Sunday, April 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the catacombs of grievance

Fantasy author Stephen Hunt, who organised the protest, commented, “The sneering tone that was levelled towards commercial fiction during The Books We Really Read was deeply counterproductive to the night’s aims of actually encouraging people to read novels. The weight that was given to the single sub-genre of literary fiction in the remaining programmes was unbalanced and unrepresentative of all but a small fraction of the country’s reading tastes. And closest to my own heart, the failure to feature a single work from the three genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction was a disgrace. The official World Book Night list included Philip Pullman’s fantasy novel, Northern Lights. It is a shame the BBC could not.”

Hunt went on to say, “There have been weeks when one in three books sold in the UK were Harry Potter novels, or more recently, Twilight novels. The sweeping under the carpet of the very genres of the imagination which engage and fire readers’ minds shows a lot more about the BBC production team’s taste in fiction than it does about what the general public is actually reading...
Actually, Mr Hunt, you should have stopped at Philip Pullman. Nobody ever won a literary argument with Potter and Twilight on his side. Nor is your cause helped by the authors' note at the bottom of this page: "We still remember the sneering attitude of the presenters and the talking head guests towards The Lord Of The Rings during the BBC’s coverage of The Big Read a few years back, even though it won a public vote to find Britain’s Favourite Book." Yes, that would be because The Lord of the Rings is a steaming pile of cliché.

Besides, if the British cookery programmes did what you want of the book programmes - reflect what people are really consuming - then they would all be about curries, KFC and meals for one.

And I cannot help but notice that Iain M Banks signed the petition but Iain Banks did not; and that Steven Lundin wrote as Steve Erikson when signing, while Phyllis Irene Radford signed as both P.R. Frost and C.F. Bentley.

Oh well, at least nobody mentioned Margaret Atwood this time.


5 comments:

Psycho Milt said...

...Iain M Banks signed the petition but Iain Banks did not...

Perhaps because Iain Banks hasn't written a really good book since The Crow Road, whereas Iain M Banks is still worth your money.

Ben said...

To be fair, British TV programmes don't purport to be about what the British public are actually eating. With the possible exception of Jamie - though then, the tone is general disbelief and worry about what they are eating.

As best I can tell, the program was purporting to talk about the books that the public is reading rather than what they should be. Harry Potter, Twilight, da vinci code, yes, they're all crap, but in a program discussing what the public is reading, I would expect them to be mentioned at least.

Rich said...

I actually reckon "Top Chefs Order Takeout" would be a great show.

Stephen Parkes said...

"Oh well, at least nobody mentioned Margaret Atwood this time."

Spoke too soon!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13128769

Lars from Mars said...

I would rate Pullman's self-serving crap well below Potter or LOR. How much you know.

Out of your genre?