If you want links to posts about resigned Hugo Ceremony MC Jonathan Ross and how his story played out online, Google will give you a list that goes on for pages. The very thought of anyone doing that search reminded me of Howard Waldrop’s headlined quote.
But File 770 having taken on the story, I owe you a few examples of the reaction and the backlash that have followed.
Apologies are always the most unexpected events on the internet. Two have been noteworthy.
John Picacio thought in light of the personal invective tweeted at Jonathan Ross, his daughter and his wife (who has since pulled the plug on her Twitter account) the science fiction field owed them an apology, so he stepped up to offer it:
This note is for you, Mr. Ross, your wife, daughters, and family members that have been hurt by recent events involving the Hugo Awards Emcee reaction….
Because I am a working professional within the sf/f publishing field and an artist who has been fortunate enough to win two Hugos, I am a part of the sf/f community by default, whether I chose to speak out or not, and I regret that I didn’t on Saturday. Thus, just by professional association, I DO have something to do with this community when some of its very vocal professionals make emotionally-loaded and potentially hurtful statements that end up reflecting on our entire community.
Watching fellow professionals attack Mr. Ross on Twitter was disappointing, to say the least. They said that Mr. Ross’ performance behaviors were justification for saying that he wasn’t welcome because those behaviors made some of them feel uncomfortable.
Their comfort levels are their prerogative, as are mine. I have the right to not needlessly demonize or vilify a complete stranger, and assume the worst of that individual. I have the right to not be afraid to speak out and instead ask, “Is it really necessary to allow fear to rule the day and indict someone for behavior toward this event that hasn’t even happened yet?”
Even Seanan McGuire apologized to the daughter for some of what she said —
@HoneyKinny I am genuinely sorry to have caused you pain. I will consider my platform for speaking better the next time I have concerns.
Disgusted by what passed on Twitter, some now seem intent on romanticizing the victimhood of Jonathan Ross, although Ross himself poured gasoline on the fire (tweeting to one critic “absurd. I’ll happily buy the ticket off you and give it someone less stupid.”)
Jo Fletcher, appealing to the better angels of our nature, idealized both Ross and the SF/F community.
What we got was a sudden outpouring of hateful and bullying messages, and not just to the convention committee, but to Jonathan Ross himself: the avowed and passionate SF fan who offered his time and services free of charge to host an awards ceremony for the field he loves.
And now the SFF community is making front pages, and not for the right reasons, for the amazing literature or the outstanding artwork science writers and artists working within the genre are producing, but for the vindictive trolling reaction to something a number of those within the community don’t approve of. Watching the fall-out on Sunday and this morning, I felt ashamed for the community in which I have grown up. I hoped we were better than this.
Two friends sent me the link to Hayley Campbell’s New Statesman piece, “Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction’s self-appointed gatekeepers?” A sentence in Hayley’s lead paragraph began, “The Hugo award is a vaguely dildo-shaped silver rocketship…” So really I was already finished with her post at that point.
Fortunately she also tweeted this Reader’s Digest condensed version —
I wrote about the Hugo awards and twitter being a bunch of dicks.
Yes, that about sums it up. Still, I was convinced my friends must have had a good reason for recommending the article and I persisted to the end. The best parts paraphrase Cheryl Morgan’s post on the subject. Nothing wrong with that. But if you choose you can go direct to the source.
Many commenters have complimented Morgan’s post “Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars” for its balanced approach:
So to my mind Ross is a pretty good candidate for a Hugo ceremony host. He’s a genuine fan with a lot of respect for the awards. He’s also got a huge media profile and would have got us lots of press coverage. He has, on the one occasion I know of, engaged respectfully with a minority group that was upset with one of his shows. And hosting award ceremonies is something he has done professionally.
I understand that he had agreed to do the job without pay, which I think says a lot about how he felt about the Hugos.
However, one of the things about intersectionality is that you need to take note of what other people think. Just because you have no problem with someone, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. You have to listen to what others say, and respect their points of view. So while I would have been happy with Ross as the host, I have to take into account that many other people object very strongly to him because of things he has said or done in the past.
And there’s gold in the comments. Martin Easterbrook, co-chair of the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon, was unexpectedly critical of both the Loncon 3 chairs and the in-house opponents to Ross’ selection:
Firstly I need to point out that in the run up to the Worldcon the committee cannot put their side of the story. Anything they say will contribute to further ill feeling and they are quite correctly staying silent.
I think we have to be clear how we got here. We got here because people on both sides felt that some belief of theirs was more important than fandom. When the problem came to a head they felt it was more important to win than to find a way of resolving the situation for the benefit of fandom as a whole. I don’t think this was entirely conscious but derives from not having had enough contact with people who think differently.
I’ve been one of these people on occasion but perhaps now we are staring into the abyss we should all reconsider.
The one piece of the history that I will quote is that both sides agree there was a critical conversation. Both sides describe it as “X would not listen to any of my arguments”.
As far as I can tell neither side ever once thought of offering the other some kind of compromise or acknowledged that the other had reasonable grounds for their opinion.
The result of all this is a badly broken toy between two sets of squabbling children….