The Award of Cruelty
Diversity and social justice issues were creeping into the Hugo Awards, or rather into the cultural artifacts they celebrate, as such issues creep into the culture generally. It happens because people are getting more and more interested in them, more open to them, and caring more about them. This is, by the way, the product of material struggles for recognition and equal rights by people who are marginalised by mainstream culture in the West (i.e. racist, sexist, transphobic, bourgeois-hegemonic culture). It must be stressed that such claims are not only valid on their face but also are represented, in artistic terms, by valuable work that deserves recognition.
The Puppies saw this trend and it infuriated them. Just as they are doubtless infuriated by any such progress, by the increasing volume of the voices they used to be able to talk over and down to with impunity, by the increasing – and increasingly recognised – validity of these voices, not only in themselves but in their abilities. The Hugos are, the Puppies think, their turf, just as the rabble of GamerGate, and the constituency they pander to, imagine that video games are their turf. They took the gradual changes occuring in an institution that has always reflected a seam of progressivism in SF/Fantasy (just as it has always reflected other seams) and blew the phenomenon up out of all proportion. (Seriously, I wish their distorted view of Hugos, and culture generally, were really true, and the voices they hate and fear really were as ascendant as they fantasize them to be.)
They saw this smidge of progress and imagined that it constituted some kind of attack upon their freedom. They imagined it, and believed it, having chosen to imagine and believe it… because it’s amazing how sincerely and passionately people can believe ridiculous things that further their interests, confirm their prejudices and pamper their privileges. They did this because that’s what reactionaries always do. It’s a classic maneuvre when you’re rallying around the defence of established privilege and entrenched power relations (which is what reactionary politics always is, at base): paint yourself as the victim. It’s great camouflage. And they love it too. They love the smell of the victim paint on their bodies, drying on them, crusting and cracking, leaving a trail of victim flakes everywhere they go. Conservatives and reactionaries and fascists and ressentimentalists are as fond of being the victim as the whingeing, entitled, self-pitying minorities that live in their imaginations. (There is probably something psychological to be made of the right-wing love of victimhood, and the way they always portray themselves in much the same terms that they complain about in their confabulated enemies and hate-figures. I remember how, at school, bullies would always howl “But he started it!” and “It wasn’t my fault!” when caught, and then pout self-pityingly at the injustice of being told not to bully.)
But yeah, they interpret the struggles of the marginalised and mocked, their demands for justice, as an attack. Moderate demands. …