The Trouble with Brett Easton Ellis

This post is one of a series of posts in honor of LGBT Pride Month. This post will not have a solid thesis. I don’t know what I’m arguing or what I want to prove. I have questions. And intimations. A sense of unease.

To be honest, I’m torn about Brett Easton Ellis. I don’t know what to make of him. Either as a writer or as an occasional commentator on LGBT culture.

For those who don’t know (given the usual focus of this blog), Brett Easton Ellis is an American writer. His career has spanned from the early eighties (with Less Than Zero) to the present (with Imperial Bedrooms). His most famous works are his earliest novels: Less Than ZeroRules of Attraction, and American Psyco (his most famous work). Ellis’s writing is noted for the use of stream of consciousness, a focus on celebrity glamor, and usage of black satire.  Given several of his works, he is no stranger to controversy.

I first encountered Ellis years ago in a profile documentary on Bravo (when Bravo was actually a good channel). I was entranced by this rebel. He was (and is?) the writer as celebrity. The equal of those he writes about. And yes, I may have had a celebrity crush on him (I was in my teens at the time).

It would be several years, though, before I would again encounter Ellis. This time, in his works.

Rules of Attraction is an amazing read. But that was years ago. 

Now, I’ve got Less Than Zero and Glamorama from the library on my shelf. I’m in the process of slogging through Glamorama, and tempted to drop that novel to move on to Less Than Zero.

While I enjoy Rules of AttractionGlamorama is really dragging. It’s, honestly, rather boring. I’d almost want to say a good third of the novel could have easily been cut. Is the long name dropping sentences really necessary?

Glamorama is, simply put, an updated version of North by Northwest. The only difference is the unreliability of the narrator. Is Victor Ward schzophrenic? Is he actually involved in this crazy spy thriller that is, perhaps, reminiscent of 1960s spy spoofs? Or is this actually a movie? Or a combination of all three? That is the question.

But mustering up the will power to stick with it is difficult.

And that, perhaps, is the rub of the issue.

Is Brett Easton Ellis a one theme pony? Has he really progressed since his most successful period? Has he become entrenched in the eighties?

The problem of Brett Easton Ellis refers back to a previous post where I explored how fans should handle writers whose views they do not wish to financially support (Frank Miller’s comments about OWS come to mind).

And in the past five years or so, Ellis has become a veritable gadfly to the entertainment wing of LGBT media.

I’m honestly torn. Ellis’s comments have been excessive. Would it not be better to deem Glee unwatchable crap without referencing “puddles of HIV” or viciously criticizing/ bullying Chris Colfer or Matt Bomer?

Why am I torn? I like Ellis’s work despite the endemic flaws and success bloat. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that watching Glee is like face planting into a pile of cow shit (to use my own simile), I don’t necessarily disagree with the spirit of his views on Glee.  I do, of course, have issues with his comments on Chris Colfer and Matt Bomer. I actually like Colfer’s singing though I prefer hiwriting (has he been asked what his post Land of Stories book plans are?). And while I know zilch about Bomer (except he is fucking hot) and less about Fifty Shades of Whatever, isn’t it too soon to play the fantasy casting game?

I do have issues with Ellis’s public comments. By going to the textual extreme, dialogue is shut down. Rather than defending Glee, Colfer, or Bomer, Ellis’s opponents use offense. “Ellis is a hack,” “a bitter queen,”  and so on.

The argument needs to be had. Should we be satisfied with Glee? What should be done about internal bigotries within LGBT culture (like effemophobia) ? And does Bomer realistically have a shot at playing Not-Edward-Cullen (is that the former Twilight fanfiction novel)?

I’m torn. I like Ellis’s work, but I think he takes his public pronouncements too far. Is he really after discourse or publicity, though? And why is he not engaged on the meanings of what he tweets? What should I do?

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Posted on June 18, 2013, in Books and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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