Friday, January 30, 2004

Oprah: Destroyer of Literature

Got an e-mail from someone who actually reads more than blogs with a suggestion for a post:

“Here's an idea for your little website: Oprah's book club destroys literature. She put Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" on her Book Club list. This is a classic work of literature and I actually liked the book. All of a sudden I've lost respect for it.”

My gut instinct is to agree with this person. Seeing a seal of approval by Oprah on a book makes me feel less likely to read it just because I don’t want to subscribe to the cult that is Oprah. Sometimes though, Oprah picks a winner. Does this make the book any less enjoyable, or good, or whatever? Does it change anything about the book, except for maybe the placement on the shelves and its sales? No. Do I look down upon at the author for “selling out?” No. Who am I to say this person shouldn’t be able to pay his or her bills or have his or her audience widened just because of the cheese factor. I’d like to say I would be strong willed enough to say no to Oprah (not that I’m a writer), but who am I kidding? I’m no Fugazi.

It’s like when a band that you love is small and unknown, and then suddenly becomes huge and you see ten year olds coming out of Hot Topic wearing their T-shirts and singing their lyrics. Suddenly, you don’t want to like you old favorite band anymore. You now have to share them with the masses. And the masses are dumb. And you’re better then them. Right? Don’t answer that. That ten-year-old rocks for wearing a White Stripes t-shirt and could be the next Jack White or whomever for all you know. And just because someone is late to the game doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have their life changed by a band or album.

And are movies the only entertainment medium that is safe from this trend of--for lack of a better term--player hating? When little independent movies become hugely popular, they still remain cool by snobs and everyone alike. Why is everyone so territorial over music and books?

Finally, is Oprah really destroying literature by making more people read? Call me crazy, but that sounds like a positive thing to me.

Ok rant over. When it’s all said and done, I’m an admitted snob and wouldn’t touch a book endorsed by Oprah with a ten foot pole. I’m also completely over The White Stripes. They are so 2001.