Finally, after weeks of hearing about this Puppy business, I decided it was probably time to inform myself. To the internet!
And, as with Gamergate, Puppygate has left me baffled. I think online politicking is clearly destined to go waaaaaay over my head.
Okay, let me try to put down what I think this furore is about.
There are these two literary organizations. For some bizarre reason, they are called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. Though they have no clear affiliation to dogs of any kind.
These two parties, um, put forward candidates for the Hugo awards? Something about ‘slates’.
As far as I can work out, there are fourteen Hugo categories; best novel, best novella, best semi professional magazine, etc. Sci-fi/Fantasy peeps create shortlists of five candidates and then more important and knowledgeable peeps select the winners each year at the annual Hugo’s shindig.
The Puppies Institute has/had considerable clout when they put forward their selected candidates. Because of their influence, most of their candidates end up on the shortlists, as opposed to the non-Puppy (Kittens? Geckos? Wallabies?) candidates.
Kay. Think I’m on top of this thus far.
The Problem Of The Puppies is that the canine clan aren’t very nice. Apparently. Or at least the Head Pups aren’t.
It probably has not escaped the notice of anyone remotely affiliated or interested in the literary scene that women writers are not furnished with awards to the same degree as their male counterparts. It is of particular interest that a woman writing about women is sure to garner the lit world’s scorn.
“Sigh… She’s talking about feelings again. Better retreat to fiction about dissolute men in bars who revel in their detachment from emotion. And cigarettes. We need those.”
But occasionally, a female writer, a black writer, a black female writer (God forbid), will win an award. They might even get a Hugo or two.
This is not acceptable to the Puppies. When fiction about gay characters, or non-white characters, or gay non-white characters (okay, I’ll stop) wins any kind of validation, it is not because it is worthy of an award. No, it’s simply a matter of “box-checking” political correctness.
Not the SJWS!
Side note: why would anyone not want to be a Social Justice Warrior? It sounds like it comes with superpowers and a cape. Social Justice is a good thing, right? Right? *voice echoes off into the distance*
The Puppies are about pulp. They are explicitly anti-literary, all about the straight-forward, plot-driven, conventional sci-fi/fantasy. Think Conan the Barbarian, I guess. I like pulp too. I have read more than my fair share of the stuff, to be honest. It’s like dining hall food. Predictable, usually edible, rarely surprising except when you find non-food items in your spag bol and damage your teeth.
It would be a bit sad if pulp were to consistently win awards. Not because it is terrible; it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s like giving a Michelin Star to your Ouma’s macaroni.
And pulp is old-fashioned, which means, unsurprisingly, that is it extensively influenced by old-world patriarchal and racially discriminatory tropes. #notallpulp. If I have failed to convey my misgivings about the Puppy Empire, allow me to briefly draw attention to this one thing I read during my research.
Irene Gallo, art director for Tor, said some not very nice things about the Puppies on her private Facebook page. She included the words “neo-nazis” and “unrepentantly racist, misogynistic and homophobic”. Get the impression she is not a fan.
This spawned a small explosion of blog posts from both camps. But in the comments section of a particularly long article (that I now cannot find, bad journalist), the author of the article insisted something to the effect of “I don’t care about women as much as I care about womanhood.”
So, if I have this straight, the construction of femininity as posited by the patriarchal system is of greater importance to you than individual women’s rights, opinions, humanity, etc. Correct?
Look, you might be a fancy author person, but you aren’t succeeding in wooing me right now.
I am not the most informed on this topic and as a left-leaning intersectional feminist, I’m certainly going to be somewhat biased. On the other hand, Chuck Wending is on the same side, so I must be right.
And now I leave you with this video that I found in a Cracked article by David Wong, which sums demonstrates a similar kind of attitude to that shown by the Puppies.
This thing got 2 million views. Think about that and fear for humanity.