You know, ever since I read this article a couple of weeks ago, it's been nagging at me. If you're not into the whole linky-linky clicky-clicky thing today, in a nutshell this piece talks about how James Frey's publisher, Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin), has dropped him in the wake of the scandal about the lies and exaggerations in his so-called memoir, A Million Little Pieces.
As you regulars may recall, a while back I railed against the fact that, against my will, the media has forced me to know, if not care, about these random blips on the pop culture radar. Are you happy, media? Because now I'm finally kind of bugged. IS EVERYONE HAPPY?
(Admittedly, my forceful mood might be more than a little bit influenced by the second coffee of the day -- a cappuccino, to be exact -- that I recently consumed. I'm really not the kind of person who should be allowed more than one caffeinated beverage per day, but we were brunching with our friends Libby and Dan, who in addition to having the wholesome good looks and demeanor of a young Jack and Jackie Kennedy, know how to make a mean cappuccino. Hence my fired-upness. And hence this extremely long aside.)
When I first posted my thoughts and feelings about Freygate (you get that that's a tongue-in-cheek coinage, right?), a bunch of you posted some insightful comments in response. So I get that, while what Frey did was not in the same league as, say, torturing prisoners of war, it was worse than merely "unfortunate" that he did things such as appropriate a woman's death to feed his made-up narrative. Frey -- and his previous publisher, Random House, who printed A Million Little Pieces -- should be made to account for their choices.
But why do I get this feeling that Frey has been made into the fall guy for liars everywhere? And why, when so many of the famous liars on the media landscape are politicians and business folks who, oh, actually have the power to save or ruin people's lives, is a lone writer being castigated more openly and more resoundingly than anyone else?
A recent example:
Is it widely known in the U.S. right now that George W. Bush was warned DAYS before Hurricane Katrina about the enormous damage and loss that was imminent? Like, have you Americans seen the footage of Bush and the FEMA dudes being briefed in detail about the hurricane? Because this footage has been getting tonnes of airplay on CBC and the BBC for days and days now, but my understanding is that the word is spreading veeeerrrrrry sloooooooowly in the States. Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the impression I'm under.
Will Bush come under the same scrutiny as Frey? And will he experience consequences as real and -- let's call a spade a spade -- financially punitive as Frey's loss of a seven-figure book deal? My cynical guess is probably not. Why is that?
Am I to understand that, in comparing the onus of truthtelling between a writer -- someone whose job description pretty much states outright that, yes, there may be some loosey-gooseyness with the facts -- and a politician -- someone who literally has the power of life and death in his or her hands -- we have greater expectations of the writer? And now we can all relax, confident in the knowledge that that uppity fibber Frey has been dealt with, and truth and honour have been restored to the world in general?
Seriously, what is wrong with us?