You Are NOT Entitled

This past week I saw admonitions from WSFS regarding the improper use of Hugo award status, admonitions from SFWA regarding the improper use of Nebula award status and a bitch fest from an “author” about not being invited to appear on a convention’s panels.

Before I bitch in return:

No one – including YOU – is entitled to

  • a Hugo award vote, a Hugo award nomination, a Hugo award
  • a Nebula award vote, a Nebula Award nomination, a Nebula award
  • attendance at a con, appearance on a convention panel, guest status at a con


The sense of entitlement by the younger generations – including the older generations who seem to be claiming younger generation status (another undeserved aggrandizement)  – is like nothing I have ever seen in all of my 58+ years.

My cohorts will remember the Smith Barney commercial starring John Houseman intoning “They EARN it”. There is no way that commercial would be run today as the very concept of having to earn something seems to have been lost.

I attribute a lot of this behavior to the internet. If you grew up with the net, there’s a good chance you grew up believing in magic: want something really really badly? Go on the net, push a button and a couple of days later, flying monkeys deliver it right to your doorstep. No effort. No sense of having put in time and sweat to gain the dollars to support the credit card bill.

See-want-wish-fulfillment.

I also attribute a good portion of it to the loss of gatekeepers (for better or worse) in our entertainment fields (and elsewhere). Want to be a recording star – buy some software. Want to be a published author – buy some software. Saying you are something has become the near equivalent of being that thing – at least in you own petty little mind.

You know, it used to be that when you did something creative, you weren’t satisfied with it, and certainly didn’t believe you’d arrived at any place special until AFTER people whose opinions you thought counted had given you some egoboo.

Now, folks manipulate sub-genres so they can claim best-selling status without having sold anything except to themselves and some idiot friends. But in this weak-willed world we live in, having the approval of an internet algorithm is more than enough justification to get a swelled head.

“Look, my book is on the “people also read” list for Gaiman’s latest!”.

What most level-headed people think when hearing that? “That’s nice, so…?”
What the delusional think: “I’m as great and as popular an author as Neil Gaiman…why does he get so much attention? The fix must be in. We need to do something about this Gaiman guy, he’s eating into my sales….”

Is the Flint lead-in-water problem much more far ranging than we’ve been lead to believe? I’m beginning to think so – lead poisoning has been linked to schizophrenia….

In the long run, whats the point? If you aren’t a decent author, you’ll be exposed for being a crappy writer and anyone with at least one foot firmly planted in reality will laugh at your grandiose claims. Even if the false claim earns you a few extra sales – you still aren’t anything special.

So what’s really going on here with all of this?

It’s the alt-rt-in-fandom is what it is.

They’ve failed to “destroy” any of the traditional awards with their antics; they’ve failed to negatively impact real convention attendance and none of them has been added to the pantheon of the greats (nor will they ever be, especially after their 4 year hissy-fit) and they’ve failed to substitute their “own” award in the hearts and minds of the community.

The fall back plan appears to be one of attempting to undercut all of the traditional institutions by sowing confusion amongst the uneducated and ill-informed. Think about the impact that thousands of crappy works being touted as this award nominee, that award nominee, the other award nominee will have on the perception of readers who don’t know about the awards. They’ll view the “quality” of that award as being pretty low.

The above may not be a planned conspiracy on the part of those who have publicly attacked fannish institutions (lets not give them too much credit), but it certainly fits in with their overall desires and I doubt they’ll do much to curtail it.

The importance of our awards, our conventions, the accolades we extend when deserved, these are all functions of perception. We all have a duty to protect and defend the quality behind those perceptions. So keep your eyes open and report any malfeasance immediately to the appropriate authorities.

***

I’ve been doing this fan thing since the early 70s.  From the very beginning, I wanted to be on panels, I wanted to be invited to attend because other fans felt I might have something interesting to say.  Stupid me, I did it the old fashioned way; I waited until I’d done something I thought was worthy of attention, worth talking about, for years, let a couple of con programmers know I was available and then I waited.  It wasn’t up to ME to decide, it was up to THEM.  Since then, I made sure to give “good panel” and have been regularly appearing at Boskone; made appearances at Arisia (I turned THEM down the following years) and have been invited to appear at several other conventions.  It’s an honor to be asked and a dishonor to force yourself in where you aren’t wanted or don’t belong.  Being told “we don’t need you this year” is not a personal affront, it’s just reality.  Learn to deal with it.

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