I sometimes wonder who all the people are telling people certain things are shit – because a lot of people saying how shit things are haven’t experienced the things that they are saying are shit. Someone, somewhere must be watching/reading/listening to things to tell someone that the thing is shit – and then word spreads.
Coldplay are shit – everyone who hasn’t listened to Coldplay albums (Why would I? they’re shit – their response)
Dan Brown books are pathetic – everyone who hasn’t read a Dan Brown Book (Why would I? They’re shit – their response)
Fifty Shades of Grey are just tawdry sex books – everyone who hasn’t read any of the books (why would I? They’re shit – their response)
There is a great counter argument for the Coldplay one and it goes something like, I hear some of their songs on the radio and they make me feel ill and I’ve seen Chris Martin on a couple of TV shows and I hate him. This counter argument has some validity, of course. People generally dislike musicians/bands based on some evidence – even if it is a small part of their canon and may not be completely representative. (For what it’s worth I really like their first two albums, always give their new ones a go but find them increasingly unable to elicit emotions from listening to their work since they became the behemoth that they are.)
Still, it makes me laugh when someone says something like ‘REM are depressing’ because Everybody Hurts gets a lot of radio play.
It doesn’t really work the same way with books. Unless you catch Radio 4 at the right point you are unlikely to hear a chapter of a book on the radio. And a chapter of a book is not really like a song by a band. A chapter/section of a book IS likely to be quite representative of the whole book. But, still, (1) it’s best to read the whole book before you judge it, and (2) most people who judge stuff like ‘Dan Brown is shit’ haven’t even read a chapter.
The thing is: Dan Brown is shit. I am reading Inferno. I read The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol. And with the exception of the last book in that list I enjoyed them all for being so shit. And they are just the ‘Robert Langdon’ books. I also read Digital Fortress and Deception Point. They are also shit – enjoyable, daft shit. Like an Arnold Schwarzenegger action film from the 1980s.
What’s not to like about: someone remembering several minutes of an academic lecture during seconds of action in a novel’s narrative? About someone whose life is in danger thinking about extended extracts of academic text and laughing about it? A man being half-dead and being chased by gun toting assassins but shaking his head at the clever jokes of Venetian art from the middle ages?
Also he never thinks about or speaks about the incredibly similar adventures that he has had three times before. As much as I would like Professor Robert Langdon to say something like. “I’m getting too old to be the world’s leading symbologist” it’s probably better that he stays THAT side of being shit.