Today, Dragon Award winner and nominee Brian Niemeier put down a reality check on Twitter about the reality of what we who entertain have to accept if we are going to succeed. I'll put it together below:
A reality check for writers who may have been taken in by Chuck, The-Evil-That-Devours:
- The correct definition of "art", universally known before Modernism muddied the waters, is "a work performed to a standard".
- Painting a fence is no less an art than painting a still life.
- To qualify as art, a work must conform to an objective standard. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. The difference between good and bad art is real and independent of the observer.
- Consumers of art have a right to hold artisans to the professional standards of their field. A reader is no less justified in complaining about a badly written novel than a homeowner is in complaining to a contractor about a shoddily build garage.
A product is indeed judged by how well it serves its purpose.
The purpose of a novel is to entertain.
You, the author, are indeed a monkey dancing and capering for the reader's amusement. You are the servant, not the master. You are a clown.
When a reader spends hard-earned money that could have paid for movies, video games, or beer on your clowning, you are to be grateful.
Every author secretly fears he is a fraud. He is right. Heed this advice, or be exposed for the big-shoed, red-nosed joke you are.
The SJWs in our entertainment media, the ones whining about Muh Toxic Fandom, know that they can't compete. What they want to do is take over stuff they think is Too Big To Fail, and find their sustenance by taxpayer subsidies and art grants and so on- just like they're used to from academia.
What this does is shift the criteria for success from merit in competition to satisfy a customer (and yes, you ARE a customer of Star Wars, et. al., contrary to the bullshit spawned by minor Mouse Wars functionaries) to social status signalling and random selection. This shifts the grounds for contention from making something of substance to attention-whoring and ingroup/outgroup politics to game the odds of receiving unearned windfalls from a (seemingly) limitless cornucopia of currency.
(Note: Yes, that's applied r/K Selection Theory, and it's why I accept the theory as valid- it works when in the field.)
This is a consistent pattern. They retreat from reality because they cannot deal with it as it is, and instead of taking up the challenge to adapt to reality as it is and overcome it they flee like screaming children and demand Big Daddy or whatever make the boogeyman go away and then give them ice cream.
The way to defeat them is to deny them the escape they seek. Put them on Death Ground. Either they overcome, or they succumb, and if they overcome the way is open to regenerate their morality and make them into one of us- a real Saul-on-the-Road moment.
The way to deny them is to show them up, loudly and proudly, by demonstrating how you better serve the customer than they do- by making and selling superior alternatives to something that they've hollowed out into a husk wearing a skinsuit that is a formerly good brand. They show up and expect that peacocking will suffice. You show up, lap them several times while drifting and doing donuts around them, and now their customers are yours and they wonder who's going to buy their milkshakes and pay off their student loans.
And the freakouts to follow will be glorious to behold, if the present ones are any indication. If you do your part, those popcorn futures will turn out to be profitable indeed. When it happens, be grateful and give thanks for it. It goes a long way.