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How Come It's Only Writers Who Get Shafted? - Planet Jonny
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How Come It's Only Writers Who Get Shafted?
I was watching This Morning yesterday, and they had Pamela Anderson on, talking about her new career as an author. I have to confess that as Philip Schofield and Lorraine Kelly waxed lyrical about how wonderful it was that she'd discovered this new talent, I couldn't help but feel somewhat doubtful about it: I mean Pamela Anderson, a writer? I guess I was being pretty prejudiced, but I just found it really hard to believe that Pammy, silicon tits and all, had writing ability.

But then a few minutes in she rescued me by uttering the magic words "co-author".

Now to be fair to her, it was her that mentioned it and not her interviewers - who were bending over themselves to praise her "writing talent". And it was she who pointed out her co-author in the studio (he was actually there, behind the cameras) which prompted Philip and Lorraine to ask him to come up to join in the interview. But it was pretty obvious from what was then said that Pamela didn't write a single word of her novel. Instead, the two of them would meet up once a week for a chat, after which he would go away and write the text.

In other words, they weren't even co-authors. He was her ghost-writer.

Now I don't have anything against ghost-writers. Hell, if I was given the chance to make some useful cash as a ghost-writer I'd take it.

But I do find it a bit depressing that society and popular culture so devalue the actual craft of creating words that they are prepared to laud people as "authors" when they have absolutely no ability to craft words, and possibly only a very limited ability to tell stories.

Because it wouldn't happen with artists (i.e. "painters") would it?

Imagine what would happen if, say, a Premiership footballer with no drawing or painting ability whatsoever decided that he wanted to be an artist.

Imagine what would happen if he employed a talented, but largely unknown artists, spent an hour or so describing a vague terms an idea for a painting he'd had (perhaps a scene of a footballer rising above a crowded penalty area to head home a winner), and then had no further role in the process except to sign his name at the bottom of the painting after it was finished.

And imagine then if he embarked on the chat show circuit to describe how thrilled he was to create "his" painting, how happy he was to show people his previously unknown artistic side, and express a hope that people would judge him differently, now that they knew he had other talents beyond football.

Would the chat-show interviewers describe him as an "artist", and earnestly discuss his "art" with him?

Or would he be laughed off the show?
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Comments
dungeoneer From: dungeoneer Date: November 3rd, 2004 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)
What we need to do is redress the balance. More ghost-professions are what's called for.

I think I'll launch my career as a star of erotic DVDs. Any ghost-porn stars willing to help me out?
jonnynexus From: jonnynexus Date: November 3rd, 2004 06:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I believe the phrase is "stunt cock", that being the ugly bloke with the ability to get it up who is called in for a close-up money shot when the star shoots his load prematurely or fails to get it up.
scimon From: scimon Date: November 3rd, 2004 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Didn't a lot of the great artists get their apprentices to do big chunks of the pictures they then passed of as theirs?
Though I do agree with what you're saying.
jonnynexus From: jonnynexus Date: November 3rd, 2004 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
True, but at least they had talent, and could possibly argue that it was their "studio" producing the picture, with them signing it as the figurehead. (In the same way as famous architects don't design buildings all their own, but instead have a whole team working behind them).
From: 0_5 Date: November 3rd, 2004 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Just wait a little.
And I`m sure, we shall see ghost-artists. And ghost-pornstars too, however silly that may seem now.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: November 3rd, 2004 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)

"Write it? I haven't even read it!"

No-one respects the book as Art anyway. It's marketing - it will probably sell more with her name on the cover than his, so the publishers are willing to pay. It will certainly get vastly more publicity.

I've ghosted five books...
jonnynexus From: jonnynexus Date: November 3rd, 2004 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: "Write it? I haven't even read it!"

"No-one respects the book as Art anyway. It's marketing - it will probably sell more with her name on the cover than his, so the publishers are willing to pay. It will certainly get vastly more publicity."

Oh, I've no doubt. Which is really the whole point of it: pairing up one person's ability to write with another person's ability to market.

"I've ghosted five books..."

Really? Wow! Are you allowed to say what they are? And is ghost-writing a full-time profession of yours or something you do on the side?
(Deleted comment)
drak From: drak Date: November 3rd, 2004 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damien Hirst at least is very upfront about the fact that he doesn't actually physically produce his erm.. art.
I know that he was 'interested in automatic art' like the spin paintings and stuff like that, but he has also had such marvellous artworks as the dot paintings hwre his artworkers were given the brief 'make a sheet with some colours on.. and make it look good'
Now that is much the same as telling a ghost-writer 'I want some action in the next chapter, maybe with the guy we had in the first bit showing how he's good at driving'
So yes we have ghost artists.

And ghost-cooks..
And ghost-politicians.. (Persuading people to agree with you, even when they know you are wrong is definitely an artform..)
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