I’ve alluded to on occasion over the past couple years, but never outright weighed in on the mess the Hugos have been for a while now. There are reasons for that. Prime among them, I’ve not really got the time or energy for it. I’ve got a toddler and an infant in the house, and between them (Wee Dave is Being Two a lot more these days, which isn’t great fun, and results in misapplied enthusiasm toward Miss Moxie. She is growing and developing as infants do, and finally sleeping more through the night, a Thing to which her mother and I have been greatly looking forward), the Necessary Evils that are my responsibility as the one at home most, and my hmm-hmm-mumble writing career, the field where I grow mine is pretty barren. On most subjects, really.
Close behind that, I’ve got friends on both sides of the divide. Friends I’d rather keep than be right one way or the other. Well, to push hard enough to be “right.” Much like religion and politics (but unlike philosophy, *sigh* no respect, I tell ya), the Hugos and the State of F/fandom have become tar-pit subjects best left at the curb when I spend time in certain friends living rooms, virtual or meatspace.
There’s plenty been written about the four years of Campaigns to End Puppy-Related Sadness, and only a tiny percentage has been written here at the MGC. A slightly larger portion has been accurate in presented details. Almost nowhere else have the writers actually addressed the deeper question the last two campaigns have been about: who is a fan?
There have been a truly mind-boggling amount of posts about how the Sad Puppies are bad people by virtue of being white, male, straight, whatever. It apparently hasn’t mattered that none of those are universally true, but even if they were accurate in every particular, these judgements would be based upon nothing more or less than factors over which the Puppies have no control.
Next came the usual attacks based upon supposed behaviors. You know, the ones taken up by international media outlets across the globe. The Puppies are homophobic, racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, etc, ad nauseum. Only nobody ever demonstrates particulars. It’s always simply “known.” (Seriously, find the quotes, post them in the comments. Give context and analysis. The burden of proof is, as usual, on the accusers.)
Much more has been made of supposed alliances between campaigns, based more upon circumstance and wishful thinking than anything approaching reality. Denials haven’t mattered. Publicly available intelligence refuting the supposed alliance has likewise been ignored. Public disgust with the tactics employed has been deemed of no consequence.
And this year, Kate’s moved to a completely transparent system based on a public website. You can go count the votes yourself if you want. And still she, and the system, and the people who have made their opinions on last year’s collection of scifi are insulted and questioned. And some of the creators who’ve received the public acclaim of their fans are once again requesting that they be removed from consideration by others of their fans. None of which is surprising, especially given the horror show last year’s surprise nomination sweeps generated.
But it is disappointing.
In other industries, people are united under the umbrella of an organization. I have friends in the auto industry, and they describe similar kinds of infighting to what’s been going on in scifi recently. I have friends in the military, and while the mission still comes first, politics (in the philosophical sense of how groups of people interact together) still happen, much as we might wish they happened to someone else.
What we’re dealing with is human nature. I tend to agree with Sarah that it comes down to tribalism. We identify more closely with some groups than with others. Those others become the Other, and over time are identified as the enemy, to one degree or another. This is normal. It happens at all ages, and in all places. It’s still disappointing. Especially when we’re closer to each other than to most of those around us.
Let me tell you a little story. In 2009, I went to Renovation. My folks lived just north of there, and my wife was home from deployment, so we burned some cash and got there. I got to meet Larry Correia, Howard Tayler, Steve Jackson, and several other creators I’d theretofore only known as names on the Internet. I made some long term friends. It was pretty heady, and several folks have turned into genuine friends, whose friendship I treasure. I’ve since done similar things a couple times, most recently at LibertyCon in Chattanooga.
Thing is, even then I noticed a lot of us/them dividing going on. A lot of that is natural, if unfortunate. It happens within families. Call it sibling-rivalry. I like this thing more than that thing. I like her more than I like him, etc. Or the converse: he said something I didn’t like. Or, what I consider more common, she did or said something that the people I want to like me don’t like. A lot of that going around these days.
Larry apparently experienced much the same thing. He’s detailed his experience over at Monster Hunter Nation. He pointed out the bias he experienced firsthand, and was told he was smoking something. He then demonstrated it in the most belligerent manner he could come up with, and it pissed off a lot of people. He did it again, and got even more people interested in what had been a declining con, and an award slipping in prestige.
Last year, Brad worked hard to get even more people involved in the process, and again, a lot of people got pissed. A lot of filth was spewed, and a lot of feelings got hurt. Some folks who should have known better allowed their inner twelve-year-olds to run rampant.
And now Kate has run a completely transparent campaign to gather people together to laud the works they find award-worthy. And that hasn’t stopped anybody from calling her names, calling us names, calling for removal of works from The List (seriously, look up slate in the dictionary, people). Or, at least, it hasn’t stopped everybody, though it should have.
And I have to ask: what’s so bad about being recommended for an award? You’re not responsible for who buys your work, who likes your work. You’re not responsible for who recommends you receive an award for your work. If someone else comes along and tries to fabricate a connection between you besides creator and consumer, they’ve got an agenda. And do not have your best interests at heart. And if someone is willing to torpedo your chance at recognition to serve their own ends, then they were unlikely to pay you for your work in the first place.
Will the Hugos survive this latest dust-up? Frankly, I’m experiencing no small amount of puppy-related fatigue: I really don’t care. I want to get paid for my art. Recognition is nice, but it doesn’t put food in my son’s mouth. Nor does it maintain friendships.