Friday, January 27, 2006

A Million Little Annoyances

So, you've probably heard about the great media circus of the moment--the "controversy" regarding James Frey's truth/lack of truth in his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces.

I read this book about a year ago, thanks to a tip from Flipper. This was long before Oprah got involved and named it as part of her resurrected Book Club. I liked the book, thought I didn't relate to the litany of drug problems, rehab, lies, alcohol, and crimes that Frey described. I did think while reading it that many scenes Frey described were very extreme and I wondered how anyone could have gone through the mistakes and pain that he described.

Turns out he didn't experience it either.

But I'm not writing this to review the book. Instead I am commenting on the media shit-storm that has arisen around it since The Smoking Gun.com began questioning Frey's memory and how Oprah devoted so much time to belittling Frey while distancing herself from his truth/lack of truth.

My biggest response to all of this is . . . who cares?!

Who IS Frey, after all but some guy with problems that spun his mistakes into a book that gained popularity? It's not as if someone of importance or national merit was caught telling lies. Naturally this all comes out of the Jayson Blair/New York Times controversy, which had much more merit, since he was a "journalist" whose job was to report the truth.

But Frey is just a writer and not anyone significant anyway. I know that many people have found inspiration from his story and used his "triumph" over his problems to give them the courage to solve their own issues, but it's not like Abraham Lincoln lied about writing the Emancipation Proclamation. Again, it's not significant.

Unfortunately, what actually is significant is harder to understand and identify these days. One reason for that is because it's a lot easier to get noticed and become famous these days than it used to be. Back in the past you had to accomplish something more worthwhile to really be treated as important. But these days, being a jerk on a reality show is about all you need to become the talk of the town for several weeks.

And so, it become a large problem when no-name moderately successful authors get wrapped up in the Importance of Being Oprah. And really, that is the key to the issue here. If Oprah hadn't chosen A Million Little Pieces as part of her Book Club, then we would most likely never have heard much about Frey's "truthiness." By besmirching Oprah's name, it became a much bigger deal.

After all, Oprah is Important; Oprah is Inspiring; Oprah gives hope to us all. And by exposing her Book Club choice as Less Than Worthy, it opens the crack to wondering, what else isn't Oprah thinking long, deep thoughts about? Does she really care about me as much as she claims to? Does she truly want to help ME as much as she promises? Does she truly understand my problems?

Is she as much of a fabulist as Mr. Frey?

Say it ain't so, Oprah!

1 comment:

Jack Thunder said...

i didn't read this one, but i read the very similar "Running With Scissors" and found it be sensationalistic, cheap, and opportunistic. sure, it had some train-wreck like qualities that made it fun (in a sick kind of way), but i found little value in it.
it seems that the only good coming from these writers sharing their (previous) shocking behavior/lives is healthy sales for them at the bookstore. i don't find myself inspired.
tho i can't help but be curious about the movie adaptation of "Running...", opening Sept., 2006. starring: Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, and more. still, the odds are stacked against it, i think.
i thought it silly when Oprah defended him initially, but even sillier, almost, when she had Frey on her show to dress him down. but, even then, she was not as ridiculous as HE was (to come on the show), and it's even more proof to me that these people (Frey, Burroughs, et al.) are opportunistic attention-whores.