Art is Political

The 2014 Hugo Awards Ceremony will be held at Worldcon, aka LonCon 3, in two weeks.

Queers Dig Time Lords is up for Best Related Work. For those new to the blog, I am the co-editor of this collection of essays, along with Michael D. Thomas.

We’re proud of the book. We’re proud to have been nominated. We hope we win.

I’m especially pleased to be nominated in this cultural moment. A few other works were nominated for Hugos in a groundswell movement of orchestrated voting. Some folks feel strongly that SF/F is trending in a direction that is hostile to them, that ignores their valuable works for reasons of social justice and liberal politics. They organized their readers and got those people to vote.

As far as I can tell, this is a perfectly legit tactic. I was doing this, too, in support of the works I favored. I asked my friends and followers to register for LonCon 3 and vote. I wanted, and still want, SF/F to recognize the contributions and contributors who are progressive, who speak truth to power, who have been traditionally overlooked.

I had, and have, a political agenda.

I have never been quiet about this.

The two works of mine that have been Hugo-nominated are Chicks Dig Comics and QUEERS DIG TIME LORDS. The works themselves are assertively political.

I got a letter from the Hugo Awards people, the ones running the show. It was full of notes on the logistics of the ceremony. Now, I’m not attending. But I read the email anyway, and saw this:

“We cannot stress enough, however, that the Events team and Convention Committee want the evening to be about you, the winners, and not about politics. This is your night – and although we know that some people have found some of this year’s nominees controversial for a variety of reasons, that is not part of this ceremony. On stage should be a safe space for all nominees and the focus should be on the work, rather than personalities or politics. If people want to comment on anything via social media, we can’t stop them, but nor should we fuel them.”

Not about politics.

Hm.

I agree that the stage should be a safe space. I agree that the focus should be on the work. But art is political.

It’s a curious thing — it seems that SF/F has been allowed to be blind to the political nature of its own art. What we put into our work is political. So is what we leave out. Erasure is political, as is representation.

Kameron Hurley’s work is explicitly political. So is mine and Michael’s. Verity podcast is political. Apex and Strange Horizons? Political. An Adventure in Space in Time? Political. Hunger Games is explicitly political, and so is Pacific Rim. Saga is political.

We created works of political art, with overt agendas.

So did every other nominee, whether or not they want to admit it.

Go on, look at the list of nominees. Remind yourself who is on it.

Art is political.

As it should be.

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