Tuesday, April 01, 2008

We have all been here before

Before I get started on the real topic for this post, I just want to share a personal moment with you. Today is one of those sorts of beautiful days we get up here in Minnesota, when you wake up in the morning and Mother Nature gently whispers, "You know how it was so warm and sunny this past weekend that you cleaned off the deck, got out the patio furniture and grill, and bought a new bag of charcoal? Well—


photo: my deck, this morning

And yet the Twins (whose season opener was yesterday) are tired of playing in the Metrodome and want We The People to spend a half-billion taxpayer dollars building them a shiny new outdoor baseball palace...

Continuing with Sunday's discussion on making a name, Josh says:
"It's all about eyeballs, and how many of them you can get to pay attention to you."
Then Sean adds:
"I think you need to do something that will upset the average housewife.

"You need to be the flaming bag of dog poo on the footstep of middle america."
Really? Is that all there is to it?

I have the strangest sense of deja vu all over again, as if we have covered this ground before. Look, we all know how to get attention. Three words: sex, violence, and shit. If you can be the sort of peroxide-blonde Pop Tart who occasionally forgets to wear underwear in public — wham!, you're the center of attention. Likewise, a gruesome car wreck with fatalities never fails to get plenty of attention; just turn on the local TV news tonight. And never underestimate the appeal of puerile scatalogical humor. O.J. Simpson's greatest mistake was that he didn't write a book entitled, How I Did It And Got Away With It Scot-Free, Chumps, illlustrated with bedroom Polaroids of himself getting busy with a vast array of really hot bimbos and breaking up the tension with a few really good fart jokes.

If all you want to do is get attention, that's easy: just remember "SBS." Sex, blood, and shit.

Or wait. Do you — perhaps, possibly, just maybe — have a moral obligation to your readers to get past the infantile urge to take off your diaper, smear the contents thereof on the nursery walls, and then sit in the corner playing with your own genitalia?

Maybe one of the reasons why the book industry is coughing blood and grasping for straws now is that Middle America has seen the flaming dog poo gag before, and they got tired of it decades ago. When all you have to sell is shock, eventually you reach the point where you simply can't shock your audience any further. Even the Theatre de la Grand Guignol eventually closed down from sheer lack of an audience.

Is it really all — and only — about eyeballs, and getting people to pay attention to you?