September 1, 2011

Random Thought Thursday

"Come on people now, smile on your brother.  Everybody get together try to love one another right now." --Chet Powers
This 1960s hippy anthem wrapped up the state funeral of the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Canada just the other day. I won't bore you with the finer points of Canadian government (based off of Great Britain's), or the fact that I almost cried during the televised funeral of a guy I didn't even vote for (too 'out there' politically). But I will tell you that this song and this funeral got me to thinking about something:  RESPECT. While I didn't agree with this gentleman's politics, I definitely respected and even liked him as a person.

This same sentiment can be applied to authors whose works I don't particularly love, but whose hard work and determination I can't help but respect and even admire.  Beth Revis, whose book I really liked posted on her blog recently about secretly relishing really harsh and snarky book reviews (of other people's books). Her point was not to suggest that slamming other authors is okay, but that these critiques serve as reminders that readers' opinions are subjective. Not everyone will like what you write. You don't have to agree with their criticism but you should still care about quality. There is definitely value in criticism, but can it be taken too far?

Schadenfreude: [shahd-n-froi-duh] German n.  the malicious enjoyment of another's misfortunes. [German, from Schaden 'harm' + Freude 'joy']--from The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition
I read somewhere recently that collectively we have become a nation(s) of bullies, gleefully tearing down those we work so hard to build up. This is a generalization, sure--not all of us are bullies--but I think there is still truth in it. Whether it's the girlish pop sensation whose voice grates on our nerves (Justin Bieber), the spoiled rotten trust fund princess (Paris Hilton), or the vampire novel-writing sensation (Stephenie Meyer)--we secretly relish the ripping to shreds of these people or others like them. There is something wrong with people who love to shoot down kids like the Biebs and Rebecca Black for the fame they've garnered doing what they do. Is it jealousy? Probably, but I can't really say.  All I know is that I am as guilty as the next person for laughing at and cutting down people like this. I confess, I laugh hysterically at the odd Twilight slam thrown randomly into TV shows and nearly peed myself watching Vampires Suck (even though I own all of Stephenie Meyer's books, and the movies made of them, and will be going to see Breaking Dawn in the theatre). While I am guilty of this, I realize that it's not exactly an admirable quality. It's one of the main reasons I bluntly refuse to watch reality TV or buy tabloid style magazines.

If I should ever be fortunate enough to have something published, I would hope that people will be kind enough not to rip me or my work to shreds (dare to dream, right?). The world is full of 'haters' and always will be, but that doesn't mean I need to join in. I'm not saying that we should avoid criticism altogether, but we need to be sure to temper it with fairness and compassion. And even though sometimes people make themselves a target, it doesn't mean that we should take the shot. On that happy note, I'll leave you with a little something...

...because a) it's Leonard Friggin' Nimoy! (no idea he actually recorded music) and b)...there is no 'b', cuz seriously, 'a' should be more than enough :)  Have a great day, everyone!

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