Volume 93, Issue 80

Thursday, March 2, 2000


Local grad making good comedy

Gob drips naked fun on punk

Pop culture guilty for death of novel

Spooky, Scanner expand horizons

Pop culture guilty for death of novel

Mick Foley, known to the professional wrestling world as Dude Love, Mankind or Cactus Jack, recently topped the New York Times bestseller list with his autobiography. And if we needed one more sign of the looming death of literature, his one-time wrestling rival, The Rock, then topped the bestseller list with his own autobiography/collection of profound thoughts on life.

Quality, earth-shattering literature, which can also maintain a sense of popular importance, seems to be a thing of the distant past. Novelists and writers are far removed from the pop culture lexicon. The writer as an artist is out of touch with the average Joe.

Other "art forms" have overtaken the once hallowed place of literature. Movies have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and now screenwriters and directors have become famous and are revered on the covers of Entertainment Weekly and People magazine as modern day pop culture heroes.

Professional wrestling has replaced the short story and serial novel. Each week millions of TV viewers tune in to scream, shout and swear at larger than life characters – cheering the good guys and booing the villains. Sex, smut, violence and intrigue form an intoxicating mix which keeps the audience coming back for more.

Engrossing novels have been replaced by role-playing video games. It's no small feat that the Final Fantasy series of computer games sells hundreds of thousands of copies to devout followers in all corners of the world. Who needs to read a 300 page book, when you can lock yourself in for 70-plus hours of magic, mayhem, snappy dialogue and great graphics?

Technology, the great tool of communication has, quite possibly, swallowed the literary world whole. After some chewing, the written word has been spat out, forever changed and is now missing a few vital organs.

The popular novel is now carried forward by the likes of John Grisham, Stephen King and Michael Crichton – not exactly Pulitzer Prize material. While better authors exist and publish regularly, the average person has little to no knowledge of their existence. Although the likes of Douglas Coupland may be worshipped by coffee shop loving English majors, they are virtually ignored by the mass media and culture at large.

The internet, the great survivor of the written word, or so we were once told, has only served to dumb-down the business of books. Amazon.com and other book-selling e-businesses have only helped the mass culture of wrestling, clichéd movies and the latest Final Fantasy, access their favourite generic entertainment.

Great literature is slowly gasping its last, desperate breaths. Technology and mass society have given the once hallowed art a full frontal lobotomy and we're left with a drooling idiot in the corner. And barring any huge cultural shift, this is merely a sign of things to come.

For just when all seems lost and literature can find no saviour, a light appears at the end of the tunnel. Shining on the horizon, the new literary work of art appears – Stone Cold Steve Austin: The definitive biography.

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