Bad Books by Worse People

For anyone who enjoyed Personal Arrogants or Direct, Jesse (Arrogants) and I (Direct) have started a new podcast called Bad Books by Worse People. It turns out Saddam Hussein wrote a romance novel called 'Zabiba and the King', and we read it and recorded our conversations about it. The book is just about as bad as you can imagine, but if your curiosity is peaked then listen to our casual synopsis and spare yourself from actually reading the dang thing. We have some additional miserable works of fiction lined up afterward 'Zabiba' as well, and are also looking for recommendations on bad fiction written by history's assholes.

The first two episodes should be up, and we are uploading every Thursday. Give us a listen sometime!
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Comments

  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    Good books by bad people would also be interesting.  
  • Maybe we will get lucky and accidentally read one.
    Flukes
  • MichaelGMichaelG Seattle
    Right on, sounds like a cool idea. subscribed!
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    Great stuff. Please write fan fiction! Honestly, a good bit would be to write a love scene for every novel you do a podcast on that doesn't have one. Regardless of the subject. Something tells me you won't have much a problem when you get around to some of L. Ron Hubbard's works.
    Flukes
  • Freddy, I love it and I hate it!  :D
    Freddy
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    levij said:
    Freddy, I love it and I hate it!  :D
    I know the feeling. It's like how I love you guys for having done Direct, but I also hate you guys for not still doing Direct.
    A_Ron_Hubbard
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    Good books by bad people would also be interesting.  
    Ender's Game
    A_Ron_HubbardFlukes
  • @Murderbear, I have always heard Orson Scott Card was a bad guy, but I guess i need to look into why! I did enjoy Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow.

    @Freddy, better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all  :*
    Freddy
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    OSC is far from a bad person. People equate criticism of the LGBT community with immorality. He is weirdly obsessed with the topic, though.
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    book of mormon....john smith
    scientology book by Hubbard
    the bible...by many authors....even if some of the events are true its still caused untold misery
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    edited April 4
    Hatorian said:
    book of mormon....john smith
    scientology book by Hubbard
    the bible...by many authors....even if some of the events are true its still caused untold misery
    You mean Joseph Smith, I believe. And even then, I don't know. He is pretty bad, but is he worse than his book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith_and_the_criminal_justice_system ?

    My personal favorite crime is "Treason against Illinois".

    Shum
  • ShumShum Utah
    JaimieT said:
    OSC is far from a bad person. People equate criticism of the LGBT community with immorality. He is weirdly obsessed with the topic, though.
    I used to read his blog and he's fairly reasonable for a religious conservative. He's a climate change denier and he likes to rail against the "liberal inquisition," but he's also a never trumper and pro immigration last time I checked. Basically he considered himself a Democrat back in the 80s and now he's a stubborn old man.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    Shum said:
    JaimieT said:
    OSC is far from a bad person. People equate criticism of the LGBT community with immorality. He is weirdly obsessed with the topic, though.
    I used to read his blog and he's fairly reasonable for a religious conservative. He's a climate change denier and he likes to rail against the "liberal inquisition," but he's also a never trumper and pro immigration last time I checked. Basically he considered himself a Democrat back in the 80s and now he's a stubborn old man.

    Yeah, that's similar to my assessment. He's not the droid we're looking for.
    Shum
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Hatorian said:
    book of mormon....john smith
    scientology book by Hubbard
    the bible...by many authors....even if some of the events are true its still caused untold misery
    My god, Hubbard's Mission: Earth would keep a person casting for decades. It's all so bad.
    Hatorian
  • levij said:
    @Murderbear, I have always heard Orson Scott Card was a bad guy, but I guess i need to look into why! I did enjoy Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow.

    @Freddy, better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all  :*

    JaimieT said:
    OSC is far from a bad person. People equate criticism of the LGBT community with immorality. He is weirdly obsessed with the topic, though.

    Shum said:
    JaimieT said:
    OSC is far from a bad person. People equate criticism of the LGBT community with immorality. He is weirdly obsessed with the topic, though.
    I used to read his blog and he's fairly reasonable for a religious conservative. He's a climate change denier and he likes to rail against the "liberal inquisition," but he's also a never trumper and pro immigration last time I checked. Basically he considered himself a Democrat back in the 80s and now he's a stubborn old man.

     Back in 2012? 2013? I taught a communications class at a local community college.  It was right around the time when the Ender's Game movie was about to be released.  The school's English department decided to add the book to the reading list for one of the classes that covered science fiction.  That caused a huge uproar.  It was years back and it was in a department that I didn't work in so I can't remember all of the details, but some students made a flyer that quoted some of OSC most damning statements and they were awful.  Not just run of the mill "I don't support gay marriage" type of stuff, but far worse like implying that gay people were pedophiles, that social acceptance of homosexuality would cause society to collapse etc 

    Maybe with a stronger presence of evangelicals in America those types of statements might be considered to be a little more mundane, but here ('here' being a massively diverse city like Toronto, perhaps not all of Canada) people freaked out that someone with those views was being promoted in a college (which are publicly funded here).  The book was pulled from the reading list.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited April 4
    @CretanBull - His views moderated over time. He's a writer so he's able to write strong statements, whereas most people hiccup vomit into a spit rag. If I was on the record for everything I said about gay people, I'd be shunned too.

    Books get banned all the time and it really doesn't mean anything besides people are ignorant. Once again, here.  B)
    CretanBullMurderbear
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited April 5
    I could also point out the privilege of ignoring writers who have stances that offend you. For instance, if I ignored writers who were misogynist (and who were blatantly misogynist in their works)(ask me for examples!), that would be.... over 50% of the literature I have read and studied in my life. And that's being conservative.

    But this one guy is homophobic, so he's a bad person, and his books that have nothing to do with homosexuality should be boycotted.

    It's so obviously the issue dujour. 

    Worse, it's seen as a bigger problem.

    And that's because... why? Let's all say it together, class. Because men are in the affected group.

    (I'm talking about society, not any individual in this group.)
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    I personally only brought up Ender's Game for the example of a GOOD book by a bad person. It's hard sometimes having a relationship with art and the artist. Unfortunately there are so many examples of good art by bad people or at best, people that have made a few bad choices.

    I guess it is privilege but I think if you personally do not like what the artist stands for or their past actions, I think you have every right to ignore what they do. That's the nice thing these days, there is SO MUCH art out there you can consume by, presumably, not shitty people.

    I do not know much about OSC, maybe his views have changed, I couldn't really find any evidence of that. Lots of examples though of his homophobia and his, let's say at best, racially gross views on President Obama. (Particularly his idea that Dictator Obama was going to start a National Police force with "urban" youths felt a little icky) If someone can ignore that and enjoy his work, by all means, do it! Seriously. Just because a person has thoughts on an particular issue doesn't necessarily mean it's going to sneak its way into their art.

    I did like Ender's Game though when I was young. It's like being a Beatles fan and finding out John Lennon hit his first wife. It doesn't make me want to stop listening to The Beatles but it does sit in the back of my mind sometimes when I hear him sing.
    DeeCretanBull
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Okay, kind of side-eyeing all the OSC isn't that bad stuff.  I mean, in the big picture, hardly anyone is "that bad", we're all just human, there but for the grace of god go I, etc, etc. But here's my yardstick: I used to be a fundamentalist doofus, exclusively hung around with fundamentalist doofuses, even at my most doofesty I didn't say something like "laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society", or “Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”

    Granted, I was the kind of fundamentalist doofus that eventually saw my way out of it, but still, if OSC would be in the top decile of doofuses in my backwoods fundamentalist church, that's saying something, you know? Also, while OSC has moderated his views, has he apologized for them? I'm not aware of any. 

    Ender's Game is still pretty good though. There's nothing wrong with keeping perspective, but there's also nothing wrong with saying someone's views were pretty extreme even accounting for the times. HP Lovecraft is another example. Nearly everyone was racist back then, but even still, he was kind of out in front of pack.

    Jaimie has a good point too. In that the less privileged you are in society, the more shit you have to swallow to kind of go along to get along. Compare an average white liberal's reaction to coronavirus, "OMG! I can't believe the government would do something like this" verses the average minority whose opinion is "shit like happens all the time!"

    tl;dr, dragging OSC is not problematic.


    Flukes
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    This thread:

    Saddam Hussein
    L. Ron Hubbard
    Orson Scott Card

    So yes, I raised my doubts.

    IMO, this is only because "bad" is vague. To make it worse, I didn't even give my working definition of what I thought it meant before disagreeing. (This is not to criticize the thread idea; it's a good thread idea.)

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited April 5
    I guess it is privilege but I think if you personally do not like what the artist stands for or their past actions, I think you have every right to ignore what they do. That's the nice thing these days, there is SO MUCH art out there you can consume by, presumably, not shitty people.

    You really cannot avoid misogyny, or misogynists, in literature. At this point I'm just making that claim, not building a case. To me, it's very self-evident, but I'm a woman.

    If I had to give one piece of evidence I'd say: you get introduced to this in grade school, or maybe high school, as "normal" and "classic." 

    Anyway, I think there's a lot of value there, so... whatever.
  • Man, I dipped out for a second and there has been some spirited debate around all of this!

    I think the trick with good books by bad people is, for example, if I find my kid reading Ender's Game someday I would say, "Hey that's a good book but the author is not very nice, so think critically about what they are saying." It is so easy to absorb ideas from general media consumption, and it should not be censored so it needs to be filtered by individuals and young readers need to be forewarned that a label like 'classic' is not tacit approval of everything the author presents. Like JaimieT points out, it is hard to avoid misogynists in literature (or just about any other form of media for that matter). Everyone has to work to read around them in a sense, because people are still going to read Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers.' Those readers need to realize that was honestly his utopian vision, and he is actively trying to convert them to it.

    The advantage to reading bad books by worse people is it is much easier to critically deconstruct assholes at their most vulnerable, when they put themselves out there with bad art. That's also why we plan on sticking to fiction for the most part. We are not really looking for a debate with a long dead genocidal maniac, that is for smarter people. We are just looking for a good time dragging things into the sunlight that society had already collectively agreed to sweep under the rug. There's privilege in that too, but hopefully it is a more universally entertaining application of it.
    MurderbearJaimieT
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