It’s not every day that you wake up to find that the asshole brigade on the internet has been utterly humiliated beyond all expectations, but that appears to be what we have today. Last night, the voters of the Hugo Awards utterly rejected the attempts by a conservative reactionary mob led by one of the single most influential racist, misogynistic assholes on the internet to game the nominating process of their awards, opting instead to give the awards to nobody rather than their handpicked slate. In doing so, the Hugos maintained what integrity they could, and also proved what people like me have been saying about similar controversies like #GamerGate – they claim to speak for a silent majority, when in fact they speak for a loud minority – albeit a loud minority who leverages outrage to mobilize better than any other group.
Tons of good coverage of this, including at Wired, Yes! NPR and BoingBoing (and GRRM has been covering it closely since it all started). Short summary is that earlier this year, two groups of people (the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies) figured out they could game the nominating process for the Hugo Awards, long considered one of the most prestigious awards in speculative fiction, in order to fight against what they percieve as the scourge of ‘SJW’-themed novels that have continued to win of late. They succeeded in the nomination process, but in the final ballot, voters blew their slates out of the water with an unprecedented five ‘no awards’ in these categories. This is an institutional repudiation on par to the mocking that #Gamergate took at GDC’s awards dinner this year.
Over at KotakuInAction (which is really more about anti-SJW hysteria than games at this point), they’re trying weakly to spin it into a positive, or alternatlvely trying to find a way to be outraged about the utter collapse of the anti-SJW effort. Million_dollar Bus Aficionado Mark Kern compared the results to book burning, Ian Miles Cheong nonsensically claimed the results ‘prove’ that the awards were rigged and Milo Yiannopoulos tried to blame the ‘SJWs’ on tearing down the awards rather than, you know, the assholes who tore down the awards. This is a weak sauce argument – the ‘No Award’ vote totals clearly included not just far lefties but moderates as well, which suggests that many people were offended and opposed to the naked attempt to manipulate via brigading one of the most storied awards in Sci-Fi. It was appalling enough that even some of the authors who were nominated by the Puppies to back out rather than be associated with the effort and even the ones who didn’t rejected the tactics.
All of these #gamerGate diehards, by the way, seem utterly unconcerned that the founders of the Puppies movements were enthusiastically pushing their friends, or that Vox Day gamed the rules in order to push himself and his magazine’s contributors to the top of the nominations. Apparently, ethics are only important when SJWs are involved.
All this being said, this is not as rosy as it appears, as legitimately good art was forced off the ballot by the Sad Puppies brigading, or felt compelled to reject their nominations to distance themselves from Vox Day. The Hugos have a real problem to solve in figuring out how to keep this from happening next year. Looking forward, here’s a proposal for improving the voting process, so it can’t be gamed again next year.