The Cru Jones Society reads a lot. We read everything we can get our hands on – books, literature, magazines, comics, criticism, humor, you name it, we’re reading it.
I don’t care for most fiction; real life is much more interesting to me. I can’t relate to vampires, couldn’t give a crap about wizards, warlocks, and elves, and think Tom Clancy is a fear-mongering asshole. But none of things really bother me. The fiction universe is designed to provide either escape or release for its readers. What really bothers me is when nonfiction authors – and so-called journalists – get too full of their own shit. They think of themselves as discoverers of truth, expedition leaders to the cave of the unseen. In reality, they’re nothing more low-rent Dr. Phils – just as bloviating, just as arrogant.
This is a personality profile on Vince Vaughn, and while it’s well-written structurally, it’s the kind of writing I absolutely loathe. The writer projects thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams onto his subject and presumes to understand the complexity of his object of study in a way even the object probably doesn’t. He brazenly leaps into the subject’s sub-conscious and mines his innermost thoughts even though he neither has that ability nor even enough time with the subject to make a decent conjecture. This is simply authorial arrogance disguised as high-minded insight.
It’s one thing to make assumptions based upon someone’s generally known public iconography, but to write it such a pretentiously omnipotent manner is just plain gross. Let the audience decide for itself what to conclude about Vince Vaughn based on his answers to questions and a faithful re-telling of the interview process; don’t project them to us yourself. That indicates a startling level of self-importance and disgustingly little faith in your audience’s ability to discern for itself why Vince Vaughn does the things he does and acts the way he acts. As the author, you’ve taken Vaughn’s voice for yourself, and based on a limited set of experiences, generated broad conclusions about his most basic characteristics and motivations. Yuck.
For instance, when the author says something to the effect of “You get the impression Favreau and Vaughn envy each other and might want to trade lives,” you think to yourself – Why? Did they say that? Have they hinted at that? Did they look at each other a certain way? If they did, and you’re crafting that large a conclusion off of one look, you not only shouldn’t be wasting your incredible talents on writing, you should have your own procedural crime drama on CBS.
The author sees what he wants to see here, plain and simple. The idea of Vaughn and Favreau wishing to embody the other’s life is a compelling journalistic twist, nothing more. The author has provided no evidence of this claim whatsoever; he has only painted a portrait of each man through his own prism resulting in this claim being interesting even though it’s most likely patently false.
And that makes me sick. Personality profiles should ideally give the reader an accurate snapshot of its object of study. It should not serve as an undergraduate-level writing exercise for the author to create a broad fictional character out of a slice of a real one. If what you’re writing is indeed accurate, and Favreau and Vaughn would actually like to switch lives, make like a journalist and give us evidence. But don’t conveniently leave it out to be replaced with a hearty helping of your massive ego and thoroughly self-impressed writing prowess. That’s what masturbating is for – not so-called journalism.
10 Dec 2008 E Dagger