I consider myself an artist. More than that, I consider myself an admirer of art and artists. I hold artistic authenticity and creativity in very high regard (most of us do, I think). Which is why I feel the deepest desire to put into words what I have been stewing over for the past few days- Zoe “Zoella” Sugg, Internet star, beauty guru, vlogger, and now, proud “author” of “her” new book.
Zoe’s book, a chick lit novel titled “Girl Online” quickly soared to the top of Amazon’s best selling list within the first week, dethroning the likes of JK Rowling and Dan Brown in terms of sales. In hindsight, I guess it was expected, what with her six million-strong fanbase, it’s not surprising in the least.
The issue here has nothing to do with the statistics and sales of her book- it’s the revelation that Zoe did not write the book at all, that she had a ghost writer to do it for her, that the book was but another piece of fan merchandise to sell and extract money out of to Zoe, and not a work of creativity and innovation.
I would like to be a writer some day. I’d like my voice heard one day through the written word. And when some twenty-four year old celebrity effortlessly gets the kind of success that I (and millions of other youngsters like me) can only dream of, it’s hard not to despair and feel bitter.
More than the feeling of doom I feel will inevitably descend on mankind eventually if this kind of stupid blind worship of celebrities continues, we also need to talk about how aforementioned stupid blind worship of celebrities lead to the erosion of respect for the writing profession.
When a book purportedly written by a celebrity hits stores, along with other mundane items like coffee mugs, keychains, t shirts, coasters, mousepads, or (in Zoella’s instance) a makeup range, fans of the celebrity will start viewing a book as something that takes as little effort to create as a keychain or a t shirt, consequently resulting in masses of young people thinking of a book as not a work of art, but as yet another item that can be bought off a store shelf.
Do we really deserve this kind of nonchalance towards the work we do? Do we really need people to further contribute to the notion that writing is a breeze?
Emblazone tea mugs and clothing and jewellery and makeup and posters with your name- I don’t care. Rake in thousands through sale of your ridiculously overpriced merchandise- I don’t care. But to have a book written by someone else and slapping your name on it and lying to your millions of fans is not cool at all- it’s downright disgusting. Claiming someone else’s art as your own is not only a moral low, it also entails your young fans believing their idol is a superhero capable of anything and everything.
Celebs need to stick to the traditional merch and leave out stuff like books and music CDs out in their pathetic attempt to add more $$$s to their already burgeoning bank accounts. Writers and other artists have a tough life trying to carve a niche for themselves in a market characterised by heavy competition, as it is- we really don’t need celebrities to make it more difficult for us.