For Millennials. By Millennials.
Usually, people are angry at George R.R. Martin for being lazy in writing the Winds of Winter. However, this time it looks like fans and the public is angry at him for a more sinister reason. After hosting the 2020 Hugo Awards, Martin is accused of racism. What exactly did he do to be accused as a racist? And is Martin really a racist? Let’s take a look.
George R.R. Martin at the 2020 Hugo Awards
The racism allegations began right after Martin hosted the digital ceremony of the 2020 Hugo Awards. It’s a prestigious award, which celebrates science fiction and fantasy writers of the past and present. However, the problem came when it came to announcing the Retro Hugo Award. During the ceremony, Martin celebrated the legacy of two notoriously racist writers.
It’s an award that celebrates fantasy and sci-fi writers from a time when the Hugo Awards didn’t exist. In between segments, George R.R. Martin praised writers like H.P. Lovecraft and John W. Campbell. He repeatedly talked about their legacy and reveled on them as a fanboy. But, both Campbell and Lovecraft have a very shady and problematic past. Lovecraft was xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and a white supremacist. Meanwhile, Campbell was also famous for his racist and pseudoscientific beliefs. And it was especially problematic because Campbell’s name was removed from the Best New Writer award after last year’s winner Jeannette Ng highlighted his troubling legacy.
Moreover, George R.R. Martin also mispronounced the names of Rebecca F. Kuang and FIYAH, which is a Black quarterly magazine run by Black writers. Due to these events, people are angry at Martin, accusing him of being a racist. Moreover, there was also a blogpost, captioned:
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN CAN F*CK OFF INTO THE SUN
Martin apologizes for racist gestures
Furthermore, he also faced backlash over the racist gestures on Twitter. Consequently, George R.R. Martin tweeted one of Voltaire’s quotes, which read:
We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies.
Words for our times… pic.twitter.com/izSO5wBCfX
— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) August 1, 2020
Other than the tweet, George R.R. Martin also wrote a lengthy post on File 770, in which he apologized for his racist gestures and said:
At no point in the process was I ever given a phonetic guide to how to pronounce all the other finalists, the ones who did not win. Had I received that, I would certainly have made every effort to get all the names correct. I do hereby apologize to everyone and anyone whose name I mispronounced. I am deeply sorry. That was never my intent.
However, now that the dust has settled from the incident, it gives us a chance to retrospect. Is George R.R. Martin really a racist?
Is he really a racist?
Yes, some of the things George R.R. Martin said and did do count as casual racism. But, to call him a full-blown racist is a bit too much. This is the same author who has regularly had minority characters in his books, but still believed that it wasn’t enough to address racism properly. That is why he wrote Fevre Dream (1982), which was basically an allegory about slavery, represented through a story about vampires. It was a novel that was solely focused to narrate the plight of the oppressed. Other than not being a racist, George R.R. Martin is also a feminist. This is evident by the fact that he was well-written and strong female characters in almost all his novels, including the A Song of Ice and Fire series. That is why calling him a racist is a complete disregard of his life’s work.
Yes, there’s no doubt that Martin made a mistake in the 2020 Hugo Awards, but his whole life’s work is a testament of his stand against racism and misogyny. Therefore, he is definitely not a racist but did make some racist gestures in ignorance. After all, not everything is as clear as night and day.