Have you ever been at a party consisting of 7-year-old boys?
The violence, the bad language, the chaos.
It’s sort of funny, given that you, an adult, can see clearly what’s going on: a can-you-top-this challenge. Each boy tries to out-bad the other boys. They all yell on top of each other, using the WORST WORDS they’ve heard in their 7-year-old world. (“Pussy” used to figure big. I mention that just because.)
It’s all about getting attention.
At some point the adults at the party will try to calm everything down–try doing that with a roomful of 7-year-old boys–to exert some sort of ad hoc discipline the adults hope will calm down the party. Threaten not to serve the birthday cake. Douse their soda with lithium.
Inevitably one adult will take a last ditch stand and say, “Don’t laugh, don’t encourage them.”
The adults always, always look hapless. Are hapless. The children always seem like burgeoning sociopaths and serial killers. They rule.
Maybe one of those kids–the one who got the most attention?–will stick to his guns and become an actual, clinically defined sociopath. And he may become very successful.
O tempore, o mores!
Our current tempore has been gracious to women, extending the attention-getting bad-boy shtick to all comers. The louder, angrier, lousier, more shocking in language (the word “fuck” seems to be an ID badge for women: you want admission to the club, you put “fuck” into every sentence), more destructively counterintuitive in “philosophy” they are…the more attention they get.
And attention means: big advances for books, speaking tours for books, indignant citizens protesting, which means more attention, more money.
Cynically produced hatehatehatehate. Trolls. They’re all over the place, trolls–trolling for attention, trolling for the big hate bucks. Seven-year-olds who never matured.
Which brings me to this, from today’s Publisher’s Market. (Note the title of the book, “Dangerous.” My comment: he wishes. I’ve highlighted the significant sentences.)
Threshold Editions confirmed an earlier report from The Hollywood Reporter that they will publish Breitbart News editor and Twitter troll (now permanently banned from the service) Milo Yiannopoulous’s DANGEROUS on March 14, 2017. The publisher said in the announcement: “Dangerous will be a book on free speech by the outspoken and controversial gay British writer and editor at Breitbart News who describes himself as ‘the most fabulous supervillain on the internet.'”
Threshold acquired world rights from Thomas Flannery at AGI Vigliano, with THR citing “people with knowledge of the situation” that Yiannopoulos is receiving a $250,000 advance. Yiannopoulos added to THR: “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”
The book was clearly acquired some time ago, with jacket design and metadata ready to go. There was considerable blowback online, primarily via Twitter and news articles that repeated those tweets, but it’s not clear whether that will amount to anything other than driving pre-orders for the book. So far, the only concrete effect is that the once little-known Chicago Review of Books, which would ordinarily review 15 Simon & Schuster books during the year, declared they will skip reviewing the house’s titles for the year.
In one statement, the publisher said, “We have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions,” and asked readers to “withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book.” Which misses the point, since the negative judgment was for giving Milo any kind of paid platform, regardless of what he uses it to say. Meanwhile, Yiannopoulos made it clear to Business Insider, “I hope to offend every reader.”
Another statement form [sic] S&S claimed, “We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form.” But that’s exactly what got Milo banned from Twitter, with the service telling NPR “no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.” So how can S&S do business with Milo without condoning his form of targeted abuse?
The statement added, “At Simon & Schuster we have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions, and appealing to many different audiences of readers. While we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish we note that the opinions expressed therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees.” As actor Leslie Jones, one of Milo’s targets, tweeted in reply to the S&S statement, “Yea but you still help them spread their hate to even more people.”
A suggested boycott of S&S will probably never take hold (in part because so few consumers are aware of publishing imprints and how they connect), but the company faces considerable unrest from authors, agents and even their own employees — almost none of whom have any connection to the small Threshold imprint. There are unconfirmed reports of employees drafting correspondence to ceo Carolyn Reidy asking for answers and guidance on communicating with upset constituents. While the house controls world rights, the smaller S&S UK division told the Bookseller they have no plans to publish the book. Meanwhile, people looking to exert external pressure on the corporation itself will eventually figure out that starting at the top by taking on the simpler and more important target of parent company CBS might be the more logical and effective move. (This is an expanded version of a story first publishing on December 29.)
A victim of Yiannopoulos was actress Leslie Jones. She has had a reaction to this book deal:
Mr. Yiannopoulos, who has been banned from Twitter for leading online harassment against Ms. Jones, the comedian and actress, was given a six-figure book deal.
I’m with her.