A person, by any other name
In 1972 The Moody Blues saw fit to remind us they were, “just a singer in a rock ‘n roll band,” and that if we had a secret that nobody else in the world knew, then they didn’t to know about it either: “if you want the winds of change to blow around you, and you’re the only other person to know – don’t tell me.” In 1981, Ozzy Osbourne insisted that we should not, “look to me for answers,” and then came right out and said, “Don’t ask me, I don’t know.”
It’s one of those things that happen when you start to send creative product out into the world. You attract media attention. People ask how. They ask why. They ask what and when and who. Most of us try to give answers to those questions and we even go so far as to try and make those answers sound reasonable and thought out. The problem is that not one of us really know what’s right and wrong, what works and what doesn’t; nobody has come up with the secret formula to success, and we sure as heck don’t know the meaning of life.
(I lied. It’s forty-two.)
But seriously, what both of these bands were trying to say is that just because they’re performers it doesn’t make them any wiser, brighter, or more clairvoyant than the next person. It doesn’t make them stronger or less prone to bleeding to death if they’re stabbed in the back.
This isn’t just true for bands, it’s true for anyone in any kind of a public limelight. And I don’t care who they are, or what they’re doing there, as mere people every now again they’re going to react like the people that they are as opposed to the professional zombies that everyone tells them they need to be.
For example, it’s all well and good for the “folks in the know” to tell an author that we should never react to a bad review. Or that we should be smart enough not to feed the trolls. Or that we must—most importantly—remain distant and removed at all times. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. Not 100% of the time. It can’t. We’re all human. Every once in a blue moon we’re going to get angry. We’re going to lip off and/or bite back.
I remember the days when people used to think that anyone who walked the red carpet had sold their soul to the public. And I remember the first time that I noticed someone coming out and telling media, fans, and reporters that no, they did not owe the public anything just because they made their living under the lights of Hollywood, and no, the public did not have a right to know every detail, control every move, or force their hand into or onto anything.
While their time was before me, I have read about the starlets and the heroes that not only had to be flawless with their art, but they had to be flawless in person as well. No scandals, please. No hysterics, please. Be the lovely little statue that the studio (and publicist and manager and, and, and…) has molded you into, and smile, smile, smile for the cameras, but whatever you do, do not dare to have your own personality. Ugh. No thanks.
So I loved this new movement. It started the age of, “no, you can’t take a picture of my baby,” and “actually, I’ll wear whatever I want to,” and “you will address me by my chosen pronouns or you won’t address me.”
Maybe it’s just me, but the reason that I love today’s bands, actors, and creative talents is because they let their personality shine through. I love that they are human. They trip walking up stairs, snort instead of laugh, drop the occasional f-bomb by mistake, and have no problem telling the world what they think about Trump.
Authors are no different. As distant and professional as I try to be, there will be times when I’m not going to be able to stop myself from posting about something political. (For example: if someone had dared to say something snarky about how I, myself, or a loved-one identifies–sexually or otherwise–they’d damn well hear about it, too. And that would only be after I insisted they tell me how they dare to think they know me well enough to speak on something like that in the first place.)
I may be an author, but I am a person first and foremost. Which is why I will never understand somebody standing up and telling somebody else that they don’t have the right to speak out against something. They should sit back and shut up because… why? Remind me again? Because they earn their living by selling something? Didn’t we already go through this with the Dixie Chicks back in 2003? (Ladies, I wouldn’t be “ready to make nice” if I were you either, not even sixteen years later.)
News Flash: Nobody owes anyone else their silence when it comes to defending their political, personal, or sexual identities. If we’re not to fight about those kinds of things, what are we to fight about? Banned books? Publishing contracts? Amazon’s integrity? Is that where our allowable irritation hits its limit?
At the end of the day we’re all just people—and I for one think that’s fabulous.
By the way, in case you haven’t heard the three songs I’ve made reference to, you can check them out here:
And please, the next time you see one of your favourite authors/publishers/whomever standing up for something they believe in or speaking out against something that has wounded them, consider offering some support instead of turning a blind eye to it. Because I can guarantee that someone somewhere is telling them to sit down and shut up.
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, and is anxiously awaiting the newest addition to the Wolf series family, ‘Wolf, in League’ which is now available for preorder through Less Than Three Press at a discounted rate of 15% off. Keep an eye on afhenley.com to learn all the details of the ‘Wolf, in League’ blog tour and giveaway coming in a few short days, and in the meantime, check out all the available formats and novels in the Wolf series HERE, or through your favourite online bookstore.