Friday, April 10, 2015

Your Facts are Far Less Important than My Narrative.

For the last few days I've been reading through the early stages of the Hugo Awards controversy and the emerging narratives that have come from it. In doing so it's become clear that were it not for the involvement of Vox that the criticisms of the Sad Puppies slate would be essentially meaningless. With Vox's involvement critics of the Sad Puppies are able to call the entire slate a racist, sexist, regressive movement that is actively attempting to keep minorities out. It doesn't matter that the Sad Puppies slate has nominated women and minorities. It doesn't matter that they have people who have expressed wildly different moralities or political philosophies. The narrative has been established.

It happened when +Zak Smith and +Kasimir Urbanski were falsely accused of being bigots right after the launch of Fifth Edition too. Then the narrative was that of hearsay. "I heard," they would say, "that Zak and Pundit are bigots. That they have exclusively (or primarily) targeted women,  people of different colors, and transgendered folk!" When you pointed to them having friends who were any of those things it was dismissed out of hand, as though they had specifically cultivated these relationships just to defend themselves from being labeled as bigots. These men were nefarious actors within the hobby whose evil knew no bounds. That such logic made no sense except within the narrative no longer mattered because the narrative had been established. They were bad people, the worst people you could imagine under the circumstances, so no vile act was beyond the pale.

All nuance disappears and we're all painted with broad strokes. David supports #Gamergate so he must hate all women. Never you mind that he designs games with a woman, plays with women at his table, has a woman Game Master, and has never said an ugly thing about women in his life. John supports the Sad Puppies slate so he must be trying to keep those of us who are different out of the Hugo Awards and away from Science Fiction. It doesn't matter that he's gay, black, and really just likes most of the books on the slate. The narratives have been established. 

We get so wrapped up in the narrative about people and things these days that our imagined reality takes over what is actually happening - and this isn't a new thing; it's just more obvious now that we have the internet with its drastically intensified focus and reduced news cycle lifespan. We're more interconnected than ever before with our Twitters, Facebooks, Google+, Linkedin, and so forth. We can't get away from the story and its emerging narrative until it's firmly established in the wider culture. Then the controversies fade into the background leaving behind their established narratives and the destroyed lives of those on the wrong side of the story. 

If it isn't clear what I'm saying here is that before you buy into the established narrative on anything research it by going to direct sources and through trusted sites. Don't just follow lockstep with someone because they tell you that this is how it is.


14 comments:

  1. Like I said on Twitter unfortunately the facts rarely define the narrative.
    That's not how any of this is supposed to work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love being a gamer, a comic book fan, and anime fan, without being a part of any of those 'communities'.

    People are awesome. Communities are stupid, and hateful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barking Alien has something there. I do my best not to self identify as part of any group when it comes to my hobbies , because I feel that limits both my audience and my own output far more than I'm comfortable with. When I write something on my blog I never ask myself "is this _____ enough?" or will the ________ People like this."
      I just don't.
      If I start, I'll stop.
      I woudl rather share with cool people than individual communities any day.

      Delete
    2. Mark Van Vlack wrote: I never ask myself "is this _____ enough?" or will the ________ People like this."

      I'm with Tom when I say, true facts and well spoken.

      Delete
  3. Take a look at George R.R. Martin's blog posts on this subject -- the Hugo situation is a travesty, no need to even mention anyone's racism. What was done was technically legal, but morally reprehensible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read Martin's blog posts on the subject and I don't agree that it is a travesty. A travesty is someone's child being killed. An award that costs $40 per voter having more people voting for books that they like - even if I don't like them or haven't heard of them - isn't a travesty nor is it morally reprehensible. Neither of us may like their tactics but elevating it beyond what it is does no one any good.

      Delete
    2. No, but the implicit argument Martin (very effectively) makes is that this is a situation in which writers who have lost at the awards in the recent past have fabricated a cause based on inaccurate facts to trick the gullible into undermining the awards. Those tricked are not reprehensible -- they are the useful idiots -- the moral responsibility lies with the originators of the fraud. Oddly enough, I think a good analogy could be made to the Zak S. situation -- it just happens to be the exact opposite of the one you try to make above.

      By the way, here is the link to the blog posts for others: http://grrm.livejournal.com/. Martin's explicit argument based on an analysis of past winners makes it clear that there was no systematic problem with the award system until one was manufactured by people who seem to be, for lack of a better term, sore losers.

      Delete
    3. "Oddly enough, I think a good analogy could be made to the Zak S. situation -- it just happens to be the exact opposite of the one you try to make above."

      Please explain what you mean here.

      Delete
    4. A tragedy is someone's child being killed. A travesty is (to quote a dictionary definition):

      1. a literary or artistic burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.

      2. a literary or artistic composition so inferior in quality as to be merely a grotesque imitation of its model.

      3. any grotesque or debased likeness or imitation.

      Synonyms include "mockery, perversion, sham, distortion".

      The Hugos have been a travesty of literary awards for decades, since they are explicitly a popularity contest and not a recognition of real merit. Voters have never been required to be aware of all of the nominees, nor even any of them, in order to vote.

      Delete
    5. This is why I love having so many smart people reading me. Thank you faoladh, I stand corrected.

      Delete

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