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A Humiliating Moment

Over the past two days, I have followed the Humiliation contest with bated breath. There were tight races on all sides of the competition. Would Noddy in Toyland or The Weirdstone of Brisingamen come in last? Would Tuck Everlasting, Pollyanna, or The Bad Beginning come in third-from-last? Would Harry Potter beat out all comers, as lazyknight and griffinick hoped, and kashmera feared?

The contest which had the most interesting developments and changes throughout was the race for third place. Peter Rabbit was a close third place for most of the contest, but slipped back a day into the race, with Where the Wild Things Are first tying and then overtaking. And then poor Peter slipped back even further as Alice in Wonderful and then Charlotte's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came from behind to leave Peter in the dust.

I also learned how much t.v. shows and movies can distort perceptions of how many people have read what book. Tuck Everlasting, The Polar Express, Pollyanna, and The Bad Beginning have all been major motion pictures - and all of them did rather badly in competition. Similarly, although Noddy may be a popular t.v. show, Enid Blyton's books, first published in 1940s, were rarely read by most of the people I know - even among the Brits, from the country where, to the best of my knowledge, the show primarily aired.

Fascinating trivia about the people who voted emerged from the voting: who could have guessed that exactly the same number of people (60) have read A Wrinkle in Time, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Secret Garden, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

In the end, though, there was a winner. Congratulations to rjw1 for being brave enough to admit that he's never read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! Your prize, if you choose to claim it, is a copy of that very book. Or we can continue to mock or admire you for your careful pruning of children's literature from your reading diet, in favor of Science Fiction, even as a youngster.

Commiserations to black_faery, who helped us to discover just how obscure the classic Noddy books are by ending up with the fewest votes in the competition.

I think the game went very well this time around. I'd consider running another game of it in another 4-6 months. If I did, what would you be most interested in?
Poll #567306 Humiliation Feedback

Which of the following versions of the game would you be most interested in playing?

No theme
Speculative fiction

How long should the game last?

The same length

Any other feedback on this game is welcome too.

Thank you for playing!


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC)
Enid Blyton's books (especially Noddy) disappeared from most school and public libraries in the late 60s/early 70s because of their racist content. Most of the people in your contest post-date that. The TV show bore but a passing resemblance to the books.
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think the problem with Mystery or Speculative fiction as categories is that I can't see a single work it would be humiliating to admit not having read.
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:47 pm (UTC)
I also considered doing historical time period based games, but it would be hard to make it competitive. It doesn't have to be fiction - but I suspect there's a less cohesive body of literature we'd have in common if the topic were History or Reference Books.

Can you think of any other robust categories for this game? Children's lit seemed to work out fairly well, despite the publishing vagaries of the multiple countries involved.
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
Tough. Maybe works in a particular language? I think particular periods might work. Classical, as in Greek and Rome, might work. Imagine admitting not having read the Iliad?
Sep. 9th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
I haven't read it, and I'm not concerned to say that I haven't. I'm sure at some point when I have time and mental energy to devote to reading intelligent books, then I will do, but at the moment I'm quite happy using books as a non-taxing form of escapism.
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
Also, a large number of people I know are particularly science fiction and/or fantasy fans, so speculative fiction would appeal to them - and there are plenty of classics and most-read books in that genre. That's part of why The Hobbit won last time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe won this time - both books that would appeal to readers of fantasy novels - and also to medievalists.

I think there are other good categories, but my particular interests - and thus, the majority of the people I have things in common with and correspond with via LJ - limit the number of feasible categories I could really work with for this game.
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean but even if I hadn't read the Hobbit (or some other piece of pixieshit) I wouldn't be humiliated by it.
Sep. 9th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't think owlfish is aiming for TRUE humiliation here...just guessing ;)
Sep. 9th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
Well of course she's a much nicer person than me. I want full contact all in Humiliation to the death.
Sep. 9th, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC)
Individual Paradigm
I don't think anyone would be truly humiliated by being forced to admit that they haven't read a book. As far as it goes though, I think several SF books have as much right, if not more, as the Iliad to produce this effect. The Iliad is one of those books that, as the old adage goes, everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read. It played a massive role in the development of modern literature, but there are many contemporary books that, in my opinion, are better. If I was forced to start choosing novels to erase from my memory, the Iliad would buy it before Perdido Street Station.
Sep. 9th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Individual Paradigm
I don't think anyone would be truly humiliated by being forced to admit that they haven't read a book.

But the whole starting point was a fictional character whose career was wrecked by such an admission.

. The Iliad is one of those books that, as the old adage goes, everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.

au contraire, I've read (and listened to) it several times and will surely do so again. I can only think of a handful of modern novels for which that is true.
Sep. 9th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Individual Paradigm
In the context we're playing it in, it's not as humiliating a game as a good be. It helps to know that the game has its origins in English departments - it was originally set in one, as I understand it, and I first played with English PhD students. Of them admitted to never having read Huckleberry Finn, even though - filling in one day for another instructor - she'd actually taught a whole class on the book.

There are certainly books I'm rather embarassed that I've never read, and a fair many books that I really should have read, for professional reasons in particular.
Sep. 9th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Individual Paradigm
My fingers can type whole wrong words when I'm not paying attention to them.

"as a good be" should have been "as it could be".
Sep. 9th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Individual Paradigm
I'm entiely convinced that my fingers have a whole novel in there waiting to come out. Every so often words turn up that I have no recollection of writing, that don't belong at all!
Sep. 9th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
ahh... what is speculative literature?
Sep. 9th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
Speculative literature is term encompassing a number of genres including SF, fantasy, horror, and fairy tales.
Sep. 9th, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC)
ohhhh, that makes so much more sense, I was wondering if that was a name for speculative fiction based in philosophy sort of Orwell, Huxley type stuff.
Sep. 9th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
I know I've read some of the Noddy books, I just can't remember which ones. There was a decent selection of them on the shelves of my Sunday School classroom when I was growing up in Belgium and attending the big Anglican church there. So I didn't 'vote' for the one Noddy book that showed up on the list.

As for categories - spec. fic. could be interesting, though I find myself tantalized by the idea of the classics. How many of us actually -read- them for school and how many just skimmed enough chapters to pass tests etc. for example? ;) I know I'm guilty of this in reference to several major classics that are taught in AP English in the U.S.
Sep. 9th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
WOOT! I didn't come close this time. I think I was 2nd or 3rd for litature.
Sep. 9th, 2005 08:22 pm (UTC)
it's all fun!
I'd love the sf, although I'm sure I'd end up totally humiliated -- all breadth and no depth.

Definitely would love Classics -- and have also read the Iliad numerous times -- and the Aeneid but have never finished that one with the really long trip home.

Ancient and Medieval History would be good for a bunch of us, if only to see what things we were supposed to have read and never did ... not to mention to expand our reading lists!

How 'bout 19th c. novels?
Sep. 9th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
Goodnight Moon redux
Thought I'd re-post this, since it's a bit late. I think the song is on Shivaree's first album. I'm pretty sure it's on one of the Kill Bill soundtracks, too.
Sep. 10th, 2005 02:11 am (UTC)
I think a poetry round could be interesting. Perhaps one for short stories?
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:41 am (UTC)
I voted for speculative fiction, but I would be keen on doing a mystery game, too. The problem with being brought up on PBS' Mystery was that I was far too lazy to read the books as a result. ^-^;;

My perception of Tuck Everlasting wasn't particularly distorted by the film or lack thereof; I've just never gotten around to it, and I keep hoping its Newberry status will guilt me into doing so.
Sep. 10th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC)
I just read Catherine, called Birdy because of its Newberry status. Terribly disappointing. Not the same Newberry as the Susan Cooper type. And I may have to talk about it at a conference. Where the author might be present. And my objections are as much about the book itself and its flawed construction (like the sudden 'I am Ok with my arranged marriage because I'm a budding feminist in the 14th c. and I will always own my soul and it's not that the guy is young and maybe cute' bit at the end that is somehow supposed to explain and justify the actions of the main character, who has in any case the attitude of a self-indulgent 20th c. child. Etc.) as they are about the so-called medieval reality portrayed therein.
Sep. 10th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
I have in fact not read either of the two top contenders--woe to me for being late to the pick!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )