The debate about Jonathan Ross and his brief reign as Hugo Awards presenter is still going on and has in fact lasted longer now than Ross has actually had the job. Still, while I’m waiting for the Oscars to begin (and debating whether I’m going to watch at all), here are the latest links.
Seanan McGuire’s tweets following the announcement of Jonathan Ross as Hugo presenter have been storified by Jim Hines.
Part of Farah Mendlesohn’s letter of resignation has just appeared at The Passive Voice. Just don’t make the mistake of reading the comments.
File 770 has a summary of the events from an American perspective. Teleread also offers a summary.
Rich Johnston at the comics site Bleeding Cool offers a pro-Jonathan Ross perspective by pointing out that Jonathan Ross has written comics and presented both the Eisner and National Comics Awards (scroll down past a lot of Twitter screenshots for a clip of Ross presenting the Eisners). Rich Johnston makes an important point by reminding us that Jonathan Ross is not a genre-outsider (and indeed the whole “He’s not a true fan” bit left something of a sour taste in my mouth) and has indeed hosted genre awards before, though he dismisses those who criticised the decision a bit too blithely as haters, since there were genuine concerns about Jonathan Ross and his brand of humour.
Finally, Foz Meadows echoes my own post of yesterday and points out that the Loncon organisers could have prevented this whole unpleasantness by preparing Jonathan Ross beforehand for the fact that his appointment would draw criticism due to the ongoing debate about sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc… within fandom. This would have given Jonathan Ross either the chance to decline privately or respond to his critics by reassuring them that he wasn’t going to be a jerk and that he loves SFF as much as anybody else at Worldcon. Instead, Jonathan Ross ended up doing his version of “Hollywood star makes an arse of himself on German cultural programme”* on Twitter, because he had no idea he would be criticised.
What is more, the Loncon organisers also bungled the announcement, because they might have prevented at least the whole “He’s not a true fan” debate by pointing out that Mr. Ross is a fan, that he has written comics and presented other genre awards, that he is friends with Neil Gaiman, that his wife is a screenwriter who has worked on genre films and a Hugo winner. Because a lot of people, including me, didn’t know these things. I mostly knew Jonathan Ross as “that BBC chat show host who always causes controversies” without knowing anything about the man himself and judging by the Twitter reaction, it seems I wasn’t the only one.
There are a few people who come out of this uproar looking bad, but – and this is something of a surprise to me – Jonathan Ross is not one of them. I still don’t think he would have been suitable as a Hugo host, particularly during such a politically sensitive time for the genre, but who knows? He might have surprised everyone. After all, it wouldn’t have been the first time that I would have had to revise my opinion of a TV personality after seeing them live, as my experience seeing Thomas Gottschalk and Günther Jauch live attests.
*It happens quite frequently that Hollywood stars who are interviewed on cultural programmes on German TV manage to behave like jerks, because they have no idea what kind of programme it is (namely serious cultural programming instead of gossip shows blindly fawning about celebrities – though we have those, too), and thus react stunned or downright snappy, when faced with critical questions and interviewers who refuse to fawn about them.