The Replacements: Odyssey Con’s New Guests of Honor

Three days after Odyssey Con lost the last of its GoHs over its mishandling of Monica Valentinelli’s safety concerns, the con has recruited two replacements — filmmaker Michael Butts and artist Brent Chumley.

Michael Butts aggressively defended his decision in a statement posted as his Guest of Honor bio.

Michael Butts

I thought long and hard about joining Odyssey Con. I learned that one of the Members had made choices that upset people in the past, and how it was handled was not the best. I believe that the damage that was done has been contained and separated from the convention. I understand many people are still upset by this, and some would like to see Odyssey Con fail. I do not believe that is right. Because of the actions of a few, is all of the labor and love so many fans have put into this event to be discarded? Should the whole barrel of apples be discarded because some were bad? I say no. What happened is horrible but it is not beyond repair. And I want to see this convention raised up to become a shining beacon of decency. I am giving them a second chance, will you? And remember, before you judge all on the actions of a few, I would like to remind you that ‘Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes’ (Obi Wan Kenobi).

Butts commands instant forgiveness for things that happened just last week, even though the Odyssey Con committee hasn’t finished shooting itself in the foot yet – witness the posting of his GoH bio – let alone done anything to show a change in the culture that led to the problems.

The early reaction on Twitter has been decidedly unfavorable. D Franklin lit into the guest announcement with a series of incisive tweets that included these two –

[Thanks to imnotandrei and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

61 thoughts on “The Replacements: Odyssey Con’s New Guests of Honor

  1. So, they were able to get two white guys to step in at a moment’s notice, and one of them is already “well, actually-ing” the world.

    How predictable.

    Odyssey Con is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.

  2. And remember, before you judge all on the actions of a few, I would like to remind you that ‘Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes’ (Obi Wan Kenobi)

    I’m not sure using a prequels quote that is an absolute to deter someone from using absolutes as an argument against blanket statements that no one is making since they’re literally judging the specific actions of a few is a great defense.

    And remember, before you judge all on the actions of a few, I would like to remind you that ‘Well dat smells stinkowiff’ (Jar Jar Binks)

  3. One thing I find amusing is the presumption that “We need GoHs, or our convention is dooooooomed!” — at least, that’s the only argument I can make for this last-second scramble.

    Unless, of course, these *were* the next two people up on their “let’s invite GoHs” list, in which case…well, that’s an awfully shallow bench they’ve got there.

    Also: Yes, if you accept a GoH invitation after previous ones have resigned, perhaps not trying to excuse your acceptance and digging a bigger hole would be the right idea.

    Sheesh.

  4. @paul

    You could pay me. Of course, what they heard in their GoH speech would not be something they would like very much, nor anything I said on their panels. Indeed, there are people they could probably invite who’d *love* to instruct them on the errors of their ways.

    😉

  5. Odyssey Con is a complete trainwreck this year. Michael Butts should not be pleading for the con’s reputation in his Guest of Honor bio. It makes the honor look like a quid pro quo, not a recognition of his film-making.

  6. imnotandrei on April 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm said:

    You could pay me. Of course, what they heard in their GoH speech would not be something they would like very much, nor anything I said on their panels.

    Just be sure you get your money, including air/lodging/etc, paid (and check checked) before you give your speech… 🙂

  7. @daniel Oh, I would. And have a getaway car prepared. 🙂 (as I suddenly envision the fandom equivalent of the Blues Brothers, as an increasingly long line of cars (Oddcon folks, Madison city police, Wisconsin state troopers) go charging towards either the Madison airport or O’Hare….)

  8. Until approx. two weeks ago, I had never heard of Odyssey Con. I’m beginning to think that was a very good thing.

  9. @JJ – Would someone please take the gun away from OdysseyCon?

    Right? It’s like a blooper reel from Jackass on loop and actually painful to watch.

  10. Bless your heart, oh honey, no…

    At this point, OddCon needs the gun taken away, also the net/FB/Twitter access, and put into a nice quiet soft room for their own good. If they were a person, they would have been 5150’d by now. Or someone would have called an intervention.

    I have been to a few extremely fabulous cons with no GoH whatsoever. And to even more where I didn’t care who the GoH was. I honestly can’t think of a time in my 30+ years of cons where the GoH made a difference in my attending or not. Local cons, I go to b/c I get to see my pals. Worldcon/Westercon, I go to b/c it’s Worldcon/Westercon. I’ve been to some where I’ve never heard of the GoH and promptly forgot them, what with going to all the other panels, parties, huckster room, art show, masquerade, meals with friends.

    OddCon needs to just stop. Stop posting this crap, stop hiring people who do this, stop existing. If there’s a con to replace it, it needs to be entirely new blood, preferably with a few ladies and woke men high in the concom.

    @imnotandrei: I will donate some gas money for the getaway car.

  11. When I first saw that, I assumed it was a heavy-handed attempt at self-mocking humor by OddCon; it hadn’t occurred to me that this might be for real, or that the guests named were real people.

    I mean, two guys named Butts and Chumley, and a link to “More-on Productions,” plus a “bio” that says nothing whatever about Butts or why they invited him?

    Have any Filers actually seen any of Butts’s films, or Chumley’s art, other than that trailer? Or heard of them before this week?

    [Or are all of you tweeting about this, and the merits of GoH-less cons, just running with the joke, and I’m the ham-handed cartoon animal announcing “it’s a joke, son”?]

  12. I mean, two guys named Butts and Chumley, and a link to “More-on Productions,” plus a “bio” that says nothing whatever about Butts or why they invited him?

    His bio on the guests page of the con site does include his accomplishments. But for some reason that part is omitted from the news page.

  13. There have been a number of stories over the last couple of months about this Con or that Con going broke and not paying guests. Hand wringing ensued.
    They offered refunds to those who wished not to attend (if I’m remembering right).

    Would it make some of you happier if they just folded and paid out $0.10 on the dollar to everyone who has already committed funds?

  14. airboy: Would it make some of you happier if they just folded and paid out $0.10 on the dollar to everyone who has already committed funds?

    Is happiness an option? What would make me happier is if they reoriented themselves away from shielding a known harasser, treated their guests well, and enjoyed some well-earned success.

  15. How about just not digging the hole any deeper than they already have? That’d be a nice start. Which could then lead to Mike’s happy condition!

    Are the people who told Monica she was being hysterical and then published the private email still working the con? Getting rid of them would be another good start towards happiness. AFTER ceasing the hole-digging.

  16. This Butts fellow may have laid it on a bit thick (shining beacon of decency?) but he’s hardly “commanding instant forgiveness” – in fact, he asks for it – “I am giving them a second chance, will you?” A second chance is a process, not a single instant. Also, you don’t have to forgive someone to give them another chance.

  17. Would it make some of you happier if they just folded and paid out $0.10 on the dollar to everyone who has already committed funds?

    Did they need to bring in a couple of new guests of honor? Did they have to post a tone deaf bio for one of them? Did they need to pour kerosene onto an already burning fire?

  18. Ugggggghhhhhhhhh. It’s like watching a someone back their car up to ram it into a wall again. I started cringing at the photos, and it only got worse from there.

  19. @Miles Here’s the thing; coming in and asking people, in your GoH bio, to give people a second chance, while significantly *downplaying* what had already happened, and painting things as a “them and us” situation — does not say much good.

    OdysseyCon has done next to nothing to indicate it *deserves* an Nth chance — since I don’t think it was on its first before — and so having a GoH come in and go “Well, if you don’t give ’em a break, you’re a Sith”….

    Yeah. Bad optics, to put it *mildly*.

  20. @imnotandrei I don’t know if his bio “say much good” (well said) but I don’t see the need for the level of invective evidenced in the post and on the comments. Butts isn’t well known (I’ve never heard of him, for what that’s worth) and he was probably stoked to get the gig. He tried to put a good spin on things and came off sounding tone-deaf. If he really knew modern fandom, he would have avoided the whole thing.

  21. Miles Carter: I don’t see the need for the level of invective evidenced in the post and on the comments

    The “invective”, as you call it, is not for Butts or Chumley — it’s for OdysseyCon’s choice to keep doubling-, triping-, and quadrupling-down on their poor behavior.

  22. @miles I think we’re in agreement. 🙂

    He’s getting some of the invective because, indeed, he *should* have avoided the whole thing — I know someone who referred to him as a “scab” Guest of Honor — and because his tone-deafness is truly impressive.

    But I think more of the invective is aimed at the con, for doing this (and putting Butts in an almost-no-win position) in such a tone-deaf way. This isn’t showing that they’ve learned anything from what’s happened — it’s painfully close to doubling down, if not already there.

    And *that* is what is bringing the invective.

  23. Miles Carter: I don’t see the need for the level of invective evidenced in the post and on the comments.

    Then when you write your blog post about the topic, you can disregard the committee’s conflict of interest and irresponsible treatment of Monica Valentinelli, the lack of courage they show by sending their new GoH out front to beg for them, and Butts’ own insulting refusal to engage with why people are upset (despite claiming he understands, which his statement proves he does not).

  24. What would make me happier is if they reoriented themselves away from shielding a known harasser, treated their guests well, and enjoyed some well-earned success.

    Oh, go ask for the moon, Mike! For the stars in the sky!

  25. @Mike The first three points you raise (conflict of interest, irresponsible treatment, lack of courage) I neglect, as they are tangential if not irrelevant to the post, the main topic of which is Butts’ bio statement. The “insulting refusal to engage” – I think his bio statement was his attempt to engage. Many here think he did so badly. I don’t entirely disagree but in the absence of any other evidence of ill-will I’m not inclined to condemn him so thoroughly.

  26. Miles Carter: The first three points you raise (conflict of interest, irresponsible treatment, lack of courage) I neglect, as they are tangential if not irrelevant to the post

    However, Butts’ attempt to diminish and trivialize these actions by the concom is certainly relevant. Contrary to your claim, this post isn’t just about him. It’s also about OdysseyCon’s attempt to whitewash themselves by putting him out front as their apologist.

    He refers to the con’s “Guest Liaison” having a decades-long history of serially harassing and gaslighting women, one of the con chair’s telling a woman who has just reported having been harassed by the G.L. that “we haven’t received any reports of him harassing anyone” and that she should just suck it up and come anyway, and another of the concom members publicly posting her details and her private e-mails as:
    I learned that one of the Members had made choices that upset people in the past

    That’s at least three people, not one, all of them part of the con’s main “leadership” and what they all did was a hell of a lot more egregious than “making choices that upset people”; he is trivializing and minimizing the very valid anger and hurt of the people who are upset about this.

    Notice also the little verbal sleight-of-hand he pulls here:
    I understand many people are still upset by this, and some would like to see Odyssey Con fail.
    He is not-terribly-subtly implying that people being “upset” by what happened are bad people who vindictively want the con to fail, instead of recognizing that if the con fails, the responsibility lies fully on the concom.

    What happened is horrible but it is not beyond repair.
    says a person who has not actually been the recipient of any of the horrible behavior by the concom, but who apparently feels qualified to make this decision for the people who have been affected by the concom’s numerous bad choices and actions (and let me point out that it’s not just Valentinelli; Frenkel’s past victims are indeed being re-victimized here).

    His post is the equivalent of the “I know he frequently verbally and physically crosses the line with women, but really, he’s a good person” excuse for the OC concom.

  27. Miles Carter: @Mike The first three points you raise (conflict of interest, irresponsible treatment, lack of courage) I neglect, as they are tangential if not irrelevant to the post, the main topic of which is Butts’ bio statement.

    Butts seems well aware that his statement is a foray into the atmosphere already created by those three issues. Why aren’t you? His statement connects with, then tries to minimize and deflect the consequences of each of these problems, all of which are very recent history.

  28. Should the whole barrel of apples be discarded because some were bad?

    As John Oliver pointed out a while back, the saying is “A few bad apples spoil the barrel”.

  29. Leaving aside Butt’s comments (because others have made any points I would have made), what I don’t understand is why is Odyssey Con doing this at all? The con is a week and a half away. Is it really possible that the presence of these two are going to change anyone’s minds about whether or not to attend? I can imagine that if, oh, C J Cherryh or Chris Pratt were added to the con that people might make sudden plans to be there, lower than that I don’t see the incentive.

  30. I understand many people are still upset by this, and some would like to see Odyssey Con fail.

    I don’t think I’ve seen anyone saying they want Odyssey Con to fail. I think people have said that Odyssey Con is failing, but that’s a different statement – and to the extent it is failing, that is due to the Con repeatedly shooting itself in the foot.

    What people actually want is for Odyssey Con to recognize the problems they have created for themselves, indicate to the world at large that they understand what their errors in judgment, policy, and action were, and take steps to rectify those errors and implement plans to make sure they don’t happen again. What Butts’ statement shows is that not only has Odyssey Con not done those things, they don’t even recognize the need to do those things.

  31. I don’t want Odyssey Con to fail. I want them to succeed. It is just that I believe that they have to learn from their mistakes to succeed.

  32. (Adds Gareth Skarka to the list of people making inscrutable objections to Mike.)

    Butts isn’t well known (I’ve never heard of him, for what that’s worth) and he was probably stoked to get the gig. He tried to put a good spin on things and came off sounding tone-deaf. If he really knew modern fandom, he would have avoided the whole thing.

    I don’t blame Butts for his statement as much as I do Odyssey Con for sharing it. The concom shouldn’t be putting a guest of honor in the position of taking any heat for their actions.

  33. @Gareth Skarka

    I’m pretty sure you’re misreading something here – based on comments you’ve made elsewhere it seems like you and Mike are broadly on the same page.

  34. Oh no, an unknown person on the internet added Mike to a list for no discernible reasons! Sad!

  35. Gareth isn’t unknown to me. He’s the creator of the RPG Hong Kong Action Theatre and the founder of the game company Adamant Entertainment.

  36. My bad, folks. I mis-attributed. I meant Miles Carter, not Mike Glyer. Mike, I apologize.

    That’s what I get for posting before I’ve had morning caffeine.

    My point (badly made, and now beyond saving, but try I must) was that Miles’ posts seemed to be common internet “yahbutting” — excuse-making for the blatantly inexcusable. Looking up-thread to get the name right, I mis-identified a post where Mike was quoting Miles, and BOOM. Instant embarrassing jackassery. My bad.

  37. “What people actually want is for Odyssey Con to recognize the problems they have created for themselves, indicate to the world at large that they understand what their errors in judgment, policy, and action were, and take steps to rectify those errors and implement plans to make sure they don’t happen again. What Butts’ statement shows is that not only has Odyssey Con not done those things, they don’t even recognize the need to do those things.”

    This, in spades, redoubled. Thank you for putting it so clearly.

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