Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Whiteness of Science-Fiction: Can You Please Help Me Understand the 'Sad Puppy' Hugo Awards Controversy?

We have a smart and diverse readership here at WARN.

Perhaps, some of them could help me understand the "controversy" about this year's Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy.

[Here are some helpful readings on the "Sad Puppies" imbroglio.]

The final slate has been announced here.

I respect the awards and their history--both for the good and despite the bad. But, I am not super plugged into the various politicking that goes on around the awards. Nor, am I one of the obsessives in science fiction fandom.

Politics is popular culture; popular culture is politics. Popular culture, broadly defined, is one of the primary spaces where a society's values and norms are reproduced, taught, internalized, and on occasion subverted and challenged.

As such, the "sad puppies" Hugo debacle and their cousin in "GamerGate", can be understood to reflect a type of Right-wing reactionary white male victimology that is unfortunately all too common in post civil rights era neoliberal America.

The election of Barack Obama and the United States' changing demographics (a change that I suggest is much exaggerated in its consequences for a "new" America as Whiteness always expands to include new members and to maintain its dominant position) has driven them to new levels of delusional aggrieved white victimologist madness.

Is the Hugo controversy simply an extension of a broader Right-wing reactionary politics?

And is the Hugo "Sad Puppies" and "GamerGate" mess any different from the American Right-wing's complaints about "multiculturalism", "feminism", and "diversity " during the 1970s and 1980s Culture War(s)?

Do enlighten me if you would.


grumpyrumblings said...

That sounds about right. Reminiscent of Wayne La Pierre's recent comments about Hilary Clinton.

buddy said...

I think you're right about it being an extension of their broader politics. Plus some color-blind racism from people who would never see themselves that way.

For fun I read the screenrant comments. When it was announced a "person of color" would be playing Aquaman, there were a few hurt comments; people saying "wouldn't he be better playing a villain?"

DanF said...

No - You got it right Chauncey. Just as America is no longer the demographically and culturally the 1950's, Sci-Fi isn't what it was in the 1960's. If their efforts to get what is now considered shitty Sci-Fi (space guns and guys banging space chicks) a Hugo Award, it will only diminish the value of the Hugo Award. I'm not as avid a reader of Sci-Fi as I used to be, but I still look for the Hugo winners to read when the mood strikes me. That won't happen if this continues. The Sad-Puppies just want Sci-Fi to be something the marketplace no longer wants it to be and it pisses them off. So they're trying to take over what they believe to be one of the cultural rudders in their world to steer the ship in a different direction. Sadly for them it's not a rudder, but more like a sail, so it is more effective when the wind is blowing in the same direction you are headed. Sure, you can go against the wind, but it takes considerable more tact (Terrible pun. I couldn't resist.) than the right-wing has.

joe manning said...

Righties want expand their hate to the final frontier.

Gable1111 said...

To boldly bring hate where no one has hated before...swooooosh!!,

joe manning said...

Makin Darth Vader proud!

lkeke35 said...

Oh and you also have to add the long simmering element of Soft SciFi vs Hard SciFi. Sometimes referred to as SciFi written by women about social issues and cultures vs SciFi written by men about technology, extrapolated from the present.

TenarDarell said...

That's right. I forgot that there's been an undercurrent of this since "waaay" back in the 60's But I believe the breakthrough of crossover vampire/supernatural romance must seem the most offensive to these specific Puppies. The "Sad" ones would not be foolish enough to attack someone like Le Guin directly, she's way too established and beloved now. Catherine Asaro, or Charlaine Harris, or Patricia Briggs, who are popular but write what could be considered popular science fiction romance or supernatural romance, perhaps not. How dare they broaden (pun intended) the appeal of F&SF! They forget/ignore that even Heinlein and Asimov wrote stories and novels about families, friendships, sex and love). It's the great combination of the diversity of writers now openly writing incredible genre fiction utilizing "all the human stories" to make better alien stories, who also openly state what they are doing which activated this new era of backlash.

Somewhere I read a study that even a small minority of women involved in a field will be perceived as either parity or a majority. I wonder if that's something that's going on here? A combo of misperceptions?

Buddy said...

New Hugo Award categories for sad puppies: