14 November 2021

Link Sausages With Foul-Language Additives

Jumping right in after surviving yet another bad remembrance day (coincidentally timed, every bloody year, with Remembrance Day, something we don't actually do Over Here):

  • Let's see if we can spot some industry-wide intellectual (and actual) dishonesty in a piece at PW, shall we? It shouldn't be too hard, and it will have lots of company.

    If a vendor of Spanish olive oil was caught using Tunisian olives (even higher-quality olives, mind you), the outrage across foodiedom and various regulators would be astounding. T-shirts made in Guatemala with a "Made in USA" label aren't just disreputable, but potentially a criminal offense (only a misdemeanor, but still). Milli Vanilli, and ponder just how much of their "own" songs the typical pop sensation writes. The scandals in the art world when a non-forged piece is "reattributed." Purported "plagiarism" in political speeches. But…

    Don't disclose that a celebrity book is ghostwritten on the cover. Don't acknowledge the ghostwriter's copyright interest (try reading the definition of what is an allowable "work made for hire," and pondering how "book-length celebrity memoir" fits in there). Above all, don't question an industry practice/meme going back to the seventeenth century, because That Wouldn't Be Nice. (In case you hadn't figured it out yet, "nice" is a four-letter word in the dictionary between "nefarious" and "notorious" that is found nowhere in my job description.) Ms Deahl's piece is itself intellectually dishonest in its silence concerning the very legality of the practice — at best, an undisclosed ghostwritten book constitutes deceptive advertising — let alone its rationale or anything else. It's not that one cannot have assistance writing a long work — books are hard — but the failure to disclose that assistance, with the implicit claim that Celebrity X is now him/her/themself a best-selling writer as a solo act, is… inappropriate (in much the same way as "A Film By" is inappropriate when the hyphenate in question didn't participate in writing the script).

  • The non-contrast with the recorded-music business is educational in itself, because it also leads to questions about "what role(s) in producing the distributed arts actually benefit from 'exclusive rights to Authors for a limited time.'" Not to mention rather thoroughly refutes any neoclassical-economics invocation of the profit motive as the necessary and sufficient motivation for all activity.
  • Which sure beats being trampled at a concert. The dead, after all, can no longer buy the merch.
  • Last for the moment, consider the contrast between a stated allegiance to/preference for "democracy" and the actions of those charged with guarding it. Of course, any outrage concerning that clerk (who was certainly young and stupid… regardless of "native intellectual capacity" or "has grown up since then") is easily transposed to more-disturbing contexts. Consider a hypothetical one-word change in Ms Clanton's quoted e-mail:

    Like fuck them all… I hate theocrats. End of story.

    which seems fine. (And I own it.) The problem is that "theocrat" is not as easily, not as lazily-using-first-impressions, definable as is "black." These assholes are theocrats, and "fuck them all" is better than they deserve. <SARCASM> But at least they're not ayotollahs — that would be bad. </SARCASM>