Friday, April 10, 2015

Taking Sides - Rescuing the Hugos

There are some times when you can't sit by the sidelines. I find that now is one of those times.

There has evidently been a movement afoot for a couple of years to change the lineup of titles that get nominated for the Hugo Awards. The creator of this movement has called it Sad Puppies. This year, it was actually successful, probably because it was joined by a nearly identical movement called Rabid Puppies.

How the Hugo Awards are supposed to work is that those who have paid membership to the World-Con (either attending members of non-attending associate members) can nominate and then vote for the winners. From the breakdown of nominations, it appears that most nominees receive under 100 nominations, so this isn't something that has high participation. For honest nominations, you need to read the works in question. The top five (six in case there is a tie for fifth place) titles in each category go on the ballot. That is how it is supposed to work.

Well, the two puppies movements each listed a slate of desired nominees. In several of the categories, the puppies movement nominees swept the nominations. The big question is if the people doing the nominating even read what they were nominating. If they didn't then quite a number of titles have dishonestly been nominated based on even fewer readings than normal. From the numbers, it looks like it was about 50 people who jumped on board and nominated the full puppies slate. Its also possible that there were more who only nominated some of the slate. Either way, it was a concerted effort to derail the normal process.

I've seen several of the supporters of the puppies moments claim that the nominations have been dominated by Social Justice Warriors (SJW) as if that were a derivative term. The science fiction I grew up on and love has always pushed for equality and justice so if following that example makes one a SJW, so be it, I am one. I was raised in a Christian household and the focus was always about being fair and just and living by Jesus's example. I grew up reading science fiction where the color of your skin, gender, and sexual preference made no difference. The TV shows and movies I enjoy have always been blind to race. Star Trek went out of its way to be more integrated than was normal. MASH taught me the horror of war and the duty of doing your part and treating the enemy as people. So if all this is bad, then the acknowledged greats of science fiction, television, and the movies have been wrong for many years. Sorry, but I don't buy that.

Instead what I have seen is the growing insanity of the right wing movement in this country. I was a Republican at one time, but the party has moved from where it was in the 80's and what it professed to stand for to adopt an insane mix of religious right causes along side some very un-Christian fiscal conservative causes and all that wrapped up in and anti-science and anti-education bundle that moves further to the right each year.

Meanwhile, I remain much where I was in the 80's, when talk of national health care was not a liberal socialist cause, but a concern for all. Where everyone was in favor of helping up the poor in this country and everyone was in favor of education and the space program. Today, it is like we have politicians from the 19th century trying to pull us backwards and I feel that is what the puppies movements are trying to do to science fiction. They champion the Edgar Rice Burroughs male dominated tropes (fine for 1915, but not fine  for 2015) and ignore how broad and vast science fiction has become. They bemoan the straying from the likes of Dune and Foundation while ignoring the rich tapestry of what we have now. They blame a secret cabal of SJW's when in fact the makeup of the genre has changed and they have failed to change along with it. Are they write that some deserving titles have not gotten nominated? Perhaps, but the solution to that is a campaign for a title or two and not a total takeover of the the award nomination slate.

The puppies movements are a sign of the poison of our time. Normally the wackos are spread equally between the right and the left, but today I see a disproportionate number on the right along with a disproportionate lack of education, belief in conspiracy theories, and belief in dogma over facts. The puppies movements are no different and if they keep this up, there are those of us who will fight back. Mark my words, this hijacking of the Hugo Awards will not go down without a fight and I will be right there in the thick of things.

No comments:

Post a Comment