Journalists and bloggers have been making plenty of noise since the verdict was handed down on whether or not Casey Anthony will get a book deal. Naturally there’s been lots of accompanying outrage and moral indignation over the thought of this person raking in seven figures to spend a few hours chatting with a ghostwriter who’ll shape her verbiage into a tearful missive. Frankly, I expect this as inevitable. I suppose it’s no more egregious than any one of a hundred true crime authors who’ll be cashing in on the Casey Anthony media frenzy. I could launch into a screed on how this is symbolic of the downfall of our culture and our preoccupation with all things celebrity, but I won’t, because I have hope. And that hope has oddly come in the form of Snooki.
When it was announced early this year that the Jersey Shore “star,” who had boasted of only ever reading one book in her entire life, had landed a deal with Simon & Schuster to write a novel, thousands of unpublished authors across North America (myself included) bashed their heads against the wall in unison. Why, with such a glut of undiscovered talent out there busting their asses for the slightest bit of attention from mainstream publishers, were the big houses continuing to write big cheques to D-list celebs with no discernible writing talent whatsoever? It reminds me of the fourth-rate movie production houses who regularly churn out zero-budget dreck like Snakes on a Train, apparently banking on that precious and heretofore-unexploited demographic of Snakes on a Plane fans afflicted with glaucoma. Somewhere in an accountant’s backroom, the great gods of publishing have decided that a piece of crap written by a quasi-somebody will stand a better chance of selling than a potentially brilliant story written by a nobody. So thousands of query letters go in the trash and semi-literate Snooki goes out on a massive publicity tour to pimp her opus A Shore Thing, hitting just about every morning and evening talk show on television (and the cover of Rolling Stone, much to the chagrin of Dr. Hook). My personal favorite was her interview on Today, with a clearly embarrassed Matt Lauer asking her, “What’s a badonk?” – to which she replied with the William F. Buckley-esque “Your badonk is your butt.” Yep, somewhere Hemingway was rolling over in his grave and reaching for another drink.
But then the book dropped. And the heavens parted and a great light shone through from above and nobody bought it. The more inclined of you can look it up, but I believe it moved about 10,000 copies worldwide. Hardly “runaway bestseller” territory. Those thousands of unpublished authors could now remove their heads from the wall and resume bashing it against their keyboards.
The sharp rise and crashing fall of Nicole Polizzi’s writing career proves to the more jaded of us that there still exists some semblance of taste in the appetite of the public. Yes, Glenn Beck is still there ranting against all things Obama and Sarah Palin continues the world’s longest c***-tease of a possible presidential campaign. And The Huffington Post still runs “Kim Kardashian Shows Off Her Curves” stories twice a week. But dammit, we dashed Snooki’s pursuit of a Pulitzer! And we did it in the easiest way imaginable – we just ignored her. Which is what anyone who objects to a Casey Anthony book deal should do.
I say, let Casey Anthony’s book come out. And let it sit on the shelves yellowing and collecting dust. Ignore it the way you do Batboy and the latest “Who’s Gay in Hollywood!” in the aisle at the grocery checkout counter. Eventually, publishers will get the message and maybe go back to that slush pile of queries – because the next somebody (who hasn’t been accused of murdering her daughter, or, acted stupid, drunk and skanky on television) with a great story is just waiting to be found. It’s up to us to make that happen.
Or, buy the damn book. But then don’t get indignant when the next reality show troglodyte rakes in a cool million for his thesis on boogers and how to use them to get laid. It’s entirely up to you. And I’m blaming you accordingly.