Tuesday, February 16, 2010

True or False: 90% of Everything is Crap!

So here's the thing I want to ask: What's with all the Twilight bashing lately? Is it just because we all got sick of the hype? Admit it, most of you, and many other people, loved it in the beginning. Back then all we heard was praise and raves. But NOW, it's not cool to say you like it and in fact, it suddenly seems you might even need to hide your head in shame if you admit you like it.

This seems especially true in the land of writers.... and "well read" readers. Wow, I heard a lot of Twilight bashing, or maybe that's too harsh, maybe I should say Twilight teasing, or Twilight jokes, at this recent conference I went to. Admittedly, some of it was pretty funny, but some of it bugged me too.

So, here's what I think...I think there are many many jealous writers out there! Bottom line, Stephenie Meyer "did it" and they want to "do it" too.

So I was pondering this last Friday night after I came home, and then Saturday morning I went to Brandon Sanderson's keynote speech for this symposium, and I LOVED what he had to say, because it went quite along with this thought I was having about the Twilight bashing thing.

He talked about Sturgeon's Law, which is a quote attributed to a science fiction author, Theodore Sturgeon, where he said that "Ninety percent of everything is crud." (Or crap as we like to say these days.) And I guess many lovers of this science fiction and fantasy genre believe that.... there's some some pretty good stuff written for the genre, but most of it is just crap.

So Brandon wanted to test the theory. He went to Rottontomatoes.com, a movie review site, and analyzed how the critiques reviewed movies. He found that even the grouchiest of critiques, one that even HATED The Lord of the Rings movies (gasp!) still liked at least half of the movies he reviewed. If his "study" worked there, it goes to reason that it will prove true for any creative body of work.

Another thing he pointed out was that even if it's popular, that doesn't necessarily mean it's crap. He knows that many consider themselves "elite readers" and won't read what's popular, himself included. He said it took him until Harry Potter #4 to try that series, and then he ended up loving it. Granted, if it's popular, it also doesn't necessarily mean it's good either!

What I especially liked is that he pointed out that if we cut down and degrade much of the stuff we read, then we are doing that particular genre a disservice. For instance, if we are actually lovers of science fiction and fantasy, we should want to build up and promote the genre. We should say, (and this is the example he used)

"Oh, you loved Eragon? Well then, here's some more stuff I think you'll like...." as you hand them what you think is perhaps quite better than Eragon. (And not say, "Oh, that Eragon... it sure is CRAP!")

And even if you think something is crap, that doesn't mean AT ALL that it really is crap, it simply means that YOU didn't like it, which in turn means, we all have different tastes, which is a GOOD THING! :)

He said, it's dangerous to assume and think that everyone should have our same tastes, which isn't to say that we shouldn't make our opinions known. It's good to say, "I didn't like that" but not good to say, "That is crap."

So, coming back to Twilight... perhaps some really don't like it, but that's not say that it's crap. I think there's something to learn from the Twilight phenomenon, and we should be figuring out what that is.

What do you think? Is 90% of the stuff we read crap? Or is it all just a matter of different tastes? Do you look down on those who like the popular stuff? Or are you a popular stuff type of person? Do you enjoy the differences of opinion we all have, or does it make you crazy?

I hope, I feel like, I'm good with all the different tastes we have, even though I told my good book reading buddy (who doesn't enjoy Brandon Sanderson's stuff) the other day, "My goal is make a Brandon Sanderson convert out of you yet!" But, I think we both know that our differences of opinion just makes things all that much more fun.


  1. I wouldn't say it's "crap." There are different purposes for different books. The twilight books are admittedly not well written. They have no depth to them. But people like them. They capitalize on emotions and they're fun to read. Personally, I liked the first one, hated the second, and never bothered with the last two because the second one turned me off. Does that mean I think they're crap? No. I don't think they're *meaningful* but people like to be entertained. If they can be entertained with a book, that's fine by me!

    I hope that makes sense. There's a big difference between calling something a fun book that has no real literary value and calling it "crap."

  2. Twilight was brain candy. I agree with the above responder. Not well written -- but neither is Dan Brown for the most part -- but he tells a good story.

    I for one hated Twilight. I got thru the 1st two, but couldn't finish the remaining.

  3. GREAT post! I've been bothered by the seemingly uptight bashing of popular fiction. I have always said that book snobbery makes me crazy. If someone doesn't like a book, fine, but don't judge others by your own standards. It just so happens that I don't enjoy mystery. I could care less if others do enjoy it, and in fact, am glad that people like it and keep the genre moving forward. As a high school English teacher, the LAST thing I want to do is engage in book bashing, because I never know what book will give a student that golden reading experience that has them reaching for another book, all in search of that same experience. I've read some books, and LOVED them, that others (and even myself) would scratch their head over. My choice.

    Love this topic! Glad you could bring such great stuff to us from the LTUE.

  4. I personally loved Twilight, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. A few of my close friends HATE it, and always give me crap about it, but I don't care. I like what I like, and who cares what anyone else thinks?:) I love Harry Potter too. I don't look down on popular stuff at all. I like finding new things to read, and if I happen to not like a book, I don't bash it or anything. I like to think of at least one thing I liked about it, rather than the negative. I think it's good everyone has opinions, but it really bothers me when people freak out and bash a book that they know someone loves, just to try and prove a point. Just say you didn't like it much and drop it. Great post by the way!:)

  5. I like this post! Amen to not saying pop stuff (or other books) are "crap." Mind you, I don't in general like pop fiction (well, adult pop fiction anyway), but what is one man's crap is another man's...whatever. You get the point.

  6. I like this post. Yes, I love Twilight, and I take a lot of crap for it. Ha ha.

    I think there is something to be said for pop literature. I guess some people call it that. There are lots of arguments that Twilight is not that well written blah blah blah, but it is popular for a reason. A lot of people like it. I agree that book bashing is kind of pointless though. Everyone has different tastes.

    Just an example of a book I didn't like much that many people think is excellent is The Kite Runner. Personally it disturbed me. I don't like reading stuff like that. I know its just one of those "this is true life" stories, but I like reading feel good, lift your spirits kind of stuff. I'll take the fluff books anyday.

  7. I do and will continue to adore the Twilight series, no matter what anyone says. I do not think that 90 percent of everything is crap. I think it proves the point that no two people will ever read the same book (I can't remember who originally said that). We all have different experiences and different opinions that will affect how we react to a book. Just because you think a book sucks does not mean that it actually does. It means that there was something in there that you did not like, and the person next to you might not feel the same way.

    I will even go so far as to say that there are no poor writers. They wouldn't be published if they truly sucked, right? Again, it is our personal preference. Is Dan Brown a crappy author? Not to millions and millions of fans, but to someone who only reads classics or philosophy, then yes, he probably is. It is all in our interpretation.

    To bash someone because of his or her opinion on an author or a book is, in my opinion, ignorant and intolerant. We have no right to judge someone based on what they like in a book. I might not like Nicholas Sparks, but my friends do. Should I look down on them for their choice of reading material? It would make me a very poor friend if I considered myself their superior in literature because I read Tolstoy over Sparks, Bronte over Steel. As readers who pride themselves on being open, we really need to consider that ours is not the only opinion and that book bashing is one step short of discrimination.

  8. Great topic!!! I enjoyed Twilight, but I am definitely not a die hard fan! Does that matter? Nope!! I actually believe that there are books written for different audiences. And, really the most important thing to remember is that people are reading!! That is truly the most important thing in my mind!!

    As for the 90%, I actually disagree with that in my particular instance! I actually think that 90% of stuff is good and only 10% is crap!! Each piece has it's strengths . . . some of it is writing, some of it is story, maybe even the characters, or the ability to relate to the reader . . . whatever it may be, I think MOST stuff is GOOD or better!! But, that's just my opinion!! :)

  9. Amen to the above commenters in regards to "read and let read" and no bashing.

    I had no impetus to read Harry Potter, no children or what have you, when it first came out. I feel sorta bad that I missed that train, because when I finally "stooped" to read it, I couldn't enjoy it. I think a lot of what a book gives us includes the environment around us, our preconceived notions, the culture, etc.

    Anything that gets people to enjoy reading, particularly people who didn't enjoy it before, is good in my opinion. The gateway books, much like gateway drugs, may not be top notch, but at least they get people hooked on a healthy hobby!

  10. Great post! I do find that I often don't want to read really hyped books, although sometimes I'll go back and read them once the hype dies down.

    I think the Twilight bashing has come about because it's now all about the movies and tween girls loving "dreamy" Pattison and his weirdly-shaped head. I loved the first book, but I have to say they were progressively badly written (I do think there are *some* standards we can judge books by), but I think that was largely due to a lack of editing. The last one was an enormous train wreck that could have been much better if someone had just reined her in.

    I do occasionally feel a bit of book snobbery, I confess, but not much. I find a lot of "literary" books are not enjoyable at all and really, reading is a hobby, it should be pleasant. I consider The Notebook and Angels and Demons to be guilty pleasures because I know lots of people think they're crap (part of me even does) but dang, they were enjoyable reads! And I think that's what counts in the end.

  11. People should read whatever they want to read. There are lots of books I have no interest in reading but I'm not going to look down on people for wanting to.

    Twilight is a really easy target for jokes but so is Jay Leno, the Olympics, American Idol, etc. Anything popular is going to get picked on just for being popular.

  12. I would say that 90% of books published don't appeal to me. That dosn't mean they are bad, just that we all have a different taste in books. I didn't enjoy Twilight, but I do like Dan Brown and Harry Potter. I don't mind what anyone reads though - as long as they enjoy it that is all that matters.

  13. The Twilight series and the Harry Potter books aren't my thing but both authors must have done something right to get so many readers. Dan Brown's books aren't any better written than Meyer's and Rowling's books but I like them. I don't know why. I just do.

  14. Great insight here. Super food for thought!

    So many of us feign book snobbery, reading only the uber cool books of the moment, and then,like a junior high kid, we turn around and "diss" something we loved only a few minutes before. Is it human nature? Envy?

    Would it stop you from eating your favorite ice cream just because others didn't think it was "cool"? No, we would eat it anyway I do believe. A confident person admits what they like and reads it anyway.

    Thank heavens that there are loads of genres and more than enough books for all of us to find the perfect book for us. We're blessed to live at a time when publishing is knocking our socks off with books around every corner, authors are so available and blogs are rolling forth.

    Keep up the dialogue, it's great. (PS. I do envy your incredible weekend at the conference. Thanks for sharing about it. It's almost as much fun as going!)

  15. This makes me want to go out and read crap with sheer and unrestrained gleeful abandon! Wheee!

  16. Thanks for all the wonderful comments everyone! I love reading what you think about this.

    Amanda: Sounds like we need to define what "crap" is for sure! :)

    Gerbera Daisy: Dan Brown was also mentioned a lot at the symposium I just went to as someone who gets lots of readers, but doesn't write too well.

    Becky: Yes, I like how you said "uptight bashing." And yes, about just letting kids find a golden reading experience.

    Chantele: Way to stick up for Twilight! :)

    Melissa: LOL! Right!

    Amy: It IS popular for a reason... and if it's so "bad" I wonder why it's so popular.

  17. Michelle: Wow, you said lots of cool things. I especially like the reminder of the quote about no two people ever read the same book... deep stuff!

    Tif: Hey, that's sort of what I was thinking... 90% is GOOD... that's why my TBR is so huge, right?

    Michelle: "Read and let read"... I love that.

    Tiny: Probably you are right about the movie hype making Twilight hard for some to own up to enjoying the books.

    Chris: Twilight IS easy to make fun of I suppose!

    Farmlane: Really? 90% don't appeal to you? Maybe my percentage is higher than I think too... I'm probably already doing what I'm talking out against and not even considering huge chunks of certain genres!

    Pussreboots: Interesting about the comparison between Dan Brown and these others. I think many would say the same thing.

    Inside a book: Yeah, what you said is why I felt the need to write this post. We read stuff, like it, then get nervous and say, never mind. Interesting. And yes, it is cool that we have so many choices.

    Bybee: LOL! Perfect comment! I love it!

  18. I guess what it boils down to is what "you" think is good writing. It's all a matter of opinion I think, and everyone is different. Yes, I think a lot of people jump on the bandwagon so to speak and go along with the crowd. Didn't we all want to be in the "it" group in high school (and really, the "it" group is different for everyone)?

    More than anything I just wish people would allow others to have their opinions and let it go. I even posted yesterday in a review for a different book where I referenced Twilight and mentioned I was embarrassed to mention it. This is because I almost feel as if sometimes, it can be detrimental to like something everyone you're trying to fit in with doesn't like. Well, I guess it boils down to, I don't want to be a part of those people if I'm being honest, we wouldn't get along anyways. Well, I'm rambling...so I better go. Great post!

  19. Great points! The thing Meyer did was hit a nerve with an audience that no one knew was there--so she must have done *something* right. I have many friends who adore those books. I personally am turned off by Edward and my editor brain wants to take a red pen to a lot of scenes, but I can't argue with millions of fans. Even if *I* don't like it, again, she did something right.

    That said, I do think there is crap on the shelves (not 90%, but it exists). But that's to be expected in any industry.

  20. Really great post!

    I felt the same way about Twilight. I loved it when I first read it. While that has simmered down to a duller "really like" feeling, I sometimes feel ashamed to say how much I like the series because it is so popular.

    I am more of a do whatever you want regardless of how popular it is person in general and definitely carry this over into my reading. However, I'll admit to not liking when something I love becomes popular. I'm not sure why I feel that way.

    Tara SG (25 Hour Books)

  21. Cannot agree more!! It is the same reason my TBR, both real and virtual is so large!! :)

  22. While my darker side enjoys a bit of fun bashing of whatever my pet peeve is at the moment now and then, I fully understand what you are saying. Its just like it has become popular (in Denmark at least) to bash Facebook (although EVERYONE are on it). And its like what we've seen with the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy: In the beginning everyone ADORED it, now it has become fashionable to bash it for its less-than-adequate literary.

    There are definitely books and genres I don't want to read, and I also reserve the right to bash them endlessly (LOL), but I accept hands down that others may enjoy those books AND that this book or genre has qualities which resonates with others, just not with me.

    You have just given me an idea to a post which will have the same angle as your post, but from the different point of view. Lets see if I dare write it :-)

    Great post you've written with much food for thought.

  23. I really liked Twilight, although the 4th book was a little, err, disturbing :S

    I love this post of yours! People really need to think about things and decide for themselves whether they like something or not, instead of simply jumping on the "I only read popular books" or the "I wouldn't touch popular books with a 20 foot javelin, because they must, by definition, be crap" bandwagons!

    I think that people should express whether they believe a novel is rubbish or not, because I, for one, like to read good as well as bad reviews and decide for myself whether to go out and actually buy the book in question. BBUT I think it's silly to bash people for the books they read ... if you don't like something, fine, you're entitled to your own opinion ... but don't make others feel embarrassed because they might enjoy something you consider to be inferior. That is uncool. :o

    I love to read popular books ... why? ... because they're popular for a REASON ... even if they're not particularly well-written, at least you know they're most likely to be entertaining reads. Sure, there'll be the odd book you completely dislike and can't fathom how anyone can dredge up the remotest interest in, but hey, that's why we're book bloggers, hehe ... so we can go and tell people that those books aren't as great as the hype is making them out to be (",).

    I also read books that aren't terribly well-known, or may have fallen out of fashion (like Twilight), and there's some good ones and some bad ones ... same as with any types of books! I think it's silly to worry about whether you're reading something that's "in" or not, and avoiding books simply because they may or may not be popular at the moment. It's just silly, really.

    About all the Twilight bashing ... well, I really think people have just had SO much of it shoved inside their skulls, that they can't stand it anymore! I kind of feel that way, too. I loved the books when they came out, and read them a few times, but there comes a point where enough is just ENOUGH (!) ... like when you hear your favourite song one too many times and just can't handle it anymore.

    P.S. Harry Potter is awesome :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails