased that you re-posted your story. I really don't see what all the fuss is/was about, you had a disclaimer stating that it was fictional. I enjoyed it and saw the satire in it. After reading some of the comments that others have left, it made me get more out of your story and appreciate it all the more. I look forward to reading more of your work, hopefully it won't be about sunsets and clouds...the shit?... yeah go for it ;)

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  28. Thank you, Eoin. You actually took a look 'there'... I'm honoured.
    Cheers, Jas

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  29. Given your explanations about intent and satire (even though I think you failed at the genre, maybe next time) and giving you that you aren't bigoted (even though referencing the GT title was a cheap cheap argument here), and accepting you have no control about audience reception, there are now reactions out there like this:

    "well, you don't have to be straight or homophobic to get nausiating by this kind of types on the plane.
    there is a professional way of communicating as an air host and a vocal drag show isn't a part of it."

    in response to your story. Reactions that are, IMO, straight-up bigoted and homophobic by people who perceive that that is the opinion your story perpetrates and supports. By people who take THAT away from your story. I give you that you never stated the protagonist was gay, that that (and the misgendering) was part of your narrative and the protagonist's interpretation of a flight attendant's behaviors (and we know behaviors outside sexual activity aren't indicators of sexual orientation) ... I give you all that and that it's just a story you wrote on a blog as a way to express art, but keep in mind that you don't exist in a vacuum and that there is an audience and that a blogpost becomes more than "just a story" with the amount of popularity you have and that it spreads further than the 200 people subscribed to your blog and even the 6000 people subscribed to your twitter.

    I'm not saying that you should stop writing or expressing yourself but I hope that next time you write something controversial, and you knew this was controversial when posting given your initial disclaimer that is absent on any of your other works, you'll be able to have a better explanation in the aftermath and a better and less ambiguous way of handling any criticism or indeed the offended reaction this one caused. And well, I hope that in this case it's a matter of your satire just failing as a satire rather than a thoughtless throw-away just-a-story situation whose consequences are very real and bigoted comments in places which, I understand, is the opposite of the intended effect if I follow your explanations.

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  30. "Abi your points are valid and fair enough, you could be right, what I don't want is to be seen as bigoted as I said; for clarification, the piece is entirely fictional, has no grounding in reality, never remotely happened to me, and is actually about a narcissistic paranoid homophobic, possibly repressed male, because I found the concept funny, as did people I know who read it. I realise now I cannot please anybody, and my next piece will probably be about sunsets and clouds and shit to be honest. It's just momentary pastings of thought like the poetry etc...."

    Oh, I think I was misunderstood, because I didn't want to tell you were bigoted, or anything. I actually enjoyed reading it, when you know to take it from a distant point of view. (and a lot of people probably didn't expect that at first)
    I was just trying to tell you how I would have appreciated more, what was missing for me to make it a truly enjoyable satire.
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. It was supposed to be something to think over, not an attack.

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  31. I didn't read this post until after the shitstorm, so I assume that the second note at the top about it being a fictional piece was in place from the beginning. If so, I really don't understand what the fuss is about regarding the content.

    It's clearly a first person piece of fiction and, as fiction, the 'I' would obviously be as fictional as the story. Even if the 'I' did refer to a real person, once he/she is inserted into a fictional story that character becomes fictionalised too. I risk offending when I say this, but I think the problem here is not so much your story as the readers who cannot differentiate between you as media figure and the first person narrator of your story.

    I think the best move in this situation would have been for readers to ask you whether you share the views of the story's narrator and encourage a dialogue about it. Even now, I think it would be a good idea for you to publish a second post for both you and your commenters to discuss the use of unpleasant/possibly offensive themes in fictional writing. The differing views on such matters are often fascinating to hear.

    That said, Eoin, I think the story might have had a slightly better response if it had been written with a defter hand. Yes, this is criticism, but as a creative writing student I can assure you it's something you will encounter regardless of the subject matter of your pieces.

    A great starting place is the Open University textbook 'Creative Writing: a workbook with readings' by Linda Anderson, which helps you learn how to formulate and structure prose and poetry from brainstorming right through to editing for publication. It's available on Amazon.

    And as others have mentioned to you, a 'beta reader' is always a great idea, if not for helping to avoid controversy then at least to get a piece up to its best possible quality before publication on your blog. Whether you want to post controversial matter on your blog is entirely up to you, but you owe it to yourself to make sure your writing is the best it can be.

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  32. I'm reading this after seeing all the angry comments on twitter, so I expected something a lot worse. What a huge over-reaction.

    Anyway, this was a really interesting piece. It's quite clearly a work of fiction, and a good one at that. In my humble opinion, the best pieces of writing, art, or films, are the ones that make you think. It reminds me of the whole 'Lolita' issue - Nabokov may have written from the perspective of a paedophile, but he clearly wasn't one himself.

    But apparently you can't express yourself without pissing people off. Ridiculous.

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  33. Well I thought I'd let the maelstrom subside before I left a comment but just wanted to say thanks for sharing that - sharing writing is a big stinking deal no matter what kind of it is - and we hope to hear/see more from you. Keep on!

    and Don't let the Muggles get you down, Eoin!

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  34. Personally I LOVE an unreliable narrator, so I enjoyed this story very much. Taking a look through the comments, I also have to agree that the feedback is its own interesting compliment to the story.

    Odd thought - I can imagine Holden Caulfield writing something like this 10 years after the beginning of "Catcher in the Rye". Thanks for sharing.

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  35. I had written a long extended response to the comments, criticism and observations and then the blog decided to not post and erase what I wrote......
    I have to agree with headache-James, which seems an appropriate pseudonym under which to read this story, that the feedback is more fascinating and enlightening than the actual story, not least because the vast majority of it is more intelligently constructed than the story....
    I have not actually been offended by any critiques by the way, thank you for people defending me, but my only worry was that people had seen me as something i wasnt, when it was a story, perhaps the problem was not creating a strong enough dissociation from me as an author and the actual character and warning people enough in advance. Criticism of the work, humour or writing is part of a blogging process surely and I encourage that.....as long as nobody completely destroys me emotionally and I have to hide in a dark room alone and starving...

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  36. Abi, it was typo error in my response to you, and a train of though become one flow, I didn't take your criticism as an attack, on the contrary, I liked your critique, I had meant as an overall response I hadn't wanted to be seen that way not that you had seen me that way, and that thought flow became one!
    Bubbles, I wasnt in any a comparing myself to Sedaris, the guy is a genius, but his first book : santaland diaries I think it's called, was half fiction, one story was about farmyard animals and unless he spent a past life as a cow then he made that up, and another was from a woman's perspective pleading for character witnesses after her husbands 22 year old illegitimate bikini wearing Thai daughter murders her other daughters new born baby in a dryer....again, I doubt that was from his own experience.......so no, it was not autobiographical thank you very much.

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  37. Alizz I agree with you, which was why the air hostess was never referred to a person...until the end. I had a friend who was kicked out of his home by his own father when he told them his sexual orientation, which is very sad for a father to react that way, and some of my closest friends in college and work were, and are, gay. Which is why I wrote it mockingly, because it allowed an opinion to form, and I hoped let one have a judgement on how the character/general public can see others- the line about giving the change to the tramp was important in this. Ncruentum, as above to Alizz, that was the reason for my reaction on twitter, not to any criticism of work per-se but to a calling out of my tendencies and view, which I was worried would upset people, and because it is fundamentally not how i feel I got upset.
    Thank you all for engaging with me on this, and forcing me to critique my own work and understand how certain people may have a different reaction than myself to it. It won't make me any more PC unfortunately because I have experience equal and ample enough judgements and

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  38. (sorry Internet time out).....judgements and discrimination in my own life to take most of life with a pinch of salt and a smile.....
    Much love to you all.......:-)

    I don't fly Ryanair by the way anymore cos their air hostesses are crap.....nice people funnily enough outside their job whom I've met subsequently, but good grief on the job they are tyrants....I would have preferred the gay air hostess, we would get on much better than those bigoted narrow minded, only one handbag allowing...............lol......

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  39. Hmm, Eoin, I'm not really sure that you can just throw up your hands and say 'it's harmless' - it really isn't. I won't point out the specific instances of homophobia (it's not unfree of misogyny and a fear of femininity, either) - you wrote them, you deliberately put them in, so I hope you know where they are. Sure, you can point to subversions of the stereotype (you don't, at all, but you do at least offer a few possibilities that it's happening only in the narrator's head), but I'm really not sure that a short story format is appropriate for that kind of device and turnaround. There isn't enough time, depth, or wordcount to adequately explore this notion of homophobia; not enough time to challenge it and undermine it properly. We don't get to hear why the narrator is the way he is, we don't get enough information about the 'air hostess' (host*ess*? Really?), except what's actually reported - whatever authorial intent was, you've produced a piece of work that lazily ticks off all the attributes of an 'effeminate gay predator', never undermines it, and pushes us into sympathising with the main character. Perhaps if you wanted to subvert homophobia, 'strip it naked so we can see it in its ugliness', to quote MargaretR above, and taken apart the narcissistic homophobe, you could have focused on that character rather than trotting up the same old shit that a lot of us have to deal within a regular basis. If this was written from the perspective of the old woman, for example (a nice and enigmatic touch, btw), it could have been much more effective at achieving its current purpose.

    The way you've defended your Magnum Opus on twitter doesn't help either. So, this is tit-for-tat for (admittedly terrible) Merlin slash fiction? I'm not defending it, and tbh I haven't read all of it, but does your thought process really run along the lines of 'oh, people are writing stories about Merlin characters in an ~icky gay relationship~ [what about heterosexual fanfiction - is that OK?], so I'll write an offensive caricature of gay people too'?

    Also, to everyone saying 'it's a joke/it's a satire/it's fiction/it's harmless' - fuck off. Seriously. I'm a gay man myself and have to deal with people who regard me like this - no matter how I present myself. All of you privileged people saying that 'oh, it's only fictional' will never have to live through this particular kind of treatment. Not to start playing the Oppression Olympics, or anything, but I think that you'd (quite rightly) be up in arms about this if Macken had written an oh-so-insightful story describing a stereotypical, monstrous black person, or an evil, controlling woman. People have an idea of some prejudices, and recognise some privileges, and call out people who invoke them to write hate-filled writing - but why is it that the equivalent predatory queen-y gay guy gets a pass? The circumstances of the prejudice are different, of course, but I still don't see why one apparently doesn't merit getting cross about. At least, with a charitable viewpoint, one could argue that Eoin was trying to write against homophobia - everyone dismissing it as 'jeez it's just fiction, :rolleyes:' are genuinely supporting homophobia.

    I could, of course, not read this - could ignore this completely. But it did cross my path and I did have this reaction to it. And besides, do y'all really need a 'safe space' in which you can be homophobic and read not-particularly-well-written stories about your fear of ~gay men~?

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  40. Winnershtriangle, while I appreciate that you are upset by the piece, and if it has hit a nerve then I apologise for that, if you read my responses then you will have seen that. But with any comedy, or observational satirical piece the subject matter, in my opinion is most amusing if strongly felt emotionally. View tommy tiernan and how he routinely abuses all segments of society.
    You cannot say that anybody who likes this piece has never experience prejudice because you don't know their backstory, their histor and who they are, nor do you know anything about me. Again you are not dissociating the writing from who you may think I am. So to state that out loud is without merit.
    Regarding merlin slash fiction- again I must re-iterate that you, like some people have simply not read the tweet properly, I read one merlin slash fiction, have no problem with it, but said that since there were disclaimers on the slash fiction to make certain stories palatable why did my own disclaimer become invaliadidated.
    You're statement at the end is unfair, and defeats the entire purpose of any of my comments back-'need a safe space in which you can be homophobic' etc. I understand that perhaps you may have experienced a lot of prejudice, but so have some of my gay friends who found the pice amusing. That is not to say that it is beyond criticism, it is not, and I am happy to accept any, and if certain uses of words and references were too offensive, then as I have said I do apologise for that, my aim was not offend, but to criticise me for explaining the piece, my 'magnum opus' as it were it a little bit

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  41. Is a little bit unfair and irrelevant to the discussion which has taken place. If anything, the opinions of many people to ths piece have been informative. Some are offended, some aren't, the over riding wave seems to be that it would have been amusing and not offensive if written in a different manner. That is more important as a critique, then simply starting it shouldn't have been done.
    If anything the piece has shown that there are, and always will be, divisive opinions on sensitive subjects, and I agree here should be, but if not else this piece has allowed you to have an opinion and express it, as others have.
    I am sorry that you are offended, and I'm sure I will have to defend myself on numerous occassions again, and my next forays in controversial comedy may get into me more trouble, but I hope won't, as they will judged for what they are in isolation, and not as a crude or veiled dismissal of anything or anybody. Thanks for writing, i'm glad you have, and I hope that my explanations satisfy you, if they don't, I

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  42. If they don't, I just hope this hasn't offended you too much, and I wish you all the best.

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  43. Wow...I've read this story twice, and now I just come in here to read the comments. And how you just defended your piece as well as the reader's opinions was really classy. You didn't call him mean words, you just stated your opinion without losing your cool. I don't even know why I felt compelled to comment on your retort, but I have anyway. What a great way to sum up what has happened the last few days.

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  44. I really enjoy reading this and I believe many are glad and appreciate the sharing of your writing!
    Keep up the good work and don't let the haters get you down =)

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  45. Reading your latest response, you're a white, straight (?), man in his mid-20s who works as an actor and model. That is the epitome of privileged in the current western society (white, male, good-looking and able to support himself on that), so I think you'll find a lot of people are a bit doubtful of the ways in which you may have experienced systematic discrimination akin to those faced by gay people, people of colour and so forth. Discrimination that isn't 1-on-1 discrimination but prejudice and discrimination that leads to societal disadvantage at a lot of turns.

    I give you that you really didn't know what you were getting into when posting your writing on the internet, but the privilege discussion, the discussion of appropriation and so forth are hot button issues for people discussing society and sociopolitical ongoings online. Your story was a bit like oil on fire on a few of those issues (which commenters haven't even really touched on, IMO) but discussion of those issues behind the scenes, if you will, prompted a lot of the criticism you faced on twitter where 140 characters did possibly a poor job of explaining the reasons for people's offended states of mind.

    You're right that people don't know who you are and what you have experienced and how that informs your stories. They judge you by what you put out there of yourself (your tweets, your writings). In that sense, you're not so much a blank page that people know nothing about but the sum of your published output and people will take that as basis for reaction.

    I think what a lot of people are asking (and I'd hope that you're not dismissing them as haters as some commenters seem to do. I've not seen much indication you do) is just a bit of understanding and awareness of why there was a bit of a backlash over this. It's got little to do with you specifically, but a lot to do with you being another white, male, for all we know straight guy who thinks it's funny to write about minorities and satirize, your words, homophobia as long as his gay friends don't mind.

    Don't judge people for judging you based on what they know and see when looking at your twitter. That's all they got to go on and that's all you've shown us. I'd actually like to read something about who YOU are and what pivotal situations in your life, other than this one, made you feel judged. It'd make for interesting reading.

    That said, I realize part of who you style yourself as is the tongue-in-cheek, flippant, you-don't-see-me-caring kind of guy so maybe that's not your kind of thing.

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  46. Dear Eoin,
    thank you for this great story!
    As I already wrote on Twitter - I like this story very much.
    At first I was a bit uncertain whether i would like it at all, but after I read the first lines, I could hardly stop to chuckle. I really liked the way you played with the stereotypes. The flight attendent was so over the top - I really loved the way he talked :)
    You have depicted the characters so appropriately - really ingenious.
    I think I've read the story 4 or 5 times now (I stopped counting) and every time I discover new nuances that delight me.
    Please keep on writing! Hope you`ll share many more stories with your readers.
    With best wishes from Germany

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  47. Ncruentum. Maybe I haven't been explicitly clear enough, I do we why people have been offended, even though it wasnt my intention. When you read something, anything, especially something that has potential to inflame, then subjective experience comes into it. So I agree with you, I should have been sensitive to that. I only realised since this has come into play as a discussion how sensitive the topic is, especially within America and with republican candidates denouncing gay rights. I had thought that that period had faded away with understanding, and maybe it is because I've been surrounded by it, and come from a liberally minded country that I didn't see it as a problem. That being said, all of the discussion and critique has made me aware to be sensitive in the use of language, as sometimes things do not translate as well as they might if dictated perhaps. I haven't meant to offend, the story was meant as black comedy, satire, to poke fun at homophobes and few other areas and not distress people. Of course, I think that anything remotely contentious will cause some kind if outcry if I'm honest as everybody sees and regard what is acceptable or not differently.

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  48. I have to agree with many others that have commented; I have no idea what all the commotion was about. It was a great story that evoked a reaction, yes. I think it also told a great story about the human condition and how we should and shouldn't react to certain circumstances. I'm so grateful to my parents who taught me that a person is a person no matter who they are. It's what's on the inside that counts and nothing more. I think people have become hypersensitive about so many things these days. I wish people could take a look past the homophobia issue of the story. Personally I saw this as more of a battle of wills, than a battle of sexual orientation. I felt it was very well written in that you can replace the two main characters with any two other confrontational characters and the story would still work. You could have a homosexual with a homophobe as you did, or a racist and a black person, a man and a woman. If people were honest with themselves, they may see a little bit of each of those characters in themselves at one point in their lives. Cudos to you Eoin for writing this and bigger cudos for putting it back up. Don't let others dictate your actions. This is your story, you wrote it, you created it. It's great. To those who thought you should take it down; Boo! Keep on creating dear. You're doing a darn fine job.

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  49. I like the story. Very much as a matter of fact.
    Thanks for reposting it. I couldn't read it the first time, then saw all the fuzz in tweet land and felt sorry I missed what it seemed to be the culprit of so much controversy.

    That said, I also need to establish that I am not a literary critic by a long shot but rather quite the opposite (I'm a hard core scientist), yet I'd like to think I can appreciate the fine arts of the humanities.

    My impression of this short tale is that it's actually about insecurities.
    The narcissism the main character purposely displays and acknowledge might just be a side effect of it.
    It caught my attention the insertion of the old lady...
    Why would he notice her unless he's self-conscious and dependent of other's approval?

    His homophobic tirade seems to be just another side effect of it.
    He is not what he wants to believe he is and, deep down, he knows it.
    Therefore his only possible reaction is loathing towards what he perceives as making him 'guilty by association'.

    In any case, it would be ludicrous to think it's the author's (your) position regarding sexuality (or homosexuality in this case).

    It's just a story of some random character--told from this character POV--who is not as comfortable in his own skin as he'd like himself to be.

    Anyway, those are my two cents, for what it's worth... Which coming from a person like yours truly, may not be worth at all ;)

    Peace

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  50. I found this an interesting story. The way in which the gay air hostess was portrayed did not diminish him, it diminished the main character by holding up a huge mirror to his considerable insecurities.
    Really well written :)

    Marie

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  51. Just had another thought... I get them sometimes!! I'm wondering if your acting career has had a bearing on your writing? Is it Meisner or Stanislavski who gets you to "become" the character when you act? This piece is definitely written by a homophobic narcissist - but that isn't you, it's the character you have created and "become" to produce the piece. Does that make sense?
    Rambling over with. As I said before, I think it was really well written, but not a comfortable read - but then, why should it be?
    Marie
    www.mariekybett.com

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  52. Not sure why my picture has been replaced by a giant exclamation mark! Maybe it's because we have the same hairstyle...

    Marie
    www.mariekybett.com

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  53. I actually thought this was pretty good. On first reading it made me cringe, as I believe it was meant to - but the shock and power isn't just in what's said but in the way the narrator is used. I personally really really love the unreliable narrator technique but its the hardest and most challenging for the reader to get normally. In this the protagonist isn't obviously vile at first glance, in fact when he introduces himself he seems quite switched on and reasonable until you gradually realise what he's saying. But I like that subtlety.

    Making him an obvious monster would have been too easy and too obvious. In our own heads we justify ourselves TO ourselves but as the piece goes on the mans paranoia and extreme masculine insecurity become more obvious - a 'real' man being ordered about by a man who has 'chosen to give up his masculinity.' The use of 'It'. The self disgust. The fear of what other people think about him.

    It seemed to me a pretty cleverly done dissection of a certain type of person and I personally like the fact that the piece took the route of subtlety rather than obvious hammer to the head condemnation of the protagonist. He does a fantastic job of condemning himself by the end. So yeah - not just unreliable narrator but first person unreliable narrator - tough thing to write but for me this piece pulled it off. Like a few others though, Ive found the response to the piece and the very different way different people see the same thing, pretty fascinating. The internet is an ...interesting place. ;p

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  54. I'm not going to go into some full blown analysis or anything, though I probably should because I'm a literature student, but I'd just like to say that it takes a lot to make me laugh when I read a short piece, however you managed to do it. I thought the whole way through that the story was written was very clever and you genuinely have a beautiful writing style. This was a much better way of spending my time than doing my essay! Thanks!

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  55. I see it as a part in life and a good challenge as well.

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  56. Wow I have to say I'm really surprised, my friend directed me to this after saying you wrote some dodgy things about homosexual men. and I was "like WHAT?! no way!". So naturally I had to find out for myself. anyway I get the point you are trying to put across as well as I get why people would be offended by it. You can't write a story about an oppressed group of people when you are a privileged individual and not expect backlash.
    anyway I thought it was pretty good :)I would write a essay sized review in detail abut why but I just cant be fucked lol

    PS: what do you use for your hair?

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  58. A motivation to anyone. We have to know our rights.

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