Taken from "The Passive Voice" where the Passive Guy got it elsewhere:


“Fanfic is seen as the lowest point we’ve reached in the history of culture – it’s crass, sycophantic, celebrity-obsessed, naive, badly written, derivative, consumerist, unoriginal – anti-original. From this perspective it’s a disaster when a work of fanfic becomes the world’s number one bestseller and kickstarts a global trend.”

(And I didn’t write it, dang!)

Morrison certainly courts publicity to himself, but in a rather class-free way.

Link to the rest here:

In the beginning, there was fan fiction: from the four gospels to F...


That's Ewan Morrison, by the way.  I love the terminology.  So useful and so rarely on the tip of my tongue.  :)  It fits a lot of stuff that isn't fanfic.

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It's fair to discuss the merits of any given work, but I don't think something is bad on its face only because it's popular and draws from a well-worn road.


You're right--that wouldn't be fair.  But it's also not what I said. 

And I gotta say, Ben--The Flintstones?  That's your example of a pop-culture knock-off that works?  Anyway, 50 Shades isn't The Flintstones.  It's badly-drawn internet Flintstones porn (and yes, such a thing actually exists, although the Jetsons porn is better).  What we're forgetting here is that Twilight is also just a re-working of a very familiar pop-culture phenomenon--sexy vampires have been around since Bram Stoker (ask Anne Rice how she feels about Twilight).

I don't have a problem with porn, per se--in fact when it's good I like it just fine.  The problem with 50 Shades isn't that it's porn, or that it's popular, or that it's derivative (although calling it derivative is a gross understatement).  The problem is that the writing is terrible, and nobody cares.    

There's a clear lineage, which I why I used that example.

I don't disagree that it's poor writing. Not that I'm the next Hemingway, but some of it is just mind-bogglingly bad. But your argument shifted into something else when you posited that because it's fan fiction and popular (in addition to being bad), now it's some harbinger of a cultural doomsday. That can't be true, because people have been knocking off ideas for centuries, and turning them into works of crap. The horror genre is full of examples.

Accept that in order to be popular among the largest swath of people, you have to play the lowest common denominator. I wouldn't consider people on this site to be a part of that, but it doesn't make sense to me to get that upset about it. Yeah, 50 Shades sucks. But know what? So will the next uber popular book. And someone will decry that one as the death of culture, too.

I'm apparently not making myself clear.  Here's a metaphor that, I hope, will help to explain my feelings.  As you know, Ben, being from Minnesota, one of the features of  factory pig farms are these humongous lagoons of pigshit.  On a good sized pig farm, it's not uncommon to find lakes of pigshit thirty feet deep, covering an area equal to three football fields.  That lake of pigshit is most of vampire lit--Twilight, Anne Rice, all the way back to Bram Stoker (which is also terrible, mostly because it's boring and the characters suck).  It's almost all godawful, reeking excrement--a stinkerrific blight on the literary landscape.  Back to our metaphor.  Pigshit, it turns out, produces a lot of methane gas as it ferments.  Once in awhile, under the right conditions, a bubble of methane will get trapped under the industrial plastic sheeting that lines your standard pigshit lagoon.  That bubble will grow and grow until it finally bursts out of its plastic uterus and belches up through the liquid pigshit, creating a fountain-like eructation known as a pighsit geyser--raining fermented pigshit down on everything and everyone in the general vicinity.  That's 50 Shades.  It's not just pigshit.  It's not even a lake of pigshit.  It's a pigshit geyser, Ben.  It's not just a sign of the apocalypse--it's worse.  What it means is that all those smartass elitist defenders of the gatekeepers were right, and all the populist democratizers of the publishing world were wrong.  We have seen the future, Ben, and it has idiotic characters, risible dialogue, an insipid story, and all of it's lifted from something else that's almost as bad.  All over the country, editors and agents are looking for the next pigshit geyser.  I'm telling you, it's the end of whatever was left of civilization.

Also, you know that I'm kidding mostly, right?       

Where can I get a titanium umbrella?

This should be published in The New York Times. I'm still laughing fifteen minutes later.

I'm not sure I've ever seen the word "pigshit" in the NYT.  Always a first time, I suppose.

If Jon doesn't turn that reply into an e-book, I will.

It takes a pigshit metaphor to get through to me. Grew up on a hobby farm, so we didn't have the crap ponds of an industrial operation. But we sure had pigs. So I've seen the light (or bubble, in this case).

I take your point about the gatekeepers, but I don't think it holds weight when 50 Shades became part of the proverbial system. If it was an example of a self-pubbing fail for the gatekeepers to look down their noses, it wouldn't've been picked up by a major pub.

Anyway, we can all agree on one thing: You can't beat Jetsons porn.

There are always struggles at publishers, Ben, give and take. Sometimes editors give in to the marketing department and publish a "50 Shades" so they can publish something else. Simply because a major publisher picked it up doesn't mean anyone in editorial thought it was good. It just means publishing is stoll a combination of art and business.

When that give and take is gone, when business wins out entirely... well, it looks like we'll see what happens then.

What the ramifications really are depends on how you feel anout art and culture. It may be almost as important as food - and what we may be headed for is a steady diet of junk food. Now, I like junk food sometimes but I know what happens to me if it's all I eat.

May I buy you a drink? 

And I seriously hope you WEREN"T kidding!  

You may of course buy me a drink, as long as I can get the second round, Caroline.  I'm kidding, mostly, about 50 Shades being the end of human culture as we know it.  I'm not kidding when I say it's a pigshit geyser.

But of course.

Still....I'm thinking that a pigshit geyser could do some serious damage to human culture!  Maybe not end it....but make it sort of...unrecognizable....

Well, going by how much I see online it seems lots of people care - maybe not enough? Maybe not enough in relation to the number of people who don't care.

It's really no different from any other industry - the bestselling items (big macs or cars or anything) are very rarely the best quality and lots of people complain but can't manage to convince enough people to make different choices.


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