Hugo disputes again (and John C. Wright)

So it seems John C. Wright (who says women who veer from 1950s roles in fiction are just men in drag) has weighed in on the current Hugo controversy (conservative writers pushing to get some right-wingers on the ballot). His take, unsurprisingly, is that the left wing is oppressing everyone it disagrees with, unlike the Golden Age when everyone was free to ask questions and challenge orthodoxy.
Foz Meadows (she’s such a good blogger I must find some of her Y/A fiction) points out that in Wright’s retelling, Orson Scott Card just made a very mild criticism of homosexuality, which is not true—and that’s not even counting Card’s work as a member of NOM (anti-gay group) or his writing about Obama planning to launch a race war.
According to Wright, Barry Malzberg and Mike Resnick were fired for their alleged sexism (backstory here and here) rather than simply telling them not to say stuff like that again. But as noted at my links (and as Meadows says), Resnick and Malzberg responded to being told “don’t be sexist” with cries of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, thought police, totalitarian oppression! And so it goes with his defenses of the other writers.
As Meadows and PZ Myers point out, if the problem is leftist thought police oppressing perfectly decent, non-bigoted writers, why the hell does he fudge the truth about what they said?
Wright also asserts that the difference between law and custom (custom being what’s crushing the poor oppressed Card, Malzberg, etc.) is that law is Manly and Custom is girly, “encouraged by countless social cues and expressions of peer pressure. It is subjective, informal, covert, feminine, and indirect.” I presume this reflects Wright’s view that men should lead and women should quietly submit (and therefore have to intrigue and manipulate covertly just like a 1950s sitcom wife), but in any case Pope Lizbet guts this argument and very well.
Another of Wright’s claims—the lead-in to the piece—was that Heinlein couldn’t win a Hugo today, because he’s too politically incorrect. Radish Reviews says that’s not such a terrible thing, given that the view of women in his works hasn’t aged well. John Scalzi doesn’t buy the assumption (you have to click through to his comment) that Heinlein couldn’t win, or that he’d be writing the same books he did 60 years ago (as a side issue—it’s not anything Wright mentioned— Alexei Panshin discusses Heinlein’s treatment of sex here and here).
As for the idea of unfettered freedom in decades past, even a cursory reading of genre history shows that’s bullshit. Everything I’ve ever read discusses how socially conservative SF publishing used to be (1960s on back is the period usually referenced). The oh-so-persecuted Malzberg made similar complaints in his book Engines of the Night. The whole point of the once legendary Dangerous Visions anthology was to print stories that couldn’t be published otherwise because they violated the taboos of the era.
Wright is becoming like David Brooks, an easy way to fill a blog post.


Filed under Politics, Writing

4 responses to “Hugo disputes again (and John C. Wright)

  1. The first time I got an book review published in an ezine I got called a “politically correct faggot” in the comments. But, of course, it was the user (eventually banned) who claimed he was being silenced by group think, since only social conservatives get to criticize anything and if there’s push back to what they say the “PC brigade” is instituting a fascist dictatorship. Meanwhile denigrating opponents and launching conversations with immediate ad hominem attacks is reasoned debate, apparently, and you’re irrational if you say otherwise.

    Flippin’ ridiculous.

  2. Yep. A depressingly familiar account.

  3. Pingback: Hugo a-go-go | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: Don’t look at the words I wrote, go by my headcanon of what I really meant | Fraser Sherman's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.