Sad Puppies: An Open Letter to Sci-Fi’s White Male Supremacists
Congratulations, trolls. It took you years and years of being some of the most despicable people this side of a baby cannibal rally to do it, but the deed is finally done. You’ve managed to ruin some of my favorite things. You’ve ruined video games, the Internet, fedoras, and in one fell swoop you’ve ruined both science fiction and puppies. Yes, don’t try to deny it. You ruined puppies for everyone. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.
So, in case you didn’t hear, this year’s Hugo Awards (awards given for excellence in science fiction and fantasy) garnered slightly more headlines than usual. This began when a group of trolls got together and decided that this was where they would make the final stand for the ever-waning influence of the poor persecuted straight white man. Out of fear of “witch hunts” and “being silenced” they compiled a list, singled people out, and shouted down anyone who disagreed with them. Thus the Sad Puppies were born, fighting to ensure that the Hugos did not become an “affirmative action award.” After all, it’s obvious that white men in sci-fi and fantasy have just been marginalized to almost nothing in recent years.
This may come as a shock to some of you pups, but science fiction has generally been a place where diversity is celebrated. Granted, it hasn’t always been celebrated well. In fact, there are examples where diversity is a source of horror. But by and large science fiction is a genre that is amazing for telling the story of a persecuted minority.
So what’s the deal, sad pupper dogs? Let’s real talk here, why are you so mad? Is it because after years of growing up thinking you were the rebel alliance it turns out you’re the empire? It’s just weird that nobody really had a problem until you guys showed up. And yet your very presence has caused numerous authors and creators to encourage people to vote “no award” just so there was no chance they would be associated with you. Even George R.R. Martin, whose stock character is “stoic white dude with a beard” (and incidentally, who is one of my favorite authors) thinks you’re wrong. There’s got to be something else at work here.
See, I’m no expert, but I know a thing or two about science fiction and fantasy. I’ve been knee deep in this since I was born. My Dad read me The Hobbit as I went to sleep. I saw the entire Star Wars trilogy when I was five years old (before the “special edition” threw in all that extra CG junk). I read all of Frank Herbert’s Dune before I graduated high school. At no point, even when reading the most eurocentric, white-straight-dude-saves-the-universe books did I ever get the impression that this was supposed to be a white-man-only genre. In fact, I always got the impression that sci-fi was almost built for putting yourself in someone else’s perspective.
Seriously, just because you perceived some kind of threat to your already established dominance, you guys threw a great big fit and nobody won. For fear of being silenced in a community where guys like you have almost always been at the helm, you shouted down five categories of awards, which is the most to happen in a single year. Just because you showed up and made a scene, five worthy pieces of art were denied recognition because nobody wants to be associated with you.
This isn’t the first controversy the Hugos have faced (in 1983 the church of Scientology unsuccessfully tried to stuff the ballot to guarantee Battlefield Earth the award for best novel), but it’s the first time race and/or gender was involved. It’s like the science fiction community is in some kind of bizarro universe where social progress goes backwards. Thanks to these trolls, the NFL is officially more accepting of minority groups than sci-fi nerds. And all that’s been accomplished by all this is five categories getting shoved off the ballot.
Remember when nerds like us were picked on and bullied? When every depiction of us was as musty basement dwellers who couldn’t function without a controller or monster manual in our hands? Hell, one of the earliest pieces of nerd-positive media still depicted nerds as sexually dysfunctional rapists. Now we’ve basically managed to get an ironclad grip on most of pop culture and you want to…what exactly? Prove those stereotypes correct or even worse by throwing racism into the mix? Or did all those years of being the butt of so many jokes leave you with a victim complex? Maybe you’re all just so shocked to be in the spotlight for once that you refuse to even acknowledge the idea that someone else might deserve it.
My overall point is, none of this was an issue until you guys made it one. Despite you guys complaining about “witch hunts,” you were the only ones trying to single people out and exclude them. If there’s no racial or gender motivations behind this, why don’t you think your picks for the Hugos could have won on their own merits? And that’s ignoring the fact that even if you sad-puppy guys were right about this, it’s still the most asinine bullshit to complain about. (Oh no! Not enough white men are winning awards for their obscure sci-fi novels! PC culture has gone too far!) So next time, before you start barking about how you’re being persecuted by the affirmative action police, maybe stop and think about who’s doing the excluding and who’s raising the racial issues. It just doesn’t make sense to claim you’re being silenced when the only voice you want to be heard is your own.
Jessy Nations writes cheesy sci-fi and spends too much time on the internet. You can tell him how wrong he is about things in the comments section.