Tag: Hugos

Love the Art, Hate the Artist?

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Picture the scene; it’s 1998, your esteemed narrator still has the fresh glow of youth, long hair and the body of a Greek god (one of the above is untrue), and at the time is at a music venue in Wolverhampton with a friend who ran their marketing dept. There’s a band playing on stage, loud, not too heavy, touching lightly on melodic. They were quite good. Afterwards I was at the bar when the singer came up to it. I tried to speak to him. It was approaching 20 years ago and I still have yet to meet another person with the ego and sense of self entitlement which exceeded this knob-end of biblical proportions. All I wanted to do was say I liked his work and have a quick chat about influences, he didn’t even bother to say anything after it became apparent I wasn’t there to sign him and just walked off. “What are they called again?” i asked my friend later. “Coldplay, I think,” she said. I sniffed. “Shit name.”

And I stand by that, but that’s not my point. Since then they’ve achieved some modest success, and douche-singer married some lady with a fruit fixation, and if I’m quite honest I like the sound of some of their songs. Some of them I like quite a lot. Would I ever purposeful listen to them? Hell no, because they’re a bunch of egotistical dicks (backed up by said friend – so’s Craig David in case you were wondering (the venue staff were specifically instructed ‘not to look Craig in the eye’)), and there’s plenty of great music out there that I don’t think I need to make the effort and separate the art of the artist.

Coldplay, yesterday... I swear this wasn't me

Coldplay, yesterday… I swear this wasn’t me

This is something which has been popping up again and again recently. If you’re part of the sci fi and fantasy publishing community you would have almost certainly seen it brought up in the 2015 Hugo awards and the whole sad puppy debacle, or more recently with replacing the bust of HP Lovecraft as the statue for the World Fantasy Award. “Love the art, not the artist.” Well, I can’t, and to my ears it sounds like a last ditch attempt at defending a) the artists’ repugnance, and b) the tacit sign the defender harbours some agreement with what makes them repugnant.

I’m thinking more about this now as I move along with my own work. Part of what is selling my work is me (*waves*). In an age where the artist is more than ever responsible for advertising their work, the artist themselves becomes a part of that marketing. Who am I? What do I think? Who do I say would win in a fight between Batman and Superman (answer – whoever sold the tickets). If I strike a chord with the reader they’re more likely to buy into what I’m selling,

But does that mean I need to make myself as a person more likable? Mmh, good question.

I’m sure each person asked would have their own answer, and mine is no, no I do not. For a start I reckon I’m a pretty likable person as is (I even help my elderly neighbour take his rubbish bins out, and I worry that when we move the next people to live here might not), but also having opinions is what makes a person a person, it defines our character. Will I offend some people? Honestly as a writer if I don’t offend someone I think I’m doing something wrong, but most people are emotionally mature enough to know that not sharing an opinion does not mean you write someone off totally. Having opinions gives you something to talk about. Don’t believe me? At the next office party try having a conversation with someone without any.

So, yes, have opinions, pick a side, get off the fence. Do not be afraid. If you take anything from this little rant let it please be that – Do. Not. Be. Afraid.

Michael

Asshats and Mudlfaps

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I like the word asshat. It speaks to my inner 13 year old. And mudflap rhymes, so that’s good enough for me. but this post is mainly about asshats, not mudflaps, and in particular asshats of the depressed doggy variety.

The whole Hugo, sad and rabid puppy thingumy has been written about by many people, most of them more knowledgeable and closer to the subject than me, which was one reason I, fledgling writer that I am, haven’t bothered. But now I do have something to say, so here we go.

Oh, it occurs to me dear reader that you may not know what I’m talking about. Well, you could go google it (go ahead, I’ll wait), but the short of it is some white male authors don’t particularly like non white male authors and have decided to organise block voting to ‘bring back the glory days’ (their words, not mine) of white male authors in sci fi and fantasy. They don’t say that, of course. Evil never advertises it as such. They dress it up with blah di blah di blah. But anyway, that sums it up.

Thing is a lot of people, George RR Martin among them, have said this issue might end up breaking the Hugos, and I really don’t think we have anything to worry about. Thing is, the sadsacks need to work at being racist, misogynistic pricks. While the world turns on and inclusion becomes ever the norm these throws need to actively work at being hateful. They need to go and try and convince enough other people to be hateful with them. And the thing is, while hate often is a lifelong thing, life, as it were, isn’t. There’s a certain amount of die off when it comes to stuff like this. Exhibit A: KKK membership isn’t what it once was.

You only have to look at the rates of female and gay authors in the Hugo honour roll over time to see what happens when things are left to themselves. People begin to enjoy good writing for its own sake, and not give a damn at the colour of the hand holding the pen. Which is great and as it should be.

I actually had a fairly long diatribe mapped out in my head on this subject, but given my point is “Don’t worry, racists die eventually” I really shouldn’t take the piss and go on longer than necessary.

See you later people, and remember what the great ones said: Be excellent to one another.

Michael

The Hugos and the Turning of the Shrew… Into Shits

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I know, two posts in one month.  It must be Christmas.  Or perhaps I’m goaded into writing by the events in SFdom over the past week.

I won’t waste preamble, if you’re here you’re here through the usual SFF channels and I’m sure you’ve heard about the hoohaa around Jonathan Ross and the Hugos.  I don’t need to explain, nor do I have to outline Neil Gaiman’s (among a few others) who have spoken out in Ross’s defence and pointed out the Emperor’s Clothes in the twitterstorm which drew momentum from, in many cases, people who until that point had never even heard of Ross.

The short version; I’m very much in Gaiman’s camp on this.  The long version:  I’m not only disappointed in much of the SFF community over this issue, but disgusted.

Among the comments on the Guardian’s piece about the affair, one reader said:

Judging by the Twitter/Tumblr mob most calm and rational readers would be best to stay at home quietly reading their books and staying well away from getting involved with the ‘fans’.

I wish it were just the fans who acted this way, but some instigators were well known authors, who up until this moment held themselves as part of the moral elite tackling the inherent issues currently within SF.

One writer in particular has lost all my respect and future custom.

What particularly got my ire up was the open letter by Farah Mendlesohn, who was committee member, who wrote:

[Ross] is a man who has made a fortune (6 million a year at one point) from abusing others—particularly women—live on air.

I’ve only seen such ‘come, let us judge this man on his monetary success’ type wording in Chinese communist propaganda, and that’s before the flat out lying claim he’s made all his success on making fun of people.

The irony that some of the same people who have crusaded against what’s wrong in SFF at the moment have turned into what they hunted has not been lost.

Michael