on February 28, 2014
I don’t imagine that bad boys (or girls) get tenure. The proliferation of MFA programs in creative writing — which I don’t necessarily knock, being a graduate of one — has created more and more jobs for novelists and poets, and academics are generally prejudiced against colleagues who publish and are too successful, too mainstream, too much on TV, or too outspoken. It’s gauche.
The Literary Bad Boy has long been replaced by Bad Kids on TV, in movies, on YouTube and Twitter. You have too many people today saying Something Outrageous just to get three seconds of attention, and when you factor in the public’s amnesia, those outrageous statements and moments need to keep on coming. Today the equation is reversed: instead of being an author, like Mailer, who says or does provocative things, now you just say or do provocative things and, after you go viral, you get a book deal (and someone else to write your book).
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