Wednesday News: New Lisbeth Salander book, value of negative reviews, black characters in soaps, and crowdfunding for One Direction
From ‘Dragon Tattoo’ To The ‘Spider’s Web’: Stieg Larsson’s Heroine Returns – So it has actually happened: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels are being continued with Swedish crime reporter David Lagercrantz as their author. Although Larsson did not exactly have a beautiful writing style, it’s going to be interesting to see how the new books connect to the originals, especially since they are shooting for continuity with the series. Larsson’s estate claims that the author left an outline covering seven more books in the series, but Larsson’s longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson, strongly refutes this claim, and is clearly not a fan of the series’ new direction:
“Everyone thinks there was some grand scheme,” she told AFP just last week, “but no, he had no plan for the first three books and when he started writing the fourth one, it was spontaneous. He still didn’t have a plan.”
And Gabrielsson hasn’t pulled punches, even calling Lagercrantz a “completely idiotic choice” to continue the series. “They say heroes are supposed to live forever. That’s a load of crap, this is about money,” she said. “It’s about a publishing house that needs money, [and] a writer who doesn’t have anything to write so he copies someone else.” –NPR
Bad Reviews May Actually Be Good For Sales – Although some of us have noticed how bad reviews can actually sell more books, there’s now research demonstrating that one of the things that can make a bad review unimportant for sales is its relationship to reader taste. In other words, if the reviewer’s taste is what determines their rating, the review may not matter. Also, negative reviews can provide product information that actually helps sell the product reviewed, because what one person deems a flaw, someone else will identify as an essential feature.
Also, I think using the word “bad” interchangeably with “negative” in regard to reviews clouds the issue, because it basically equates negative with bad. To me, a “bad” review is more likely one that is poorly constructed, unsupported with specifics, or otherwise insufficient as a review, whereas a negative review is about the reviewer’s response to the item reviewed.
And certain bad reviews can be a boon for sales. A bad review that criticizes a computer for having “too many features” could be seen by people who are more proficient with computers as a positive recommendation. A review about the food at a restaurant being “too low-brow” can encourage customers who want to be casual.
In fact, the recent study showed that businesses could actually use this information to their advantage. After showing a group of volunteers charts that showed the distribution of ratings in a review system, the researchers found that the volunteers were likely to ignore bad reviews if they thought that the reviews reflected merely the taste of the reviewer, rather than the quality of the product. By “proactively” marketing their product as something that is subject to taste — even if it’s just taste in the packaging of the product — rather than grounded in quality, companies can steer consumers into disregarding bad reviews. –i09
The Unsung Legacy of Black Characters on Soap Operas – This is just a great article on the history of black actors and characters on soap operas, especially in comparison to the state of diversity on network television more than 30 years later. Aaron Foley writes about both the presence of black characters in daytime television and the ways those characters, and the actors who portrayed them, did not have an easy path or consistent representation within soaps. Still, Foley points to the way soap operas were, in some ways, doing a better job, earlier on, in representing actual world (I hesitate to say ‘real world’ since soap worlds were not always realistic) diversity. In fact, reading his piece reminded me of Shonda Rhimes’s recent insistence that she’s not “diversifying” television but “normalizing” it. Although the use of the word “normal” can conjure images of oppressive societal and cultural norms, I think she’s absolutely right that we should not view diversity as unusual or different, because that perpetuates stigma and marginalization.
But another big reason Y&R was beloved in my family was its black characters, who flourished in the 80s and 90s: They began as background figures, but slowly evolved into pillars of their fictional community. Born the year The Cosby Showpremiered, I grew up watching 227, Amen, Family Matters, and A Different World not knowing how hard it was to integrate TV; for me, black folks were already there. There was a point in my childhood when I knew Drucilla, Olivia, Neil, Nathan, and Mamie, Y&R’s powerhouse stable of 90s black characters, better than some of my own cousins.
So it’s interesting to see primetime television and streaming services like Netflix being heralded for ushering in a new age of black television, as if we were never allowed to be ourselves onscreen before. But daytime, before primetime, provided valuable space for black characters to be layered—and for viewers, black and otherwise, to appreciate their complexity. Every time I see these new-school characters, I remind myself of where I’ve seen them before. Well before Annalise Keating of How to Get Away With Murder was a tough, black woman lawyer with a complicated interracial marriage, there was Jessica Griffin on As the World Turns, an attorney who faced scrutiny before marrying her white fiance, Duncan. It wasn’t all that shocking when Mary Jane Paul on BET’s Being Mary Jane stole her boyfriend’s sperm if you’d already seen Virginia Harrison carrying around semen from a sperm bank–with a turkey baster!–to impregnate one of her rivals on Sunset Beach. –The Atlantic
The Teen Who Wanted To Buy One Direction Started Her Crowdfunding Campaign As A Joke, But Now It’s Real – What started as a bit of a joke – a plan to crowd fund enough money to buy the band One Direction — has now become a full-fledged campaign, and a global coalition of fans, called The Sixth Alliance, is actually raising money (with a goal of $87.8M) in earnest to purchase the group from its current management, which they think might be responsible for whatever issues led Zayn Malik to leave the group.
Despite the, uh, youthful enthusiasm behind a campaign like this, it actually raises some interesting issues around what a music act like One Direction is actually worth. BBC did an analysis of the group’s value, which includes their brand and the intellectual property associated with the brand and their music. It might make an interesting comparison to authors and brands and how the value of those brands might be assessed beyond the actual creative product. –Buzzfeed
I can’t decide whether to applaud the commitment of the One Direction GoFundMe drive or shake my head at the hubris. I know nothing about Zayn Malik or this band, but a cursory read indicates the guy just wants a life outside of the craziness of the entertainment industry.
What bothers me is the fans who think they know what’s best for a group or individual, fans who are themselves quite young, not exactly carrying hefty bank accounts, and who, in their distress, can’t allow that things/people they idolize change and evolve and fail. Admittedly, we adults aren’t much better at that.
Then again, if we’d been more savvy and connected when the Beatles broke up, we could have started #SaveTheBeatles or #GiveOkoTheBoot or something equally ridiculous. God, I’m old.
@Darlynne: Old and I can’t spell. #GiveYokoTheBoot, not that I believed the breakup was her fault in the first place.
@Darlynne: I’m old, too. Too old to have an opinion about 1D, really. But if Zayn Malik quit the band because he wanted a quieter lifestyle, he went about it a funny way by releasing a solo single just days later.
Re: negative reviews… I truly think the reason my book was #1 in sales at SBTB a couple of weeks ago is because someone expressed such a sincere negative review in the comments when it was first listed. Being on sale for .99 of course helped stir the ‘wtf, guess it’s worth seeing for myself’ impulse buys, I’m sure. But still, I do think that bit of controversy is what caused the surge.
@Susan: I *think* he said he just didn’t really fit in with the whole “group” idea and was unhappy doing it – but did it so long for the fans (and the contract, I believe).
What made me sad was that his girlfriend started getting blamed for him leaving. She started receiving hate mail (& tweets, etc). They (fans) said she was the “modern day Yoko Ono” and some judge from X-Factor Britain implied that it was her fault and that “girlfriends/wives whisper in [these guys’] ears that they “should be solo artists.”
Yeah, blame the woman. Par for the course.