Garbage People

Book stack (1 of 1)

Do you ever suspect that some people around you, walking around like little Rory Calhouns, talking and breathing and in all ways impersonating people, are actually sacks of rats and garbage just taking the rough form of a human? Made up of dog shit and the messy lids of yoghurt tubs and apple stickers and blue cheese rind and nappybombs?

Yesterday I woke to the rather disturbing news that an author I greatly admire – Jennifer Fallon – had had her new book stolen and released to pirates and available for others to steal months in advance of its actual release. You can read the gross story here. But the gist of it is, someone Jenny trusted with an unfinished version of her newest novel, the Lyre Thief, chose to leak that beta version to pirates. I would just like to say, if that beta reader ever reads this: you are the garbage person. You don’t deserve trust or respect or frankly the company of regular humans.

Pirating books is a shitty thing to do. Providing those pirated books to others is even shittier. Taking advantage of the trust an author put in you to intentionally leak that book in advance of its actual release to the kinds of arsehats who run pirate book sites is a whole new category of shitty. Congratulations, you’re the CEO of Shit Mountain Adventure Park. I don’t recommend the snacks. Or the waterslide.

Pirating books – downloading them or selling them for download for money or for free – is stealing. It’s taking something you are not legally entitled to take, and it’s stealing no matter what veneer you try to put on it. You probably know this. So listen, if you pirate books – I don’t love it. It’s not cool. You telling me you pirated a book and liked feels kind of like you told me squatted in your neighbour’s backyard with your computer using their internet download quota. But I’m also conscious that it can be easy to roll with simplistic arguments to justify it, and even easier to go with a convenient option even if you know it’s not ideal, because you think you’re just one person and you’re not making any difference. I don’t think it’s right, but I get that.

Unlike the occasional pirate, though, I suspect the person who leaked the Lyre Thief belongs to the contingent of garbage-people who not only are totally OK with stealing people’s works, and have a bevy of reasons to pretend this is not morally awful, but who actively get angry at being called on it. Not embarrassed or uncomfortable or uninterested: angry. Because they have convinced themselves they are entitled to things for free, and any challenge to that is greeted with outrage.

Allow me to run through the usual arguments I see about why they’re justified in stealing your stuff. Spoiler: they aren’t good arguments.

It is NOT STEALING, it is only ‘copyright infringement’. Stealing intellectual property is different from tangible property because you’re not depriving the owner of the work! I’m not a thief!

Calling a rat a short-haired Mongolian toothy-dog doesn’t make it show ready. What the author of a book is selling is the right to read that book. Whether it’s in hard copy or electronically, you’re not just buying paper and glue or 1s and 0s. You’re buying the right to enjoy the author’s story. If you take that without paying (or accessing it some other legal way), you’ve stolen it.

I appreciate that it can FEEL like it’s different because hey, the author can still sell the book* – you haven’t taken a physical thing that now can’t be sold to someone else. But forget about the physical format of the book. It’s meaningless. What the author is selling is the right to read their novel, and that’s something with value that they worked for. You’re taking that value and not paying. You wouldn’t (I hope) sneak into a concert without paying even though in theory it makes no difference to the band. Be honest about what you are taking.

OK even if it’s stealing, it’s a victimless crime because no-one is harmed!

If you took something that someone worked on and offered for sale, without paying them, I’d say you harmed THEM, and anyone else entitled to profit from your access to the book (the publisher, the retailer you didn’t use, etc). You took the benefit of what they made and didn’t compensate them as legally required. OK, you’re not sneaking into their house and slashing their clothes and emptying their handbags but that’s not the only way to harm people. Having consumers pay for the right to read their book is literally the reason they publish that book; they offer it for sale and people pay for it – that’s the entire point.

If you’re just downloading, not actively copying and distributing things yourself (because that’s a whole extra level of terrible), you’re still contributing to the greater problem because your actions reward the person you downloaded it from, encouraging the kind of evil arses** who run these sites to continue to steal and profit from authors. You’ve got a part in the future harm to those authors – and their publishers and retailers and staff and anyone else who depends on the (legal) sale of books for their career. Maybe you’ve cost them sales, maybe you’ve made it that much harder for them to justify publishing another book or for the publisher to keep supporting them or for the publisher to take a chance on the next author who comes up. Maybe you’ve contributed to the author having to continue to work a full time other job, so that they can’t write as fast as they and their fans would like. You’ve definitely contributed to the general modern internet culture of devaluing art and claiming it as an entitlement instead of a privilege or a product of worth. Your part may be small if you’re just downloading but you don’t get to pretend it’s not a part.

[And, of course, the bonus crapcake type of jerk who steals at beta stage and leaks it, as in Jenny’s case, has also sabotaged the release of the author’s book, putting an unfinished work out before they even got a chance to sell a single copy and potentially negatively affecting those critical pre-orders and first week sales. The thief has taken the author’s control of their product and its value away from them. He or she has eroded the author’s faith that humans are humans and not sacks of shit, and made sure that aspiring writers and editors and great readers and fans are cut out of their pre-publication process forever. Thanks a heap, arsehat.]

But pirating books is the only way I can afford them. Ergo, I must steal them. Otherwise I’d have to go without altogether.

Leaving aside the fact that there are plenty of ways you can still get to enjoy the benefits of reading for free – libraries, friends – or very little money – second-hand bookshops, discounted books, very cheap e-books – that’s still utter bullshit. I can’t afford a new shirt so I’ll have to shoplift or else I’d have to keep wearing my OLD one? I can’t afford a car so obviously I have to steal one, because otherwise I couldn’t drive! What’s the alternative? Save up the money or…or… do without?

Guess what, sunshine, that’s what every person ever has to deal with when deciding whether or not they can make any purchase. If you can’t afford a car you catch the bus or walk or get a lift or you make sacrifices in other areas to save up for one you can afford. If you can’t afford it you go without, just like everyone else.

But books are too expensive! It’s not fair that an e-book costs $(insert whatever price a thief finds unreasonable).

Look, you totally have the right to assess whether a price is reasonable or not. I don’t think the almond croissants at my work cafe are worth $5.50, even though they’re delicious. So I don’t buy them.*** If you don’t think the book is worth $16.99 then by all means, do not buy it. Buy a book at a price YOU think is reasonable. Or wait for a sale, or for the price to come down. Up to you. You don’t know if you’re going to like the book? Your call whether you take the risk based on the blurb/sample/reviews/recommendation that led you to consider it in the first place. If you’re not willing to risk a couple of bucks in case you don’t like the book, then don’t. Spend your money buying a burger or a t-shirt or more twine to hold together your shaky human form. Whatever. That’s the alternative – spending your consumer dollars elsewhere.

I’m taking a risk when I pay to go to the movies. I have small kids and I don’t get to go very often, so it’s pretty disappointing when I fork out for the ticket and the bucket of sugar and the overpriced cardboard bites flavoured with yellow and salt and then the movie turns out to be 2 and half hours of noise and people with distractingly good teeth delivering dialogue my dog could have written. But you know what? I don’t sneak in and watch it without paying just in case. Someone else sets the price and if I don’t want to pay it I go without. If everyone agrees the price is too high, sooner or later the market will adjust to bring the price down to what people WILL pay. That’s capitalism, baby.

Additionally, this argument requires accepting that the thief would happily pay for books legally if only they were just within their determined range of what is reasonable. I’m dubious. Someone who’s proven they’ll take what they want regardless of whether they’re willing or able to pay for it will have a stretch making me think they wouldn’t just find a new way to justify things if the silly market obeyed their will and the price came down.

But I am HELPING authors! I would never have bothered to read the book if I’d had to pay for it, but if I steal one I will pay for others later. You’ve won me as a fan when you never would have if I’d had to forego one cup of coffee to read your first book. How dare you insult us by (accurately) calling us thieves?

This is the particularly odious one that these indignant self righteous serial thieves like to throw around. I’ve tried to keep the tone of this post below crazy-level-rant status but this argument is simultaneously hilarious (in a disbelieving you’re-not-serious sort of way) and rage-making, so I’m wavering a bit.

You’re doing authors a favour? Sure you are. It’s very generous of you to have made the author’s marketing decisions for them. Maybe you could steal some cakes from your local bakery and hand them out for free – after all, maybe the people who eat them might then shop at the bakery later? (Of course, you and others like you will still be stealing their cakes and giving them away, and after people pay zero dollars for something once, guess how much they want to pay for it the second time?). Even if it was demonstrably true that free books didn’t hurt authors, it’s STILL up to the author and publisher make the decision about whether they want to give away their property in exchange for added exposure. Bear in mind that pirating an author’s works to people willing to steal them is only giving them exposure to thieves, and I gotta tell you, people accustomed to getting something for nothing are not everyone’s favourite customers and fans.

I’m aware that this view I’m expressing here, this open distaste for the argument that stealing is OK and actually beneficial, will make people angry. Authors are expected to be gracious about the stealing because of the perceived benefit to their careers.**** Here’s the thing: if you’re the kind of person who will only give an author a try if you can steal from them first, then expect them to be grateful for the ‘help’ you’ve given – I just don’t know how to be delicate about this: you can fuck right off. If you take offence that people don’t want you stealing from them, go ahead and shove your offence up your arse. Pretty sure the author would gladly forego your dubious claims of future fandom and sales.

[At this point, rational people might be wondering what kind of lunatic would be actively angry at an author for preferring that their property isn’t stolen. To answer this question, have a browse on reddit every time piracy comes up and an author goes so far as to suggest that they’d prefer people purchase their works. This is not an outlier view. There are crowds of them. They don’t just want writers to accept their stealing and not call them rude names. They would really rather be THANKED for it. I swear to god actual supposed adults will even contact authors to tell them they liked their work and that they didn’t pay for it. What the fuck do they expect people to say to that? Thanks for the thievin’, hope you accidentally spill your coffee on your keyboard when you’re reading it?]

Anyway, I’m aware the tone of this has been, in places … well, less than charitable. But I also know that sometimes people do dodgy stuff without really meaning to be a terrible person. Most people who pirate the occasional bit of media probably genuinely mean no harm. If that’s you, just please have a think about it next time you do, and consider whether what you’re gaining is worth what you’re doing.

And listen, there is even hope for garbage people who’ve been pirating everything they read and trashing authors for daring to express displeasure over it. You too can stop being awful and become a real boy! Realise that by choosing to pirate books you’re stealing and facilitating stealing and you’re hurting people you should be supporting. Consider not doing that anymore. If you really want to start making amends, go and buy the back catalogue of authors you’ve stolen from. Keep the books and bask in the goodness of owning them legitimately, or give them to others and enjoy the sensation of ACTUALLY helping an author by giving them exposure. Before you know it you’ll be a regular human again.

If you’re the person who stole the Lyre Thief, well… I’m not sure how you make up for something that awful. Write to Jenny and ask.

One final note. If you got this far in my lengthy rant, consider checking out Jenny’s back catalogue. (In support of her I just bought e-versions of a trilogy I already own because honestly you can never have too many ways to read). She’s a great writer with a bunch of intelligent, non-traditional fantasy (and occasionally SF) novels, with a particular skill in political intrigue and multidimensional characters. There’s no bad choice you can make there. Go forth and purchase! Or if you already own them all, consider leaving a review on whatever site takes your fancy – every review helps.

One more final note. I mean no insult to garbage men or women – as in the type who drive trucks as opposed to the time who merely suck badly as humans. I love garbage truck drivers. They’re super friendly and they always wave to my kids.

* Not to you, of course. But, as you’ll argue below, you weren’t going to buy it anyway.

**If it makes you feel good to imagine an actual pimply gross butt here wearing a monocle and a smirk, then go for your life and know you aren’t alone.

*** Except when I’m really hungry and/or have poor self control and a wallet with a comfortable amount of dollars in it.

**** Some authors, including some big name ones and some that I like and respect, have agreed that piracy hasn’t hurt them, and has given them greater exposure to people who might not otherwise have tried them. I mean, I COULD speculate that it’s easier to hold that view when you’re already wildly successful. But really, it’s actually cool – if you don’t mind having that control taken from you, that’s fine. It’s your business and I’ve got no beef with it. But a lot of authors demonstrably are NOT OK with it, and that sure as hell doesn’t stop the pirates from stealing from them anyway. Invoking supportive (or non-caring) authors isn’t a defence unless those authors are the only ones being stolen from. And let’s face it – they aren’t. I’ve never heard a pirate say they only pirate off authors who specifically say they don’t mind. Sure, some pirates probably prefer they are OK with it because that reinforces their world view, but they’d keep stealing either way and they know it.

Are you sick about hearing about feminism in fiction?

Women, right? They’re always prattling on about something. Wanting something. A Black Widow movie. Equal rights. The ability to express an opinion online without getting death threats. So needy, amiright? Everyone knows once you’ve declared something has happened (gender equality), you’ve done all the heavy lifting and everyone should just carry on the way they’re going, with no further inconvenience. So what’s with the constant barrage of people tweeting/blogging/otherwise ranting about female characters in fiction? THIS IS SETTLED ALREADY. EVERYTHING’S FINE NOW.

Sarcasm aside, I’m a feminist but even I sometimes feel tired when I see yet another blog dissecting female characters in a book or film and bemoaning the state of the industry. Sure, you’ve got female characters, but are they strong enough? How’s their agency? Are they TOO strong – caricatures, or just men with tits? Sufficiently and realistically flawed? How about Joss Whedon, is he an ally or part of the problem? I mean, I googled something about Frozen the other day* and ended up reading dozens of opposing articles about whether it’s a good feminist movie or a bad one, whether the characters are good for women or not, whether it subverts tropes or reinforces them. It’s exhausting.** As a writer, it seems terrifying – so many chances to get it wrong.

But never fear, dear readers. I have a solution to all this agonising.

Just put more women in.

Seriously. It’s not that hard. Forget about obsessing over your female characters, trying to work out if they meet all the criteria. Spoiler alert: there’s no settled criteria and you’ll never please everyone.

I mean yes, your women should have agency (by which I mean, they should not be passive little lilypads bobbing on the sea of your plot – they should make decisions and take actions which drive the plot), but that’s about your writing, not about your women – ALL interesting characters have agency. No, they shouldn’t be clichés; but again, that’s because clichés are boring writing. If you’re writing stories where your characters have no agency and/or they’re all clichés, you might just be a shit writer, not a bad feminist.

If you can look at your own work and see common traits in most of your female characters that isn’t just the shape of their genitals, you’ve probably got a problem, and that problem is you’re being thoughtless and lazy. This is true whether that trait is submissiveness, red hair, sarcasm, massive upper body strength or bad BO. If you only write ‘strong women’ and you think that means ‘women who aren’t like those other crappy women – hey, I hate sewing!’ you’re contributing to the problem as much as someone who only writes women as props for men. You don’t beat this problem by writing women who epitomise traditional femininity or tear it down – you beat it by writing BOTH. ALL.  Gender isn’t the most important or interesting thing about a character – it’s not even up there in the top 10.

Just put more women in.

Write women into a bunch of roles in your story – God, maybe lash out and make it something like half the roles, since, I dunno, that’s the reality of the world we live in?***

Cos here’s the magic of my solution – you don’t need to panic that your female characters don’t perfectly embody the right amount of strength and the right number of flaws and are likeable but not too likeable!! and are sex positive but not all about the boobies if you don’t make all of this crazy difficult juggling act rest on the shoulders of only a couple of ladies. Spread the load! Write women in powerful and powerless and power-indifferent positions. Make them nice and naughty and jerks and generous and spoilt and clever and clueless and every other character trait that people routinely, without thought, apply to male characters. Write them young and old and fat and hot and thuggish and graceful.  Write them all over the gender spectrum. Write them from different backgrounds and cultures and with different priorities. Because the thing is, women are just people, and people are not all interesting in the same ways. They don’t have to each of them be perfectly imperfect if there are only enough of them.

Just put more women in.

We wouldn’t need to scrutinise every word Black Widow says if there were dozens of female superheroes on screen. We wouldn’t have to worry about Bechdel and Mako Mori and teeth gnashing about writing strong women if women were just routinely given as much screen/page time as men. Every woman in Buffy didn’t need to be free of problematic traits from a feminist perspective, simply because there were plenty of them in there, and they were all different. If you’re sick of all the constant analysis, know this: we all have the power to actually make this issue retreat, not by getting every female character ‘right’ but by having enough of them that it’s absurd to even lump them together just because they’re women. The discussion would just go away.

Like magic.

Now go forth and populate your stories with so many ladies I never have to think seriously about whether Elsa is a triumph or a disaster.

* Don’t ask me why. I have 2 small boys and Frozen is part of parenting now.

** Yes, I know, I could have NOT kept reading. Shut up, I have poor impulse control and the internet has a hold on me, all right?

*** I too am a fantasy writer so yes, you could make up a world that has a different gender balance – but you should probably only do that if it’s a genuine part of the ‘what if’ associated with your story. Don’t just do it because your default position is ‘white man’. There shouldn’t be a default position. (But that’s a rant for another time).

Rules about writing are about keeping people out

You can spend a lot of time on the internet reading articles by people – some earnest, some I can only assume are malicious – telling you the rules you must obey to write or to be a writer. Some of it is framed like advice, some more like a warning: don’t do this, or else!* They’re both equally useful, which is to say, completely without use other than to waste your time and cause you unnecessary anxiety.

Today this one is doing the rounds:

There is so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to start. Others have already more eloquently torn it to the bloody ribbons it deserves, but for mine, some of the best gems include:

  • Writers are born with talent.Either you have a propensity for creative expression or you don’t…The [master of fine arts] student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare…
    • Ah, the classic combo – both cop out (so you can blame ‘lack of talent’ for not putting the hard work in and getting anything done, or for not succeeding) and insult (reducing the creative works of others to some magic inherent talent instead of recognising the effort that goes into good writing). Here’s the thing: writing is like pretty much anything – you can and do get better at it the more you practise and work at it (including by reading and analysing other people’s work).
  • If you didn’t decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you’re probably not going to make it.There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one.** But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one’s 30s or 40s is probably too late.
    • You’re right, dude. When you only have around 60 years of life left, best to just give up now. I mean no-one’s ever learned a new skill after age 30, right? Everyone knows the best wisdom and clear thinking and performance in every area of life peaks in your teenage years. FFS. Hang on though, I thought talent was something you either had or not? Surely if you’re the Real Deal according to his magic Real Deal Detector (TM), you’ve got the skillz no matter what time you start. Whereas your ordinary schmuck can’t learn them no matter how pretentiously overzealous they are about literature as an eleven year old.
  • That’s why I advise anyone serious about writing books to spend at least a few years keeping it secret.
    • Just…wow. Keep it a secret? WTF are you supposed to tell your friends and family you’re doing when you’re writing? Again, this is part of this whole mystic talented genius mess he’s peddling and it’s just bunk. Tell people if you want to. Don’t tell them if you don’t want to. Try not to let your partner assume you have an online porn or gambling addiction because you won’t let them near your laptop or explain why you’re muttering at your monitor in the wee hours of the morning. What you share about your hobby/career is, like any other personal decision, entirely up to you, and has nothing to do with your abilities as a writer.

I could go on, but the whole article has this nasty bitter taste to it and it’s making me want a TimTam, and I’ve already eaten an entire packet of those Zumbo raspberry ones this week. The point is, this sort of stuff is designed to keep people away from creative writing programs and writing generally, by perpetuating stupid myths and trying to make up reasons why only the article’s author’s chosen few are ‘worthy’ of succeeding as writers. Guess what – no one, not this guy or anyone else, gets to decide who is ‘worthy’ to write. I don’t even understand why there’s this stupid bullshit culture of ‘worthiness’ around books anyway, like there is any objective measure of what is Good Art and what is Bad Art as opposed to a bunch of vastly different storytellers trying to communicate with vastly different people in vastly different ways.

Actually I do understand: it’s about certain groups trying to dictate who they can let in and keep out of their little clubs.  This guy’s all about keeping out of his precious field people who don’t take creative writing courses, or don’t write a particular type of literature, or who are different from him. Oh, you didn’t have the time, money, security and support to spend hours of free time studying the classics in your early teens? Sorry chump, you’re out. Guess how diverse a field that leaves? Yep, just about as diverse as he wants it to be.

Seriously, don’t listen to this shit. Don’t be kept away from something you want to do by the words of a stranger – or even by the words of people you know, for that matter – dictating some arbitrary steps or qualities you must have. There are no rules to writing. There may be tips, there may be help, there are certainly other people’s processes you can consider (and adopt, or refine, or ignore). But you don’t need anyone’s permission and you don’t need to meet anyone else’s criteria to be a writer. Write, read, write and read some more. Everything else is your business.

* Or else what, it’s not entirely clear. The writing police will come and find you? Tear down your handcrafted placards calling yourself a writer?

** Oh, how generous of you to think of one lone example. I’m glad you’ve checked up on the intensity of every successful writer in history as a teenager, because fuck me, I sure wouldn’t know how anyone could possibly assess that.

In defence of U2 – or, why cool isn’t so great


Last year, as you know unless you were on a remote island without phone or internet, U2 released their new album by partnering with Apple to give it free to all Apple users. The album appeared in your iTunes account as if you’d paid for it. This caused a brouhaha* and I’m not going to get into how fucking ridiculous it was for people to publicly rant about this gift as though it was the most offensive betrayal they’d ever suffered.** What I was interested in was the weeks that followed during which it was very very important for every article about the subject to quickly establish its credibility by stating that U2 was Not Cool (this was also the theme of ten million virtually identical twitter jokes). The release was a desperate stunt by a band that was Uncool. Irrelevant. Nothing was as important online as showing that you were cool because you knew that Bono wasn’t.

Obviously Bono bashing has been a sneering sport of choice for many for a number of years, on account of his irritating habit of attempting to use his massive international platform to speak about issues that matter to him – chiefly the war in Ireland, drug abuse and, in the last few decades, the fate of the continent of Africa. I mean, shut up, man. Songs (at least songs post 2000) are only allowed to be about sexy chicks or sexy bitches or that jerk who dumped you or why it’s so great to party. Attempting social change through songs is SO 1980s. Or, OK, 1970s. Or 1960s. You know, all those irrelevant decades in the music industry. And FFS, people who come to your concerts don’t want to hear you speak for even a second about anything except the name of their city. Amnest-what? Shut up and sing Pride, won’t you?***

I will leave aside the obvious fact that U2 are, and remain, immensely popular, and that people who go to U2 concerts know perfectly well that Bono will, just as he has been doing for 3 decades, speak about social issues during the concert and that many of the songs will be about those issues, so it is hardly a shocking disappointment when he does. What I would argue is that U2 are not cool, and that they have never been cool. Popular, obviously; for the 80s and 90s, and even again in the early noughties, one of the biggest bands in the world. But I don’t think they’ve ever really been cool.

And so what?

Cool is called cool for a reason. It’s desirable but unattainable. It’s remote. It’s people who are better than you who don’t want (or don’t want to admit) they want your regard. It’s a one sided, cold, and fickle.

U2 have never been cool because they’ve always wanted your regard. They’ve fought for it with consistent, earnest, enthusiasm; they’re your overzealous pet spaniel, not the beautiful Siamese cat in the window down the road. They’ve tried new things – some have worked, some haven’t, but even the most ardent U2 hater has to admit that they are always experimenting – because they’re always trying to connect to people. This album release was something new too, and at its heart was the desire, once again, to find new ways to connect.

I suppose what I’m saying (besides, obviously, that I like U2, and I like Bono, and I don’t give a shit that that’s currently the pop cultural equivalent of going outside in your underwear and jiggling your fat bits at people in the street) is that cool is overrated. Not just in music, though the obsession with cool and ‘relevance’ in music is particularly frustrating. In everything creative or artistic that overlaps with popular culture. In TV: if a show’s cool you’ve got to be watching it or you’re lame. But watch out, once it gets TOO popular you’re just a sheep in the masses and it’s not OK anymore. In books: liking fantasy – writing fantasy – is as uncool as it gets, particularly if it dares to be the fun kind and not the grim, serious, it’s-not-embarrassing-because-lots-of-people-get-murdered-and-look-there-are-barely-any-dragons kind. And Santa help you if you like YA, because that’s immature and probably melting your brain, or romance because EW GIRL GERMS AMMIRIGHT or crime novels because they’re so unrealistic and formulaic, or OK just any genre really because it is already established that Worthy Writing was written by white dudes most of whom are dead and is about despair and is about Internal Struggle and alcoholism. There’s a certain percentage of writing on the internet which basically just consists of: what I like is better and more worthy than that harmless thing you like and you should always, always feel bad and ashamed of that.

I’ll take art with earnestness and enthusiasm, rooted in a need to connect with people, over aloof intellectualism or condescension any day of the year. I’ll take the warmth of someone who wants and values my affection over the slippery battle of winning attention from someone who makes me feel  inferior. I’ll take the joy of enjoying the books and movies and TV shows I like no matter how many smug articles tell me how stupid I am to like those things. And you can take your art how you like it, and no-one should make you feel crap about liking it that way.

So don’t sweat it if you like U2 or Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey or 18th century poetry or the later seasons of TV shows that everyone agrees have jumped the shark.**** Fuck what’s cool, and go give that shark a bloody hug if you want to.

* (I’m not sure I’ve ever written that word down before. Or even said it out loud. It’s not a cool word, but that works for this blog post)

** OK a little. Jesus people. If you don’t like the album you delete it. Or don’t download it from your account into your playlist at all. FFS. Having FB and twitter clogged with people smugly congratulating each other on how outraged they could get about this insulting ‘attack on their privacy’ (ie the company they have a music account with adding music to that account) was pretty bloody annoying.

*** You know, that song about the Edge’s booty.

**** This is not to say that people can’t have legitimate criticism of these things – there may be plenty to criticise. But you shouldn’t have to feel bad about enjoying something just because other people tell you to.