Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool writes in this piece about Jonathan Ross being chosen (it actually appears that he was asked by Neil Gaiman) to host the Hugo Awards at Loncon, the 72nd World SF Convention to be held in London this August. Now for anyone who hasn’t been to an awards ceremony, including one at a SF or comic convention I can tell you they’re often amazingly tedious exercises in self-congratulation, though my contribution to awards ceremonies is getting Dez Skinn very, very drunk which ended up in this, but more about that another time…..
Anyhow, before I continue let me make clear I’ve met Ross several times over the years from the first time when I worked in Comics Showcase in London in the early 1990’s, to several comic marts and conventions. I’ve never, ever found him to be anything but a nice bloke who genuinely loves comics or SF, or all these subjects and genres deemed now to be ‘geeky’ and therefore, somewhat trendy. He was always good fun and had the sort of boyish enthusiasm for what he was talking about that some people today would be good to learn from, plus he really did genuinely know what he was talking about.
Reading through the Bleeding Cool article is extraordinary. I don’t recognise the Ross being discussed in some of these Tweets. Now I’m perfectly aware of the reputation Ross has as a presenter, and of course the Andrew Sachs incident is a vile thing Ross and Russell Brand did but both have paid the price over and over for it, but even with this in mind, when did is become commonplace to suggest Ross is a sexist or a misogynist?
I’ve spoken about the sexism in comics and the male privilege in place in comics last year, but the world of SF fandom is very similar though I extracted myself from that particular fandom some time ago mainly because of the horrible elitism on display within it. This appears to be on display here as Tweet after Tweet attacks Ross for a variety of things, including not being involved with Sf or fantasy.
As pointed out in the original Bleeding Cool article, Ross has written comics. He’s presented programmes talking about cult films and presented what I think is one of the best documentaries about comics, In Search of Steve Ditko.
His wife Jane Goldman is a screenwriter responsible for Kick Ass and X Men: First Class among other work. The idea that Ross, or even his family, has nothing to do with SF or fantasy is bloody daft. Though the reality in all this is that Ross isn’t part of the clique. He’s an outsider so it becomes easy to disassociate him from what he’s done, and of course, it becomes easy to essentially indulge in the sort of cyberbullying that is frankly. a fucking disgrace.
Everything hit a peak with the Tweets of Seanan McGuire, someone I was unaware of til yesterday. She suggest Ross would attack her for her weight based upon, well, I’m not exactly sure as Ross tailors his banter for the audience he works and he isn’t a Filker. Filk music is literally the worst thing you will ever, ever hear.
McGuire suggest she’d do a great job based upon she’s putting her name forward because she’s ”AN AWARD WINNING COMIC’ (what awards she doesn’t say) as opposed to someone who’s only done pissy wee events like the BAFTA’s.
Ross is big enough to defend himself, which he did online yesterday as he was accused of being a racist, hating women and generally making Jim Davison look like Stewart Lee which is again, daft. Ross isn’t Bernard Manning. He makes some crap jokes, but as a presenter he’s superb and would have done a great job at the Hugo Awards but he’s an ‘outsider’ as McGuire and others repeated often yesterday. These people don’t want their world of SF to have the wide media profile or for ‘outsiders’ or the ‘wrong type of humour’ to invade their world. They’re incredibly insular which is frankly, a bit sad.
It’s also worth saying McGuire is backtracking now she’s actually been informed, but she says she’s keeping her head down..
Now she didn’t call him a ‘bad person’ directly. She just said he’d take the piss out of her weight and suggested he’s a misogynist based upon a surface reading of his Wikipedia article it seems.
There also seems to be a lot of this going on with Loncon attendees feeling a bit sheepish for showing themselves up to be privileged over-entitled arses getting petty about an ‘outsider’ coming in. I always assumed that in genre fandom that people aren’t supposed to bully or act like arseholes, because frankly, mainly people get into SF or comics because they’ve been bullied by arseholes.
The dust has settled and I’m sure the Hugo Awards will be a drawn out tedious affair with amateur comedians and Filk music. No ‘outsiders’ will be there. It’ll be glorious to everyone there I’m sure, but they’ll never know if it’ll be better because the person they could have presented it was forced to pull out thanks to SF geeks acting like the Daily Mail.