Blah Blah Blog

1.31.2006

Let's Play Bamboozled!


As Charles Barkley would say, you've been "bamboozled, hoodwinked, taken to the cleaners." Oprah read a book and she liked it so much she told everyone else to read it and they did and they liked it a lot too. Then The Smoking Gun says this true-story is nothing but a tall-tale which led to the millionaire author getting grilled by the billionaire talk show host and a controversy has been brewing. Well, I've got a few questions:

1) If you read a book and found some entertainment or enrichment from it, does it really matter if it's fiction or non-fiction? I don't read novels, but I can relate. It's just like listening to and enjoying a rap single only to find that the catchy hook is nothing more than a sample from a 70's pop tune. You feel a little duped at first, but you realize that the song is still the song and you connect with it. It's no reason to throw Vanilla Ice off a balcony.

2) If a non-fiction memoir is penned by a pathological liar, is it not still non-fiction?

Anyway, I think this whole controversy is comical. After all, it's not like it's the first time Oprah made a guy rich who didn't deserve it. (Note to Daily Show watchers: I realize there was a variation of this joke on last night's episode, but I had this thing written yesterday. Plus this photo includes a puppet.)

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It's false pretenses, man. The book was classified (and promoted by Frey and the publisher) as non-fiction - a fact-based account. Granted, a memoir gives the author a bit of leeway in tone and structure, but not about falsifying/altering the story.

People thought they were getting an inspiring and true story about addiction and recovery. When Frey was exposed, the strength or inspiration people may have gained from reading his story took a hit. I mean, Oprah promoted him, I'm sure a good number recovering people in her flock looked at Frey as a demigod and his story of recovery as remarkable and amazing. Those people took a hit.

I mean, a good number of people were angry enough to write to Oprah and make her rethink her original position of supporting Frey.

In non-fiction there are two cardinal sins: plagirism and lying. Frey is guilty of the latter. He knowingly deceived his audience (and Oprah!)

I think he deserves what he is getting.

The photo = nice!
 

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