FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Frey, Oprah, and so on

Chapter 12 (the one with Remus's questionable diet) is up at SQ. I added a few lines here and there.

Blah. Tried two or three openings to the next Shades segment and it hasn't really come together. I think I'm going to switch back to Tonks's point of view and get their last meet-up before Christmas. I think. Brain stutter, I guess. Maybe I'll write something else. I did figure my way into an original story I've been trying to attack for awhile.

My fiction-writer's pride is ruffled when people say, "Wow, I guess James Frey was writing fiction after all!" (For those who don't know the story, Frey wrote a supposed "memoir," hyped by the one and only Oprah, and it came to light at the Smoking Gun that it's a fraud.) No. If he could write good fiction, he wouldn't have needed to lie. He'd have just written a story about a junkie spiralling to the bottom and getting back up without a Twelve Step program. If you believe it and can write, then you write it. But no--the only way he could get anyone to take the slightest interest was to tell vast lies about himself. Fiction is and art, as acting is an art, and neither is the same thing as telling baldfaced lies.

I have to admit, I disliked this book the first time I heard about it, even thinking it might be true. I heard the description and my lip curled involuntarily. I think I lost my last shred of patience with the drug addict stories somewhere around the time Kelly got addicted to diet pills on 90210. I had some interest in them in high school, because that was a by-God issue and I was all into issues then, but it didn't take long to outgrow, and really, they're all pretty much the same.* There are enough out now that we really don't need another one. Just re-read the ones that are already there. So I have to admit to a little schadenfreude at it being trashed. My first thought was, "Hey, maybe stuff like this will make people publish actual fiction and inspire them to look for strong stories instead of emo-porn anyway!"

But my second thought was about Oprah, who's spending a lot of time being angry at him. She has a right. He duped her and used her reputation.

But she built that reputation initially as a journalist. She knows people are listening to her, and she has this guy on as a guest. And she didn't check up on him? From the SG article, it looks like critics had been questioning it for quite a while. She never investigated?

Of course not.

Because OMG, the Harpo staff was all crying.


Oh, I can't find it in my heart to be too annoyed with Oprah Winfrey, who did suffer the humiliation of being duped, but "All my staffers cried" is not enough to make a book's claims sacrosanct, and as a journalist, she should have known to do a serious check on a story like this.

And of course, that feeds right into the whole emo-porn culture, which is what produced this. We've developed and promoted a culture that loves to cry great, splashy tears over poor-poor-things who've had rough turns of fate. Victims, in other words. Every "memoir" is expected to be gaudier and splashier than the one before it. Of course people are going to start lying through their teeth--it gets them attention and sympathy. We sell these stupid sob stories and talk about them on national TV and make the people famous. Everyone wants to be petted and praised. Talk about a thousand stumbling blocks strewn around a blindmen's convention hall.

I was going to compare this guy to Lockhart, but that would be doing Lockhart a disservice. At least he had the brains to actually cover his tracks (no morality points, but brains, at least). And he told heroic stories, not fake memoirs of being a screw-up.


*It's reallly not the sameness that I mind, actually. Formula doesn't bother me. I think what gets to me is that people always treat this like it's OMGTEHWORSTTHINGEVAR! Like we're seeing something new that's somehow supposed to be all shocking and revelatory about society or something.

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