Monday, April 27, 2009

Hot Chicks Don't Read, Write, or Like SF?

At this year's Nebula Awards banquet, Joss Whedon received the Bradbury Award for excellence in screenwriting. I do think that Whedon - whose works include the TV series Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer - deserved the award. Both series have been given kudos for featuring strong women characters. It's a disappointment, then, that in his recorded award acceptance speech he goes right to the tired old stereotype that attractive women aren't interested in science fiction.
Hoyden About Town has the whole transcript, but here's the annoying bit:
Future is my business, because I write Fictionalised Scientifics, or as the kids call it nowadays, Fi Sci. And right now, I’m very honoured to be - not physically, but spectrally - among so many people that I admire. Especially you [points], and you [points], and that hot chick over there - why are you even here?
Hilarious, right? I mean, of course there would be no hot chicks at a SF awards banquet - just SF writers and SF fans. Never mind that the majority of the Nebula Awards this year went to women*.

Now I doubt Whedon would have said that if he had been at the awards banquet in person (at least I hope not), because that would have involved actually singling out one woman as both "hot" and not-belonging from a room where many women were present. Even if Wheden meant it as a throw-away joke line, it excludes me and every other woman from being a SF fan - being his fan. And that does indeed bother me, joke or not.

* Women winning a Nebula this year included Ursula K. Le Guin won for Best Novel (Powers), Catherine Asaro for Best Novella ("The Spacetime Pool"), Nina Kiriki Hoffman for Best Short Story ("Trophy Wives"), Ysabeau S. Wilce won the Andre Norton Award, and M.J. Engh was named Author Emerita.
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4 comments:

Athena Andreadis said...

Whedon's record on women is uneven. I saw Buffy sporadically and its women are definitely ass-kickers. However, I heard some alarming comments about Dollhouse and the women in Firefly/Serenity are close to stereotypes -- although they are not doormats at least.

I think he may have been trying to make the (feeble and well-worn) joke that most people who read/watch SF are geeks, and that "hot chicks" are by definition ungeeky. There is a dollop of truth in all clich├ęs, but they're still annoying and they do perpetuate preconceptions.

Network Geek said...

Um, yeah, the joke should go a little differently now. Back in the day, it *used* to be that there were no hot, uh, *anyone*, in science-fiction writing or fandom. So, I would have spun that as "Where were you when I was growing up a lonely, sci-fi geekling?" Apparently, now it's even sexy to game online. Who would have thought it possible?

Omphalos said...

I have a hard time calling female characters that are imbued with male personality characteristics "enlightened," or whatever feminist-style adjective you want to use, and it seems to me that most of his female characters are in fact so imbued. Still I guess that they are a product of their environments, but I think it takes more to make a convincing female character than to give them kung-fu and let them have sex on terms other than what a male dictates. So yes, I agree that his record is "uneven."

Miriam Goldstein said...

One possible reaction: "O NOES! Joss Whedon thinks I'm ugly???" followed by weeks of weeping. Probably not what he was going for.