Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Real Problem In SFF | The Arts Mechanical

The Real Problem In SFF | The Arts Mechanical

While I’m squealing a bit that Steve likes something I wrote he’s got to the center of the whole issues with the current state of science fiction. I’ve heard variations of that sentiment many times from people who’ve more or less given up on traditional science fiction. Watching the Hugo Awards last night, it’s not hard to understand why. The pettiness of the in crowd even when they win is incredible. Even when they are supposed to be having fun they aren’t unless they are poking at people.

What they can’t see is what they are doing. The don’t talk to real people outside their clique and they don’t even see what they have done to themselves. They’ve managed to take a genre that was once colorful, diverse and innovative and turn into something that is dull, bland and rather sordid.

The big problem in SFF is not the Sad Puppies, or the Chorfs. Both of those groups are symptom of a bigger problem. The big problem is monoculture. This guy explains some of the reasons why.

We’ve come to an era of corporatism with professional managers from the Ivy Covered Snob Factories moving people around in bureaucratic companies marching in lockstep with the administrative state. This Adam Smith quote sums it up perfectly.

The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it.
He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.” — Adam Smith

Human beings are not chess pieces and in order for the bureaucracy to do it’s job it needs to whip them into the correct forms through coercive measures. The most important thing the bureaucracy must prevent is an great upwelling of creativity and innovation. Creativity and innovation create chaos and gets people to act outside the moves they are supposed to have.

The problem is that in an entertainment industry white bread is death. Human being require fresh stimuli and If one venue can’t deliver it, well they will go somewhere else. That can become a real problem if your media is suddenly losing all it’s sales. That’s what’s happening in SFF. Along with most of the media. Instead of diversity to meet a bunch of different interests the big five are pushing stuff that meets their interests. And getting hammered for blandness.

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