Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Abuse of Fiction

Me blogging during the holiday season is like pouring cold molasses - a hell of a wait, with dark and bitter results. Oh, how I hate this season.

But, in an effort to be light, please allow me to resurrect a recent occurrence you've probably already forgotten; Michael Crichton's hideous abuse of fiction. In case you've been under the rock next door to mine for the past month, Crichton created a character in his recent novel, Next, which seems to exist for the sole purpose of insulting the previously unfamous Michael Crowley, a reporter who wrote a nasty article about Crichton's reactionary take on global warming in the New Republic.

Most people might descend into sputtering fits of rage upon learning that their name had been linked with that of a fictional toddler-rapist in a nationally best-selling novel, but Crowley reacted to the insult with an endearing blend of wit, humor, and media carpet-bombing that has made Crichton appear both petty and unimaginative.

I had recently written a critical 3,700-word cover story about Crichton. In lieu of a letter to the editor, Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist. And, perhaps worse, falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer.
I had a good laugh at Crichton's expense before asking myself - is it ever ok to pillory a real person by means of a fictional character? After much thought (1.5 whole seconds) I say no.

It's not that I haven't got a mean streak, but why would I sully the fiction that I work so hard to craft with my petty grievances when Google bombing is faster and easier?