Nothing disappointed my kid-self quite like discovering an award show on television. We only got two channels out where we lived. When one of those devoted an evening to people in fancy clothes giving speeches about stuff I hadn't heard about, that only left one other channel that might be airing programming of interest to my pre-adolescent self. Programming of interest to me during those years involved car chases, fight scenes, and basketball games. I learned that if one channel was airing an award show, the other one wasn't likely to have anything of interest to me. The counter-programming always seemed to be some sappy movie of the sort my mother liked. That kind of romantic stuff was of no interest to my pre-pubescent self.
My pubescent self later discovered that those movies my mother liked had a significant virtue: they often involved attractive actresses wearing fewer clothes than commonly found on other television programs in those days. Even after discovering my interest in the female form, though, award shows failed to captivate me. Sure, the fancy dresses worn on award shows tended to range from revealing to scandalous, but even my libidinous teen self preferred a book to enduring hour upon hour of inanity hoping for a glimpse of flesh. The entire award show enterprise struck me as more about infighting for stature than rewarding actual merit. I guess someone watched those award shows, and maybe they even selected movies or television shows or music based upon the winners, but I never saw the point.
There was one type of award I quite valued, though. I had grown into a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy, and in selecting my next book to read I learned to seek out those with "HUGO AWARD WINNER" emblazoned on the front. I didn't really know what the Hugo was or who awarded them, but the same pattern matching skills that enabled me to find scantily clad women on television lead me to conclude that I was almost certain to enjoy a new book that had won a Hugo.
As I read my way first through the science fiction section at my local library and then through the nearest bookstore using my meager farm-related earnings, I realized that a Hugo award didn't just denote an entertaining read, but also a book with a certain artistry and literary quality. My favorite author won a Hugo for Lord of Light, a book that can be enjoyed for the story alone while still possessing literary nuances that continue to wow my older self. I always knew that a Hugo winner would be fun to read, but I also knew that it would offer something meatier than the pulp I also enjoyed with enthusiasm.
Work and family diminished my time to read. Somewhere along the way I stopped scanning the bookstore shelves for "HUGO AWARD WINNER." First newspaper reviews and then (far more successfully) recommendations from friends in internet forums filled my reading list. I hadn't thought much about Hugo Awards until this week.
Hugo Awards are back on my mind because of news of the hijacking of the nomination process for idealogical purposes. I don't know enough about the situation to say whether the hijackers have a point or not. I certainly haven't been able to find a point I can support in their manifestos, but I also admit that I haven't been following the Hugo Awards for many years. Of course, my inclination is to dismiss out of hand anything and anyone remotely associated with the misogynistic side of #gamergate; I suspect that we can tell something about these Sad Puppies by the company they keep. Without a doubt, their entire dispute they've raised seems more about infighting for stature than rewarding any actual merit.
Something I used to love has been turned into an award show. That's not something I can support.