1989 Letter by L S Regarding The Blake's 7 Wars
|Title:||1989 Letter by L S Regarding The Blake's 7 Wars|
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The primary dispute concerns the 'tour" being proposed by Terry Nation and Paul Darrow, which would possibly include other B7 guests, and which would apparently be backed by [L C's] Decima Productions. Based on early (and apparently, conflicting) statements, certain fans (particularly [A W] and [L T]) raised quite fundamental and justifiable questions about the tour. I will not reiterate in full what Mr. Darrow, [L C] and their associates said: what [A W] reported in her "anonymous statement" accurately reflects most of what I heard with my own ears. I will vouch for the fact that Mr. Darrow had aired his premature opinions so widely that by the time I had dinner with him November 20th (a week before the tour's official debut), I was already aware, courtesy of the grapevine, that he and Mr. Nation were considering such a project. I was also aware that Mr. Darrow had been describing plans for the tour which I, personally, regarded as questionable. Mr. Darrow's monologue that evening with regard to fan conventions in general, and [L C] (among other things, he told three members of the GAMBIT ConCom at that dinner that [L C] had told him GAMBIT had 'stolen' her con, and that she'd asked him as a personal favor not to attend GAMBIT) and about GAMBIT in particular (he was eager to explain to us that GAMBIT would never get any guests other than Brian Croucher because he, Mr. Darrow, would personally tell the rest of the B7 cast members not to accept anything less than an offer of business class airfare and ($5,000.00 fee), fully confirmed (firsthand) what I had already heard (secondhand) about the tour and its purposes. Mr. Darrow's behavior in New York a week later (I am one of the people to whom he he made the crack about 75 seconds per fan, as one example) did not contradict the unfavorable impression he'd been giving.
However, whether or not Mr. Darrow's early statements about the tour agreed with the ideas of his fellow organizers, and whether or not his behavior (at the time he made those statements) was up to his legendary standard, is irrelevant to the basic issues at stake in [A W's] statement. Any convention, large or small, professional or amateur/charity, ought to settle its own policies, and be prepared to defend then, before undertaking to do business. The questions that have been raised include; how exactly is the tour going to be administered? (Supposedly the hands-on work would be done by local clubs under Decmia's aegis, with Decima in some perennially undefined capacity as absentee overseer, public sponsor, and fee collector). What activities will the tour conventions include, and how will they be run? (What rules will govern the auction(s) and the dealers' room(s)? Will all fans be allowed to participate? What fees will really be charged? And which merchandise may (or may not) be offered for sale? Who will pay the convention taxes? Has Mr. Nation overcome the usual obstacles to having profession, perform series-related work at cons, by getting approval for his proposed activities from the Screen Writers' Guild, the Screen Actors' Guild, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and any holders (other than himself) of B7 copyright/trademarks?) What are the tour's purposes? (The proposed cons will definitely be run for the guests' personal profit; but is the tour actually designed to compete against fan-run conventions, or is that appearance just an unhappy coincidence?)
What changes would such a tour make in the nature of today's B7 fandom? (Could not-for-profit fan conventions ever be able to get the 'tour' guests back? How will the fan/guest relationship be changed once the guests begin viewing us as sources of personal income, as well as friendship? If the tour were to get a virtual monopoly on certain guests, will that give its organizers a disproportionate amount of power to control fan convention-related activity in general? The backlash (it cannot be called a 'response') from tour adherents to these questions has been completely out of proportion to the supposed 'offense' (which they alone perceive), Rather than admit that they had differences of opinion (though minor disagreements are perfectly normal in the formative stages of any large scale project), or answering the questions with substantive intonation, key people associated with the tour have denounced the questioners as liars and rumor-mongers. Mr. Darrow, in particular, has reacted as though the questions (raised largely as a result of his own unguarded statements) were actually personal attacks. I would never have believed it if I hadn't had to deal with some of Mr. Darrow's actions myself.
Mr. Darrow retaliated against [A W's] carefully general statement in FA with a series of escalating unpleasantness directed at first against [A W] and [L T], and later against anyone who refused to disown [A W] and [L T] at his command. He circulated a libelous statement regarding [A W] to various fan clubs, demanding that they print it regardless of possible consequences to themselves. (He never sent a copy to [A W] ((nor to me. ed [L T])). He telephoned one of [A W's] closest friends, demanded that she take sides, and threatened to destroy [A W] in fandom. He pressured contributors to [A W's] zines to withdraw their submissions, and instituted a petty inquisition on the subject of her (and [L T's]) involvement in slash (though he has known of slash for years without displaying this kind of obsession with the subject). Copies of a bogus "injunction" (with absolutely no grounding in legal principles or procedure) supposedly forbidding [A W], [L T], and [L R] to make use of Messrs. Darrow and Keating's likeness have been circulating recently, bearing the return postmark of Mr. Darrow's home village.
Mr. Darrow has repeatedly refused to concede neutrality to anyone: as he insisted in his public statement (read by Mr. Nation at GAMBIT's Opening Ceremonies), one must either side with him or be an enemy. (In that same statement, he compared would-be neutrals to Pontius Pilate, taking upon himself a quasi-religious mantle which I personally would not venture to disturb). Not content with these efforts, Mr. Darrow widened the campaign presently to include organizations associated with [A W] and [L T]. Under unreasonable pressure, [M M] gave way and fired [A W] and [L T] from the FREEDOM CITY ConCom.
Mr. Darrow never confronted GAMBIT directly with his demands, for reasons which he alone knows. However, despite the fact that we were determined to retain neutral (and had said so publicly and loudly), we learned (not long before the con) that he had contacted all our confirmed guests (except Mr. Nation) and asked them not to attend GAMBIT. (The other guests themselves told us} they were baffled.) Only a week before GAMBIT, Mr. Darrow called us and demanded to know whether his original invitation to attend still stood. Regardless of how he felt about Mr. Darrow's behavior by that time, the simple fact remained that we had committed all our available funds (and then some). He simply could not afford (not being millionaires or relatives of millionaires) to bring him to Newark without going bankrupt. Mr. Darrow never gave us a chance to explain. But apparently, he did expect us to bankrupt ourselves at his behest. A few days later (on the very eve of the convention) we heard from one of our guests, in great distress, who said that Mr. and Mrs. Darrow had just telephoned to say that their loyal friends in the US were going to inform the INS that GAMBIT'S guests were being brought into the country illegally, for money. Our guests might be turned back at customs and put on the next plane home, as a result. However, GAMBIT wouldn't have any such trouble if [A W] and [L T] were fired. A day later, Mr. Darrow called the same person back to say he'd only meant to threaten one of GAMBIT's guests, and that in any case, he was unsure he could restrain his loyal US followers. As before, GAMBIT did not hear from Mr. Darrow directly.
In their eagerness to garner recruits by any available leans, adherents of Mr. Darrow and the tour have further confused the original issue by using pre-existing emotionality-charged debates (such as slash, BNF/snf, and east coast/vest coast "rivalry") of dubious relevance as rallying cries for their supposed cause. In consequence, some fans who had no particular stake in the tour (by their own admission), have taken advantage of the situation to escalate existing feuds, under the pretense of loyalty to Mr. Darrow and his "cause." This has elevated a few old, tired debates to a completely artificial degree of importance, in addition to supplying the tour, and Mr. Darrow with a number of followers who are merely using the uproar for their own purposes.
The original controversy now encompasses side-skirmishes which have nothing at all to do with the original debate, but which are nonetheless being bitterly contested. Artificially-intensified or not, the chaos is spreading, contributing to the general damage being done to B7 fandom at large. Large numbers of fans are beginning to abandon B7 fandom with the same fervent enthusiasm with which they were joining up, not very long ago.
If Mr. Darrow does not like being quoted, he should be more careful of what he says, or else issue a simple, level-headed correction. If Decima does not agree with Mr. Darrow's version of its policies, it should remonstrate with Mr. Darrow directly, rather than mystifying upwards of 600 people by airing half its internal debates in a confusing, wasteful, and no doubt, expensive mass mailing. There is absolutely no justification for the kind of interminable personal recriminations that have been being levelled at [A T] and [L T] and anyone who refuses to reject then. Even if it had been wrong, there would be no excuse for continuing to mindlessly perpetuate a one-sided feud that is causing so much damage to B7 fandom.
The controversy which has come to surround Mr. Darrow and the proposed tour is only turning off potential attendees in large masses. The tour itself, (if Terry Nation's official "Press Release" mailed by Decima is accurate) sounds like a first rate idea. I'd hate to see the tour - and B7 fandom itself - come to grief, just because a few people involved with the tour would rather incite an emotional holocaust than admit to a normal human trait: fallibility.