Leopold Scotch and the Hugo Awards

We watched the most literary of South Park episodes the other night, "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs." There's a riff near the end where critics are fighting about whether or not Butters' second novel, "The Poop That Took A Pee," expressed a radically liberal or wildly conservative vision, the joke being that it was neither and the critics were imposing their own beliefs on Butters' story. 

South Park gets their cultural satire right more often than not, but this gag didn't work for me because it didn't ring true. I can't, off the top of my head, think of many cases where a work of art was attributed to both extremes of the political spectrum. What I do see is people* regarding works which agree with their own views as "apolitical" and works with a different worldview as "overtly political."

That's my working theory: A liberal can read a book with liberal overtones and not feel that the book is political at all, whereas if they read a book with a conservative point of view, they'll see politics throughout the work and it works the other way around as well.

Viewed in this light, the controversy over the Hugo awards and the Sad and Rabid Puppies movements makes a little more sense to me. It explains why, when protesting against awards going to works for their politics rather than for being just good, fun science fiction, the Puppy slates struck me as overtly political.  The Puppies saw their slates at free of political sermonizing since they tended to share the stories' worldviews. My own political views are on the left side of the spectrum, so the point of view of the Puppies' stories stuck out to me. 

That probably seems obvious, but it took me a while to get to it. My initial reaction, when reading my Hugo voter's packet last year, was to think that the Puppies were being disingenuous when their slates were filled with works which made such strong political statements. Now, I'm more inclined to think it was a lack of awareness of one's blind spots. It wouldn't make any difference in my voting last year**, but I will keep this theory in mind when filling out my ballot this year.

For what it's worth, I can't imagine wanting stories without a point of view. Without some subjectivity in the writing, you wind up with either dry reportage of events or random gobbledygook.  I want the artist to have a point of view because otherwise, why bother? Just make sure to make it interesting art while you're at it.

* Including yours truly. I am by almost any measure a "people."

** Slates. Gaming the system. Don't do it. Please, just don't.