Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rabid Puppies infect 2016 Hugo nominees for movies and television

Last year's Hugo nominees for movies and television were marred by the efforts of two groups of reactionary fans--the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies--to influence the nominees by stuffing the ballots through slate voting.  I found both sets of nominees flawed, especially those for "Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)," i.e., movies, although not fatally so.  Just the same, it was enough to prompt me to nominate shows for the "Serious Kitten Awards" at We Hunted The Mammoth.

The same thing happened this year, except that the Rabid Puppies had an even stronger effect than the Sad Puppies, which made things worse.  As Mike Glyer wrote at File 770, the result was "Puppies all the way down" as "Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate initially placed 64 of its 81 recommendations on the final ballot."  I'll leave the analysis on the literary awards and fan awards to others;* like last year, I'll concentrate on how the slate affected the nominees for movies and television.

Here are the nominees for media from io9.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Unlike last year, I think all of the nominees are worthy.  Only one of these, "Avengers: Age of Ultron," was purely a Rabid Puppies selection, but unlike "The Lego Movie," I think it's an acceptable nominee.  That doesn't mean I'd have put it on my ballot; instead, I'd have replaced it with "Jurassic World," which was the fifth movie on the list of six nominees for the Saturn Awards.  So, the Rabid Puppies didn't screw up the nominees in this category.  Besides, I doubt they'll win in the end.  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was not on their slate, but I think it's the favorite.  The other strong contenders would be "Ex Machina" and "Mad Max: Fury Road," also not on their slate, and "The Martian," which would probably have been nominated without their help.
  • Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
  • Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf (Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
  • Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions; Netflix)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
  • Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)
On the other hand, the Rabid Puppies had a stronger and more deleterious effect on the television nominees.  "Doctor Who" and "Jessica Jones" both belong here, but not the rest, which were all on the Rabid Puppies slate.  While I was pleasantly surprised last year by "Grimm" being nominated, that was tempered by the show coming in last place in last year's voting, losing to "No Award."  Ouch.  In addition, this season has not been as good as previous seasons, so even as a fan I can't support it.  As for "Supernatual," I'm a fan as well, but this show is getting long in the tooth and has seen better days.  Finally, "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," while a good animated show, was pretty obviously put on the slate as a joke.

As for the shows that deserve to be nominated instead, I don't have to go any farther than the ones nominated for any of the categories in the 2016 Saturn Awards for Television plus "Penny Dreadful."  Any three of "Game of Thrones," "Outlander," "The 100," "The Expanse," "The Walking Dead," "Penny Dreadful," or even "The Strain" would be better than the three shows the Rapid Puppies got nominated.  Just the same, I expect the Puppies will lose out again, with the "Doctor Who" episode a heavy favorite.

*Two of those are about the blowback from one of the nominees for Best Short Story, "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" by Chuck Tingle.  Both Vox and We Hunted The Mammoth have hilarious summaries of how Tingle is doing his best to make Vox Day regret listing him on his slate.  Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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