Full disclosure: Until pretty recently, I had no idea who or what the "Sad Puppies" were. I'd see their name on my Facebook feed, assume they were some new soon-to-be-forgotten K-Pop band, and keep scrolling. And then, after this past weekend, there was no avoiding them. Sad Puppies were everywhere.
After reading up on them a bit, and their disastrous attempt to hijack this year's Hugo awards, I knew what I would be blogging about this weekend.
I won't pretend I care a whole lot about the integrity of the Hugos. I'm way too self-absorbed to pay much attention to any award ceremony that doesn't involve me. But as you may have read before, I do love the opportunity to mock some shitheads.
Let's see if I can catch the tail end of people giving a shit. Here are my three biggest questions, and the answers I've uncovered through many minutes of painstaking investigation.
1. Why the fuck do they call themselves the Sad Puppies?
I couldn't actually find an answer for this. It would seem that they seek to elicit sympathy for their plight as white male conservative bigots who are marginalized in today's modern, over-tolerant society. That doesn't really work for me, on a number of levels. Mostly because an organized plea for pity votes is just kind of pathetic, even for a group who might even deserve the pity.
Maybe I'm off about the purpose behind their name. The only other thing I could think of was that it might hold some ironic meaning, like a badass biker gang calling themselves the Fluffy Bunnies. But in the case of the Sad Puppies, I don't see the ironic part.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but according to the accounts I've read, they rallied every racist, homophobic, misogynistic, MRA, gamergater shithead to nominate their own books, as well as other books which did not threaten the long-running white-male-hero protagonist tradition of science fiction... because they feared the awards were becoming too politicized. Oh wait, now I see some irony.
And then they cried like little bitches when a larger crowd assembled to shut that shit down, ensuring that no Puppy-backed books won any of their categories, and even going so far as to vote "No Award" in categories which only included Puppy-backed books.
Hang on... I think I've got it. "Cry" = "Sad". "Bitches" = "Dog". "Little dog" = "Puppy". "Sad Puppies" = "Cry like little bitches." It was right there all along. Who knew?
2. What do the Sad Puppies see as the problem?
SJW, the all-too-often abbreviated form of the "Social Justice Warrior". It's most often used as a lazy means for bigots to dismiss opinions which differ from whatever they were told by their daddy/preacher/grand wizard.
Having said that, I will admit to being annoyed by people I perceive as SJWs (in the derogatory sense) as well. In fact, they were an entry in my Reviewers Who Can Eat a Dick post right up until the final edit. I ended up removing that entry because I felt it made me sound like a whiny asshole, and because it's so hard to differentiate an actual advocate for social justice, which is something that I admire, from an obnoxious loudmouth who's only interested in scoring sensitivity points by pretending to be offended by innocuous words. (If enough people read this, I'll get a few comments calling me a misogynist, in spite of the SJW nature of this post, for using the phrase "Cry like little bitches." in the above entry.)
The puppies' stated problem was that these SJWs had already compromised the integrity of the Hugos by voting along the lines of authors' race, gender, sexuality, or politics, rather than based on the quality of the actual books they were voting on. Books with "messages" and meaning were winning out over good old-fashioned fun space romps, like the kind Puppies like to write.
That last sentence is paraphrased from what I read on one of the puppies' blogs. The implication seemed to be that their books were more deserving of a prestigious award specifically because they were devoid of anything important to say. By that metric, my books should be pulling in Hugos left and right.
3. What do I see as the problem?
The Sad Puppies refuse to accept some basic truths.
1. Diversity is here to stay, and that's a good thing.
Brad Torgersen, the current leader of the Sad Puppies movement has tried to distance himself from the even more outspoken Rabid Puppies, led by unrepentant white supremacist Vox Day. He's been quoted as saying, 'Just because we're on the freeway in different cars heading the same direction doesn't mean we're together.'
As long as that direction is 1830's era Alabama, I don't think it matters much that one car's destination is Birmingham while the other's is Montgomery. The happy fact is that neither of those cars are ever going to get there.
Women aren't going to stop writing. Homosexuals aren't going to stop writing. Ethnic minorities aren't going to stop writing. And their protagonists will reflect that. And people will read and enjoy their work.
The world has been moving in the direction of tolerance for a long time, and doesn't show any signs of turning around. Torgersen considers himself a conservative today, but how few decades ago would he, with his current views, be the one dismissed as the SJW? Vox Day, on the other hand, would probably still be considered a shithead.
The more diversity we have in society, all working together instead of bickering, the sooner we can reach those goals that society has been striving for. Flying cars, a cure for cancer, realistic sex robots.
2. The Hugos do not exist in a vacuum.
Any public figure is responsible for determining how much of their private lives and personal beliefs they want to share with their audience. If any of these puppies truly wanted their work to be judged solely on its merit, rather than by their sociopolitical beliefs, then they might do well to keep those sociopolitical beliefs to themselves.
I'm a pretty left-leaning guy, but I don't adhere to every liberal doctrine quite so fervently as some people I know. There are one or two things I even disagree with. But I keep that shit to myself. Not so much out of cowardice, but more because a.) I know no one gives a shit what I think, b.) I leave room for the possibility that I'm not educated enough on some topics to take a definitive side, and c.) I care more about selling my books than I do about pushing some ideology that I'm not really all that invested in in the first place.
It's naive at best (and delusional at worst) to assume that, if you present yourself as a loudmouth bigot, everyone is going to just look past that and reward you for your amazing literature with money and Hugo votes.
There is more great science fiction and fantasy out there than any one person could read in a lifetime. I've never read any of the puppies' books, and I likely never will because... Hmm... What's the best way to put this?
Hell, I could be alienating people right now by writing this post. I've considered that. Being a relatively little-known author, I weighed the amount of exposure it might give me against the handful of douchebag puppy sympathizers who would vow never to buy one of my books after reading this garbage (but who would probably have never heard of me otherwise anyway, making it a wash) and made an informed decision (on the possible ramifications to my writing career) to speak my mind.
3. Maybe, just maybe, the books which the puppies keep losing to are just more entertaining.
Before there was a stupidly-named Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies, those who would go on to become members were nominated for Hugos, though none of them ever won. The fact that they were ever nominated, without banding together under fucktarded names and rigging the votes, would seem to suggest that the SJWs weren't keeping them down as much as they'd like to believe, as would Orson Scott Card, who has won multiple Hugos in spite of his vocal stance against homosexuality and gay marriage.
Were the SJWs on vacation then? Or could it be that OSC just writes really fucking entertaining books?
Like I said, I haven't read any puppy books, so I'm just going to assume they're all about space-rednecks dragging brown-skinned aliens across the galaxy on ropes behind their Chevy Starcruisers.
Hmmm.... after giving it some thought, this might make a fantastic satirical piece. Stay tuned.