Ask yourself these questions:
- Was I eligible to nominate works in any spec-fic community awards during 2011? How many?
- Was I eligible to vote in any spec-fic awards during 2011? How many?
- Did I?
Do your numbers add up?
As a community we get very attached to things – TV shows, magazines, characters, awards. And we can raise quite an uproar when those things are threatened.
We’ve seen this in the last few years with the closures of Realms of Fantasy. When it was announced in early 2009 there was an outcry that rippled across the internet, with people declaring it a shame and a tragedy. And a collective sigh of relief was breathed when there was a reprieve, only for the whole episode to repeat itself (twice) a short time later.
But the reality is, not everyone who mourned its death actually did something to further their support.
Yes they were sad, yes, they regretted it, but apart from that, what did they do? Undoubtedly some took out subscriptions, and others bought issues, but certainly not all did.
Quite a few years ago, I was on a voluntary committee that had about 20 members, but, as is often the case, 99% of the work was performed by the same four or five people. When those carrying the workload proposed changes, the other members cried about it, talking about tradition and how what we were doing meant so much to the community.
It’s easy to say you believe or support something. It’s harder to actually do something. Now, in the first instance, Realms of Fantasy really needed its supporters to put their money where their mouths were, in the second the active members were requiring the input of a chunk of time from their peers. But in the instance of awards, the ‘something’ you need to do is invest just a tiny amount of time, and it’s a shame that it isn’t done.
And that’s the kind of thing that is happening with our awards. At the AGM at Swancon this year, the suggestion was put forth to cancel the Tin Ducks, or at least to overhaul them, and people were horrified. Yet on closer question only one person on the room of around 30 had actually nominated anything. One. And it wasn’t me. All the people who were talking about the value of the TD’s, and none of them were contributing. And yes, I’m just as guilty, because I neither nominated nor voted.
I believe the Tin Ducks received 18 nominations this year. EIGHTEEN. Out of, well, a lot more than that. Several hundred eligible folk at least. That’s just sad. And it just shows where it rates in people’s priorities.
And it’s sad, because there were some amazing works produced last year, and while some of them made the ballot, I don’t doubt the ballot could have been far more competitive.
Now, for the record, I am not averse to putting the Ducks out of their misery, but I would prefer to see them revamped and something that a majority of the community participates in.
Last year there was huge drama after the Ditmars, and when the name calling ceased and the dust settled, the general consensus at the end of it was that we need more people to be involved in both nominating and voting.
What it seems to boil down to, is that people are happy to vocally support something, but when they have to actually do something, whether that’s financially, or by doing something, then it’s a little harder.
It’s a little bit like the people who complain about government decisions and actions and yet they haven’t voted. If you don’t vote, general consensus seems to be that you have no right to complain. I believe the same holds true for awards – if your sole interest in them is attending the ceremony, or reading the list of winners and congratulating them, then really, your opinion is kind of redundant.
It’s one thing to campaign and vocally support something, but your support needs to go beyond that. You need to be engaged. In the case of our awards, locally and even globally, all the claps in the world aren’t going to make our awards interesting, or something to be proud of. What validates them, what makes them worth of winning, is when community members offer their opinion. When eighteen people from the community choose, that’s not necessarily particularly representative, and it can in fact be easily skewed.
I am not trying to diminish anyone’s win here, I’m really not. I happen to think that some brilliant works were recognised. I do think though that something seriously needs to be done to save our awards. Now, I can’t speak for other states, I don’t have any idea what kind of percentages they pull for nominations and voting
In many instances, awards aren’t asking anything more from us than a small amount of time and some thought. Yes, we can buy supporting memberships to a con in order to vote, and I applaud those that can and do.
So if you’re eligible to nominate, if you’re eligible to vote, show that our awards mean something, that they are a reflection of works our community is proud of, and do so!