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I always write about things of which I am passionate about. That’s what a writer is supposed to do. To write without passion is like making love without emotion… you’re just *** something… which is meaningless and serves no purpose other than selfish gain.

The topic of this blog started with an episode of Family Guy, the one where Brian writes a self-help book and becomes a successful writer because of it. I won’t go into detail about the episode (I believe it is still on Hulu), but he brought up a very touchy issue for writing in today’s world.

He brought into the light how a writer can spend an entire lifetime trying to create that one meaningful work that could possibly open the eyes of society to something it had been mission, that one work of literature that defines a career and the person who wrote it… and how that person can never get anywhere; yet, a person can write a self-help book, something that has no real beneficial qualities, and they can get on the New York Times bestseller list… and make millions.

I was in Dallas, Texas this weekend, and I decided to stop at a bookstore. I entered and like most stores they have the New Releases and Best Selling Titles at the front of the store… a montage of non-fiction biographies about wasted, foolish people who have not affected the grand scheme of the world my any real standard; auto-biographies of rockers, movie stars, and washed up politicians; and your self-help books like How to Be a Better You and Eat, Pray, Love…

All no cheaper than $13 dollars for a paperback…

Moving onto the next section I found a pile of books labeled: Best in Bargain Pricing… and what do I find?

Voltaire’s Candide, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Frankenstein, The Jungle Book, The Great Gatsby, Tale of Two Cities… Shelly, Kipling, Dickens, Baum, Carroll, Bronte, Austin… people who’s works have defined literature through the ages… the great masterpieces of fiction—reduced to a ill-sorted, unkempt, half-arsed pile of cheap paperbacks for less than three American dollars.

Three dollars of cheap recycled paper while Eat, Pray, Vomit has its own display and sells for $12.99 and is made out of high count silk paper…

Books used to be a joy to look at, a craft to put together, and lasted for centuries... and now they are mass produced and thrown out like garbage when they get in the way. What happened?

Am I the only person that sees something wrong here? When did we become a society that valued tripe over substance, and when did reality become more engaging than Fantasy? How did we go from a people who watched the great production of the Theban Plays and listened to the oral histories of the master epics… to people who watch a group of brain dead, steroid injected cromagnon oompa loompas attempt a failed mating ritual? (for any of you who missed that reference… Jersey Shore. I’m calling you out)

And it isn’t just literature and television… it’s all facets of entertainment. Movies get dumped down to cheap fart jokes and drug humor (which while entertaining… does it really offer anything to society’s betterment? Does it truly make an observation about the state of morality… or just cast into light how low-brow our level of entertainment has dropped?)

Homer brought the world great works such as The Iliad and The Odyssey. Eat, Pray, Love brought the world a Julia Roberts flop...

Games especially have hit this stride… with dozens of titles like Wii Sports, Let’s Dance, Kareoke Party, MyFavoritePetTitleToStealYouMoney and other trite concepts with little to no substance fill the shelves. The DS is beleaguered with Imaging Baby Diaper Changing and My Life – Cheap Imitation of a Profession Title #127… and it harms even the major consoles with games like Dynasty Warriors, Two Worlds 2, and Mario Sports all sacrificing a developed and formulated story for repetitve gameplay elements, while some fresh… really do very little to advance the industry, yet they sell millions of dollars worth of inventory.

For every Mass Effect or Metal Gear solid there are dozens of crap titles, cheap minigame packages, sim games, facebook apps… mobile apps… it all goes by the wayside faster than a rushing torrent, only to then be replaced by the next wave of mindless fodder to crash upon the shore of consumer market… a putride tide of malfeasance coming from a tainted ocean full of capitalistic sharks. And sharks can smell blood when it’s in the water, and these meaningless titles are bleeding the gaming community dry… whether by taking money from unsuspecting parents and children, or by neglecting the gamers who actually demand better…

These masses of stale titles send a message to the people in charge, the publishers and developers. A message a little like this: “Wii Sports has been in the top 20 games since it released. Gamers on whole don’t give a *** about an engaging narrative. They want to get out of their heads. Fix this game up with some thing of a story that resembles The Pokey Puppy, through the gameplay together and ship it out… they’re buying this *** in metric tons!!”

And pretty soon it won’t stop with the narrative… gameplay will fall away, because hey! Why make detailed controls when you can chock it full of mini-games and call it a day? Why pander to a small group of hardcore gamers who demand perfection when millions of parents will buy this to keep their bratty children out of their hair?

What has happened to the world?

We’ve gone from a people who used to delight in the unforeseen… relish the tales of adventures bold and tragedies heart wrenching. Where has sanity flown when someone would rather read about a coke addicted rock star than the incomparable writings of Dostoevsky? What happened to integrity? What happened the spines of authors?

Writers used to be the last bastion of defense in a world gone mad, a long line of people who put word to paper… to stand against tyranny, oppression, immorality, and persecution despite fear of death or excommunication. A writer used to be someone who brought issues into the eye of an apathetic public, which was all too ready to just sit idly by while the world collapsed around them. When pen was put to paper it had meaning… it had merit; a writer was the one person who could say what was necessary, rulers and despots be damned, because a writer was the one who kept the world in perspective!


It is an illustrious and ancient heritage that forgoes the cheap concepts of “self-help” and “entertainment”… because a writer is supposed to be the one who sees the world how it really is. If you want self-help, then you must help yourself. A twenty dollar book isn’t going to fix your life, a thirty dollar politician autobiography isn’t going to change the nation… save that money and put it towards the things in life that are necessary and if you are going to spend it on something… buy something worthwhile. Buy a novel of Hemminway…. Pick up a copy of Mass Effect or Gears of War or Dragon Age or Metal Gear Solid.

Don’t settle… because once you start, you have no write to complain or protest when the world goes to hell. If you ever wane from vigilance… it contributes to the decline.
Which is why I urge anyone who reads this… go out there and only choose the best. Pick up something that will make you think for a change. Question the common place and find a different way to look at the ordinary. A writer sees the world from a thousand eyes and million thoughts, and a writer can spring from any hole, hovel, or high-priced mansion… the words come when a person is willing to see things with an open mind.

So open up… play something you would never have tried to play before. If you like FPS, then put the gun down and pick up a staff—become a wizard for a change. Perhaps you’re an elven princess trying to save a dying forest. Leave the trees be for now and become a spy, or a soldier, or a biotic… find something different, and engaging, and broaden yourself.

Betterment starts with you, just as charity starts at home. Fix what you can and then we can all fix the world… something made so complex in so many books is really quite simple. Start with what you can change… and then everything will change.