Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I love that I live in the golden age of trash fiction

The website io9 recently did an article on the golden age of trash culture, and I couldn't agree more. You can read the whole article HERE. In the TL;DR version, basically "there is more corporate-funded trash being unleashed on the public than ever before... and meanwhile, there's a huge wave of new-media trash coming as well."

Isn't it glorious?
All the movie adaptation of this book needs is to cast
Alex Pettyfer as the guy. That's it. Ka-Ching. Google
Alex Pettyfer and you'll see what I'm talking about.
With free books and or 99 cent offerings on kindle, we have access to wafer-thin characters in just about every paranormal situation you could shake a stake at. The rise of erotica with such offerings as Fifty Shades of Gray and the subsequent sequels are plain awesome. Plus you can read smutty books on the kindle in the subway or on the train because no one can see what you're reading so you don't have to be embarrassed by the fact that you're secretly into whips and chains or possess bizarre sex fetishes.

On television insanity rules. Basically, nothing is too insane or too out there. Really, writing has broken through a boundary where you can literally string together a story from four random dice rolls (roll twice in the first section) and it seems to work. Example:

1 A guy who gets naked a lot
2 A girl who gets naked a lot
3 A vampire who gets naked a lot
4 A werewolf who gets naked a lot
5 An alien from the planet Shmieldorf who gets naked a lot
6 A ghost who gets naked a lot

1 Don't have sex but falls in tortured love
2 Can manipulate fire but is a cheerleader
3 Can read minds but feels guilty about that
4 Can teleport into a person's dreams and realizes they are actually dead in real life
5 Learns magic at a school for magical peeps
6 Drives a BMW hybrid while listening to Chicago love songs

1 Takes Newt Gingrich to a moon colony.
2 Saves the world from Goatzilla
3 Pimps minors out for sex
4 Finds a duck with super powers and prevents an alien invasion
5 Wins a game show in a post apocalyptic setting
6 Gets married.

Okay my rolls using my trusty 6-sided dice are: 3, 4, 4, 6
My new story plot is "A vampire who gets naked a lot and a werewolf who gets naked a lot can teleport into a person's dreams and realizes that they are actually dead in real life and then gets married."

I don't think these kinds of stories could have ever had a place in the 80's or the 90's because people would see through them. But now...bring it on baby. Just look at True Blood. I'm addicted to this show which has about as flimsy a writing as anything. In Sunday's episode, a guy talks to Bill Compton and gestures at a book. He says, "Do you know what this is?" Bill answers, "It's a Bible." But then goes on to say that it's not "THE Bible" but the "original testament"...you know...the vampire Bible and then they go on to say how vampires came first and were really god's children and how Adam and Eve came later and it just shows how humans were meant to feed vampires.
Brilliantly written dialogue? Alcide is awesome. This really is
the written conversation. Not kidding.
What did I think of that background? It was both brilliant and incredibly stupid trash and I loved it. The mire of bullshit that flows from writers these days is awesome. In our trashy culture...pure bullshit reigns. You can explain anything away in your plot--plausible no longer matters, just make it up. For television and movies, you don't even need to script it. This kind of thinking can be done on the fly as long as it sounds clever. And being random is now king.
Random True Blood baby eater character that got more lines 
than Alcide 
Random characters (like those in the above picture) are key to trashy stories. Have you seen Jersey Shore? Random is that cast's bread and butter. That and tanning, big bewbs, and tequila.

From the article, io9 points out that Michael Bay is one of the greatest film makers alive. Have you seen a Michael Bay film? All you need are explosions. That's it. Check out one of the greatest moments in last night's True Blood episode. Jessica (the red-head) gave Steve (a former religious pastor) a "Fang Boner" by describing Jason Stackhouse's butt and cock to him and offering to sell him for $20,000.00 since she technically has the rights to Jason's body. How is this at all great television? I have no idea, but I'm glued to the screen like millions of other watchers in America every Sunday with our bowls of Cheetos and our guts hanging out over our belts muttering, "damn...this show is GOOOOOODDDD. Mmmmhmmm."
So writers...WRITE MORE TRASH! WE NEEDSSES IT. There clearly isn't enough. Twilight, as an example, is getting rebooted by Lion's Gate because they don't want to lose their cash cow. Yep, they are going to cast a whole new group of people right after Breaking Dawn, Part Two shatters records this fall.

I can't wait. I hope they get a better looking Edward. #JustSayin


  1. I came across a 70+ year old lady in the store. She's a huge Twilight fan and couldn't wait to read Fifty Shades of Gray. I just had to smile. It shows you the broad appeal of certain books.

    Publishers never call it trash if it's selling.

  2. If it keeps making money they'll keep making it.

  3. I hear what you're saying. It looks like my script for a TV show pilot about a robot time-traveler searching for the meaning of life is out... but my TV script for a robot time-traveler searching for the one thing that will satisfy his thirst for sex is a go!

  4. Are they seriously rebooting Twilight already? That's idiotic. But as long as people keep paying for trash, that's what Hollywood and publishers will give them.

    I'm going to have to get my dice out and use your little map there to come up with a new story.

  5. I've got naked vampires and naked men teleporting into people's dreams in the hopes of pimping minors out for sex. Sounds like a hit to me! *drops wip, calls Hollywood*

  6. You just reminded me why I had no qualms about cutting off my cable television. Still not regretting that decision. :)

  7. BTW, there's an ironic quote from "Beavis and Butt-head" that seems to apply here: People will watch anything so long as it's stupid. Which explains why I don't watch a lot of new scripted shows.

  8. And using the random number function on Excel I got 2465 which would be:

    2 A girl who gets naked a lot
    4 A werewolf who gets naked a lot
    6 Drives a BMW hybrid while listening to Chicago love songs
    5 Wins a game show in a post apocalyptic setting

    Fame and fortune here I come!

  9. Funny. This sentiment is part of what got me started writing, back in the 90's, because I wanted a stab at putting something good out there. This could explain why none of its been picked up yet (kidding). :)

  10. are you effing serious about Twilight getting rebooted? BAAAAAARF!!
    Also, i love the spelling of "bewbs." I will be using it in the future

  11. I was talking to a friend who reads plenty of trash but also reads Wallace, Franzen, Murakami, etc. Long story short, I was asking her why don't people move from YA to more complex books. I'm not saying that as a knock on YA; I'm very glad people read Twilight because it means people are READING. However, there are so many good books that aren't trash (or are prestigious trash ala Brett Easton Ellis) and it confuses me that people have completely ignored these. I suppose this happens in film as well but it seems that art cinema is rising with its increased availability due to streaming but books are doing the reverse. I never thought I would say it but I'm sad Oprah is gone because she prompted people to read more challenging books.
    Also, this is not a knock on YA authors or trash authors; that is hard work. I just wish people would read other types of books in addition to trash so talking books with people is more than talking Hunger Games.

  12. Man, why don't I write about vampires!? I could do so much more with them. Great post.

  13. They're remaking twilight? My eyes, my eyes!

  14. Damn it. I was about to claim my work was above all this, but then you mentioned magic school. #imfucked

  15. People may be reading trash, but at least they're reading. And some of them might go on to more challenging material. (I'm an optimist--what can I say?)

    Okay, time to roll the dice...
    3, 2, 3, 6...
    A vampire who gets naked a lot and a girl who gets naked a lot can read minds but feels guilty about that get married.


  16. @Cindy: I think they don't shy away from the title of "trash". I think it's writers who shy away from calling what they write "trash". A lot of it is, but who cares? Money is what counts.

    @Alex: Yep

    @Rusty: LOL

    @P.T.: Yes. Lion's Gates execs said Twilight reboot has already been "greenlit".

    @Elise: Oooh I can't wait to see it.

    @L.G.: Oh pffft. I'm sure THAT's why you canceled your cable. :P

    @P.T.: Triple posting madman. Beavis and Butthead could see the future as good as Nostradamus.

    @DPK: Dude...write trash. I'd buy it.

    @Falen: I am serious, lass.

    @Brad: I haven't read Franzen yet but I read Murukami's 1Q84. It was a thought-provoking book. I'd discuss it with you anytime. I do plan on getting to Franzen's "Freedom" soon. Is that the novel I should start with? And for what it's worth, I read the Hunger Games and didn't like it, but I really enjoyed the movie :/

    @Clarissa: Vampires who break codes are the new black.

    @J.A.: Yes.

    @Matt: But you use the Asian angle so you're all good.

  17. Couldn't get away with it in the 80s and 90s? I saw lots of trash then too. LOTS. Most of TV at the time and there were plenty of mass market novel trash. I don't really see a problem with it. People like their McDonald's.

  18. @Libby: There's way more trash now. And I agree. There's nothing wrong with trash. I watch/consume it every day. I'm just making a statement by saying I LOVE TRASH FICTION.

  19. I watched a romantic comedy a few nights ago-the premise made pretty much no sense and half the stuff that happened couldn't happen in real life-but I still loved it. The actors in it were great and there were some funny moments so I totally forgot about the other problems and just enjoyed it anyways. Pretty much the same thing. Sometimes trash tastes good so we eat it even if it's killing us.

  20. @Mike I know you read a broad array of fiction (trash, treasure and all points in between) but I'm wondering why other people don't branch out. I would think that fans of Twilight or Nicholas Sparks would like the Ishiguro. Fans of the Night Circus or Harry Potter would seem to like Salman Rushdie. Maybe nobody recommends these things, maybe they just don't want to try something more complicated. I'm baffled when somebody says their favorite TV show is Mad Men, last good movie they saw was The Descendants but the last book they read was 50 Shades of Grey. Why are books lagging behind in people reading the top stuff? Maybe TMZ needs to follow authors around more. While I teach math not literature I talk to kids about books from time to time, maybe I'll just start asking.
    Also read The Corrections before Freedom (or immediately after). The books have so much in common and are so good that it would be silly not to.

  21. Come on, Michael, the habit of reading is declining all over the world, the trashy ones atleast get people hooked to some written words.
    Most classics were by authors who produced less than half a dozen books in their lifetime, nowadays, people put up the equivalent in a 6 month period.
    Where is the time for quality reading and writing? Even mags want off beat and weird or romantic, feel good stories. You just deliver to the mass market. When teen pregnancies can be celebrated by reality shows and their audiences as an achievement instead of discouraging the fad, trashy books are a way better deal. The e versions help us go green.
    Good books need brains, not all those who have adequate grey matter and imagination can/want to recreate them into magical words...so, as long as there is good writing with average grammar and a decent storyline with minimal cussing, I'll read the book.
    I am very selective about the vamp and demon ones though.;)
    Rob as Edward was ok, he just needed to go easy on botox and get thinner fangs. The rest except Emmett were pasty wastes. I've read the books, liked Twilight and the fight scenes in Eclipse and watched only the first one of the series fully. I think I skipped the second one after 20 mins and never looked back at the series. In fact, I found the leaked Edward version of the first book and Host more interesting.

  22. Whoa, I never expected it to turn out this long, sorry.

  23. I wish I could get behind trash. It might make things easier for me. The fact that they're going to re-make Twilight just leeches the hope for humanity right out of me.

  24. As a child my grandmother encouraged all her grandchildren to read and I was the only one to get the habit. As a result, until the end of her life I could count on books for birthdays and christmas along getting her old reader's digests whenever I visited. It was the main reason that I excelled in school and was the first to graduate from college.

    When my grandma was getting near the end of her life, she was chairbound but could always be found with a large stack of books sitting next to her. One day I took a closer look and realized that they were mostly light porn.

    I asked my mom about it and she explained that was what grandma always read only now she wasn't mobile enough to hide it anymore.

    I was crushed and though I never was able to speak to her about it I eventually realized that we all have different reasons we read. It's more important that we make time for it.

  25. I think there's always been trash, but not quite so out in the open and celebrated. Most of it seems aimed at women. No judgements.


  26. Okay... I totally agree about Edward needing to be played by someone else. Pattinson doesn't cut it. :( But this is so bizarre that they are remaking it AGAIN! Seriously?

    Okay - I really did get the point of this post, I just lot myself with the whole remake thing. That's dumb. Give a while, at least!

  27. Ah, say it isn't so. I suppose there's a place, but every place.

  28. Oh, Michael, you should so write the roll of the dice plot concoction. You are a natural. I love watching True Blood, but I swear it gets more bizarre every week. At least I'm not watching the new Dallas show...

  29. I wonder what Charlaine Harris thinks of the True Blood series. Her books are much different and tamer than the TV show based off them.

  30. Wait. They're making another set of Twilight movies? Well . . . at least there's a different cast to look forward to. :P

  31. I'm not a huge fan of trash myself. I prefer stories with more meaning. A little bit of trash is okay, but I'd prefer we weren't surrounded by it like we are.

  32. Urk. I really don't understand how stuff like this gets popular/makes money.
    I always feel like I'm in the minority when I say I prefer, for example, movies with character development and depth - vs watching something just for the special effects.

  33. Michael: as usual, you made me think hard. I like depth in my reading. A little fluff now and then doesn't hurt, but not as a steady diet.

  34. so happy i gave up tv, years ago!

  35. Thank you for this 'trash formula' - I am going to roll my dice when I get home & see what I'll be writing next. ha.

  36. Michael; go edit your novel. You obviously have too much time on your hands :)

    You crack me up. Loved your dice game story.

    You do make some excellent points here among the humor. I admire your genius at putting it all together.


  37. ummm that Twilight reboot is for real? I thought it was a joke. That's it. I'm quitting the genre trash I'm putting out and switching over to trashier trash with trashy dollar sign trashy trassh traaaaassshhh trasss------

  38. trassh traaaaashyyy trassssshhhh (( head explodes ))

    *accidentally used html brackets on previous comment and my witty head explosion disappeared

  39. Funny, Michael. I need to bookmmark this post. I read 50. It was eh okay. Trashy, but sad. And how they stetched it into a series, Ill never guess.

    True Blood cracks me up. I loved it when Hoyt's mom whispered to Jason that she was "gonna bake you a pie" for gett'n rid of that vamp whore. Loved it!

  40. I've heard that self-published erotica is a booming business with eReader anonymity. Now what we need are racy eReader covers for folks to slip onto their Kindles, you know, just to be honest.

  41. As to things being completely far out (and not in the least bit plausible) - I have a pet theory. It's fairly convoluted but I'll summarize - as a species, we're less emotionally capable than ever to handle the downward spirals of life and major world events (the economic recession, for instance), because the amazing leaps in technology have made us "soft," in a manner of speaking (unlike our ancestors, who had to do a lot more "work" to live, eat, etc.) But we're bombarded by media reminding us, constantly, that the world's a scary, awful, nightmarish place to be. So, because we're so dependent on things outside of ourselves to "get through" the ick, we self-medicate in a variety of ways, one being immersion into fantastical worlds which appeal to us because they're so different/better than the real one. Escaping into fiction is certainly not a new idea, but maybe the environment in which we live is also completely unlike anything that's ever been.

    Right, so; I didn't say it was a good/smart theory or that it held water, or anything. :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

  42. Some trash in life is okay, but as a steady diet? That'll lead to early brain death. Personally, I gotta confess that right now I'm reading some trash (a 60's Modesty Blaise novel), but I'm also halfway through the brainy and prize-winning Wolf Hall (Wolf refers to Tudor Britain, not paranormal stuff). Over the weekend I also finally bought the non-trashy and very smart Slipstream. You may have heard of it.

  43. Apparently I forgot to comment on this when I read it earlier in the week. FYI it made me laugh out loud.