Home » Fantasy/SciFi » Why I have Resigned from the Committee of Loncon 3

Why I have Resigned from the Committee of Loncon 3

2 March 2014

From Live Journal:

On Monday 24th February, at 7am the Chairs and the Events team of Loncon 3 announced to the Committee that the host for the Hugo Awards would be the TV host Jonathan Ross.

. . . .

This is a man who has made a fortune (6 million a year at one point) from abusing others—particularly women—live on air.

I spent all of this week arguing with the Chairs. It was made clear to me that this was not for the Committee to decide. It was further made clear to me, as the conversation progressed, that the Chairs knew in advance that I would be unhappy, and that one of the Chairs was not even prepared to discuss the issues of Jonathan Ross’s public abuse of women (that issue specifically: that Chair was prepared to discuss and excuse other issues).

By Wednesday I knew I had to resign. But:

–as Head of Exhibits I have built one to one relationships with many of the exhibitors. The only person they know in the organisation is myself.
–the Committee did not make this choice.
–if I forced a vote of non-confidence I could do serious damage to the Worldcon I care so much about.

So on Friday, I resigned from the Committee precisely so that I can continue to criticise this decision and encourage others to do the same. It is not too late to change this, even if we have to embarrass Mr Ross into withdrawing.

Link to the rest at Live Journal and thanks to Chris for the tip.


29 Comments to “Why I have Resigned from the Committee of Loncon 3”

  1. Looks like it worked: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/news/a554838/jonathan-ross-withdraws-from-hosting-hugo-awards.html

    But the link to the LJ post is dead. He made it private now.

  2. Who is the author of this post?

  3. LJ link is dead. 🙁

  4. It looks like the original poster has taken that post “private” on LJ.

    Since Ross withdrew, it’s no longer necessary. (Although I think the fact that it had to happen that way makes it kinda important still.)


  5. The author of the LiveJournal post opposing Jonathan Ross is Farah Mendlesohn. She’s the head of exhibits on the Loncon website, and she admits on her twitter account that she made her posts private.


  6. Yep; the situation changed since I sent the link in. Under the outcry, Ross stepped down.

    It’s still puzzling what the convention chairs thought they were doing asking him to host without even consulting the convention committee (especially after someone like Seanan McGuire, a Hugo-winning author from within the commmunity who also happens to be an award-winning comedian herself, volunteered). Apart from his connection to sexist humor (which wouldn’t go over well in any event given the problem women already face with sexism and harassment at cons), he’s a personality, which is exactly what you don’t want for handing out Hugo Awards—you don’t want the emcee to outshine the real star of the event, the authors (and fans) getting the awards.

    • Yeah, if I were a Hugo-winning writer, no way would I want Jonathan Ross, as famous in England as David Letterman is in America and with 3.65 million Twitter followers to boot, publicizing my work for free by handing me that rocketship trophy, especially not when somebody like Seanan McGuire graciously volunteers to do the honors instead. Why, if only one percent of her 12,500 Twitter followers bought my work, I could easily sell a hundred extra copies. Besides, she’s so talented at comedy that she’s won awards!

      • Jonathan leans a little more Howard Stern than David Letterman. Not trashing, but Ross isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

        • Stern has 1.5 million Twitter followers, a number that seems comparatively anemic, considering that America has five times the United Kingdom’s population. If the term “mainstream” means what most people are comfortable with, as opposed to anything a small group happens to be offended by, then the per capita numbers suggest that Ross (an Officer of the Order of the British Empire) enjoys far more mainstream acceptance than does a sweaty freak like Howard Stern.

          • I’m not sure how someone’s # of twitter followers has anything to do with their character. SFWA and SF/F in general have taken an ugly stick to the face multiple times in the last year+ because of sexism/genderism.

            So, please do tell how one’s number of twitter followers somehow makes a pig of a man into someone that you would want hosting a con that is really trying to grow diversity (even at the protest of the old, white men who don’t like change).

            • I’m looking at it from the point of view of a writer who wants to sell more books, not from that of somebody eager to feel good about himself.

  7. Oy. This is one of those things that never, ever needed to happen, and it’s so sad that it did. I’m even sad for Ross, because while his past behavior is reprehensible, he didn’t ask them to host it, he simply said yes and then got sucked into a bit of a scandal. Anyway.

    It’s even more sad because if they wanted a “famous” non-author from outside the writing community to host the thing, there are many of Hollywood types who are not offensive to anyone and who love the scifi and fantasy genres, and make their living working, directing and starring in fairly beloved shows and movies.

  8. Who the hell is Jonathan Ross?



    • You could read some of the links from the comments, such as this one, that explain things.

      But, in brief, he’s a British comedian and personality who specializes in transgressive humor, often predicated around making fun of overweight women. (It seems he’s also a SF author and fan, having written some SF novels and comics.) As I understand it, the LonCon3 convention chairs asked him to emcee the show (and he agreed to it) without ever consulting the convention committee or anyone else.

      It’s such a big deal because, given the problem conventions have already with an atmosphere unwelcoming to women (seriously, one of my FB friends posted yesterday about getting “groped by the local perv” on the first day of her local convention. These are not isolated incidents!), having an emcee who might belittle them from the stage is Not Helping.

  9. Science Fiction 1.0: the literature of ideas.

    Science Fiction 2.0: the literature of hurt feelings.

  10. Is Mendelsohn overweight? This seems like such an odd little bit of trivia. I take it fat women jokes are not PC. Comedians must have a tough time these days. So easy to offend someone, no matter what you say. I recall when dead baby jokes were popular. And lately making fun of radical Muslims can cause all sorts of trouble.

    • No idea about Farah Mendlesohn. The weight issue apparently refers to the fact that several popular SFF authors and multiple nominees are overweight and understandably wouldn’t be happy if Jonathan Ross were to make jokes about them on stage.

  11. I agree with the commentary in the following link:

    I’ve chaired or been on the steering committee of 3 Ninc conferences. Aimed at professional writers, NINC is tiny compared to WorldCon, but it’s a national annual conf, so although much, much smaller, many of the (advisable) principles and practices are the same. And I agree with this take that the con chairs made a number of major mistakes in this incident. I agree with Meadows that this is about a very badly handled process, not about Jonathan Ross (who, I again agree with Meadows, has been done a disservice by the con chairs).

    • Bleeding Cool has an interesting article about it, repeating tweets attacking and defending the con. The writer even approves of the choice:

      “Because here’s the thing. I’ve seen Jonathan Ross present both the National Comics Awards and the Eisner Awards. And he got it. Because he is one of the community. He’s a fan first and foremost, and he is now a repeat published sci-fi writer to boot.

      “Well, it looks like the Eisners can continue to rely on Jonathan Ross to present their awards without competition. And do so in the knowledge that Jonathan Ross loves comics, sci-fi, and related areas, and that everything he does on stage is from that vantage point. Yes, he can be acerbic, but he works the room. Any mocking is truly done with love, and clearly so. It’s flattering. He’s really, really good at what he does.”

  12. Jonathan Ross is a TV and Radio talk show presenter. My impression, being from the UK, is that he is known for his general wit but did make a big mistake with a radio show ‘gag’ which involved telephone calls and was inappropriate and offensive.

    However, I find the way the SFF community go after people online and basically defame them to be completely disgusting. I write SF and Fantasy but would not have anything to do with this cliquey, unpleasant group of people. If anyone needs to clean up their act it’s this self satisfied bunch.

    • Yep, the SFF community is slowly disappearing up its own politically correct backside. If you do not espouse the same views as everyone else, you are pretty much ostracized and outed as a bigot. The big shame about this, and the recent spats that are more about gender politics than SF, is that there are some really great authors out there who will now never be considered for a Hugo or Nebula because their face doesn’t fit – Can you imagine the uproar if somebody such as Orson Scott Card was up for an award – there’d be a complete boycott (just to be clear I don’t hold with any of the same views as OSC, but I’m of the opinion you should judge authors by what comes out of their word processors not their mouths).

      Johnathan Ross would have been an ideal choice for the Hugos, which is an award that certainly most Brits on the street have never heard of – he would have boosted the profile of the event and the genre as a whole. And to claim he ‘abuses’ women or anyone else is completely outrageous (and is detrimental to women who have suffered actual abuse). Do people honestly think he doesn’t sit in the green room and discuss in detail what he is going to do and say with the guests on his show and gets their consent first?. Sure, his humor is a little infantile at times, but he’s never deliberately offensive (the incident on R2 aside, which was more to do with Russell Brand than Ross), and to make the claim he’d mention people’s size or other body issues is plain stupid and paranoid (he’s a mainstream family entertainer – not some blue comic from the 1970’s).

      If those in the SFF community spent as much time coming up with new and ground breaking ideas, rather than spending it squabbling about gender politics, they might find they’d attract more readers. And yes, I’m posting this anonymously. Coward that I am, and I might be being paranoid, but I really don’t fancy the raft of one-star reviews on my books from people in the SF community whose idea of liberalism is to silence anybody that does not agree with them or to find some other churlish way of punishing them.

      • The question is, do the Hugos need additional recognition? The people to whom they’re most important already know darned well what they are.

        On a related note, here’s a really great blog post by Chuck Wendig that explains the whole debacle a bit more level-headedly. It wasn’t something as simple as a bunch of unwashed masses objecting to the idea of someone outside their clique—it was more like a “perfect storm” of controversy: a series of mistakes by the con chairs, exacerbated by US ignorance of British personalities and reliance on Internet search to find out who he was, amplified by the general trauma fatigue of fandom after so many sexism, racism, stalking, etc. scandals in the last few years, and spurred on by impolitic responses by Ross himself.

        I think everyone’s learned a few lessons out of this. Hopefully they can be applied constructively in the future.

      • “Sure, his humor is a little infantile at times, but he’s never deliberately offensive ”

        This description strikes me as disingenuous. I’d never heard of Jonathan Ross when his name suddenly popped up on my Twitterfeed this weekend after he had already stepped down due to the blowback. So I looked him up.

        Just googling his name–i.e. not relying on any “politically correct” sf/f gossip, just typing his name into my search engine… Wel, even assuming some UK taboid hyperbole or inaccuracy, the list of articles about Ross offending people and of Ross’ offensive behavior leading to negative consequences seems very, very long.

        All it took was a few minutes on google to realize that Loncon had made a problematic choice for the Hugo host, and if they wanted this to work–if they didn’t want it to blow up in their faces–they needed to think thoroughly about how they were going to present this decision. And they don’t appear to have thought at -all- about how to present it.

        And as for the “attention” and “profile” he’d have brought to the event… again, the Loncon chairs needed to think through what -sort- of profile he’d bring, discuss it with him, and have a PR frame prepared for this, to assure sf/f that his presence would not turn the ceremony into an evening similar to his many tabloid scandals.

  13. “I think everyone’s learned a few lessons out of this. ”

    I don’t. Strikes me as same-old same-old for the sf/f world. There was an sf/f scandal last week, and the week before. There will be another next week. They’re like trains.

  14. I’ve been around science fiction and fandom for many decades. My first thought on this was: “Who the frack is Jonathan Ross?” and wondering what the London concom thought they were playing at inviting an outsider (ie, someone not well known for their sf/f accomplishments) to host the ceremony.

    Now I just wonder what drugs they were on, because clearly no thought was involved.

    Sigh. I do love this community, but sometimes in spite of themselves. And yeah, what Laura said.

    • To be fair, Ross is a fan who has written a few SF things himself, and he’s married to a Hugo-winning writer. He’s not entirely an outsider. It’s even entirely possible that if the con chairs hadn’t muffed up, Twitter hadn’t exploded, and calmer heads had prevailed, he might have done a decent job in the event.

      We’ll never know, now.

  15. Loncon 2014 has issued an apology for the whole incident. I think it’s a good, straightforward apology and merits acceptance as such (though there are people in the comments that followed who are not satisfied).


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