big fat liars

You know what? I don't understand why everyone (or, at least, I get the impression from The Media that it's 'everyone', but it could be no one) is so pissed off at James Frey.

Now, granted, I did not read his book and therefore I don't have an emotional investment and cannot feel betrayed. I understand that people don't like being lied to, and I'm not a fan of people willfully misrepresenting themselves for reasons that aren't whimsical or amusing or muckraking or at least funny to me.

But here's the thing: what the hell difference does it make if A Million Little Pieces is gospel truth or a big pack of lies? Readers purchased the book to be entertained. Extrapolating from the popularity of the book I'd say people were entertained. The vast majority of readers do not know James Frey, James Frey has zero impact on their lives and vice versa. There is absolutely no difference if the James Frey in A Million Little Pieces is a fictional character or a depiction of a real person. The experience is the same. It was a good story that entertained readers and has no greater impact on the world than that.

A Million Little Pieces is not a history of nations or an analysis of current events or a biography of an important person or even "reportage". It is a novel-length personal essay at best. If you connect with the story contained therein, you connect with it regardless of whether or not it "really happened". Your time was not wasted, you sacrificed nothing, you were not asked to participate in anything other than the exchange of money for entertainment.

As I said, I haven't read it so any conjecture about my reaction to this revelation if I had read it is mere speculation, but I feel that if I had read and enjoyed A Million Little Pieces and subsequently found out that it was entirely false, my reaction would have been something like: "huh. really? okay. that guy's kind of a dick." and that would be the end of it. Now, I may be atypical because I am a Media Guy myself and basically take it as a given than any piece of mass media is, in large or small part, artifice. But I honestly don't understand why the general public thinks it's a Big Deal. Oprah, okay... she has to defend her "credibility" I suppose, but even she seems a little excessively indignant to me.

Perhaps in this age where practically everyone in our culture is aware of the fact that they are constantly being lied to by those in power about Things That Actually Matter, whether or not you support or don't support those doing the lying, having one's trust in a simple True Story violated is the back-breaking straw. Maybe everyone should be grateful that James Frey has actually provided the public with not only an entertaining work of essayish fiction but a case study in Media Literacy. You shouldn't implicitly trust anything presented to you by media. Everything must be questioned.

Except me, of course.

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