15 February 2006

Not Necessarily News

Today's theme is, basically, "so the media finally noticed!" In no particular order,

  • In yesterday's Daily Telegraph, one can find an article discussing slash fiction that concludes:

    Slash-fiction none the less inspires some serious reflections about the human propensity for story telling. For literary historians (as with biologists and the fruit fly) it is fascinating to observe, in clinical conditions, a literary form coming rapidly into mature existence. Literary sociologists will find confirmation, as with the samizdat novel in the Soviet Union, that the human species has an ineradicable need for narrative which rebelliously refuses to conform to the arbitrary norms and regulations of its host society. Slash-fiction is unprintable in a culture controlled, as ours is, by libel law. It flourishes on the web because that medium is, at the moment, beyond the reach of the libel lawyer. For literary psychoanalysts, slash-fiction is revealing about the mysteriously powerful, irrational and erotic emotions that feed fandom. In short, it's very interesting. A pity it's not more readable.

    John Sutherland, "Slashing Through the Undercult" (14 Feb 2006). And tell me, Mr Sutherland, exactly what planet have you been hiding on? <SARCASM> And did you bother to actually talk to anyone who knew much (if anything) about fan fiction before reaching this startling conclusion? </SARCASM>

  • A few days ago, Damian Horner noted in The Bookseller that

    The supreme irony of the publishing industry is that it is killing itself with words. The words that are used to describe every new book that comes onto the market. Rave press reviews and gushing quotes adorn every single book sold. Yet the simple fact of the matter is that they can't all be great books. It should come as no surprise therefore that years of uncensored and thoughtless use have resulted in the language of press reviews being fundamentally devalued[.]

    (paragraphing corrected for clarity) And this is news? One heard the same complaints about cover blurbs in the 1980s, and for that matter the 1960s. And the less said about the way the film industry has used (and misused) reviews since the 1920s, the better!

  • The WSJ's technology section now worries about whether some Internet parodists might be trying to have their copyright both ways. Fair use for me, but not for thee, eh? Given the number of spats spawned—in both directions, mind you—by Mad Magazine, this cannot possibly be news. Well, perhaps one aspect is news: The WSJ citing the EFF's Fred von Lohmann and his (IMNSHO) overly expansive view of fair use with apparent approval.

I have no argument at all with mentioning these kinds of foibles. I have a problem with pretending that they're anything "new", except perhaps as to the particular writers in question (and not always then). I suppose it beats being eligible for Social Security while fronting the halftime show at the Super Bowl… but then, I've never been a Stones fan. (As my son remarked a while back, in response to a TV broadcast from the local Triple Rock, "For I am James Marshall Hendrix, thy guitar god, and thou shalt have no others before me.")