As you can see, I’m a bit late with this week’s blog post, but the pause is well warranted. I started out writing an angry response to a bad situation, but once it was on paper I realized all I was doing was making things worse. So I sat on what I’d written for a few days. Then I began rewriting. It still wasn’t ready Wednesday morning, because I still hadn’t gotten my point across. I actually considered deleting it completely, but I’m pretty well known for sticking my foot in my mouth on a regular basis. So here I am, weighing in on a subject that’s roughly akin to a dead horse.
It really is a wonder I have toes left at all.
So, it all started when a small-time blogger made the mistake of voicing an opinion before sharing a creative project. From what I’ve seen, it was a logical, well thought out opinion, too. Unfortunately, what should have been a one-and-done blog post has turned into a week long soap opera.
Yes, I’m perpetuating the drama. But the whole situation sort of pissed me off. It came on the heels of one of my own blog posts two weeks ago, in which I talked about people offering intentionally hurtful reviews on books. The topic is a bit of a sticky one for me because I don’t particularly like to see people being mean to each other.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
STEP ONE: A Blogger has an opinion.
Let me start by saying this: Miss Articulate, the blogger, is an English Lit major. She isn’t some stupid little girl out to hurt feelings. I read the whole post, and I’ve read a large selection of the articles on both sides of this bizarre electric fence. I agree with points on both sides, but there’s one point that hasn’t been made.
So, a reader didn’t like a book. She could have really trashed it. She could have been hateful and hurtful and just plain spiteful, but she wasn’t. She said she didn’t enjoy the book, and then she told the world why she didn’t enjoy it. As an author, I would rather see a negative review with legitimate feedback than watch someone senselessly rip a book apart. Figuratively. We’ll get to the literally part in a minute.
It’s a bad review.
They happen every day to all sorts of authors. As for the cutting up of the book – it didn’t have anything to do with the opinion of the contents. The book was cheap, and it was earmarked for this project prior to reading. Many crafters wouldn’t give it a second thought, but the fact that she did read it before cutting it up speaks volumes to her integrity as an intellectual.
Regardless, it was her book. She bought it. Good on her for doing what she wanted with it. There are hundreds of thousands of other copies of that same book in the world, most of them in far better shape than the one she took apart. If people are really that up in arms about that particular title not being available to someone of lesser means in a thrift shop, then I’ll gladly donate both of my copies to a local Goodwill. Yes, I have two: the paperback I read, and the hardback first edition for my collection.
Step Two: Anne Rice Responds on Facebook.
Okay, so I can see the point of contention. It’s all in the way the request for discussion was worded in that Facebook post. Yes, the chick cut the book up, but not as a result of reading it. As an author, I understand the defensive tone, but I just can’t condone that sort of approach. The comment was more than a little unfair.
No, I don’t expect everyone to like what I write. No, I don’t like receiving bad reviews either, but I’m logical enough to know it’s going to happen. And I’m okay with that. I do, in fact, read reviews of my work, because I hope to learn from them if they aren’t good. But that’s just how I roll.
Mrs. Rice is well within her rights to post a link to a review in her netspace. Regardless of her intent when posting the link or the comment prefacing it, she, like every other human in this country, is also allowed to say anything she wants in response to the content of the original post, regardless of how it’s going to sound. The sad part of text is that vocal inflection doesn’t transfer. She may very well have been chuckling as it was written, meaning cute humor instead of malicious intent, but we won’t know that because words on a page don’t have sound.
(Aside: Intentionally vicious behavior does nobody any good. Just sayin’.)
I understand there have been previous social media / reviewer incidents involving Mrs. Rice. Those, quite honestly, have no bearing on this incident because they’re in the past. At this point I don’t care if she set someone on fire five years ago. As I already stated, it’s her right as a human to speak her mind on this or any subject. It just so happens she has a wide net of fans willing to come to her defense, whether it’s needed or not and in a less than civil manner.
STEP THREE: The Fans Respond.
There isn’t a link for this, obviously, because they responses are contained in the hundreds of comments on the original post. While not all of them are nasty, seething messages of hate and harassment, a good many of them are. It both saddens and disgusts me to see humanity so out of control that people think it’s appropriate to belittle others with comments like “You f***ing hag. I hope you get herpes.” and “You bitch! >:(“.
It’s obvious to me that the vast majority of the hurtful comments came as kneejerk reactions to a poorly worded comment from the author which, in retrospect, probably started the whole thing. It’s painfully obvious as well that many of those who left the comments did not actually read the post first.
Remember what I said a few weeks back about insensitivity and hatefulness not being helpful? Yep, this is the same sentiment on the other side of the coin. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you find yourself in at the table. If you don’t know how to be nice, then at least have the decency to not speak, please.
THE POINT OF THIS POST:
Brains are for thinking and should be used long before tongues begin to wag.
The blogger, the book, and the book’s author are all irrelevant. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans that it just happened to be an Anne Rice book or that Mrs. Rice feels the need to exercise her right to free speech and share things that interest her. It also doesn’t matter that one person happened to have a less than glowing opinion of this book. It also doesn’t matter that one book was turned into something else by way of a penknife and white glue.
It could have been any blogger, any book, and any author.
Everyone at the bully-bar needs to take a step back and take a deep breath. At this point everyone is jumping to conclusions on all sides, and the mudslinging isn’t doing anyone any good. Anybody remember the last Presidential election? Remember how tired we all were of listening to the candidates beat each other up for months on end? Yeah, same concept.
It’s fine to disagree with an opinion. But honestly, fellow humans… There are better ways of handling things than calling each other out as Nazis and wishing for herpes. If there’s any truth to Karma, if you want someone to have an STD, then you yourself will likely wind up with three.
As for personal opinions – I own all of Anne Rice’s books up through Blackwood Farm. Not just the Vampire Chronicles… ALL OF THEM. I’ve read all but the last two. No, I didn’t enjoy all of them. It just so happens that I didn’t particularly enjoy Pandora for many of the same reasons pointed out in the original post. I love the beginning of the book and the stories of Philosophers and the travels to Alexandria, but that’s where my appreciation stops. There isn’t anything to connect me personally to that character. But that’s my opinion. However, there are other books and characters I adored. Some of them I’ve read multiple times. I’ve been through three copies of Cry to Heaven because I read them until they fall apart.
I’m also a crafter who enjoys cutting things up and making new things. If I ever get a wild hair to cut up a book and make something nifty with it, then I’ll do it without regret. Why? Because it’s my book.
In closing, I’d like to share my favorite comment from the whole mess: