Getting a degree in Creative Writing gives you a lot of perspective on what the masses enjoy:
They enjoy garbage.
It also gives you a lot of ideas of what you can do as a newly graduated human being writing only high quality literature in search of a publisher and/or agent:
Cry a lot.
Then write more and content yourself with the knowledge that while you may never be insanely rich and popular, at least you write real stories. You’re not like the sellouts.
Those authors aren’t sellouts because they write what people read. It may FEEL like that to people who’ve spent the time to learn how to really tell a story but that doesn’t make it a thing. People like things that are bad. Sometimes that’s because they don’t know any better. Even with the insane saturation of media we have in the US, people don’t seem to look at entertainment critically. They consume without question, leaving those who make it a point to analyze scratching their heads in bewilderment.
Part of me says, “Have at it. Entertainment is entertainment. Why should you have to think about it?”
Then the other part of me says, “Everyone’s trying to sell you something so you should always know what you’re buying.”
For the most part, the masses don’t care what they’re being sold. Critics care. They have their own preferences, sure, but they also pay attention. Every movie, book, TV show, magazine, news program, poster, and flyer is trying to tell you something. If you can’t figure out the message then you’re probably swallowing that message without question.
Can you imagine if someone came up to you in the street, handed you a burger and without a single word you just ate it? Now imagine that happens hundreds of times a day. Not only would you be blindly consuming burgers from who-knows-the-source-of-that, you’re not even questioning what’s happening. If you don’t analyze what you consume through media then you’re eating burgers from strangers.
All this to say that’s why I think the masses like garbage. I don’t think they know any better. We’ve been trained to consume media with little regard for what that media is. So the art of story suffers. Really good authors can surely make it big. There are many great authors who have huge followings and there are many great authors who have few followers. But there are also many authors who write garbage for the masses. They do it because it sells and I honestly don’t blame them.
I blame the people who blindly consume things their entire lives. They treat every book and movie as if it’s the same. Whatever vague feeling of satisfaction they felt at the end is their entire basis for whether or not they liked it. I can’t stand it. I just want to scream that they should pay attention. But when you tell them everyone’s trying to push a message they look at you like you’ve got a tinfoil hat.
Don’t be like the masses. Be an individual who thinks about what they consume. You liked that book? Why? What did it teach you? What about it made your heart skip a beat? You liked that movie? What about the characters struck you the most? Which scene was the turning point for you? But most importantly, for everything, ask what it’s trying to tell you. What is the message? Why did someone make this?