Dear Stephenie Meyer,
I’m fairly certain you don’t read my blog. In fact, if I were you, I’d probably try to avoid the internet as though it were full of plague-carrying killer bees with a taste for blood. (Or possibly tracker-jackers.) But, regardless of whether you read it or not, I feel the need to share this sentiment.
A few days ago I was listening to the Australia-wide youth radio station, and heard two DJs running a segment called “The Worst Recording Artist of 2011!”
Hee hee hee, I thought to myself. This is bound to be hilarious.
I don’t know what I was expecting. Possibly some kind of Australian Idol-esque recap of terrible singing performances? Or an audio-collage of embarrassing interviews? Or even a list of reality-TV stars who released crap studio albums comprised solely of 80s covers?
There was none of that. There was just a definitive statement.
The worst recording artist of 2011 is Justin Bieber.
“Some people would say that Justin Bieber is too obvious a choice for the worst recording artist,” one of the DJs said. “That he’s too easy a target. But we can’t ignore how terrible he is.”
They then went on to explain the reasons that Justin Bieber is clearly the worst recording artist of 2011. The reasons included:
- Even though his song “Baby” came out in 2009, people still sing it.
- He tweeted a couple of tactless or uninformed comments during the year. (A seventeen year-old being tactless? Hold the phones!)
- He released a Christmas album.
- His song “Never Say Never” is about never giving up. (See below.)
- Justin Bieber is contributing to the downfall of the music industry as we know it, with his derivative pop sound and uninspiring lyrics.
That’s it. Those are the reasons. And why was “Never Say Never” was listed as a black mark against him?
Justin Bieber is a seventeen year-old white male millionaire from Canada. If there’s one thing he knows about, it’s getting knocked down and having to claw his way up time and time again. Ha ha ha.
You know what, youth radio station? You’re wrong.
For a start, although Justin Bieber may not have to worry about money, or racial discrimination, or whatever else you were implying that “normal” people have to deal with, he has his own problems to overcome. Not least of all is the fact that an ill-considered text will generate hate-comments about him across the world. When I was seventeen, I was petrified that the “cool kids” were secretly talking about me behind my back. In Justin Bieber’s case, they’re not doing it secretly. And they’re not kids.
Listening to the way these two thirty-something men talked about a seventeen year-old boy’s lack of talent made me angry. I started loudly defending Justin Bieber. (In my car. Alone.) Now, I don’t like Justin Bieber’s music — largely because I think it’s got a derivative pop sound and uninspiring lyrics — but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack the artist — the person — behind the music.
If you go to a restaurant and don’t like the meal you ordered, do you start talking about how much you hate the chef?
If you see a photo of yourself on Facebook and think it looks terrible, do you start talking about how much you hate the photographer?
If you hear about a book and think it sounds ridiculous, do you start talking about how much you hate the —
There, sitting in my car, raging loudly against the inappropriateness of talking badly about a recording artist, it suddenly hit me that you, Stephenie Meyer, are the Justin Bieber of the publishing world.
Everyone knows who you are. Your books and characters have entered mainstream consciousness in a huge way, whether people like them or not. And lot of people feel it’s perfectly okay to mock, belittle, and insult not just your story or your ideas, but your skills and talents as well as you as a person.
But that’s not okay.
It is okay for someone to say they didn’t enjoy your books, or they don’t like the idea of sparkly vampires, or they don’t like your writing style, or they think Edward is an overbearing, abusive boyfriend with control issues.
It is not okay for someone to say that you’re a hack, or you’re talentless, or that you’re contributing to the downfall of the publishing industry as we know it, with your derivative storylines and uninspiring characters.
That’s true whether you’re a small time blogger, or a celebrity in your own right. (I’m looking at you, Stephen King.)
Stephenie, I’ve never knowingly insulted you as a person (although I have opined that I don’t like the concept of your books), but I admit that I’ve laughed at any number of anti-Twilight sentiments. So please take this as an apology for any and all dishonourable and/or disrespectful thoughts that I’ve had about you or your abilities.
And please keep writing. Regardless of how “good” your writing is on some highly-subjective, imaginary scale of literary worth, your books have done what every writer in the world hopes to do: inspire an emotional reaction in their readers. For that, you have my congratulations.
Yours in apology,