Tragedy struck today when it was announced that mildly controversial comedian and chat show host Jonathan Ross would be hosting and presenting the Hugo Award at Loncon3. In Social Justice circles this news completely eclipsed the impending invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military and was the topic of heated debate amongst feminists and their allies, since Ross has occasionally made jokes about women. The debate has – thus far – culminated in the resignation of Farah Mendlesohn from the convention board and calls for a boycott.
Asked for comment, SF&F blogger Petulianta Clarke offered the following:
“This would have been a great opportunity for us to take a step in overcoming sexist stigma. So many people have this idea that all feminists are po-faced, humourless harridans who will raise hell over complete non-issues at the drop of a steampunk fascinator. Jonathan Ross’ selection as presenter of the award shouldn’t have been that controversial and by letting it slide or limiting ourselves to a few angry blogs we could have made real progress in not seeming like censorious tossers.”
Alas it was not to be with a twitterstorm flaring up and the impending participation of international social justice laughing stocks such as PZ Myers, Freethought Blogs and Skepchick (responsible for similar stereotype reinforcing actions in the atheist blogosphere) the opportunity has slipped through the SF&F community’s fingers and preventing the ‘progressive’ bloc looking like fuckwits now seems impossible.
Comment, of course, has been relatively small but silent eye rolling, blocking on social media and opening a new Google Search tab are all on the rise. Off the back of recent non-controversies relating to the SFWA and controversy exploiting and profiteering videos by Anita Sarkeesian it seems unlikely that self-styled social justice advocates will be able to be taken seriously for the foreseeable future, even when they have valid points.
Virtually unknown author of satirical SF, Elton Whitemale offered this comment on the affair:
“It’s shocking to me that an industry that prides itself on its creativity and which has long been associated with controversy and pushing boundaries has become so timid and so ravaged by self censorship.”
He went on:
“We can imagine dragons and faster than light starships, sweeping alien vistas, but we can’t seem to accept someone might tell jokes that are counter to our personal taste, or admit that we don’t like them without involving politics. Why can’t we be more like the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund? They’ve backed people in trouble over hentai featuring monsters, animals and underage girls. That’s commitment to free expression for chrissakes.”
“What the fuck do I know though? Being melanin deficient and having an XY chromosome disqualifies me from having an opinion, apparently. There’s fucking irony for you.”
He added, downing a glass of whisky.
Jonathan Ross is controversial for stating that he wouldn’t mind having sex with Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008 and for being led astray by notorious junkie and David Icke aficionado Russell Brand.
The whole affair looks set to rumble on pointlessly, making all manner of people look bad and stop talking to each other at least until the next controversy du jour pops up, probably by Monday.
Rumours that Harlan Ellison has had himself buried alive for the sole purpose of spinning in his grave over these events have yet to be confirmed.
Update: Ross has withdrawn from presenting the Hugo due to the outrage. An event summed up very well by Sarah Pinborough as:
“It’s pretty Daily Mail actually. “People worried about being abused, abuse man who hasn’t abused them yet”