The arts appear to be rife with double standards. Within the world of music it is considered normal to perform compositions penned by another; whereas having a book ghost-written is considered tantamount to literary suicide; unless you are the likes of Katie Price or Victoria Beckham, who don’t have brains to think in, and then it is considered necessity.
It is fine for singers to whinge on about their tedious experiences that probably never happened to them anyway but that is not a luxury that is afforded writers.
When I read James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces many years ago, I was shocked by its content, and it acted as a warning for me. I was a destructive drinker and whilst I couldn’t foresee myself plummeting to the depths that he delineated in his book, there were sobering similarities in his behaviour and mine. Later, when it turned out that much of the experiences ‘recounted’ in his memoir were in fact exaggerated or fabricated, I was neither shocked nor in the slightest bothered.
HEADLINE 1: Writer made something up!
HEADLINE 2: That’s what they do.
Frey was famously excoriated during an interview with a livid Oprah Winfrey after she found out that a writer had written something that wasn’t all true. Well ok, so he sold them as memoirs and he’d over-painted the truth somewhat, but ironically, this in itself got blown out of all proportion. For a start, originally, the book was fictitious. But no one wanted to publish it as fiction. People wanted to enjoy reading about the miserable existence of a real life alcoholic.
Eventually when Frey’s book was published, as a memoir, it had a positive effect on millions of people and has no doubt helped influence the recovery and save the lives of many addicts. I’m not sure any of these addicts who were ‘misled’ by the book, would have felt let down and returned to their unhappy previous lives of destructive and stinking alcoholism upon discovering that some elements of his story were dramatized, even if they were dramatized to the exponential of ‘bullshit’.
And how many other times are we being lied to on a daily basis?
People who work in advertising and marketing lie to us. Every day. They lie. They get paid (vast quantities) to lie to us. They sell us products that we don’t need and that don’t do what we were told that they did in the first place, when we didn’t need them.
Governments – oh now they like a nice lie don’t they. They fart out policies aimed at getting them into power, and we drink it up like tasty shit soup and then when they get power, they sit on their corpulent arses having affairs that I’m not sure anyone really cares about other than the media and rival parties, and lying about it, and being no better or different than those fat arsed, shit eating sexual deviants that were in power before them. And that’s the conservative ones.
And the media – well – they are the biggest culprits of hypocrisy than all of the others combined. If I was going to make a hypocrisy omelette, the media would be the main ingredient. They orchestrate scandals and then amplify them until they have everyone eddying around in puddles of their own piss, shit and panic – selling papers, improving viewer statistics and ensuring more clicks on their websites. Glossy magazines show us fake pictures of faux people – no disclaimers ever appear admitting that the gormless plastic dummies half naked on their front covers are little more than digital mannequins, enhanced by every tool possible.
Even medical professionals lie to us. They prescribe synthetic and expensive dubious drugs while proscribing healthy foods and a clean lifestyle which would be more effective, better for us and cheaper too.
Now I don’t blame Oprah for doing her job, but being quite so sanctimonious about it is not really necessary. There are enough media frenzies. And it’s not like Frey’s novel exactly glorified alcoholism.
Ordinary people have ordinary things happen to them and that is quite dull. For all the media focus on bad news, tragedy and catastrophe, most of us are lucky enough to lead fairly dull lives.
If it weren’t for creative people embellishing things a little, there would be no books, films or plays. Imagine how dreadfully dull that would be? I already have a sock dipped in ether that I keep in my breast pocket, should an inordinately dull work colleague approach me by the water cooler and commence telling me about the dream they had last night, so that I might euthanize myself before I lose my will to inhale.
Let writers write. It’s what they do.
Share your honest thoughts about media takes on things by leaving a comment.
Read about other media assaults like the royal wedding; JFK’s assassination anniversary glossed over; Mel C of the Spice Girls blames media for anorexia; and the spin following Osama Bin Laden’s death.
images: mayomedicineblog.com; emdashery.com; dailymail.co.uk; eurweb.com