Monday, May 26, 2008

Vodka Cougars, Hip Hop Hookers and the Written Word

I realize that, like music, most readers do not have well refined tastes. They seek out the latest get rich tome, the newest book that will GUARANTEE to change your life (The Secret or A New Earth, as of now) and pulp bullshit like David Baladaci or James Patterson and still, for some odd reason, Danielle Steele. The latest Oprah pimped masterpiece will surely sell out in days and the publisher will have to rush to print the next gazillion copies. You're dying? Fucking hell, then write a book telling people to appreciate the precious gift that will not be robbed from them prematurely and it will surely be gifted to every co-worker and recent graduate (seriously, fuck the phenomenon that is The Last Lecture. I was more moved by Al Pacino's speech at the end of Any Given Sunday).
We are a nation (and soon will become a world) filled with people who embrace trends and are constantly told they are miserable and should always seek perfection. The problem is that perfection is a myth. We all have our flaws but the way folks are steamrolled into treating those maladies is just plain wrong. This society is told that to truly improve yourself you need to have more money, conform to the standards set by everyone else or just shut the fuck up. The aforementioned books don't teach people to truly evaluate and revise their life but to improve their current situation. Make more money so you don't have to worry about being a narcissistic douche bag. Ignore your ego and let everyone around you piss down your back. Fuck that noise.
Now, we must contend with new, way more low brow, literary endeavors meant simply to be salacious. The tell-all memoir.
Sure, this is old hat in publishing but it has never been as so shallow as it is currently. The self-help and get-rich-quick bullshit is pathetic but the eagerness of people to read about how big Rapper X's dick is or who tried to the fuck the secretary at Label X is just disgusting. Not as bad as the customers who await to lap up names and details and never focus on a narrative (what the fuck did I just write? THERE IS NO NARRATIVE TO ANY OF THESE "memoirs") just to be the first to tell someone at a water cooler about the juicy gossip they just ingested that will surely thrust the emotional resonance of King Lear out of their peanut sized brains.
Chelsea Handler is the latest to benefit from this sleaze obsessed culture. She started out with My Horizontal Life, an epic work detailing the author going out and fucking random people and then writing about all the whimsical mishaps that occurred. Now, she has Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea and it's almost impossible to keep in stock.
The cunt is a comedian and her writing reflects that (hey, know your enemy) but what she has to write about is just boring. Just another Karyn Steffens (The Vixen Diaries) without the names to back it up. However, because she is a pseudo-celebrity, people just can't wait to see how the other half lives. Those who can drink $20 Cosmos at trendy spots while trolling for midgets, black men and other oh so colourful characters only entering her life to later be exploited for the sake of comedic writing. And man, look at that back picture on the book jacket. She looks like 30 miles of rough road after loaning her gash out to the quickest and quirkiest taker just for a story. It's lame, it's stupid and it SHOULD be beneath every one of us.
I've had my share of one night stands that have been intensely comedic but no one cares fuck all to read about them. And I wouldn't want to write about them in detail either out of respect to the willing participants who might have a different take on the events. Shouldn't all the guys Handler shunned for having little willies be able to retort in print and earn the same accolades as she has since they were mutual partners in a joined experience? Why can't I get published for detailing what are assumed to be private matters just to exploit the wackiness of it all? And why are we embracing a woman for, sorry to be so crude, intentionally acting like a slut and then rewarding her for it with 30 pieces of silver and a bestselling author label on top of it?
The sad truth is that it's all in the name. If Vonnegut or Salinger wrote a brilliant novel under the name of some random dude, no one would notice. No one would care. They would ignore the indelible awesomeness of the work simply because it wasn't from a brand. Shit, as negative and tepid as they are, James Frey still gets reviewed in all the biggies. Literature...fuck that...the act of typing or even orally dictating liaisons to a lackey has devolved to the point of branding. It only used to be extended to mass market standards, authors who churn out bullshit mystery thriller after bullshit romance novel that only sell in insane quantities because the books are easy to read and trash bin tripe that's perfect for the plane ride. It has extended it's wretched grasp to all aspects of the written word and while it's great to see human beings who only flip through People magazine for the headlines and pictures actually pick up something over 40 pages to read, if it's garbage, then what's the point?
Think of it as the audio equivalent of listening to a Fall Out Boy record and going, "Meh, it wasn't too bad." And then weep for the future of literature and our society. This world has turned into Alicia Silverstones clique in Clueless. I'm paraphrasing here, "We read one book a week. Nothing heavy. And the discuss for an hour!" And painting Barack Obama an elitist was so juicy for Americans to agree with and embrace? Wonder why.

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