Monday, June 6, 2016

Why Johnny Doesn’t Read, An Exercise

Let’s run a little experiment together, shall we?  Open Google, and enter, ‘Why Men Don’t Read,” into the search bar.  The first few articles should be worth a laugh.

Color me impressed!  I was ready to rip into the first five articles for their blatant misunderstanding of and contempt for men, and instead get a reasonable story from a reasonable guy.  From the Huffington Post of all places!  Will wonders never cease.

It's not perfect, or we would have nothing to talk about.  First problem is that the author feels the need to include the obligatory sop to the ladies in the audience.
I was hesitant to write this article, mainly because in no way do I want to be perceived as diminishing the talents of many, many brilliant women in publishing,
It's an article about men, and he still felt the need to talk about women.  Of course he did.  These days, you can’t say anything nice about men without covering your six by complementing women.  Compliments are a zero-sum game.   The modern religion of secularism has its forms and protocols that must be adhered to lest you be cast out as an unclean heretic, after all. 

He also downplays what we now know to be a deliberate and malevolent cultural shift when he says,
nor do I believe that there is a true ‘gender bias’. A bias insinuates some sort of malice, a purposeful exclusion of a segment of society for selfish or ignorant reasons.
1911, Courtesy,
Give him credit, this was written in 2011.  The mask has slipped since then, and the publishing industry, in line with the rest of the coastal cultural pioneers, continually signals its desire to see masculinity replaced by a tepid uni-sexual market that presents a monocultural diversity.  The order of the day is making men more feminine and women more masculine for reasons too deep to go into here. 

Those complaints aside, it’s actually a very good article that throws stones at a publishing industry (and its media allies) who don’t understand men, who don’t cater to men, and who just plain don’t like men, but who then go on to blame men for turning their backs on an industry that has no use for them.

To use a recent example, take Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant marketing strategy for the Y-chromosome-free rehash of Ghostbusters.  The water carriers in the media leapt at the chance to write virtually identical stories quoting her disdain for potential customers when she called them friendless losers.   Good call, Mel, keep on proving the critics right, that’ll put butts in seats.

Back to HuffPo, the writer points out that most of the publishing houses are dominated by women, and that the product and the marketing serve women.  Which is fine, good luck with that.  He makes a strong plea for more resources dedicated to male readers when he says,
Publish more books for men and boys. Trust editors who try to buy these books, and work on the marketing campaigns to hit those audiences. The readers are there, waiting, eager just under the surface. And I promise, if publishing makes an effort to tap it, they’ll come out in droves.
But he doesn’t understand those women any more than they understand him.  His advice is sound.  It is logical and it makes good business sense.  Those two arguments work on logical men engaged in productive business, but the emotive women engaged in business for fulfillment rather than profit won’t listen. 

They didn’t listen.  The article was written five years ago and little has changed in the big publishing houses.
But much has changed down in the swamps at the feet of the dinosaur publishing firms.  They are no longer needed.  Men who read are taking matters into their own hands and producing their own works.  We’ve done what we always do – found an exposed flank in our enemy’s defenses and ruthlessly exploited it.  In this case that flank is self-publishing.
There is more men’s adventure fiction being written than ever before, and all the publishing apathy in the world can’t stop the onrushing tide.  It’s early days yet.  The word hasn’t fully gone out, the structures aren’t fully developed, and the filtering of the good from the drek has a way to go, but men’s adventure writing will soon make a huge comeback.

 We don’t need their help.  We’ll do it on our own.



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