In case you missed it, yesterday had yet another — yes, another — blow up in the sf/f community. This time it revolved around the choice of a host for the Hugo presentation at LonCon. Since I wasn’t going to be at LonCon, I really didn’t pay much attention other that to wonder why this particular presenter was chosen. To the best of my knowledge, Jonathan Ross had no “creds” that would make him attractive as a host for the presentation ceremony other than being a British TV personality. I was wrong, as I found out later. He has written in the genre, was a TV/film critic who apparently had a soft spot for the genre and his wife is an award-winning author in the genre. So, yeah, he could be a good fit.
But no. Oh the hue and cry went up quickly that he was “evil”. Bad enough that the con chairs had chosen yet another white male to host the awards ceremony. But they chose one known for his edgy humor. He was an awful man who made fun of women and blind folks and and and. . . .
Funny thing is, when I started really paying attention to those attacking Ross and the con chairs for the choice, most of them appeared to be the dainty writers, male and female, form the US. The Brits were pretty much, “Okay. Move along.” The underlying opinion by those who weren’t up in arms about Ross seemed to be that he’d behave if asked.
But what got to me was how folks started taking about how they were really glad they hand’t planned on going to LonCon because now they’d have to rethink their decision because such a horrid man was going to be part of it. Someone commented that they knew of an author who wouldn’t be going because she was afraid of what he might say because she’d heard he’d once made fun of someone like her.
What really brought this home to me was an email exchange I had with several authors I respect a great deal last night. Apparently US authors and a segment of fandom are so precious and delicate that the mere presence of an author — usually male — at a con can keep them from going because he “might” say something “inappropriate”. I’m sorry, but really? Are we that fragile that the mere possibility that someone might say something you don’t like can keep you from attending a con or other activity?
I’m not going to say much about the process that went on to first name Ross as the presenter at LonCon nor am I going to say much about the fact he withdrew after the proverbial shit hit the fan. Yes, the con chairs did drop the ball in how they handled it but so did those who reacted so vehemently without getting all the facts. Each and every one of those on both sides of the controversy would do well to read Kris Rusch’s posts on the do’s and don’ts of social media.
One of the best responses to what happened, in my opinion, came from a Facebook comment. This particular commenter said that writers “flounce” and they do it in every way possible. According to the commenter, Ross-gate (as it is now called by some) is just the flouncers’ latest opportunity to flounce.
So, yes, I had visions of a lot writers — both male and female — dressed in their Southern Belle outfits, complete with hoop skirts and fans, having a collective attack of the vapors at the news that Jonathan Ross might be at that darlin’ LonCon. Of course, we all know that when a Southern Belle swoons, it is to gain attention. Which brings me to the commenters’ next statement. These “vapors” can be boiled down to the belle (or writer in this case) crying out, “Me, what about me? Look at me! It’s me! Yes, me! It’s me! Me over here! Don’t forget me! I’m here. Me. Yoo-hoo, it’s me!”
Was Ross a good choice? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m tired of these public temper tantrums with the name calling and the “I will never go to a con where he (insert the name of a conservative white male author or supposedly controversial comic) will be.” Should we approve of bullying? No. Should we approve or prejudicial behavior? Hell no. But isn’t that exactly what was happening here? Weren’t those condemning Ross — and the con chairs for extending the invitation to him — basing their responses on 1) comments he’d made AS A COMIC and without knowing if the con chairs had given him any sort of guidance on what he should say? and 2) their own prejudices because they wanted a woman or a person of color or a non-binary gender person (did I say that right?) being the presenter instead of “yet another white guy”?
I wish this entire thing had not played out in public the way it did. It should have been done behind the scenes because, guess what, this sort of public cannibalism is why so many people have such a low opinion of the genre and of SFWA and related organizations. But then, handling things in-house isn’t something SFWA and the GHHers are known for. So why should I expect it from the LonCon membership either?
Sigh. I’m really ready for the adults to take over.