Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grudge-holders Anonymous

I am 27 years old and I have a grudge.

My grudge is against people in the music/film/television industry who use their fame and fortune to take over everyone else's industries too.

I don't mind it if a famous movie star wants to become a painter or a writer or something instead. It's not like we don't live in a free country. What I mind is when these people use their fame and fortune to get an in with their industry of choice, thus achieving top status in said industry, and thereby flooding the market with mediocre junk.

In other words, when they get something without having to work for it, just because they're famous.

Yeah, I'm bitter about it. It's not fair to the millions of people who work their fingers to the bone just trying to get a foot in the door. It's  not fair to the millions of people who produce work of much higher quality, but can't sell it because there's no room left in the market. It's not fair that these people already are rich and famous and have everything they could possibly want in one industry, but it's just not enough for them.

Am I directing my invective to a particular person today? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because this post was inspired by a particular book. No, because it's been bothering me for a while.

Do you even know how many movie/music stars have picture books published? The list is so long, I can't even remember it all, but off the top of my head, I will list all of the ones I can remember.

Cheech Marin
Jane Seymour
Queen Latifah
John Lithgow
Jaime Lee Curtis
Julie Andrews
Brooke Shields
Whoopi Goldberg
Bernadette Peters
Weird Al
Peter Yarrow (from Peter, Paul, and Mary)
John Denver
Dionne Warwick
Elvis Presley (though admittedly he didn't write it. Someone just stole his song lyrics.)
Jay Leno

I'm fizzling, but there are more. So many more.

Some of them are semi-decent.

But others... well, seriously? Seriously? =>

Or this. It's just the guy trying to get famous with a younger audience, and he doesn't even pretend like it's not.

Not to mention that some are actually terrifying. Have you looked inside this one? Literally the creepiest illustrations ever.

Now I'm not saying that everything done by non-famous people is good. I've seen some refuse, trust me. But  there are so many authors out there that are good. That have worked hard for years, and still can't get anything published. That have to compete with this mess just to make half a buck here and there, but can never win. Because if you're a publisher that has to choose between Madonna and some unknown, unpublished author, you're gonna look at who will be likely to sell more books. And Madonna will always win.

But being an international and somewhat controversial music sensation just wasn't enough for her, was it?

Anyway, this brings me to the book which specifically inspired the post. Today, I am mad at Chris Colfer.

   People don't print his stuff because it's good. They print it because they know oggling fangirls will buy it in bulk.

I started reading the Land of Stories last night. Which, by the way, is a terrible title anyway. But I digress.

Honestly, it started out way better than I expected it to. I was intrigued by the idea, and I wanted to know where it was going.

Then it fell into the trap that I've seen hundreds of times. All the little amateur mistakes. All the no-no's that mark a non-professional author with blazing neon lights. I've seen it before.

Here's the thing: I don't think Chris is untalented. Until I stopped reading for fear of desiring to gouge my eyes out, I could see the promise there. The Land of Stories could have been really good. It only needed two things: an editor who'd actually do his/her job and not fan-oggle, and some practice.

The number of authors in the history of the world who were amazing on the very first story they ever wrote can probably be counted on one hand. Talent and potential is not enough. Potential has to be turned into Kinetic energy, and there is only one way to do that. Work.

If Chris had not been a famous Glee star, these books would not have been accepted for publication. They just aren't good enough. They aren't edited enough. They aren't practiced enough. The characterization isn't 3D enough.

But they could have been. If Chris had been forced to go through the submission/rejection process like everyone else, his writing would have improved. He'd have learned from mistakes, researched do's and do-not's, and gotten there the hard way.

Yes, I do think he's good enough that he would have gotten there eventually.

But because he got the free-pass-because-I'm-uber-famous, he didn't have to do the work. No one was going to turn him down. The fan-girls will love his stuff no matter what. And he will forever be stuck in mediocrity. His writing will never, ever get better, because he doesn't have to do the work. (Go back and look at my posts on Paolini, for another example of this.)

And because he never had to do the work, he got to the top spot by way of leapfrogging over the people who did. That's one more promising talent who will work at Micky-D's for the rest of forever, because despite all the talent and hard work, they just couldn't break in.

Triple whammy. Mediocre crap in the book market. A promising talent who will never be what he could be. And another promising talent whose dreams are now shattered.

So yeah, I have a grudge. But this underling, at least, will not be cowed by the fame and fortune of others. You've never seen stubbornness like this. The world better prepare itself.

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