I came across a post on Medium today about Penguicon, another converged Science Fiction and Fantasy convention that has prioritized their politics over creating a fun event. Most people who read know about my history with BayCon, and how horribly they treated me after it came out that I voted “wrong” in the Presidential election last year. They acted like literal nazi hateful bigots that they went around calling everyone else who doesn’t agree with them on facebook, and are paying the price in public relations for it even to this day.
It looks like Penguicon is no different. Poor Jay, having helped out, volunteered and attended all these years only to see his con go by the wayside:
No longer. I don’t feel welcome any more so much as tolerated, and that precisely because I am the Tron Guy. The difference? Penguicon’s gotten political, and my politics are not theirs.
It’s been growing for several years, but really broke out two years ago. I was awakened (I refuse to use the grammatical atrocity “woke”) to the leftward tilt in SF fandom by the Sad Puppies campaign. When I paid attention, I saw that Penguicon was definitely taking the side of the social justice warrior contingent in fandom, from inviting Charlie Jane Anders and her io9 compatriot Analee Newitz as Guests of Honor to panels full of politically correct topics on gender in SF and the like, to putting up posters on “consent culture” in several places around the hotel, to lamenting that they had not been able to designate any of the hotel bathrooms as unisex.
I spoke to the con chair and a couple of members of the Board of Directors, raising my concerns, on Saturday afternoon. I was promised an opportunity to speak with the entire Board. That conversation happened via teleconference that October. The Board and con chairs — three of them, for the one just ended, the one in planning, and the following one — all said they’d try to make sure that their ideals included inclusion of diverse opinions.
You can read the full post here. Really these cons are shooting themselves in the foot. I’ve mentioned this before. Sci-Fi cons are competing with Comic-Cons, competing with Gaming Cons. They all cost money, they all take up full weekends, there are limited people to go around to all of these.
Local SF cons went political years ago — and they also went hyper “adult-themed” which is code for having sexual content inappropriate for kids or teens. Having this sort of thing encouraged and on the main program makes places not family friendly — which maybe a few people wanted at some point, but what that did was cost the next generation, as most folk won’t bring their kids to a convention that has “Kinky Rope Play” on the programming — which if you think I’m remotely joking, these conventions do this sort of thing. And then they go nuts over perceived sexual harassment problems — of course you’re going to have that if you make it part of your programming. Get rid of the nasty stuff, let people go do that where it’s more appropriate. No one wants to expose their kids to that nonsense, and really the reason those are there in the first place reverts back to the political problem of ostracizing half or more of the country if you think about it.
I looked at the other Bay Area convention, FogCon, and half of their panels that are supposed to be on Science Fiction and Fantasy were about hating anyone who’s to the right of Fidel Castro. Who wants to attend these things? One, it’s not what these organizations are here to do in the first place, and two that doesn’t sound like fun at all to be in rooms of semi-pro authors complaining about elected officials. Boring. Over years, you’re going to lose everyone because it’s not fun.
I’ve talked about this over and over. If legacy establishment SF/F fandom doesn’t wake up soon, they’re gonna find themselves with no one left. And I don’t want that to happen, I need people to sell books to. Heed Jay’s advice here. Clean up your con and make Science Fiction fun again.