Aug 242015
  August 24, 2015

Fans did their best to keep the second or so most prestigious science fiction award, the Hugos, from tail spinning into the mud (I like the Nebulas, and the Sturgeon awards more). When the winners were revealed, no reactionary puppies won—Guardians of the Galaxy did win for Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, but everyone agrees the pups shouldn’t be held against it. Five No Awards: for Short Story, Novella, Related Work, and both editor categories.

My predictions went pretty well, with twelve right. I missed on Fan Artist, Dramatic Presentation—Short Form, Editor-Long, Editor-Short, and Short Story. With the exception of Artist, where I knew nothing and just followed GRRM (damn you George RR Martin!) my misses all came from my mistaking the 2400 new voters (and many of the older ones). I saw things through my eyes, so I pictured Pups, Anti-pups, and Fandom-Defenders. These groups all have clear philosophies. The members wouldn’t be dwelling on what others did but rather vote motivated by their own philosophy. Pups would vote for pups, going for the most obnoxiously pure. And they did. Anti-pups, realizing the Hugos were a sham this year, and there was nothing to celebrate, would vote as much as possible to forget this year so we could move on to the next without the taint. I’m one of those folks. And Fandom Defenders would come to celebrate fandom, voting for all equally, though perhaps holding a grudge against a few of the most egregious pup nominations. That’s the Martin/Scalzi approach.

I forget people aren’t like that. They don’t all function with a philosophy. That’s probably for the best as philosophies make people dangerous (watch Videodrome). A majority of the fans fit in between my Anti-Pups and Fandom Defenders. They were “What the Hell! Those guys are dicks!” voters. They came to celebrate fandom, but also, to point at the dicks, and then give them the finger—just as those dicks, the puppies, had been giving fandom for the past three years. They came to the party, laughing and dancing and having fun, saw the party-asshole, sprouting his politics and claiming he was the victim, and yelling it loud enough to be heard over the music, and they said, “Screw that guy.”

I dwell on how the pups cheated, on their racism, on the politics they brought in, on their anti-intellectual attitude, and on the low quality of the works they championed. I think about what this means, how it negates honors. I separate their offenses into parts and look at where those came from, how they developed, and what their attacks really mean.

Fandom said, “Dude, you are way over-thinking this. Those guys are dicks!”  And…well…I think Fandom pretty much nailed it.

So, if it was a puppy, Fandom rejected it. They celebrated everyone who got on the ballot fairly (even those in categories where they ended up with zero competition) but didn’t get near any pup nominee. They threw the party-asshole out the door and went back to dancing. This works out better than my way of doing things. I might be more consistent, but there is nowhere to go with mine, and not much fun. Fandom booted the pups, put on blinders to ignore the wreckage, and had fun.

No doubt there were plenty who read all the nominations and considered all equally. I read them all, and without a shred of philosophy or politics, would have placed “No Award” in every place it was given based purely on the poor storytelling and minimal craftsmanship. No one can honestly claim those were award-worthy works. But looking over all the results (Orphan Black winning is telling), it’s clear the “Those guys are dicks!” vote ruled.

I should have seen that coming. It’s happened before. Years back Scientologists tried to get L. Ron Hubbard a Hugo, and like the pups, they dicked their way to a nomination for him. He lost. A lot. He wasn’t rejected for his politics, but for being a dick. Fandom saw it as a dick move, and reacted. They voted “Those guys are dicks!” and Hubbard ended up at the bottom. And that was just one nomination they were dicking in. In that case, Fandom was allowed to hiss, and it did. So when a new group came prancing in, yelling about politics this and victimization that, and then tried to play the system, Fandom again saw that some people were again acting like dicks, and they said it, with votes.

So what does the Hugo vote, with its rejection of the dicks…I mean pups, mean?

It means the party can go on. Fandom will consider the winners valid even when they had no competition (something that was hard for me to buy, but I bow to the greater wisdom of the Fandom party goers). The Hugos will continue to hold meaning—continue to be an honor. And everyone will laugh that in a year when the pups tried to eradicate East Asians from the ballot, two of the biggest awards went to Asians (one actually from Asia). We’ll celebrate that.  Hell, we’ll celebrate everything cool, or kinda cool, or just OK, as long as it was done without being a dick.

Not that all is blue skies. The pups didn’t go away and aren’t going anywhere. They’re doubling down. They started even before the results were read. The live social media thread that accompanied the video stream was filled with insults, raciest comments, sexist comments, and general bottom-feeder rhetoric.

Vox Day is calling for the complete destruction of the Hugos next year. Tom Kratman is yelping that anyone who doesn’t live in his warm damp space is an “idiot” and the Hugos will die. John C Wright has decided this is a good time to publically proclaim that a number of people who do not share his politics are “Christ haters.” If he is, as he claims, defending his wife from rudeness, I’ll give him some sway, but he seems far more interested in making grand and offensive religious statements than actually defending her. Sarah Hoyt is going on about conspiracies and still, somehow claiming that it is a small clique that is ruling all and opposing them—she failed to notice the small clique included just about everyone in Fandom but her little echo chamber mob. Brad Torgersen is whining that this proves his point that his type aren’t welcome in Fandom. He, of course, can’t see that what was not welcome was him being a dick.

Right wing websites with no connection to science fiction are getting involved. The Federalist says, “The utter destruction of the Hugo award is a warning not just to nerds but to Western civilization that social justice cannot be tolerated.”  Which…wow. How many things can be wrong in a single sentence?

Over in Larry Correia land, his followers are proclaiming the end of days (well, if the days are the Hugo), but also that “I don’t buy books by SJW’s.” This from people complaining that their work was judged by who wrote it. Everything is in pseudo-military lingo, with them arming up to fight.

So this isn’t going away.  But groups like this, of people that feel victimized even though they are on top, of people that can gather together—now online—and echo back and forth their misconceptions, having them grow each time until we end up with wild paranoia (Brad claiming that Marxists will take him away in chains to gulags… yes, he said that), groups like this don’t fade easily. Gamergate is still strong. The KKK still has marches. (And no, the KKK and the pups are not the same–but they both sprout from the feeling that they are victims because others want equality.) The pups might be a little hate group, insignificant, but that doesn’t mean they will die. They may grow, particularly with influx from Gamergaters (I’ve seen a lot of twitter camaraderie from the two groups in the last few days). If we keep the light on the pups, I think their growth will be slowed. Mold, and hate, grow best in the dark.

They’ll keep yelling. Someone may be seriously hurt in real life—or maybe not. I’ve seen and heard of enough threats from the pups that I think that is a possibility, but it will not be a trend. There may be a few more doxing/swatting-like actions from the pups but it will be minimal. This is more an online trolling group. Come next year, there will be some kind of repeat. The Sad Pups will likely play it differently. Their in-house rhetoric has become more crazed, more paranoid, more vicious, but they’ll try and put up a more comfortable front: A female leader, the slate presented much less slate-like. Perhaps in pieces, or over multiple episodes of a podcast as one pup suggested.  Vox Day will do what he always does. Why would he change? And they will probably get some nominations in. Not as many, but some. Fandom will still see it as a dick move, and reject them in the end.

I hope there will be no counter-puppy party. The pups still believe (because…well, sometimes I just have to say they are nuts) that there is a small, evil, “SJW” clique that they are fighting against. Never has been. But, one could rise up now, in response to the pups. I don’t think so, but it could happen.

A few non-puppy conservative writers are bound to get a bit of a boost, as they’ll get a “Oh, man, so you aren’t being a dick” vote.

The pups, as it turns out, are a very small group. A fringe group of reactionaries. So says the numbers. This is no civil war. Just a nasty little group who think they are picked on if everyone doesn’t praise them. But Fandom is large and diverse. Progressive SF and military SF are small pieces. Paranormal romance could gobble everything if anyone in it decided it was worth the effort. Likewise Young Adult SF.

People will say racist things. People will say sexist things. People will call each other names and so many will claim they are the victims.  But in the end, the “Don’t act like a Dick” rule is the one the won out and will win out. Culture will progress, and regress from time to time. But for Fandom, the awards as given, and not given, the other night were a very good sign.

Just, you know, don’t be a dick.