|Art by: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sinart|
For a long time I believed that one's preference for genre or author or subject matter, simply came down to subjectivity, or purely taste--and to a degree it does. But when some literate friends of mine--those who I was sure had a handle on the current publishing trends and yet could still comprehend a classic every now and then--began recommending to me books like Fifty Shades of Grey, I had to question why.
It is one thing for someone I have just met to ask what I enjoy to read--this is usually upon them discovering that I attempt to write here and there. However, it is another thing to have someone who knows what my reading list looks like, actually recommend to me a mass-market seller.
"Just read it to see why it's so popular," they tell me. "Analyze it. Learn the formula."
Frankly, I think we should all be offended. There is something completely vulgar about what is being pushed in the markets today, and for me, again, it begs the question of "Why?"
I'm not a snob or a prude. I have read Eat, Pray, Love and The Alchemist. I appreciate the Nick Horbys, the Chuck Palahniuks, and the Bret Easton Ellis' of the world. This is not the type of reading I naturally gravitate toward, but these writers and their writing serve a purpose. They appeal to audiences that are explicitly aware of his or her own taste. If you enjoy one of their books or a certain voice they use in telling a story, you are bound to go back for another helping or two.
I am also not one to believe there is a division between art and entertainment. The very act of creating art is to, in turn, entertain the senses. But at what point does a book become something so incredibly lewd it actually mocks a society's intelligence and overall appreciation for humanity?
Lawrence Durell in an interview with the Paris Review, talked about vulgar roots: food, sex, and good living. We are drawn to certain themes subconsciously, even when they are hidden beneath layers of garbage. We still look for the basic truths, and try to connect. We are so hungry to find something we recognize, to understand our fellow man's plight, we ignore the glaring reality that there are things out there that we consume, that are bottom line: shallow and superficial--where we gain nothing, and lose a level of integrity in the process.
"I don't want to have to think," seems to be a common saying, when someone refers to entertainment that lacks depth. Well, if that were true, then none of us would partake in any act at all. We would wall ourselves up, shutting out all stimuli, all art, all "things" that have ever existed.
Every "thing" has its place, right? Of course. But at what extent do the "things" we encounter and consume, become toxic? At what extent do we need to say: "We are better than this." Or, "We can do better than this." ????
Anything we create is a reflection of mankind, and man is meant to evolve. So please tell me how we are still stuck on ideas that would titillate a neanderthal?
I'm sorry, this kind of "literature" does not get my rocks off, nor does it feed even the slightest part of my animal brain. I demand something more from my fellow man. We all should.
And please, for the love of God, do not buy me that damned book!