Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 7 March 2014

When You Know What’s Good For You

I’m writing this blog because I was asked to.

This doesn’t happen very often. In fact, I’m not at all sure that it’s happened before at all.

I do not belong to any writing bodies, and I don’t ever expect to. I’m not really a joiner-in. Not my thing. I also don’t think of myself as a writer of genre fiction, or a reader of it. I like to write and I like to read, and that’s the bottom line for me.

The HUGOs... Yep, that’s where this is going.

The Hugos are among the more prestigious awards in the SF/F calendar. They are taken seriously. They also sell books. So far, so marvelous. I’m very happy for all those lovely writers who have them, and for all those lovely writers who will receive them in 2014 and forever after.

This year there has been a furore about the Hugos, or, more particularly about the ceremony that is to be held to hand them out.

The World generally isn’t made very aware of the awards ceremony. The Hugo people turn up and the nominees, for the most part, turn up, and the movers and shakers in the world of SF/F writing and publishing turn up, and I’m sure everyone has a wonderful time. I wouldn’t know; as I said, I don’t belong to any writers organisations, and I’ve never been to an awards ceremony for any book gongs, genre or otherwise.

This year, there was a chance that the Hugos might have got some press. People, you and I for example, might think this is a good thing. Press coverage, especially celebrating books and writing has got to be a good thing, right?

The Hugo people had a meeting and decided to invite Jonathan Ross to present the Hugo Awards. Jonathan Ross agreed, and even donated his time for free to the cause. Jonathan Ross is a big fan of SF and of comics and movies. He’s a bit of an advocate. He’s made tv programs about this corner of culture. Good for him.

As I understand it, some of the people present at the meeting weren’t very keen on Mr Ross being invited to take on this particular role, and as I understand it they protested pretty vociferously. I wasn’t there, remember, so I can’t be sure what went on.

We all know what went on afterwards, though, and we could all have predicted it.

In this internet age, in this age of social networking, what goes on inside a room where people disagree, a lot, doesn’t stay within those four walls for very long. Pretty quickly people who had been in that meeting, protesting about the choice of Jonathan Ross to present the Hugos were voicing their opinions outside those four walls all over Twitter, and, I imagine, FaceBook and other networking sites, too. Naturally enough the SF/F world and his or her partner began to join in, and suddenly in no time at all there was a debacle.

Jonathan Ross resigned.

Not everybody likes Mr Ross. Not everybody likes anybody.

I like people to stick to the thing that they’re good at, and, for me, that pretty well means that Jonathan Ross should stick to presenting things and interviewing people and being a chap off the telly who talks a fair bit. I think there are much better comic book writers and he should leave people with that particular talent to get on with that particular job.

Not everybody in the SF/F world, by which I mean women, likes Jonathan Ross, because they consider him to be non-inclusive and misogynistic. There is some evidence for Mr Ross taking cheap shots at women, and some of them have backfired on him pretty spectacularly. One of them actually got him fired from a pretty decent job at the BBC. We all know the man’s track record. The people on the Hugo committee knew it when they invited Mr Ross to present at their awards ceremony. They also knew his track record as a presenter, as a celebrity who would draw in the news media and as a bona fide SF/F enthusiast.

The committee made a choice, and I’m guessing they made a choice under the rules of the committee with a quorum at that meeting.

Now comes the bit where I’m ambivalent.

I’m all for grassroots reactions to things. Without protest, without us all standing up for what we believe in, and without generations of good men and women resorting to some pretty drastic action over the past century the women’s suffrage movement would not have prevailed in Britain and neither would the civil rights movement in the States.

This isn’t on that scale, but, on the whole, it’s only right that people stand up and are counted on the things that matter to them.

In the end, it’s what happened in that committee meeting in that room that really counts. The women on that committee might well have had a point. I wonder if they couldn’t have made their point more convincingly, though. I wonder whether the men in that meeting might not have listened more attentively if those women hadn’t used their imaginations instead of getting angry and spreading vitriol across the internet.
Jonathan Ross and Jane Goldman
at another awards ceremony

I wonder if they shouldn’t have simply lobbied for Jane Goldman to present the Hugo Awards instead of Jonathan Ross, or maybe the two factions might have compromised and made the whole thing into a family outing and got two for the price of one, which, let’s face was, apparently nothing. 

I wonder how rewarding it is to label a man a misogynist with his gorgeous, hugely successful wife standing next to him.

Who knows?

It’s all rather moot now, isn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. I am fairly certain Jonathan Ross acts the way he does in public because his brand of less-than-progressive hyperactivity is what audiences watch.

    Which would make this a case of us getting the presenter we deserve, then trying to trade him for store credit.