Shifting Landscapes

Dear Weirdlings,

Substack has be a topic of intense discussion over the past few weeks. Jude Ellison Sady Doyle, Emily VanDerWerff, and Malinda Lo have all written long, thoughtful posts about this situation and how they plan to respond to it.

The short version is that Substack seems to have taken a strict stance against content moderation, which has opened the door for certain folks to express hate speech and bigoted views on the platform. More than that, the company has apparently started signing and paying pro-level contracts to bring these people over to the platform.

As Doyle, VanDerWerff, and Lo all expressed, the problem is not so much about being on a platform with people you disagree (one would have to remove themselves entirely from the internet to avoid that). Rather, it’s that marginalized writers earning money for Substack (via commissions on subscriptions) are now in the position of seeing that money go towards people expressing hate speech against them.

As a company, Substack has the right to run it’s business however it would like. On the flip side, as writers, readers, and users, we have the right to decide how we want to spend out money and focus, which may include spending that money elsewhere.

Regarding the future of the Once Upon the Weird newsletter on Substack, I’m keeping an eye on what’s happening and considering how I personally want to respond. At the moment, I’m researching some possible alternatives to possibly move the newsletter elsewhere.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s roundup of the weird.


Movies

The Ontology of Open Mouths: The Scream and the Swallowing (Shudder)

Lea Anderson discusses the mouth as an aspect of the grotesque in horror films. She writes, “Indeed, the mouth agape is a many-faced thing: among the most prevalent motifs of the horror genre on film, noteworthy also in literature, other modes of visual art, mythology, and folklore. Contained within its many significations — a spectrum that runs from terror to wonder to song — are the grand preoccupations of the human and nonhuman condition alike.”

Bruce Campbell: Evil Dead Rise Will Film in New Zealand (The Screening Space)

Bruce Campbell offers insight into the next installment of the Evil Dead saga, which is currently in development.


Games

Once Again Through the Long Dark Hallway: Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and the Joys of Being Lost (Superjump)

“I reveled in the anguish of loss and the exquisite pleasure of finally beating a structured boss or struggling against some infernal cave or infested swamp over and over again,” writes Brandon R. Chinn on the pleasures of the trial by fire experience of playing the Souls games.


Life & Lore

45 Eerie, Creepy, and Often Beautiful Abandoned Places Around the World (Matador Network)

Exploring places abandoned places reclaimed by natures, which are “made beautiful by subtraction.”


Literature

How Heritage Affects the Stories We Live and the Stories We Tell (Interstellar Flight)

“Hungry ghosts have always fascinated me. A pitiful creature with a distended belly, these haunted souls are perpetually hungry but, despite all attempts, they cannot eat,” said Lee Murray in this interview. “The ghosts have typically committed some sinful act during their lifetime, often causing harm to the family’s reputation. More often than not, hungry ghosts are women, guilty of greed or laziness or some supposed sexual transgression.”

Five Off-Beat Gothic and Horror Books for Fans of the Classics (Tor)

For those who have completed traditional favorites, such as Dracula, here’s a list of new takes on the genre.


Short of the Week

A young woman’s secret rocks an isolated church community. Written and Directed by Dean Puckett, “The Sermon” is a gorgeously filmed folk horror tale features a classic feel similar to The Wicker Man.

Andrea Blythe
Andrea Blythe writes speculative poetry and fiction. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale (Interstellar Flight Press, 2020).