Well, this is certainly interesting.
If you’ve been involved at all in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world for the last few years, you’ve more than likely heard of the Hugo Awards, Worldcons infamous “Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy” award that’s been of more and more dubious quality over the last decade-plus. Which culminated in a social movement to try and wake it up that in turn saw the event show its true colors, with everything from mockery and public bullying (let us hand these “assterisk awards” to authors we don’t like) to witch hunts, statements about the ‘lower economic classes’ not being welcome, and even just plain reality distortion (‘A white male said this therefore—’ ‘That’s a woman, and they’re not white—’ ‘They’re male now, down with the patriarchy!’).
And faced with that and cries of “Go make your own Sci-Fi/Fantasy awards!” people did just that and left the Hugo Awards en mass. If, well, you can count what few numbers the Hugos managed to garner a “mass.” But they left. New awards rose up, and the insulars left running the Hugos and paying them any attention then, naturally, gnashed their teeth and threw little tantrums that how dare anyone try and compete with their legendary Hugos (crud, one such individual even has admitted publicly to trying to skew other awards, just because they can).
Anyway, point being, what I guessed would happen a few years ago (The Ent March) seems to have happened. The public was woken up by the Hugos antics. And guess what? They left. The Hugo Awards are down at low, low voting numbers once again while other awards that aren’t as staffed by the socially virulent are picking up the slack.
Which leads us to today, and what’s happened to Worldcon and the Hugos now that they got exactly what they wanted: Their own exclusive, tiny clique with no outside interference. Where they’re free of all the social injustices and “bigotries” of non-trufans. They got what they wanted.
Problem is … they can’t handle that.
See, they’ve made a name and a little kingdom for themselves by being perpetually outraged and angry. Someone is at fault for something, and must learn the truth by the wrath of the social internet justice mob. Well, the rest of the world has learned and just stepped away. And Worldcon, predictably, has done pretty much exactly what a lot of people warned it would do once they were left to run their own little fiefdom.
That’s right. They’ve all turned on one another. It started with subtle slights, then moved to witch-hunts against one another … and now it’s looking to become a bloodbath.
I heard about this the other night, and then read about it here (a link which has the distinction of being from one of the people inside the in-crowd for the Hugos), but here’s the jist of it.
So the Hugos and Worldcon are ‘the inclusive place’ now, catering to any gender-term or socially acceptable minority group. Except when your whole group is built out of folks who make a daily witch-hunt out of finding tiny “offenses” to pick at, and these terms and whatnot change daily, sparks were bound to become open flames. So, Worldcon made the “mistake” of not referring to a guest of theirs by their chosen gender-moniker term (the term in question, by the way, is apparently on of the 72 or 136 or whatever “terms” out there now that are totally real words people use) on their bio.
Of course, rather than contact the Worldcon board and request a change like any sane or mature individual would do. This is the outrage crowd. So, they went public, lambasting the Wordcon board on Twitter and whipping up an immediate internet mob.
It was the only spark the remaining Hugo folks needed. Blood was in the water, and with the Hugo Awards entirely their own, the hungry sharks went into a frenzy. Other cries and accusations of bigotry began to spring up. There were too many white people on panels. Too few “persons-of-color” on panels. Too many of one gender or another. Too many unknown, new folks on panels with no actual proof of talent or ability, placed there only by virtue of their ethnic heritage. Panels on obscure, strange social justice topics that even the sharks couldn’t define, but could potentially be offensive. Cries of racism, bigorty, triggered folks, and more rent the air.
And then it got worse. Worldcon, with no idea how to respond to things, apparently panicked. An e-mail was sent out with a proper “dress code” for folks coming to the Hugo Awards and voting that was immediately torn to shreds, with the Worldcon members themselves disagreeing on it. Some folks reported being listed for panels one day, then removed the next without warning, Only to be put back, and then be removed again because of their “social standing” or other such nonsense. Of nominations being pressured into withdrawing their chance at an award based on their social class, standing, gender, etc.
Which led to the most recent development: The burning. With Worldcon members stepping down (or even resigning) in the faces of sudden witch hunts, new folks are stepping up to try and rein in the nightmarish beast the con has become, and their first solution? Burn it all and rebuild it. With three weeks left to go, Worldcon has axed it’s entire schedule. All of it, programming, panels, etc, are now gone. Now they’re attempting to build a new schedule that satisfies the mobs’ cries for blood and representation of whatever inane thing they’re screaming about each hour.
Am I mocking this? Yes. And enjoying it a little. Because everyone with half a brain knew this was coming. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. And when that kingdom is formed of folks who’ve made their entire livelihood off of splitting groups to take control of the pieces? It’s a feeding frenzy of cannibalistic ideals eating its own.
Will it die this year? Probably not. But judging by the current fires being thrown around by the insulars at other insulars, this Worldcon’s numbers are either going to see a sharp drop from newly offended folks who are backing out, or will see a large number of new cracks form as they all “come together” to put on a good front for the actual award while carefully fingering knives behind one anothers’ backs, eyes darting across the aisle to that one individual that offended them and must be removed for the Hugos to stay “inclusive.”
Actually, my favorite bit so far is the comments I’ve seen on the places that are heavily crowded with the insular crowd suggesting that this is a “stealth op” by the Sad Puppies to discredit folks and trick them into turning on one another. You know, because apparently these folks are more willing to believe that the old Puppies would stealth-hijack someone’s account and go on the attack, an attack that then would not be immediately outed by the one whose account was taken, to bring down what’s left of the Hugos than they are willing to believe that their own vitriolic crowd would turn on itself.
It’s not. It’s a beautiful bit of paranoia and denial, though. The truth is that the Puppies really don’t care anymore. Like the rest of the world, they’ve moved on from the the Hugos. There are plenty of other places to find great Sci-Fi and Fantasy works to read and win awards. The most die-hard of the Puppies may be following it in a mix of fascination and satisfaction (this is, after all, pretty much what they predicted would happen), the rest of the world? They’re shrugging and moving on. It’s watching an old, decrepit, wooden ship struggle to stay afloat in a world where mile-long cargo ships roll by.
But those standing on the decks of passing ships will certainly watch. Crud, knowing Sci-Fi and Fantasy fans, they’ll probably even extend a helping hand to pluck some folks out of the water … provided those folks weren’t the ones spotting lighting matches against the tinder piled around the mast.
Guess I’ll check back in a year and see how many lifeboats there are.