A few years ago, I had an offer for a book deal; I was going to write a celebrity parenting advice book. In fact, I started writing before the deal was set, wrote an awful lot of it, in fact. Was gonna crank that baby out. Deadpan hilarity was the operating concept.
Then Anna Nicole Smith died while I was holed up on a writing binge in a wifi-less hotel, and I knew I'd 1) have to rewrite my whole Anna Nicole bit, and 2) probably give her her own faux-cautionary tale chapter.
And in one way, I was glad, felt like I'd dodged a bullet, because what if I'd finished, or worse, was just about to start flogging the book, which had, say, mocked her whole, "I only give my newborn daughter 4 oz. of formula instead of 5 because I want her to stay sexy," thing, right when she OD'd and died and turned her kid into a securitized asset? Man, that would have been awkward.
But I kind of snapped, and I just stopped cold. I knew I was writing a book I hated about a subject and culture I hated even more, and it was rotten and depressing, and I was becoming a stressed out a-hole to live with--and for what?
I mean, I was surprised and flattered by the offer, as laughably tiny as it was--seriously, writers?--but more for the attention. And I still have nothing but admiration for the folks who approached me. And I still feel bad, not just about bailing on the book, but about feeling like I did not really do right by these professionals who were supportive, if a little perplexed at my response.
But I just could not do it. Back then the entire celebrity parenting industrial complex just felt deeply, deeply wrong, and disgusting, and unsustainable and--holy crap, $5,000 for a reality star tweet??
For the demi-celebrities in front of the camera, the shows also are global billboards that lead to paid gigs, like lucrative appearances at introductions for baby products and for tweeting on behalf of companies that are focusing on women with children, sometimes for $5,000 or more a tweet for the bigger reality stars.You cannot make this shit up anymore. And I say that as someone who actually tried.
The Baby Bump [nyt]