The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition

RIP Wired

RIP Wired

Wired magazine used to be a go-to for in-depth technology reporting. Silicon Valley read it for accessible yet deep articles about upcoming tech and personalities. A tradition of quality writing now sadly being plowed under as ad revenues fall and good writers are replaced by cheap hacks.

Today’s proof: Amy Wallace’s article, “Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle For Pop Culture’s Soul.” We’re already in trouble with the title, with its assumption that pop culture is a singular entity whose soul can be fought for by religious factions. Drama alert!

The writer inserts her partisan judgment frequently, starting off with a nice portrait of Marko Kloos, who withdrew his work to avoid getting involved in the Hugo Kerfuffle. She spins his decision:

Which is why it was so devastating when he realized a few weeks later that his short-listing was, in his eyes, a sham. It turned out that activists angered by the increasingly multicultural makeup of Hugo winners—books featuring women, gay and lesbian characters, and people and aliens of every color—had gamed the voting system, mounting a campaign for slates of nominees made up mostly of white men. Kloos, who is white, says he was sickened to see his name listed.

This isn’t a very good representation of Kloos’ actual views. Like a shyster lawyer, she inserts as fact assertions about the Sad/Rabid Puppies campaigns that aren’t true — “When did you stop beating your wife?” The campaign was not against multicultural/multiracial/gay characters, but against giving preference to such works. The Sad Puppy campaign was motivated by a desire to see quality stories win the awards.

She lets her mask slip further:

But like the sound of starship engines, the Hugos don’t exist in a vacuum. “Gamergate” spawns rape threats aimed at women who have the temerity to offer opinions about videogames. The leading representatives of mainstream political parties build platforms around fear of Muslims and Planned Parenthood.

So now we know she’s incapable of objectivity, because in each of these controversies, there’s a Blue Tribe conventional wisdom: Bad People oppose the Forces of Goodness! And she only knows good people who all think alike. She is bien pensant — a fancy French term for right-thinking. “All right-thinking people agree…” is the end of critical thinking, and since everyone she knows agrees on those controversies, no independent reporting or thought is required to put her credibility on the line by casually taking one side. Christopher Hitchens is spinning in his grave.

Digging the hole deeper, she claims the Puppies want no diversity in science fiction:

So trying to crush diversity of authors, of characters, of stories, of themes in sci-fi crushes the whole point. Which is perhaps the main reason to worry about Puppygate: Sci-fi that accommodates only one future, one kind of politics, and one kind of person just isn’t doing its job.

The various flavors of Puppies differ, but one thing they’re not is anti-diverse — there are women, people of various colors, gays (like me), religious, atheists, and on and on. The one thing they have in common is that they oppose elevating political correctness above quality of writing, originality, and story in science fiction. Many of the award winners in recent years have been lesser works elevated only because they satisfied a group of progressives who want their science fiction to reflect their desired future of group identity and victim-based politics. For them, it is part of their battle to tear down bad old patriarchy, to bury the old and bring themselves to the forefront of culture (and incidentally make a living being activists in fiction.) These people are often called “Social Justice Warriors” – they shore up their own fragile identities by thinking of themselves as noble warriors for social justice. Amy Wallace places herself with them by portraying the issues as a battle between racist, sexist white men and everyone else.

She then goes on to give some space to Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, and Vox Day (Ted Beale). While her reporting about them is reasonably truthful, they report that she promised to interview Sarah Hoyt (who ruins the narrative as a female Puppy) but did not do so, and left out material from other interviews that did not support her slant. Tsk!

The piece is very long, but written from a position of assumed moral superiority and elite groupthink, a long fall from classic Wired‘s iconoclastic reporting. It’s sad when a quality brand goes downhill — as a longtime subscriber, I’ve noticed the magazine has grown thinner in the last year as ad revenues declined and competition from upstarts like Fast Company ate into their market. Now they are me-tooing major controversies for clicks. Once you see this dishonesty in reporting, you should never view such sources as reliable again.

[For more followup and comments on Wired’s recent tilt, see “Death of Wired: Selected Comments.”]

10 comments

  1. Ars Technica, part of the same media property, promptly banned me without warning yesterday for… politely quoting an NOAA statement on global warming models from 2008.

    It’s more amusing than anything, but the left is clearly going off its rocker, and taking tech media with them. A sort of quasi-Lysenkoism has become the norm, with their own made-up facts that cannot be criticized, complete with lots of people, up to and including US Senators, suggesting dissent should be criminalized.

    I mean, come on, really. Have they actually read anything by Correia or Wright? They have some of the strongest minority characters in modern scifi!

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    1. Great fisk.

      Ars is *terrified* of allowing anyone to question the global warming dogma, because they’ve invested so much of their prestige and credibility (which used to be very high) in its defense. Like Sauron, who poured much of his life-force into the One Ring and died when it died at Mount Doom, Ars knows that if the AGW doctrine ever becomes a laughingstock, so will they. Their fear is palpable.

      As for the Wired article, well, it’s nothing new–and five or six months behind the curve. Journalists seem to think that if they say something often enough, it will become true. Not so. The Puppies won this battle, and by slandering them in every media outlet that even knows what SF is, journalists of this persuasion made the Puppies famous and probably eternal.

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  2. I bought the early Wired for a while, but the signal-to-noise ratio was insurmountable. It was like they were trying to hide their content under jerkoff excessive graphic design. I saw a copy recently at the dentist’s. It might be even worse now.

    Who needs that?

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  3. I propose the creation of a “propaganda quotient” to deal with biased media on comteporary political issues.
    It’s quite simple. You take the total number of articles that make claims about subject X and then divide by the number of those articles that provided evidence for those claims.

    The propaganda quotient for gamergate and sad puppies is rather large.

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  4. Science fiction author Robert Heinlein had an imaginary Future History timeline which included an era called “The Crazy Years.” It’s amazing the SF community was the first to completely fall to our current gender feminist madness, the irony being SF was the most prepared to avoid it by being a canary-in-a-coal-mine genre of warning literature of precisely this type of dystopian world. Even more irony is we were sandbagged by Orwell’s perceptual trap where authoritarian fascism wormed its way in by talking about wheel chair access, social justice and allergies to scented products. The modern KKK is probably kicking themselves for not coming up with that first.

    Typical of our new lack of self-awareness is our Orwellian habit of looking at bald-faced racism and bigotry straight in the face and calling it “anti-racism” and “anti-bigotry.” A small slice of how stupid our community has become is typified by TorCom’s Liz Bourke and her column “Sleeps With Monsters,” the title of which is a quote from a poem by the insane lesbian feminist Adrienne Rich. In that 1963 poem Rich shows marriage in the same dystopian light Orwell did his future England, a place of scuffed edges, dead dreams and hollow stupidity. Why are we not surprised a bigoted lesbian ideologue like Bourke was among the first to fist-pump Ann Leckie’s SF novel Ancillary Justice, a mediocre work but which had the good sense to signal boost lesbian feminist dogma about “genderblindess,” the cure for Rich’s “compulsory heterosexuality.”

    In keeping with the idea of seeing marriage as a cultural cul-de-sac, we have retroactively not only declared all SFF prior to 2009 or thereabouts as a woman-hating, racist, homophobic delight through our new “feminist” lens, but any straight white male who had the temerity to be born without apologizing to our new overlords for the East India Company, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and pretty much any evil humankind has ever indulged in, as long as all other ethnic groups who did the same are thrown into Orwell’s memory hole. We have also decided to wage war on success itself and build statues to failure who talk to us about imaginary restaurants full of menacing face-punching “white cis dudes.”

    The Wired article is fit only for Orwell’s Ministry of Information and as an illustration of how far we’ve fallen, been duped, become stupid and utterly unworthy of a legacy where E. M. Forester and Ray Bradbury shouted at us to no avail. Adrienne Rich is our literary hero now, and God help us.

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  5. Let’s call the Wired article what it is: lying. It lies from the beginning to the end. I’d need to write a short book to unpack all the falsehoods. One bald-faced lie even touches on GamerGate, and the irony there is one of the sore points with GamerGate were unethical articles like this one which put forth premises with no sourcing or quotes whatsoever and treats them as gospel. And that gospel is the same as in GamerGate: a moral ethos based on straight white men always being wrong and always up to something. For a sick ideology which laughs at the idea of “cabals,” the justice league of race and gender stipulates any time there are too many men, whites or heterosexuals in a hobby there’s some sort of collusion at work, though these sorry “feminists” never provide any proof of such a thing other than demonization theories about “white male cis privilege.”

    In a few short years these nuthatches have ruined our hobby. I’ll tell you this, anyone who holds N. K. Jemisin up as a voice of social justice is too far gone to reach.

    Like

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