You would think I would know better than to ask a small, insular, cliquish community “seriously, can you get any dumber?” You would think that, after a year of relentless attacks against my family and friends, I would know simply not to wonder how far these people will stoop. I need to quit being surprised. I need to quit being so calm about this.
Yesterday over at the Otherwhere Gazette, Pat Richardson penned a very insightful piece called “Not a Real Fan“. In the piece he details that though he has read more science fiction books than I even recognized (some of the series he mentioned I had no clue what they were) and he goes on to explain that why a large part of the Hugo and Worldcon community would consider him not a “real” fan because of one little reason — he doesn’t attend conventions.
Then the lovely folks over at File 770 chimed in and said “Nope, you’re not a real fan. We are the REAL fans because we go to conventions.” Granted, this could have been all veiled as snark, and (I’ll give File 770 a shred of reasonable doubt here) it may have just been intended as such. But reading the piece written by File 770 set the wrong tone. If it was supposed to be a humorous juxtaposition then yeah, it actually agreed with what Pat wrote in his piece (to a degree). The comments (as usual, since commentary is where we cast the cesspool of humanity), though, creates this horrible disconnect between what Pat wrote and how File 770 responded.
Somewhere in the commentary, it became the usual “Us vs. Them” fight. The continued insistence by some commentators that the Hugo’s “[…] are the awards that the self-selected members of the World Science Fiction Society decide to bestow because the members like them collectively.”
Am I a member of the WSFS?
Nope. (Correction: apparently I am a member due to my payment for Worldcon supporting membership. My mistake.)
Am I voting in the Hugos? Yep.
That some weird sh*t right there. But I digress…
The obvious disconnect here is between what Pat said and how some people interpreted it. Pat was pointing out that he feels ostracized by a small, select group of people within the Worldcon community. A few commentators immediately went on the attack and pretty much brought up Sad Puppies 3. More people jumped in, and this is pretty much the State of Science Fiction right now.
Of course, the commentary railing against Pat’s piece immediately reminds me of the article I wrote a long time ago (2013 was a long time ago for me, okay?) about how strange fandom has become. I begged for people to be more inclusive and also told them to not worry about what the others though of your “not canon” cosplay. Unfortunately, the commentary at File 770 tells me that fandom still has a lot of growing up to do.
Look, I know that people who go to every single con, filk their hearts out, and are always “in character” want to keep their “fan zone” safe from the people who mocked them when they were younger (i.e., assholes). And for a long, long time they managed to do this. But SF is mainstream now, is acceptable, and is cool. Comics are all the rage. Alien movies are the norm. I mean, hardly anyone batted an eye when they made the LotR movie trilogy, and nobody was surprised when it became one of the biggest blockbuster trilogies of all time. These things always bring in new fans, and this terrifies those who have developed the conventions as their own “safe” zones. They create new barriers and new walls to keep their precious safe, but those nasty hobbitses keep pushing.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what all this caterwauling sounds like to me. A bunch of Gollum’s trying to keep the precious safe.
You can’t say that you are a fan and then tell others that they can’t. You can’t call voting in an award “prestigious” when it’s a popularity contest (nobody gives a damn about the Kid’s Choice Awards… an Oscar, on the other hand…). You can’t say that you are inclusive when you exclude the very people who are going to be the ones keeping SF&F alive for the next 60 years when we’re all dead and forgotten. You are setting a bad precedent here, and the very people you are excluding now are going to be very vocal soon.
It’s like a pendulum: the further one direction it is pushed, the harder the back swing will be.