Hugo Awards Become A Joke After Ballot Stuffing Affects Nominations
This weekend, the Hugo Awards nominations were announced, and almost every category was affected by the “Sad Puppies” campaign, which encouraged anti-liberal voters to push specific works by conservative authors. While every award event with nomination voting has people pushing for votes in specific directions, this systematic approach to affect every single category and make it less about the quality of the work has made these nominations pretty useless. The good news is that the campaign had very little effect on the “graphic story” category, which covers comics, but the Sad Puppies voters did manage to get their one selection in that category into the nominations as well.
The Hugo Award nominations are voted on by paid members of WorldCon, but although there are 10,000 members, only around 2000 ballots were actually cast. Since other voters weren’t organized in their voting by plotting out specific works to champion for whatever reason, the limited number of ballots means it is very easy to push the nominations in a specific direction. While people voting on merit could go in any number of directions based on personal tastes or loyalties, the Sad Puppies voters organized to all push the same works, which made it easier to get those works the nominations.
Evil liberal works like Saga, Rat Queens, Ms. Marvel, and Sex Criminals all got nominations, presumably based on actual merit, given that they are all critically acclaimed and well-respected comics. A comic called The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, got the Sad Puppies push.
Zombie Nation creator Carter Reid also got a best professional artist nomination, which, in the face of some of the talent even just involved in the graphic story category, much less the wider comics industry, is completely ridiculous. Let’s be honest: there are a lot of other comics out there that could have got that nomination and deserved it on the merit of the work rather than as a result of a campaign predicated on a bizarre fear of progress. It’s not that the people voting all agreed the works on the Sad Puppies list were the best things ever, it’s that they wanted to send a message to the “SJWs” in sci-fi/fantasy, so they all pushed the same authors and works.
Other comics-related nominations include movie nominations for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Lego Movie, and best short-form dramatic presentation nominations for Doctor Who: “Listen,“ The Flash: “Pilot,” and Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried.” A few of those were on the Sad Puppies list as well, which is strange given how Hollywood is run by evil liberals, but apparently that didn’t spoil the Sad Puppies’ list compilers’ enjoyment of The Lego Movie (which is something I think we can all get behind).
I’m all for different points of view being shown in creative works, and if there were works by conservative authors that actually deserved commendation, then by all means, let’s give those works some awards. Say there had been no Sad Puppies push, but it was a year that Fables got a nomination, for instance; that’s totally fair.
It seems eternally worth stating, as there’s no end of people who don’t seem to understand this, that welcoming women, people of color, and LGBTQ people into an industry does not mean there’s some sort of secret conspiracy against conservative straight white dudes. It means people value a progression towards allowing more voices in a conversation. In trying to combat an imagined liberal conspiracy that puts politics ahead of good work, the Sad Puppies have achieved an actual conspiracy that does exactly this. Good job.
Unless the Hugos rework their system, it seems likely that future years will now involve more campaigning from both sides. In the face of such an organized push by the Sad Puppies members of WorldCon, the other members must either give up on the Hugos or push back.