I really don’t want this space to become yet another blog about writing; there are plenty of excellent ones already out there, and I don’t feel qualified to teach/lead people in their writing careers, and I’ve got plenty else going on in my life to write about anyway.
But, this article at Publetariat, Fifty Shades of Hypocrisy, is interesting for both readers and writers, I think.
In the genre industry, whether it is romance or sf or action/adventure, we often get slammed for lack of quality writing. That’s not without justification, because there is truly terrible writing being published in every genre and always has been, back to the dime novel days. The essay isn’t about the quality or lack thereof of 50 Shades or any other run away best seller, and in fact isn’t really about writers although it is speaking to authors.
It’s about how we treat success; the knee jerk reaction is usually to rip it down. Culturally, we’re conditioned to look for fault in anything that is popular, and I think that demeans all of us.
I’m not saying (and neither is the essay) that we should hold bad writing up as equal to great literature; that is folly. What I am saying is that we should lay off with the judgmental negativity concerning someone else’s success.
I remember when the Kony 2012 video came out and basically took over tumblr for 24 hours. When I watched it, I was really moved by it because the video was supremely well executed to do just that. It succeeded in making people aware of the issue in an emotionally gripping, unforgettable way.
I knew, cycnic that I am, that it would be ripped apart within the next 24 hours and that the organization itself would be subject to a witch hunt. Now, I’m not here to argue pro/con about Invisible Children, and yes I think nonprofits stirring up international controversy should be subject to close inspection. What I’m saying is that none of what followed was really due to anything having to do with the Kony controversy, it came almost entirely from the established entities who were pissed off that the video was popular. The Red Cross was literally whining about how they had been on top of the Kony issue for years, and no one cared.
Well, no one cared because no one had made a vid that made them care. Being highbrow is a totally valid choice in any area, be it fiction or non-profit humanitarian organizations, but then it’s supremely hypocritical to turn around and bitch about others getting the popular attention you never wanted to begin with.
I’m not making a 1:1 correlation here, because that’s pretty shaky. What I’m asking is, why the hate? Why hate genre fiction if that’s not what you read and not what you write? Why hate on the success of others if it has no impact on you? Alternately, why hate on a person or group who does something better than you? Learn from them, instead.
If someone has made millions of dollars off a badly written book, then at least acknowledge that they did something right, even if that something is not the writing between the covers. There is plenty of room for all of us here, and a lot we can learn from each other.