Dragon Awards: Enter The Red Panda Fraction

Voting hasn’t quite closed for the Dragon Awards as deadlines were extended to accommodate withdrawals. Meanwhile, there is a last minute appearance by a new player in town: The Red Panda Fraction.

File 770 has the scoop on the musteloidean agitators:

“The anonymous “Red Panda Fraction” sent out a tweetstorm criticizing how the Dragon Awards are run.”

Their Twitter page describes themselves as:

“Leftist fans of SF/fantasy/horror lit & film, gamers, & comic book nerds who discuss & promote leftist, LGBTQ+, and feminist cultural works in SF/fantasy/horror”

(They also seem to have a Facebook page but it doesn’t have much on it: https://www.facebook.com/redpandafraction – I sent them a friend request)

It is an interesting development.

I should say upfront that I’ve no idea who they are. Their motives seem clear and their critique of the Dragon Awards is sound. However, I’m not sure of their tactic of a recommendation list.

Firstly it is a bit late in the day to have any real impact.

Secondly, while their list is neither against the rules or (current) spirit of the Dragon Awards it still has the problem of effectively co-opting authors into a culture war whether they want to or not. Challenging the alt-right and the crypto-fascists of pop-culture is a worthy quest but it isn’t for everybody and even those who do want to be engaged in such conflicts need to be able to pick and choose their own battles. While the Red Pandas aren’t saying the authors of the works on their list are endorsing the Red Pandas, that is a side effect of adding somebody to a partisan list. I’m reminded of Kary English’s essay about becoming a football in the 2015 Hugo Puppy Kerfuffle. BUT I don’t actually know that they haven’t spoken to the authors they listed – maybe they did and the authors said ‘OK’, in which case please ignore this paragraph!

I’ve not seen any reaction in Scrappy Doo land yet. It may take awhile for the existence of this new group to filter through. Jon Del Arroz is doing his own thing and Brian Niemeier is currently busy failing basic reading comprehension of a comment by Greg Hullender from weeks ago (the original comment being here https://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/update-on-the-dragon-awards-drama-2017/ )

The good news is that now I may have enough locations for a new map…

Advertisements

24 comments

  1. JJ

    Yeah, I got a huge laugh out of the epic cluelessness of Niemeier’s comments. I’m pretty sure that the only way he knows which side of his pants are the front is because he knows to put the label with his name written on it at his back.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Mark

        I may have failed my willpower check when I read that 🙂

        Anyway, you made me go and read that Buis blog, and the absolutely *epic* comment thread after it. Contrarius has the patience of a saint.

        Liked by 1 person

      • JJ

        Here’s the link to an archived version of Buis’ post for people like me who refuse to give clicks to an attention-seeking troll.

        And I see that both Buis and Phantom keep repeating the falsehood that memberships were bought for people who would vote against the Puppy works.

        What actually happened is that Kowal and numerous other people, including Michael Z. Williamson, contributed a total of around 100 memberships, and that they were given out without consideration of who the requesters were or what their views on politics or the Puppies were.

        And Kowal subsequently published several dozen comments from the recipients, and it was clear from the comments that a fair number of them were Puppy supporters or politically-aligned with Puppies — something that both Buis and Phantom continue to very conveniently ignore.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Harper Cole

    This is surely a fake, yes? Controlled opposition, they call it. Leftists seldom describe themselves as “leftists”, preferring other terms, such as “progressives”. They also don’t use words like “problematic” and “our spaces” as often as those on the right believe they do.

    The Red Pandas are quite convenient for anyone wishing to claim victory in a culture war – victory that would be rather cheapened if the opposition failed to show up.

    Fake! If I had a reputation, I’d stake it on this … 8)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. redpandafraction (@redpndafraction)

    Thanks for the post.
    We do realize it is really late in the game this year to get involved, and the reason for that is that we just didn’t get it together in time. We almost delayed any action at all until after Dragon Con, but we finally got the logo finalized and who doesn’t love a Red Panda?

    However, it occurred to me yesterday as I threw out the Tweetstorm that we may have a small impact as long as we stay in the #DragonCon stream on Twitter today. Dragon Con has been a little bit better about promoting the Awards this year, and one of the main criticisms we initially had about the Awards is that very few people were aware of them last year. For example, when I opened the Dragon Con app yesterday on my phone, there was a reminder to vote for the Awards.

    We are aware of the problems of putting out a list, but as you point out, it is neither against the rules nor the current spirit of the Dragon Awards. We find the current spirit of the Awards to be problematic, but since some nominees with very obvious political leanings have campaigned vigorously on their own behalf, we have no compunctions doing so as fans.

    As a fan group separate from nominees, we don’t believe we’re co-opting nominees. First, the Red Panda Fraction coalesced after the Dragon Awards last year, and first thing we did was work together on nominees and then on voting because no one person can cover all the categories unless that’s their full-time job. We put together suggestions and got feedback on works in the various categories from people who have seen, played, read, etc., them. We then strove to nominate and then vote responsibly as a collective, dividing the labor of reading, seeing, playing, etc. nominated works as best as we could in the short amount of time available to us. In the future, we hope to put together a public recommendation list with short reviews of each work on the list before the nomination process and then for voting. Second, we believe that geek culture, broadly defined, is an important cultural space to which the left in particular has not paid sufficient attention and as such, we need to intervene in it through various means. A recommendation list is a benign way to do so. Websites do it, creators do it, and if there is criticism, similar lists are not hard to find on other side. We do not seek the endorsement of creators nor believe we require it, but I included creators who had Twitter accounts in my tweets, and so far, none of them have asked for us not to put them on the list. Third, we have every right to advocate for works for any reason for the Dragon Awards since it is basically a popularity contest. The majority of us attend and love Dragon Con, and we want to work towards improving the Awards.

    Finally, I have to get to the Dragon Con today! Thanks again for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • camestrosfelapton

      My point there was whether you intended to or not, the far-right will see any kind of overt leftist list of endorsements as a list of targets. I’m OK about making myself (to some degree) a target for SF’s crypto-fascists but I think we all need to be wary about how we involves others.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mark

      So, are “we” going to reveal the names behind the panda? Not that you’re obliged to do so, but it might allay some suspicions.

      Did your method involve people nominating things they hadn’t actually read, or did everyone read the recommended item in each category before nominating?

      To be frank, at the moment you’re providing a near-perfect post-hoc justification for the silly claims by DC staff about “Justice Warriors” and I’m treating you with scepticism until proven otherwise.

      On the other other hand, your proposal of some sort of recommendation site tailored to the Dragon Award categories seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable response and entirely in the spirit of the rules, provided it doesn’t rise to the level of the politically motivated slates seen elsewhere.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Andrew M

    So did the director of DragonCon have a strange premonition of this when he said that ‘justice warriors’ were intervening in the awards process? (As this very event proves, some such thing could happen; so I didn’t want to dismiss the claim out of hand. But until now I haven’t seen any evidence supporting it.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark

      Now, I don’t want to sound too tinfoil hat-ish, but if you wished to retroactively “prove” that Justice Warriors were influencing the Dragon Award, but didn’t want to risk a significant effect on the voting, this would be pretty much the ideal timing…

      Either way, these Pandas ought to consider whether this intervention is remotely helpful.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. greghullender

    Wow. I hadn’t seen the followup to my comment on Lela’s blog–much less the thread on the Niemeier blog. There sure is a group of angry people who really, really want the Dragon Awards to be meaningful, isn’t there?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cora

      And they think that if they repeat often enough and loudly enough that the Dragons are meaningful, they will automatically become though. The cognitive dissonance, it burns.

      Like

  6. Dawn Watson

    I’m incredibly puzzled by the left’s insistence on calling advocates of the Dragon Awards alt-right, effectively aligning mainstream conservatives and libertarians (which is what MOST of those authors are) with white nationalists. That’s incredibly misleading and, in most cases, just plain wrong. Some of those alt-right-labeled authors are not white. If one must resort to mislabeling people’s ideologies (and, by extension, their ethnicities) in order to paint them as extremists as a contrasting label to one’s own radical opinions as “moderate,” then perhaps one’s arguments aren’t solid to begin with. And that’s exactly the case with this post and many of the comments: Not sound at all. Snide, yes. Rational? No. Blatantly false? Absolutely.

    As far as “meaningful” awards go, the fandom attending DragonCon is just as valid as that attending any other awards-presenting convention. Many of the Dragons went to well-written stories, as opposed to the, let’s face it, utter crap that other awards have degenerated to. When an “award-winning” book has a cumulative rating of less than 3.5 stars on GoodReads (and many of those in the more “meaningful” awards category do), how good can it really be?

    Sour grapes don’t make good wine, and that’s all I see here.

    Like

    • camestrosfelapton

      Some mighty straw men being knocked down there. As far as I can see the Red Panda Fraction are *ADVOCATES* of the Dragon Awards and they aren’t being called “alt right”. So who is this who is calling who ‘alt right’? Maybe that is the source of your puzzlement.

      Let elucidate:
      Larry Correia is an advocate of the Dragon Awards. Do I call him ‘alt-right’? No.
      Vox Day campaigns for the Dragon Awards. Is he what you call an ‘advocate’ for them? I do call HIM alt-right and he clearly is.

      Do I call my own radical opinions ‘moderate’? No I call my political opinions in general ‘socialist’ not ‘moderate’. Ok I call some of my opinions ‘moderate’ e.g. ‘Cheese on toast is a tasty snack’ <- a moderate opinion.

      The fandom attending Dragon Con? They are great as far as I know. My issue has been the disconnect between them and the Award!

      Like

    • Mark

      Care to point out the “blatantly false” parts?

      For the record, and pretty much what Camestros said, I don’t think advocates of the Dragon Award are alt-right, I think some (but not all) of the people trying to slate the Dragon Award are alt-right, in the case of VD for the very simple reason that that’s what he calls himself. I think (and hope) that the vast majority of people who simply support the award – as opposed to trying to abuse it – are just ordinary people who think the award is a good idea.

      From my perspective most of the commentary on the Dragon Award has focused on the “alt-marketing” aspects of the interlopers, which admittedly tends to involve them railing against SJWs etc which is itself a hallmark of the alt-right, but their exact political affiliations haven’t really been a focus, mostly because for alt-marketeers their politics tend to be a matter of performance art anyway.

      In fact, I’ve been strongly critical of some of the Red Panda actions despite being nominally on the same side of the political spectrum as them (see some of the other posts here if you want) as have others so I’d say that shows that the objections raised are about actions not politics.

      Also, I don’t agree that criticism has been leveled at the “average” DC attendee – one of the main themes has been that the award needs to get those attendees more on board because the nominations really didn’t represent them (albeit the final vote may well have). I absolutely agree that an award issued by a representative sample of DC fandom will be valid and interesting.

      Like