I've determined that the things people seem to laugh at the most in the universe are pirates, monkeys, and Spam. So if we get a monkey, put an eyepatch and a hat on him, and either cover him in Spam or just let him eat it on TV, we'll have a mega-hit.
Sadly there aren't too many standards in the entertainment industry today. I've been annoyed by TV shows even though I don't watch TV (haha, let's get a bunch of people who HATE each other and make them live together and film them kicking each other's asses! Yay for "reality" TV!). I've been annoyed by movies (hey, let's get a sexy chick and a buff man and put them in a hackneyed murder mystery together, and pretend they're not going to fall in love even though they are! Genius!). Lately, I've been most annoyed by books. Being that I work in a bookstore, I see a lot of them, good and bad. And I don't understand why, in a world where getting quality literature published is nevertheless really difficult, there is an unholy amount of pure CRAP that gets published just because somebody knows somebody.
Take Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They did nothing to achieve their rise to fame, right? Pretty much sold to the show Full House shortly after being born, because they wanted the role of Michelle to be played by twins (common thing for child actors, if you didn't know). I don't know what happened in between, but after Full House they had a plethora of bad movies where they played cute detectives or something, and then they started getting to that teenage period where everything turns into being about boys. They have had like five TV shows. I don't know much about them except that they were pretty insipid, but what I do know is that I now count SEVEN book series based on the Olsen twins, and I am forced to carry them in my section. That's right, SEVEN.
There are the Full House books, of course based on the character Michelle. Then there's a series of books that are novelizations of all their annoying movies. Next we have The New Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley, where they are the "Trenchcoat Twins" and solve mysteries. Beyond that, we have three series that are basically clones of each other: So Little Time, Sweet Sixteen, and Two of a Kind. They're just about the twins' teenage dramas. And Mary-Kate and Ashley In Action is based on their animated series (they save the world--or the fashion show). But . . . I don't understand. It's insipid. Get this! Here's the little blurb from the back of the book from one of their horrid movie books: Our Lips Are Sealed.
"Mary-Kate and Ashley Parker are hanging out, trying to think of a way to become popular -- when a jewel thief trips over their feet! They've stopped a major crime! That's the good news. The bad news is, now the Parker family has to move to Australia to get away from the thieves! Australia is great...at first. The girls' plan works, and soon they're part of the popular crowd. But now they've got two problems. One: The boys they really like aren't part of the in crowd. Two: The jewel thieves have tracked them down -- and they want revenge!"
I was going to rant about this for a while, but I decided not to after re-reading this. Anyone who reads this synopsis will probably want to hurl as much as I do, and will need no further encouragement.
Couldn't let this rant about books go by without mentioning Eragon. I can't help it. It's kind of my little crusade these days: I really fucking hate that book. For those who don't know, Eragon is a fantasy book written by a nineteen-year-old, and it's gotten a lot of attention lately because the author keeps getting on talk shows. The book was published by his parents, and some yokel at Random House decided to pick it up and now it's been refurbished (with an admittedly BEAUTIFUL cover) and distributed to major bookstores all over the country. So, take the kid and put him on Oprah a few times, throw a book with a dragon illustration into a display when there's a big hole in the market for fantasy (in the wake of the ending of the Lord of the Rings movies and no sign of a new Harry Potter), and watch the bucks roll in.
Only one problem. The book sucks pirate monkey balls. I won't go into it here because it's a pain in the ass to explain what I've already explained before (I have a rant about it on my site if you want to see it; it's here, plus on Amazon.com my review is there as I will mention later). But I have very rarely come across a book I disliked this much, and it's not because the author is so young and getting all this hype and I'm jealous. I want to be published too, but I would not want my book published by my parents' company (or vanity published or whatever they did) before my writing ability had caught up to my ambition. That's what happened to this kid, and unless he is a total hack indeed, he will one day be VERY embarrassed that the world saw his writing in this state.
Basically, this kid wanted to write a traditional epic hero type story, so he ended up basically doing it from a blueprint and filling in the names. I did not like the characters; the dialogue was filth; the plot was hackneyed; and all of the creative aspects of the book were not original but rather borrowed and tweaked (surprisingly little!) from the world of Middle-Earth. But everyone's raving about how this kid is ONLY NINETEEN and got PUBLISHED (carefully leaving out HOW he got published and noticed) and how his book is so AMAZING. It's just . . . not. Anyway, being that I'm the kids' book specialist I figured I ought to read it, and I did so, back in October. It twisted such horrible knives into my eyes that I wrote my one and only bad review of a book on Amazon.com especially for it. It was like number 107 or something, so it got buried, but enough people voted it "helpful" with the voting buttons that it became THE spotlight review (i.e., you go to the Amazon.com page for Eragon and my review is the top user-submitted one). Strangely enough I've only gotten one whiny mail about it (which was basically the literary equivalent of "nuh-uh!"); I've gotten lots of positive mail from people agreeing with me. Haha.
Despite this, now Mr. Fancy-Pants Paolini is strutting about to invitational seminars where he talks about his writing pretentiously like he's already some master (just 'cause he copied one), and I've heard he attends these exhibitions dressed in little medieval costumes. Ooh, don't the fans just eat that up. Feh. My latest book (Bad Fairy) is admittedly derivative as well, but I somehow doubt anyone--ANYONE--would read it and say "Oh, this has been done, this isn't original." But I hereby promise that if I ever get that book out there, I will not attend my author signings wearing fairy wings.
In conclusion, I would like to see the Olsen twins and Christopher Paolini in a vat of Spam being beaten with a Nerf bat by a pirate monkey.
Point (1) - I WATCHED that movie (Our Lips Are Sealed) while at a sleepover. I was pretty horrified at how stupid it was.
Point (2) Coincidence? I just read the book Eragon (if you can call it a book, but that's just me). I was immediately disgusted with it for the reasons you just stated. I complained to my mom and had a sour expression while reading the bloody thing. Nice cover though. [katqueen]