Better Red?


Although I haven’t seen the e-mails myself, Andrew Porter tells me some of the participants in a Southern fandom listserv are offended by the Communist iconography and themes in artwork being used to promote the Orlando in 2015 worldcon bid. Porter explains, “For young fans, it may seem like ancient history, but for fans who served in Vietnam or others, they’re offended by the use of these symbols.”

On the website “Orlando” is bracketed by red stars and written with a backwards “N” to suggest the Cyrillic alphabet. Beside that is a slogan saying they are “The Revolutionary Bid for the World Science Fiction Convention.”

Personally I haven’t warmed to the campaign theme because of those associations, but should I be offended?

Things could be worse, they might have done something with the Confederate flag.

The idea being to attract votes with bid publicity, Orlando bidders will want to locate the fans who say they are unhappy with the current theme and factor their views into any evaluation of how well the theme is serving their needs.

18 thoughts on “Better Red?

  1. Besides the issues with the theme, Orlando in 2015 still hasn’t posted the actual names of any of their bid committee members. Judging from this page, their committee seems to be limited to characters from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

  2. My gawd. The Russian revolution was almost 100 years ago. Would it offend politically sensitive Helots to dress up as Spartans? Should we avoid Napoleon brandy because of it its associations with the French dictator? I don’t know what the half-life of historical tragedies should be, of course. Obviously it’s too early to make fun of the Iraq war. We make fun of Hitler with a certain trepidation. But poking fun at Augustus Caesars’s pencil-neck and jug ears seems safe enough. My gut feeling is that as long as nobody is advocating Stalinism that the graphic style of the revolution is ripe for parody. I’ve used in myself in Banana Wings, not that long ago. And, well, before everyone knew what the Communists were, they did seem rather like a breath of fresh air. Many Russians believed it too, and undertook radical experiments in art, music and literature… before Stalin packed them all off to labour camps, of course.

  3. On second thought, maybe the remark about Cuba is less than tactful, especially for a Florida bid.

  4. As the moderator of the private YaHoo! Group where this discussion has been taking place – a group called Southern Fandom Classic – I’d like to point out that the inadvertent release of this report by Andy (who is one of our members) is not a comprehensive one and doesn’t tell the entire story. It doesn’t, for instance, relate that much of our discussions on that group have concerned our memories of growing up during the Cold War years doing those silly “Duck and Cover” drills in grade school; of parents digging fall-out shelters in our back yards; of the trauma of being an 11-year old kid in the 60’s and wondering when the Soviet nuclear missiles were doing to start falling on our homes. Happily, to anyone much younger than me (52) those kind of thoughts will seem increasingly abstract as those years recede into history, but the Orlando in 2015 bid’s theme – no doubt meant to be a clever joke – has indeed inspired such thoughts among a number of people in our Group. I feel certain that Adam Beaton – the only identified name I’ve found on the Orlando in 2015 website – couldn’t have meant to provoke anyone with his bid’s theme, but what seems clever to one person might strike others a different way. Humor is a funny business.

    The discussion on Southern Fandom Classic has also extended to expressions of curiosity about the further proposals of both the Orlando in 2015 bid and the Spokane in 2015 bid. Personally I’m

  5. (Continued from above.) Personally I’m curious to know who else besides Adam Beaton (who I don’t know) is involved with the Orlando in 2015 bid. Most of the usual fans whom I’d think might be involved with a Worlcon bid in Florida tell me that that they’re not involved with this bid at this time, so this minor mystery begs the question rom Adam Beaton. I hope he’ll speak up and tell us more about his plans soon.

    And yes, Taral. I can at least agree with you that tact is in insufficient supply with the Orlando in 2015 bid poster shown above. Younger fans who are curious as to why the missile-flight proximity of Communist Cuba and Central Florida should cause concern might want to research the “Cuban Missile Crises” of October 1962; a time when global nuclear war seemed imminent. Older fans won’t have to research that topic at all. Having lived through it, we’re not likely to forget it in our lifetimes.

  6. More Commie pinko style posters for y’all:

    Being somewhat older than Curt, I’ll just note that when we came back stateside (after a 30 month stay in Seoul, a few miles from the DMZ) a year or so later my father was sent by Uncle Sam to Florida for a possible visit to Cuba. Lots of sabre ratting. As for “duck & cover” … us kids living in the DC area thought the whole thing was rather, well, stupid when one lives a few miles from the Pentagon.

    Anyway, I’m not offended by the the Orlando campaign. I’m more concerned about concrete things such as facilities. I don’t care about the ability of a Worldcon committee to walk on water, cause if your facilities aren’t adequate, it really doesn’t matter.

  7. The bidding theme is in poor taste, but that’s never stopped a bidding committee before.

    I’m more concerned about the lack of actual names of the committee, with characters from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress instead. We knew who the “7 in ’77” original committee was and we still wound up at The Fountainbleu in Miami Beach instead. Where will this committee take us?

  8. “and we still wound up at The Fountainbleu in Miami Beach instead.”

    My recollection of those events is that the Orlando facility Suncon was going to use declared bankruptcy and as a result all contracts any group had were voided. And off to Miami the con went.

    The irony is that the Fountainbleau ended up in bankruptcy also. See:

    One would expect that Disney is in reasonably sound financial shape.

    As for the lack of actual names of the bid committee, yeah … that is of concern.

    The good news is that both groups threw good parties at Capclave and that makes Capclave happy .

  9. Just wanted to pop my head over and say that our Bid Committee page is updated with all names of everyone on the committee as of this post. My sincerest apologies for not having those names up there sooner. I had thought we had updated that part of the site awhile ago with the names rather than the Heinlein placeholders, but when I go to the site I tend not to go to the Bid Committee page since (naturally) I already know who’s on the Bid Committee.

    As far as the theme, it is what it is. Our committee is looking to do a few different things at our Worldcon that previous Worldcons have not done that some may say is far overdue, and other may say are on the controversial side (YMMV). We figured if we were going to be conceived as doing something that might be construed as controversial, we said, “What the hell, let’s go all the way.” And we wanted to do something that would get people talking, which from the looks of things appears to have succeeded. So in the meantime, as we take our travelling road show from con to con, I hope when you’re at the same con as us you’ll stop over to our Communist Party and hear what we’d like to do for our Worldcon in 2015 in Orlando (you should see what we have in store for Chicon 7!!). And if you’re not a “evil pinko” well, Karl, Fidel, and I won’t hold that against you. 😉

    PS – I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party, Senator McCarthy. (couldn’t resist).

  10. @Adam: Thanks for the response! I see your point.

    In fact you’ve reminded me that some of my friends (long before I ever met them), being mindful of the things their rivals had to say about LA fandom, bid for an LA Worldcon using the theme “Mordor in ’64” — “The city that gave evil a bad name!” Sort of that same idea of capitalizing (er) on controversy for all it’s worth.

  11. I see your point too, Adam. I just don’t agree with it.

    You wrote:

    “Our committee is looking to do a few different things at our Worldcon that previous Worldcons have not done that some may say is far overdue, and other may say are on the controversial side (YMMV).”

    Thinking of putting a few fans up against the wall when The Revolution comes, are you? I just hope my name isn’t on the list…

    “We figured if we were going to be conceived as doing something that might be construed as controversial, we said, “What the hell, let’s go all the way.”

    I imagine that’s what the protesters were saying to each other just before the shooting started on the Odessa Steps… Well, I’ll give you points for being willing to take a chance with a non-traditional approach, and you have indeed generated some buzz, so I guess I’ll be watching to see what the Orlando in 2015 bid presents next.

    But I still don’t enjoy the Communist theme. I prefer to be relaxed at conventions, and the Commie thing sets off air-raid sirens in my head.

  12. In case anyone is still watching the comments on this post, I stumbled across some further explanation in a post on Frank Wu’s blog:

    “The idea is that it’s an alternative reality. Specifically, in one scenario, the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t end in 1962, with the Soviets pulling out their missiles. But it went on, with the eventually annexation of Orlando (including Disneyworld), the rest of Florida (and other parts of the Southeast U.S.) by the U.S.S.R.”

  13. Petrea is correct. In fact, I’ve been wrestling with the alternate history for the last couple of weeks, but suffice to say that the whole cold war thing was really the result of a certain someone named Krushchev NOT getting accepted into the Mickey Mouse Club.
    Following sufficient shoe banging, that dynamic has mitigated.

  14. While Khruschev was in Southern California (and not being allowed to visit Disneyland) it was announced he was going to visit a recently-built American housing tract — the one my family was living in. Crowds of us flocked to the intersection where he was expected to appear but he never did.

    I guess being constantly portrayed in the media as the enemy of the free world endows a person with a kind of celebrity that makes people want a look at him.

  15. Mike Walsh: If the Fountainbleau had still been the hotel it was when James Bond and Auric Goldfinger both had rooms there, I’d have had no complaints — but their having a poster for their nightclub which listed Freddie Prinze as a featured performer nine months after his suicide struck me as the epitome of what was wrong with the hotel by that point.

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