I have to tell you, I really don't have time for this stuff. But I am going to focus on the events of the past day, and point out a few things that need to be done.
A few days ago, in an effort to promote my book "Parasite Girls," I sent an email to WHTM-TV, also known in the PA mid-state as ABC-27. They have a noontime live program called Good Day PA, hosted by Amy Kehm. The reason I did this was because they have an "Author's Spotlight" section. It's about a 3-5 minute sit-down segment, where Amy interviews area authors.
Why not, I thought? So I send the email; Ms. Kehm gets back to me and is most enthused. She says they're booked for a few weeks, but what days are good?
We agree on May 20th. I'm told when to arrive at the studios, etc. I am given a document to fill out: synopsis of the book, key points, contact information, all standard stuff. I send it back, along with my written synopsis, and a shot of the cover.
Two days ago, I also sent them a copy of the book, so they could look it over, or at least skim it. All well and good.
Well yesterday, I get an email from Ms. Kehm: it is apologetic in nature, and she uses the term "awkward." You know what's coming, don't you?
My appearance was cancelled. The cover of the book is apparently too controversial for the program, and they cannot show it.
My first reaction: "Are you kidding me?"
Now, for those of you who bought my book (thank you) or are interested in it, "Parasite Girls" is a work of fiction. It deals with the story of a journalist's reinvention of self, plus the struggle of his female friend (and two of her closest ones) as they battle against a real form of social injustice.
"Parasite Single" is the actual term, and it is the basis of a book by Dr. Masahiro Yamada. I have not read this book, but the idea is a look at this phenomena of Japanese adult women (and some men) who continue to live at home with their parents, and don't leave. The insinuation (whether deliberate by Dr. Yamada or not, I don't know) is that they are mooching off their folks while living a carefree, irresponsible life.
Aidan, the main character knows that everyone has a story. He sees his old friend Mima struggle with her past. He watches her best friend Sora struggle with bipolar disorder; he sees their friend Eko dealing with her past as well.
This is the cover of the book. The scene depicts Sora, the bipolar sufferer in one chapter, and one portion of the story. This is the artist in action, during the rush of a creative episode.
So this is offensive, is it? This is too much to show the Good Day PA audience, huh? Too sexy, too racy, too whatever for the good, fine citizens of Central PA to see?
As far as I am concerned, Ms. Kehm and her people did not bother to read (or if they did, think about) the synopsis that I gave them. They did not bother to examine the issues involved in what I feel is a good, and compelling story.
I am a broadcaster myself. I have spent 30 years behind the mic, behind the board, on location and everywhere else there is to be in this business. I understand how hard it is to put together a show and produce, day after day. It's not always fun, and you have to make decisions.
I feel this decision was arrived at hastily, and for the wrong reasons.
"You can't judge a book by looking at the cover..." -- True, but we all do it, and often it is done for the most uncertain of reasons.
Now, let's take a look at the big picture: I live in Central Pennsylvania. This area, as one of my colleagues likes to say, "still thinks Kennedy is president."
These people by and large live in the past, and they live in a fantasy world. I have lived here 14 years, and it never ceases to amaze how small-minded and ignorant people can be. Not everyone, but quite a few.
Taking a look at the video clips ABC-27 offers of Good Day PA, and if you look at the authors, you can see what they go for. Nice, inoffensive, pedestrian subject matter, w/o a hint of anything that can possibly offend the sensitivities of the audience.
Which categorically denies the state of a high percentage of THE REST OF ABC-27's alleged programming.
I am in this media, and I am not impressed with, nor am I a fan of a lot of it. This TV station is not unlike any other commercial one; they have to make money, pull ratings, and cater to the needs of their viewers, sponsors, etc.
Now what I'm going to say is just one person's opinion, mine. You don't have to agree with me, but I hope you might see my point.
This station decided, based on the cover art that my book is somehow scandalous and even offensive, or would be perceived as such by a largely older, conservative and religious crowd. That's where I think this went, right?
Now...have you watched ABC-27 at all lately? Did you see what they had on yesterday?
"Good Morning America" is NOT in my view a news program. Delivering the news from a couch is not news. Having a bunch of celebrities and guests who will say anything to get their 15 seconds of fame is not news, nor is it remotely informative or entertaining.
Kelly Ripa and her boytoy of the moment is not a show worth mentioning.
I had the unfortunate experience of having to listen to the audio of a show they run called "Bethenny" recently. A trashy, name-calling, low-intelligence talkfest which makes "The View" sound brainy by comparison.
Then they have soap operas, "Judge Judy," a show called "Trophy Wife," and overnight paid infomercials.
Oh this is not offensive, is it? I don't care much for their local news coverage either, never did. Honestly, there is not one program on their station I would waste time watching.
I'm sorry, but you know what? In my humble opinion, a large percentage of programming that station offers is mindless, cheap entertainment that to me is utter shit.
So this is okay for your audience ABC-27, but not a few minutes' chat with a local author who busted his ass to get his work into print, and a story that is actually about real and serious issues?
Shows where we are, doesn't it? This audience is likely the same one that finds "50 Shades of Grey" and Danielle Steel novels as high-brow reading. Imagine what talk radio they listen to as well, eh?
Well, you know what? Fine. I do not ask you to bombard ABC-27 and Ms. Kehm with emails or letters, for that won't do any good. I highly doubt they will reconsider, and I don't want it. If you don't want me in the club, I would feel uncomfortable being there because it's grudging and not honestly wished for.
So if you wish to be judge for yourself, go here:
I have learned that if you click on the Kindle version and page inside you can read the first few of the story. I don't think what I wrote is that controversial, I really don't. I just wanted to write a good story, and I have several more coming.
ABC-27 hasn't stopped me from selling my book, and they have not stopped me from writing. No one will. I feel they have just made themselves look foolish in public, and I certainly don't mind tweaking their noses if I get a chance.
I just find the hypocrisy amusing, but also sad. Just sad. What the hell are they so afraid of? A real story, about real issues? Ideas other than the ones that they already, and can only be confirmed, not challenged?
The struggle continues. One bump in the road ain't stopping me.