This is a very old battle, the battle for readable fiction and other entertainment that people are interested in, well, reading, as opposed to being “educated”, lectured at and propagandized by an establishment (or as Sabrina Chase calls it an industrial-entertainment complex) that has lost its d*mn mind and sight of what it means to be in business and cater to the public.
It’s not political so much as adjacent to politics, and yet–
It’s not political — intrinsically — because a lot of what passes for “we’re lecturing you, peasants” from establishment publishers and movie makers is actually foofaraw, designed to make themselves feel smart or educated or whatever, and to our purpose — or anyone’s purpose — nothing. It is “smarts signalling” kind of like poor Kit Marlowe, consigned to writing plays, putting his stage directions in Latin, so he felt “special” and people would know he had an excellent education. Or 19th century writers hitting people over the head with allegorical this and that and Roman myth that and the other thing, because then people would know how educated and special they were.
On the other hand, one of the ways of showing you have an excellent education in the twenty first century is to display how much you learned about Marxism, from the plight of the poor (which you really have no clue about) to the sheer Weltschmerz of being young, well educated and living in the wealthiest country at the wealthiest time this world has ever experienced. Additional flounces and lace in the form of the various theories pushed by the more prestigious colleges might include an uncountable number of genders and Critical Race Theory and other forms of insanity with no contact whatsoever with reality, not even in a really crowded hallway when reality is trying to get past them to use the bathroom.
So politics comes in that way, and allows the Lords of Publishing to claim that peasants who object to the husks — that one wouldn’t feed to swine — must be doing so because they are racissss sexissss and homophobisssss (look, it should rhyme. Also hiss is the language of the twitterpated SJW.
But politics comes in another way too. You see, corrupted markets are corrupted all the way down and all the way up.
The more a market deviates from its ability to serve what the public wants, the weirder it becomes, and the more it tilts out of true with reality. And the publishing market has been corrupted a long time. And the side effects are far reaching and almost always deleterious.
It’s made writing — particularly fiction — into a sort of unending servitude that doesn’t pay quite enough for most people to live, not even if they write a lot; it’s made reading something most people talk about doing but don’t really do; it’s made “the heights of culture” belong to those who most efficiently parrot the political line of the establishment; it contributed to burnishing the left’s self-regard as “smart” which in turn made leftism a positional good and given an ideology that — fast or slow — has killed millions of human beings delusions of merit.
And it all starts right there with “we won’t buy and resell/produce what people want to read. Our job is to educate them and make them better people.”
It is also the reason indie is eating their cake and drinking their wine, and leaving rude notes on their table. Because in the end a producer who responds to the market always does much better than a producer who tries to control the market.
And weirdly, you know, indie are finding that pulp still sells. Oh, perhaps more carefully written pulp, but fast paced and interesting and pulp, in the end.
Which is what I thought of when I read this article today: JAUNDICED EYE by Wm Gault.
And this paragraph made me laugh till I cried, because I spent year ridding myself of the delusions of symbolism my degree had insinuated into my mind:
A man like Truman Capote is searched minutely for symbolisms that give his lavender words a deeper meaning. I respectfully insist that this kind of search would find even deeper meanings in Max Brand. Because even critics can see that Hemingway is great, it distresses them that he has hair on his chest. So he is also searched for symbolism, in order that the critics may safely acclaim him, Mr. Hemingway is about as symbolic as a poke in the nose, but lucidity is a crime to critics and they must have a different reason for liking him. They don’t want to be associated with the people, those horrid things who want to buy books.
And I’ll be honest, if your goal in life is to make a living from selling your books to schools who will force their students to read it, you should mind your symbolism and your political views, and make it attractive to that market.
Or you know, you could write for people “those horrid things who want to buy books.”
I hear it pays.
Anyway, go and read the whole thing.