Stupid People Write Books

30 Jun

I bet Hemingway liked hot dogs too.

So Snooki wrote a book. Yes, the pint-sized over-tanned and generally inebriated 23-year-old wrote a book, which will probably make millions of dollars and be fawned over by teenagers who may set foot in their very first Barnes & Noble just so the world’s most famous guidette can pen something like “Keep drankin!” on the inside of their hardcover.

Snooki isn’t alone. The Situation also wrote a book. Jill Zarin has a book. Both Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin have books. As do Tori Spelling, Justin Bieber, Tila Tequila and Linda Hogan. Listen, stupid people write books.

Now, I understand why this upsets some people, particularly authors. If I worked for years on something, if I slaved over continuity and characters and agonized over whether to use one adjective instead of another, I would probably be a little miffed that my final product had to share (or more likely cede) shelf space to someone like Snooki. I get it. The written word is a revered thing, a sacred thing. Authors want the bar set high.

Well, too bad. I’ve mentioned on this blog before my disdain for people who refuse to believe any contemporary fiction is worth their time. I won’t say I have disdain for those who bother hating on the dumb authors of the world, but I do think it’s a massive waste of time to take such idiocy personally.

Books are far from the only medium with high- and lowbrow contributors. Is there not a bit of a disconnect between Martin Scorsese and Michael Bay? Between The Economist and Star magazine? Miles Davis and Ke$ha? Even in journalism, old-school reporters cry all day long about the injustice of sweatpants-clad nobodies getting journalistic credit for 200-words blog posts written from their couches. And yet we soldier on.

Newsflash, world: There will always be a lowest common denominator. And there will always be people for whom the lowest common denominator is the pinnacle. Snooki isn’t stealing readers from Dostoevsky, any more than I spend Friday nights deciding whether to watch Citizen Kane or Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I know that on some level we’d like to believe the tweens of the world are at the bookstore making a beeline for Ulysses, before they’re cruelly sidetracked by Snooki (“Is that a poof? Must…buy….poof…book.”) Trust me, they aren’t.  (In part because no one makes a beeline for Ulysses.)

There will always be crap: in books, on television, in movie theaters, online. How anyone can walk down the street—surrounded by people screaming into their cell phones and leaving dog shit on sidewalks—and not assume at least some of those winners are creating nonsense is beyond me.  Frankly, I’m impressed Snooki knows what a book is; I’m impressed her audience knows where to buy them (we will ignore for the purposes of this blog post that I am in fact a longstanding member of Snooki’s audience.)

At the end of the day, we should be approaching the Dumb Author Phenomenon with a glass-half-full attitude. Which is to say that I don’t love the idea of people spending their free time on error-laden urban erotica like A Street Girl Named Desire, but I also don’t think those people are deciding between Street Girl and Moby Dick. I’m just happy they’re reading. If A Shore Thing—which does, for the record, contain complete sentences and the occasional polysyllabic word—gets some otherwise uninterested teenager to read something, anything that didn’t first appear on their phone, so be it. After all, I spent many years of my teenage life reading less-than-intellectual fare like The Babysitters Club and Goosebumps, so I find it hard to begrudge 21st century teenagers their Snooki and Tila Tequila  (or 21st century adults their James Patterson and Dan Brown). Writing style and skill covers a wide spectrum, guys. That’s why they call it the reading rainbow.

2 Responses to “Stupid People Write Books”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Boycott This Book « Sorry Television - September 15, 2011

    […] know I’ve in the past defended those who might generally be considered stupid authors, including Snooki. And I stand by that […]

  2. Formidable Fiction « Sorry Television - August 6, 2012

    […] my more distinct recollection of hating it.) Since I spend a fair amount of time talking about or defending the world’s least challenging authors, I thought it might be a smidge refreshing to reflect […]

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