Tuesday, August 02, 2005

People are talking...

...about the GH/RITA awards ceremony at this year's RWA national conference in Reno. And with good reason.

Among other deserving authors, Jenny Crusie (BET ME), Lani Diane Rich (TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR), and Laura Kinsale (SHADOWHEART) took home awards. I've read the three aforementioned books and can vouch for their quality--check 'em out.

But what people are REALLY talking about...whispering about, really...is the debacle that was the ceremony itself.

The story goes that the reigning Queen of Romance, THE Goddess of the genre, NORA ROBERTS herself, was slated to MC the awards ceremony, which was supposed to be an all-out celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the RWA. But after reading the script for the presentation, Nora flatly refused to participate unless allowed to do MAJOR rewrites.



What a diva, right? I mean, the nerve.


Because they refused to rewrite the script, and Nora didn't MC, and what followed, according to some who WERE in attendance, was a horror show to end all horror shows. Instead of a celebration of RWA and romance fiction over the past 25 years, the RITA/GH awards ceremony included the following:

* a video and audio rehash of every national and international tragedy that's taken place since 1980, set to a back-drop of kicky tunes from each year represented.

Imagine, if you will, footage of the tanks rolling through Tiananmen Square with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" playing in the background. Apparently, only a last-minute edit managed to save the ceremony attendees from being forced to watch the shuttle Challenger explode in mid-air and...AND...the Twin Towers fall.

Think about that. All those NYC agents and editors in the audience. Think about it some more.

Yee-HAW. We're celebratin' NOW, baybeee...

** images of political leaders flashed on the screen, looking handsome and honorable.

Okay...wait. Let me rephrase. Images of REPUBLICAN political leaders--specifically Presidents Reagan, Bush I and II--flashed on the screen, looking handsome and honorable.

Word has it the only time President William Jefferson Clinton--you remember him? Rhodes Scholar? Two term president? Led the country through a time of exceptional prosperity? Had a little trouble keeping it in his pants, true, but left the nation with a JILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS?--was shown was in conjunction with the Monica Lewinsky nonsense. Biased much?

(Hey, I understand political bias. I'm a walking, talking political bias, lefty lunatic that I am. But I'm not leading a 9K-strong organization, either, and if I were, I'd put aside my political leanings when organizing a FREAKIN' AWARDS CEREMONY, and understand that I need to TRY to reach EVERYBODY. Or, at least, to openly offend as few as possible.)

*** virtually no positive images of women. Lewinsky was there, as noted. Lorena Bobbitt made a showing. Donna what's-her-name...the one that sunk Gary Hart's political career? She was pictured. Princess Diana got the full treatment, and--GET THIS--they called her story a FAIRY TALE.

What were these people smoking and where can I get some? 'Cause most fairy tales I read don't end in adultery, divorce, and gruesome death for the HEROINE.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Nowhere to be seen. Sally Ride and Oprah were mentioned, apparently, but not shown. Anyone could spend ten minutes and come up with a list of names appropriate to celebrate in a venue such as that and do a better job...but the ceremony organizers had another agenda, I'm thinking.

**** virtually no positive images of people of color. O.J. in his white bronco they got, ad nauseum. Bill Cosby flashed by once, so I'm told, and, as I said, Oprah got a brief mention.

Really? That's all they could come up with? How hard were they trying, do you think?

And over top of it all, let's not forget the music. And the stretch limos, right up there on stage. And the slow-as-molasses fashion show.

The adjectives I'm hearing to describe this event range from "unfocused and unenjoyable" to "hideous, conference-ruining mess." Folks don't understand how any of this was supposed to celebrate romance fiction or educate the members on how far RWA has come in the past 25 years.

A retrospective on romance trends from the eighties, nineties, and today? Maybe with a slide-show of the RITA-winning covers from the past 25 years? Safe, staid, boring, you say?

Tell it to the bitca who thought watching the Towers fall was the best way to say "I love RWA." Thank God cooler heads prevailed on THAT one. And yes, I know which specific individual organized this morbid little homage to bad taste, but I'm not saying. I'll let Nora herself tell you, in the letter to which I've linked, down below.

People are talking. People are PISSED. People are writing letters to the BoD, and to the RWR (Romance Writers' Report).

Other people--the usual suspects, otherwise known as the Ladies Who Lunch, aka: the Stepford Wives of the RWA--are pooh-poohing the uproar with the standard "can't please all of the people all of the time," and spreading the rumor that Nora bowed out because she was "sick."

Don't. You. Believe it.

Nora wasn't so much sick as SICKENED.

Here's the LINK to the letter written by Nora Roberts to the Board of Directors and the RWR, regarding the ceremony fiasco.

It will be interesting to see if the editorial staff at RWR will have the balls to print this letter, plus the others they'll be receiving--at least a few from other well-pubbed authors. My money's on "not in another quarter century," but I hope I'm wrong.


Blogger Donald Francis said...

Wow. Hats off to Nora Roberts for refusing to take part in it. Isn't it amazing that the very people pushing for "tasteful content" when it means limiting the creativity of others lack even the rudimentary tact to know that you don't show those towers falling to a group of people here to celebrate 25 years of romance writing!

8/02/2005 2:11 PM  
Blogger Alison Kent said...

What I would be interested in seeing would be the next President's column, whether or not TTQ addresses any of this. I'm totally speechless as I have been since word got out.

8/02/2005 4:01 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Astute observation, as always, Donald.

Alison--my money's on total silence. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

8/02/2005 4:07 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

Whoa, Selah. A rotten end to RWA's mind-boggling year. I've seen other GH/Rita presentations and thought they were a hoot. It's hard to imagine that Laura H worked on this one too.

Did you get to the GM? How was that? I haven't heard a peep about it.

8/02/2005 4:24 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Nah, I stayed home and missed the whole thing. My entire post is the most blatant and unapologetic hearsay you've ever read...BUT...I cleared each detail with She-Who-Attended-the-Conference-and-Got-a-Two-Book-Contract-Whilst-Standing-in-the-Middle-of-the-Casino (otherwise known as Barb Ferrer.

Barb tells me she'll be blogging on the subject just as soon as her blood pressure drops to normal levels. :)

The AGM? Didn't make quorum. And that's all I know about that.

8/02/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

That letter of nora's is on NR's own message board. http://adwoff.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=001466

love her little avatar.

8/02/2005 5:06 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Thank you, Kate. I'll update my above linkage. :)

8/02/2005 5:13 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

I've written letters to all the Board. So far, I have six replies, four of which were "We were just as horrified as you were, but we weren't consulted beforehand." One was neutral, one was "we're writers, we're full of ideas, isn't that great?"

TTQ also tucked a political dig into her speech, explaining that the GOH should have worked for the New York Times, where they felt free to make things up.

8/02/2005 5:33 PM  
Blogger JENNA said...

Hmmm. Wonder if they had to come up with this so fast they stole it from the Young Republicans chapter at the community college.

WEIRD! In one of those mind puzzles sort of way. Why?

8/02/2005 5:36 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Jonquil, I've also heard that most of the BoD was horrified by the event. I expect there will be ch-ch-CHANGES in how they delegate authority for stuff like this from now on. But that's just me, guessin'.

Jenna, as to why? Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop...the world may never know.

8/02/2005 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Shalanna Collins said...

I am so sorry and so disappointed to hear that the 25th anniversary awards ceremony was run like some kind of . . . well, ugh. They should have had the HAPPY stuff from the last 25 years, and talked about how romance has changed, and how it is what most women pick up off the shelves to read (something like 80%, if I remember correctly, in non-HarryPotter years, that is!) And certainly they should never have had bad memories. They should have showcased AUTHORS and WRITING. Bad.

My friend Lani Diane Rich won the best first novel award, and she should have been in the spotlight and basking! My friend Lois Winston got a contract and started with an agency, and should have been in the spotlight! I do not know what the organizers thought they were doing. It all makes me feel less bad about not going, I suppose. But still, yuck. It should have told them something when Nora Roberts said No Way.

And good for her!!

8/02/2005 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Sienna said...

Ha! The lack of women represented is no surprise and I am definitely not surprised that people of color recieved only brief flashes. I'm glad that Nora Roberts, the bigwig of the romance genre stood up and said "No".

8/02/2005 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Ruthie said...

I wasn't there, but with all those creative women in one place, why didn't someone think to put together a covert mission to sabotage the projector??? Alison? It sounds like your kinda thing. I'm serious. Damn, I wish I'd been there. Kick me some electric butt. Bwaaahaaaaahaaa!

8/03/2005 4:20 AM  
Blogger Karen Scott said...

My respect for Nora Roberts has gone up ten-fold, who knows, I may start reading her books again!

I was happy as a pig in shit to hear about the debacle. TTQ is sure having a bad year aint she? What's the betting that she's made to resign if there are enough complaints?

I can't believe she pissed of the Romance Queen herself. Tee Heee!! I love it!!!

8/03/2005 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Politics aside, this was a *romance* conference, right? Seems to me Bill Clinton's got more romance hero charisma in his little finger than Bush I and Bush II combined.

8/03/2005 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

Could be why he got a huge round of applause where Bush and Shrub only got a smattering of half-hearted claps.

8/03/2005 10:17 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

The reason is easy to figure out. She's got the spotlight on herself (TTQ) now, doesn't she? The whole thing came down to taking the spotlight off the deserving persons, and onto herself.

8/03/2005 10:57 AM  
Anonymous SandyO said...

I would say I don't believe anyone could be that stupid, but hey it's RWA. I don't think I've heard anything as offensive since the year Francine Rivers won a RITA and had the audacity to say in her acceptance speech "Stand up if you love Jesus." (I wasn't there, but if I had been I would have walked out--too damn offensive, and I am a Christian)

For the record, I'm a Republican who voted for Bush. I hate that pandering one sidedness no matter which side they take. Last year, right before the election, it was the RWR unsubstantiated report of the author who was "harrassed" by federal agents under the Patriot Act. This turned out to be untrue (so, excuse me, TTQ don't criticize NYT for making up stories, you have the RWR).

Once again, in the attempt to placate certain members, the Board managed to piss off everyone.

Selah, thank you for a reminder as to why I don't belong to RWA.

And bless you Nora Roberts!

8/03/2005 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, ADWOFF is not Nora's messageboard, it is owned by Sue Noyes.

Nora is kind enough to stop by on a daily basis to chat with us and answer our questions.

A more gracious and classy woman you will never meet.

8/03/2005 12:53 PM  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

As one of this year's crop of GH finalists, the whole show was such a disappointment. It was like they forgot what the focus of the show was about. And I really felt bad for Linda Howard. She's such a nice lady and had to wait almost until midnight to get her award! From what I heard, many people had already snuck out by then. How uncool.

RWA owes us all an apology.

8/03/2005 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as an FYI, Nora's official statement was not all that was posted on ADWOFF, it was just the following:

Nora Roberts declines to host tonight's awards ceremony as she feels the content is inappropriate and believes the focus should be on the nominees and the organization.

The rest of her post on ADWOFF was an explanation, etc., to the members of the board.

I don't think ANY of the images (no matter what political bent one has) was appropriate for an AWARDS ceremony. This should have been a celebration of 25 years of the RWA and it wasn't.


8/03/2005 1:11 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Thank you for your comments, everyone. The best you can do, if you're a member of RWA, is direct a letter to the board. It seems certain members are still at a loss as to why everyone is still so upset over what, to them, amounts to a "glitch."

Other members, to be fair, are MORTIFIED, and demanding explanations from those in charge of the event. Those explanations are not forthcoming, apparently.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

8/03/2005 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just IMHO. Leave politics out of your books unless it's germaine to the subject. I am a Republican (don't worry, I won't bite) and I am getting increasingly annoyed that so many writers think it's cute to put little digs at Republicans in their books. It isn't cute, it isn't edgy, and if you all keep it up, I won't buy your books anymore.

And again - just my opinion. But Bill Clinton inspires nothing but disgust in me. I loathe adulterers.

But, based on what I've heard - I think the people who did the RITA awards ceremony have put their brains and common sense in a lockbox. Just celebrate the writers - quit trying to be right wing, or left wing or whatever wing. Just focus on the books.

8/04/2005 10:33 AM  
Blogger "Orange Mike" Lowrey said...

I am a lefty, but can sympathise with those of any position irritated by ideological cheapshots in romances.

Ms. Roberts has soared in my estimation, and I'm delighted to say so.

The persons responsible for this debacle should be canned by the membership. It is an embarassment which has become a scandal far outside the RWA, giving the organization a bad name: I found out about the whole pathetic thing through science fiction fandom, for example!

8/05/2005 12:26 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

You go girl. The world needs more people that are willing to tell the truth, and not mince words.

8/07/2005 2:10 AM  
Anonymous LMB said...

Why in the world does Bill Clinton a big boo hoo and President Bush get slammed ALL THE TIME...it's stupid. Clinton was impeached.

RWA Romance writers of America, not politicians of America...it's irritating to me that so many want to practice one sided censorship. like the writer who was furious that Francine thanked Jesus. Well, it was her award, right? Do we have to be politically correct now when we accept awards? It's her feelings, her life, her work, she can thank whoever she wants and if you don't like it then when you win an award don't thank Jesus.

Calling President Bush names and making fun of him is so juvenile it's irritating.

Get back to the writers and the writing.

8/07/2005 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a presenter at the awards ceremony. I am amazed by the reaction here and elsewhere, because it is exactly the opposite of what I thought it would be. If you could have heard the cheering and the laughter and the applause in the room, you, too, would be scratching your head now at all the mean things being said about that ceremony after the fact. It seemed to go over with a bang at the time. Speaking personally, it was the most fun I've had in ages. It was clever and visually fun and much of it was tongue-in-cheek. And somebody really busted their buns putting all that news footage together, editing it, and timing it to music. You had to see the WHOLE THING to appreciate it, not just the bits Nora Roberts, et al., have taken out of context. The video clips (which seem to be the source of the complaints) were not overwhelming, and they were not what the show was about. They were used to cover scene changes --just 20-30 second montages inserted here and there during the program. There were, perhaps, four or five total. And how can you compile a quick montage of newsreel footage and include only warm and fuzzy stuff?? The negative stuff is what makes the news! Elections were about the only thing they could include that wasn't violent. Now, THAT's a sad commentary, perhaps ... but it's just mean, in my opinion, to put down the people who worked so hard to put the show together. It's not their fault that history is marked by catastrophic events more often than not. The year I represented, for example, was 1987. We talked about the stock market rising and then crashing, about Gary Hart "deciding to run for president and then running after Donna Rice," and Aretha Franklin being the first woman inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame. I mean, hey, they DID try to achieve a balance. I know this is the internet, but let's try to be fair anyway. (She said, ducking and grinning.)

8/09/2005 12:29 AM  
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