Thursday, January 12, 2006

Literary scandals and Jesus sandals

I don't know about you, but I think the JT Leroy and James Frey scandals are pretty stupid. I've never read any Frey, and I think Leroy sucks, though he was responsible for an early script of a movie I like a lot, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" (Van Sant ended up writing the film himself), but if you like these authors' works, who cares whether Frey's memoir is either exaggerated or fabricated, and who cares whether Leroy is a 25-year-old man or a 40-year-old woman? Whether the work has any merit should be decided by the words on the page. Most artists are notorious bullshitters. Are we going to pay more attention to them or their work? I don't see any value in paying more attention to the artist than the art. If it matters to you that a writer is who he/she says he/she is, or that a memoir be 100% accurate, maybe you should quit reading books altogether. In Leroy's case, it's probably a self-generated marketing tool anyway. He's a hack. Or she's a hack. Who cares? If I found out Flannery O'Connor was actually an 80-year-old Chinese man who lived in a cave in the Ozarks, I'd still read her work with pleasure.

This reminds me of another non-story. If I have to read in the newspaper or see on TV another news report claiming that 2005 was a slow year at the box office, I am going to crack open a beer, eat some licorice, and yell at either the newspaper, the Internet, or the TV. This piece of bullshit has been reported in nearly every major news outlet. Movie attendance in 2005 was down considerably from 2004. That part of the story is true. However, 2005's box office sales were quite high, compared to recent years. 2004 was an unusually profitable year for movie theaters because of one film: "The Passion of the Christ." Churches all over the country bought huge blocks of tickets so their parishioners could see Mel Gibson's Jesus death porn on the big screen. Thousands upon thousands of evangelical Christians, who hardly ever go to the movies, went to the movies in 2004 to see their good buddy, Jesus, get his ass crucified, yo. 2004 has distorted the statistics and created this non-story. My question to the news media is: Why? Why do you want us to believe that no one went to the movies this year? Why do the corporate overlords that own the news media want us to believe this falsity? Is it just lazy reporting? A failure to look at all the data? Figuring it was true because it had been reported a couple of times elsewhere? Or is something more sinister involved? Are the movie studios (many of which are owned by companies that also own newspapers and television stations) trying to guilt-trip us into attending more expensive shitty movies, even though we already attend plenty of expensive shitty movies, by telling us that we aren't attending enough expensive shitty movies? Seems like a lot of time and trouble to try to convince people to do something they're already doing. Anyway, stop reporting this story, idiots! It's not true!

This has been My Two Cents by the corpse of Mike Royko.

The corpse of Mike Royko is an embittered grouch who has been writing a complaint column since the death of Mike Royko.


milk and cake said...

i concur: frey and leroy are hacks and who the fuck cares? the age of autobiography is awful and needs to end now, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Riddle me this: wasn't the ostensible point of the Frey book that he was a conniving douchebag? So now, guess what, he is. And no doubt he'll write a sequel based on this ridiculous episode, using it as further evidence that he's still a dick, drugs are still bad, etc. etc. And then we'll collectively give him even more money and attention.

Good job us. We're fucking brilliant.


Air Wolf said...

Remember your post about missing out on shared cultural experiences? Aside from Jesus I don't know who anybody in this post is. Literary Scandal? Facts? In my day news was about bird viruses and miscalculated body counts. Sex scandal maybe. Literary? YAWN.

zoomletta said...

You are brilliant.

Dr. Mystery said...

Thanks, zoomletta, for having the brilliance to recognize my brilliance. I have a Pulitzer, you know. Not too shabby.