Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It's not the facts - it's the narrative


Readers will doubtless recall my article last week about the controversy over the Hugo Awards.  If you didn't read it, you might like to do so now to get the background before continuing with this one.

The nominees for this year's Hugo Awards were announced over the weekend.  To the shock, horror and disgust of the progressive and left-wing authors and publishers in the field, the majority of the slate turns out to have been nominated and supported by those of a more libertarian and/or conservative bent.  I suppose it's a classic non-kinetic example of Newton's Third Law of Motion:  "To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".  The Hugos (and the whole field of Science Fiction and Fantasy) had become far too dominated by those of one particular political persuasion.  In reaction, the other side is now fighting back - and apparently doing rather well, at least for the present.

The thing that makes me truly sad - and I really mean this:  it's a very distressing situation - is that those on the left are so blind to reality.  It's incontrovertible, on the basis of their own statements and arguments, that they despise, scorn and denigrate anyone in the field who's not of their opinions, and have in the past done their best to sabotage their books and careers.  However, they're now foaming at the mouth at what they perceive as the injustice, racism, even fascism they allege has been displayed by the 'other side'.  Let me give you some examples of charge and counter-charge over this.

First, Entertainment Weekly.  In a scurrilously biased and negative article, it proclaimed:  'Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign'.  (It's since amended the article - no doubt due to the entirely justified fear that it was legally actionable for defamation - but the original version has been archived here.)  To make matters worse, the article's author invited Larry Correia, one of the leading lights of the Hugo reform movement, to comment - but only after publishing her lying version of events.  Here's how part of the exchange went on Twitter.







Entertainment Weekly has since corrected the article (twice) and published this apology:




I suspect their lawyers nearly had a heart attack when they saw the inaccurate, libelous and actionable statements in the first version of the article.  I hope there'll be suitably negative consequences for the article's author, and for whoever decided to allow its publication.

Sadly, EW isn't alone in its biased, frothing-at-the-mouth reaction to recent events.  I'll cite just one more example here, due to lack of space.  Philip Sandifer states baldly that "The Hugo Award Nominations have just been successfully hijacked by neofascists", and calls upon all his readers to act.

Obviously progressive voices within the sci-fi/fantasy community have to fight, and fight hard to reclaim fandom from the neofascist entryist movement that has just stolen it. But until that fight is won, it is also the moral duty of progressive voices to form a blocking majority, and to loudly admit that fandom as it stands is broken, and that any work proclaimed to be the best of the year by a fandom this broken is demeaned by the association.

Thankfully, the Hugo Awards have a mechanism to accomplish this. Every category allows for a vote of No Award Given. And this should be the goal. The 2015 Hugos should simply be blank. No awards given, in any categories. Let that sit in the history books - the year that sci-fi fandom said no. We can come back in 2065 and give out a set of Retro Hugos, and figure out with the lens of history what we demonstrably failed to figure out this year.

. . .

If science fiction and fantasy are genres you care about ... I highly encourage you to join and, when the Hugo Ballot is released, vote No Award in all categories. Because otherwise, and especially if there are any awards in the six categories in which every nomination is neo-fascist endorsed, the cultural legitimacy of the Hugo Awards and of mainstream science fiction fandom will be permanently compromised.

There's more at the link.

Mr. Sandifer doesn't seem to get the point that 'his side' (progressives) have already 'compromised the cultural legitimacy of the Hugo Awards' by forcing out anyone and everyone who didn't toe their political line.  The awards were (and are) supposed to be about the quality of the work(s) concerned, not the political views of their authors.  Unfortunately, that's been honored in the breach rather than the observance for far too long.

Responses from the conservative/libertarian/independent side have been equally numerous.  Again, for reasons of space, I'll cite only two.  Both are long, and deserve reading in full, so I invite my readers to click over there and read them for themselves.

Larry Correia does his usual magnificent job of logical, analytical argument.  Here's an excerpt.

The Hugos were already broken. My people are just the inevitable backlash that happens in any system when the pendulum swings too far in one direction.

For years people have paid lip service to bringing new people into the Hugos. Whenever people complained about the biased, cliquish state of the awards, they were dismissed and told that if they wanted to change things, they should get more people involved in the process.

Okay. Done. Next?

Note, a lot of the anger this week is about how my people are wrongfan having wrongfun, and thus are bad and should be dismissed, blocked somehow, or excluded. That kind of talk only proves my original point that started this all, and really, it is that sort of asinine, outlandish accusations that caused more of the previously apathetic fans to shell out their $40 to get involved too.

Again, more at the link.

Next, Dave Freer (a former South African like myself, who's now living in Australia) had this to say.

We have to stand up to them. SF needs to break this culture of bullying, of overt abuse of power. We need SF to go back to being what people read because they love reading it, not because some bunch of self-elected ‘elite’ says it will be good for them. Stuff them.

. . .

Let’s see. You’re not going to buy my books? Gee that should make... zero difference to my bottom line.

You’re going to tell your friends not buy my books? You mean you have friends? – I mean outside your circle-jerk who would rather die than buy them anyway?

You’re going to give me no reviews? What a change.

You’re going to badmouth and lie me as often as possible and at your usual Requires Hate level vile? Children, I grew up in a commercial fishing harbor. I was an Army NCO. You make me laugh. And besides the fact bad publicity is still more than anyone but your clique of little pets got, what else is new?

You’re going to never publish me? Gee, you never did, and never would have, because I’m not one of your kiss-up sycophants.

You’re going to shun me? Never invite me to your conferences? Oh be still my beating heart. Never to see WisCon...

I’m quivering in my boots. Mind you it could be because I got wet bringing the boat in and I went straight to write this and I’m bloody cold by now. Maybe you’d like to wish me the sniffles? That might work!

And now let’s talk about something you jackasses might need to “prepare to deal”.

You’re a tiny, unpleasant, arrogant echo-chamber of elitist losers who have almost no contact with the real world. That’s the real world that actually buys most books.

If we start to respond in kind... we still do buy the loud anti-puppies authors. We buy books published by Tor. We haven’t... yet, resorted to your petulant nonsense. And you can’t survive it, if it happens. In truth your little inner circle is tiny. Look at the demographics of the country. A huge proportion of the audience you sell to have reason, good reason, to say “Why the hell should I buy a book from someone who plainly despises me, despises my views, my culture, and increasingly offers me a lecture on how bad I am instead of a good story. There are other books.”

And that is something you’re not prepared to deal with.

More at the link.

I'm beginning to think that the New York Post has it right in a recent headline.  The article deals with other matters, but sums up the progressive/left-wing attitude in a nutshell:  'Facts matter: Left sticks to ‘narratives,’ evidence be damned'.  I'm truly sorry about that.  People on the left have achieved a great many things of lasting importance, and changed human society in the process.  There's much that's admirable there.  Unfortunately, by insisting that others must march in lock-step with them, denying the validity - or even the possibility - of differing points of view, and refusing to tolerate dissent or alternative approaches, the modern left is slowly but surely rendering itself irrelevant.  The backlash of history is gathering momentum.  (Just look at the current Indiana 'gay wedding controversy' to see that backlash in action.  While the intelligentsia froth at the mouth, ordinary Americans are voting with their wallets.  Q.E.D.)

I'm mainly sorry for the Hugo nominees whose books deserve serious consideration.  In this highly-charged politicized environment, I'm afraid they may not receive it.

Peter

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll assume Ms. Beinharn will still have a job with EW this morning. Maybe she should apply to Rolling Stone? She would fit right in.

smithgift said...

If the Sad Puppies are such a minority, who exactly was voting for the Hugos previously that the Sad Puppies crushed them in the nominations? One would think, if the Sad Puppies are really so small, that the bloc voting would be unnoticeable noise against the rest of the "real" fandom.

Further, if they do rally and vote No Award for everything, and succeed, what exactly will that prove? Looking backwards, the average outsider will see this oddity, learn about the controversy, and then whatever prestige the Hugo might have in the future is lessened by knowing that one year it became entirely and openly political.

And what does No Award mean in the first place? There was a year the Nobel Peace Prize went to nobody rather than Gandhi. Refusing to grant awards for political reasons tend to backfire.

raven said...

" People on the left have achieved a great many things of lasting importance, and changed human society in the process. There's much that's admirable there."

Do tell, I have my magic marker and postage stamp ready to write it all down. I'm with you on the lasting importance part, there is the Cultural Revolution, the Holdomor, Lubyanka, Pol Pot, Hanoi Hilton, a host of ugly bush wars all over the world, the "important" parts go on and on, it's the admirable part I am getting out my microscope for.
As far as I can see, they seem hellbent on reducing us to a life of indentured servitude to the state. A bunch of fascists, the lot of them.
We have seen this movie before, and anyone with a brain cell remaining knows how it ends.

Wraith said...

Funny thing...whichever side's in power, Left or Right, the Other must be censured, persecuted and destroyed.

Witness the Fall of Man, over and over again. :(

Toastrider said...

One of the arguments I've seen, smithgift, is that Sad Puppies flooded the ballots with help from... wait for it... GamerGate!

Dun dun DUNNNNNN!

Never mind that GG and Sad Puppies had little interaction until recently. It was all those dirty misogynistic gamers' fault.

I suspect Scalzi and the rest of his ideological peers may come to regret this, though. For now GG has taken interest in Sad Puppies. There was probably plenty of overlap between the sci-fi/fantasy novel and the video game fandom as is. Make no mistake, GamerGate is sitting VERY attentively, taking copious notes on the Sad Puppies campaign. And probably buying a few books as well.

NornIron Lad said...

I was at WorldCon in Brighton (England) when L Ron Hubbard's team tried to hijack the Hugo's. He was roundly booed by the crowd (in absentia obviously!) and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card won the prize and the Battlefield Earth series became a standing joke (except to the fanboys and John Travolta).

Point is, the Sad Puppies may or may not win this year by stuffing the ballot (or not) but if the writing is good people will want to read it and if not they're name will be mud. SF fans know good writing and, in my experience, are the political tone is only a major issue if it interferes with the story. Iain M Banks Culture is a liberal utopia but we wouldn't have read a word if the story telling had not been awesome, Heinlein was of an opposing view but that did not stop 'Starship Troopers' becoming a classic.

The Hugos will likely survive this storm in a teacup. SF and Fantasy writing certainly will.

Bob said...

I remember Sci-Fi when people like Issac Asimov got Hugos.

Then in a matter of a few short years the whole genre turned to man-hating feminist garbage.

I haven't bought a scifi book or mag now for over thirty years, but folks like Wright and Correia might change my n mind.

Morris said...

Bob, definitely get hold of Larry's and John Wright's books - they've put the SciFi back into SF. No SJW preaching in any of their books. Our host here Peter's own books are more than worth the read. I heartily recommend any of them.

Rolf said...

Not sure what it means in the long run to see my name on the Campbell award list, but it's got to be causing somebody, somewhere, to have seizures. And other people to laugh maniacally. I might even be able to go to Sasquan, which would be a hoot; it's only 4 hours from here. I guess the Gods of comedy in my neck of the woods needed a good chuckle :-)