“When you say more rash and outlandish things you get heard and when you say more nuanced things your voice gets drowned out.”
Subtitle: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right, and Other American Idiots
Author: Marty Beckerman
US publication date: 2008-09
Generation S.L.U.T.Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Subtitle: A Brutal Feel-up Session With Today's Sex-crazed Adolescent Populace
Author: Marty Beckerman
US publication date: 2004-02
Death to All CheerleadersPublisher: Infected
Subtitle: One Adolescent Journalist's Cheerful Diatribe against Teenage Plasticity
Author: Marty Beckerman
US publication date: 2000-06
Author/humorist Marty Beckerman knows the topics you shouldn’t seriously discuss with strangers at social gatherings. That’s why he makes fun of them, instead. At 15, he wrote for Alaska’s Anchorage Daily News, patterning himself after Dave Barry’s humorist style, and published a collection of his columns Death to All Cheerleaders while in high school. In 2004, at 20, MTV books published his controversial discourse on Generation Y’s hooking up sexplorations with Generation S.L.U.T.
Four years have passed since Beckerman endured the media and liberal backlash of what he calls his “testosterone-fueled puritanical interview rants.” Since then he’s graduated college and had time to “look back in horror” and humbly evaluate what most people get to forget and dismiss as an adolescent phase—without having to answer for the thoughts and emotions forever captured in print and cached on the internet.
The wiser, mellower Beckerman still retains his searing sense of humor as he turns his crosshairs towards the politically ridiculous, taking aim at the extreme Left and Right of the American political system in hopes of giving the sane majority something to hold on to. Beckerman puts himself in middle of the chaos with Dumbocracy: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right and Other American Idiots. From abortion to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to his own search for religious significance of his Jewish heritage, Beckerman attacks the hot-button issues with a hilariously irreverent humor that makes you squirm, ponder and laugh at the obsessive state of affairs of American culture and politics.
In a time when Generation Y has been recharged about American politics, Dumbocracy takes a fresh look at facts that should further galvanize Y-ers. As Beckerman combats the ideologies of political activists from both camps, he doesn’t always get it right; but political perfection is not the point. Beckerman uses Dumbocracy as a lightning rod to shock both the nutty activists and the average American who’s shied away from voting poles or voicing rational political thought because of the current madness. Most of all, Beckerman enters the dialogue with a basic desire to understand what makes the Left and the Right so “loony and rabid” in hopes of finding a path to sanity for himself and if the reader finds a path then he considers it an added bonus.
Though this book probably won’t be showing up on any high school or college political science required reading list anytime soon, nonetheless Beckerman bravely attacks the lunacy that’s kept all generations—especially his fellow Y-ers—from understanding and questioning the politically ridiculous. He intelligently admonishes a nation to reclaim and engage in a rational dialogue about issues that are important to all Americans regardless of political alliance.
Beckerman also wants to move beyond what he calls his former “testosterone raging puritanical” reputation created in the wake of Generation S.L.U.T.. He sent me a pre-interview email telling me he wanted to spend time talking about his mental shift and emotional evolution. In our phone conversation we did so, and he also busted me for wire-tapping, told a cautionary tale of Hunter S. Thompson’s legacy, and explained his journalistic ties to Sarah Palin and why he doesn’t want to write about politics for a “long long long” time.
Hi Marty. Thanks for making the time.
Oh, I’m not doing anything really. I watched the X-Files sequel today. And it’s a piece of shit [laughs].
Did you like the first one?
Yeah. I loved the show way back in the ‘90s, too. But this one is horrible.
I watched Governor Blagojevich do his thing on a local scale, and it was interesting to see it blow up to a national story because of the scandal and the purported links to President-Elect Obama. What was it like for you as a native Alaskan to see Governor Palin charge on to the national media scene?
It’s funny when people say that political scandals are shocking because it seems it’s more shocking when a politician doesn’t get involved in a sex or corruption scandal [laughs].
Are we recording this?
Oh , yes. We are. I’m sorry I forgot to mention that, I always do. But I forgot. Sorry about that. Is it okay that I record this conversation?
Good thing I asked because you almost got in trouble for wiretapping [laughs].
The Palin thing was surreal because I followed her for a few years before she became the VP nominee. Then this year, suddenly my home state was in the spotlight and everyone was talking about moose-burgers. I’ve never had a moose-burger. I’ve ran away from a moose, so I guess there’s a certain personality type that chases them. It was a very weird experience, and now everyone thinks all Alaskans are like that, that we’re all a bunch of raving religious loons who want to take out moose and polar bears [laughs].
That’s not quite right. The best comparison in the lower forty-eight States, would be to a state like New Hampshire. They also have an attitude of ‘okay, we’re just fine, leave us alone because we want to be independent thinkers and doers.’ And the funny thing is that Alaska is on so much federal welfare and even though we want to be left alone, we also say ‘give us all the money’ [laughs]. Ever since the Palin phenomenon happened, I’d tell people I was from Alaska and they’d say to me ‘I hate your state.”
You started writing Dumbocracy four years ago. A lot has changed since then in American politics and in your life and your vision as a writer.
Yes, there have been a lot of changes. I started doing the interviews for Dumbocracy in 2004. And I was surrounded by people who cared about politics probably a little bit too much. For example, there was this girl in my dorm who refused to drink while underage because she wanted to be President some day. We were all drinking shots and I asked her why she wasn’t drinking and she said that it could come back to haunt her one day and keep her from achieving her goal I told her “Honey, the guy that we’ve had in office the last four years didn’t let the Seventies stop him, so why should you worry about drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade when you’re 18 stop you from becoming President?”
That’s just an example of how, in college, I was surrounded by people who cared way too much about politics. The university student years between 18 and 21 are inherently sanctimonious. There’s no cynicism during those college years. That time in our lives is very earnest and strident because you maybe haven’t seen enough of human nature [laughs] at that age to be cynical about it and everything matters so much.
What I’m getting at goes back to what I was getting at in my last book Generation S.L.U.T. I was surrounded by activists and I started to think that the activist mentality is not the type of worldview that most people have. Most people don’t think that they’re going to change the world by any means necessary. So I started to see that on one side there are people who want to ban speech for notions of political correctness and on the other side there are people who want to ban speech because of religious morality. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the censorship on one side is the same bullshit as the censorship on the other side [laughs]. I saw the parallels and decided to start going to marches, rallies and conventions and do a book about what I was noticing.
I really wanted to get in the activist mind set and understand what the mind and psychology of a person who dedicates themselves to political causes all the time is like. Most of us have a hobby other than politics, and part of a democracy is to live up to your civic duty and be informed and vote; but at the same time, most of us also enjoy going to movies and reading books. But it seems that people whose whole life is about political causes have something about them that’s not quite human [laughs]. It’s like they live for the movement but they don’t live for themselves.
Dumbocracy was really trying to get into the heads of those people and understand them, figure them out and then figure out why they’re so dangerous to the rest of us; and figure out why they’re so dangerous to the liberties of the people whether you’re a moderate, liberal or whatever. I think that if you ask most Americans ‘do you value the first, fourth and fifth amendment?’ they would say “yes.” The economics is what most of us disagree on, but when people get obsessively passionate about their cause, they throw out the freedoms that most of us can agree on. With Dumbocracy, I’m saying that it’s the moderates versus the militants not necessarily the Left versus the Right.
You present the topics in different ways, chapter to chapter. You immerse yourself in the middle of an abortion rally and challenge the activists on both sides to explain themselves. But sometimes your approach is indirect.
I guess it was the topics that dictated how I presented the facts or wrote about what I experienced. For example, with the abortion chapter, there’s just something about sucking unborn babies out of the womb that really gets people fired up, I don’t know what it is, and it’s nothing to get upset about.
I was actually supposed to promote the book on Fox News channel but the producer took a look at the table of contents and saw the title for the abortion chapter “Abortion…What’s the Big Fucking Deal” [laughs]. That might have been what got my booking cancelled. I guess I should be proud that I was cancelled just on the merits of the table of contents. And the book is that offensive to conservatives.
You use humor to both entertain and educate and as a tool for questioning both sides. Sometimes you’re ruthless, pulling no punches. What role do you think humor plays in talking about topics like abortion and politics?
When I spent time on both sides of the abortion issue, I saw that most activists were incapable of seeing shades of gray or understanding the motivations of the other side. I think that most Americans feel that abortion is a necessary evil. But when you talk to both sides of activists, you are classified in two categories only. If you support abortion you’re ‘pro-death’ if you support Roe vs. Wade, you are a part of the ‘culture of death’ and you want babies to die. Which is, of course, absurd because most Americans do not want babies to die; that’s an insane thing to say.
And on the other side, those for abortion can’t see shades of grey, either. They say that ‘they want women to die from unsafe abortion procedures.’ But of course, conservatives don’t want women to die. I do believe they’re on the wrong side of the issue but conservatives do genuinely care about the lives of women and their fetuses.
Part of being a sober-minded adult is compromising a little to see the motivations of the people on the other side. There are genuine arguments on both sides; but it doesn’t need to be as drastic as people make it out to be. Throughout Dumbocracy, I really wanted to challenge people by showing what I experienced when I saw this hyper-polarizing type of thinking that the “other side” is pure evil when people discuss all the hot-button issues: gay rights, war or Israel. Most people are in the middle on these issues.
The dialogue going on in forums is another place where extremists speak their minds. The Internet is supposed to be this great tool for democracy. But what are people doing? They’re logging on anonymously and getting in cyber fights, calling people Communists and Nazis. There seems to be so much rage in this country and I started to think we should put Zoloft in the drinking water just to make people chill out. Where does all this rage come from?
I talked with a guy who did an experiment and stopped watching the news on TV or online and he was generally happier after doing so. So are the things we get so crazy about really worth it? Things like the Terry Schiavo case can tear a family up. Go to any Thanksgiving dinner and after awhile you’ll see the family yelling at each other over these things.
One situation that’s in the book, really freaked me out. Two guys were having an argument over the Iraq war and the conservative shoots and kills his liberal best friend. I have liberal and conservative friends and we disagree on many things but our disagreements end over beer and Jagermeister -- they don’t end over murder.
The amount of blind anger in this country is really horrifying and it’s not conducive to democracy. But still there’s a lot of money being made off it with Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. Because when you say more rash and outlandish things you get heard and when you say more nuanced things your voice gets drowned out. With Dumbocracy I’m trying to present the voice of the nuanced in a politically extreme and humorous style [laughs]. Hopefully I’ll get noticed that way.
You adopt and take full advantage of the very extremist style you are fighting against in order to get your point across.
I used to be a very angry person. Which I think is apparent based on the interviews I did for Generation S.L.U.T, and even around that time in my life, especially in my teenage years. And I don’t know if a happy kid writes a book about death to cheerleaders [laughs]. Let’s just say I was a virgin a lot longer than I wanted to be. It was pretty clear I needed to get laid a bit more just so I could mellow out a bit.
A lot also has to do with hormones. It’s sort of a blessing and curse to be published that young. It’s a blessing because it really gets you noticed and most of the attention I got was because I was a 19-year-old writing about sex which is marketable so MTV put out the book and HBO bought the movie rights. But the curse is that I was at the height of my testosterone and the way college guys speak to each other is the way I was speaking to national interviewers.
I didn’t really understand that in a few years rape jokes aren’t going to be very funny. That’s probably why a lot of people were feeling creeped out in the interviews. My jokes were a combination of misogynistic humor and anti-feminist tirade. At the time I didn’t really understand why people were getting so upset because that’s how college guys speak to each other. But you hit 23 or 24 and the testosterone cools off and you get more self-awareness and you take a look at yourself and you realize. A lot of the stuff that I said really haunts me.
Do you mean the stuff you said in the book or in the interviews?
I am really proud of the book but it was mainly what I said in the interviews. I came off way more puritanical that I ever intended to and people mistook me for a frothing at the mouth right-winger and guy with a lot of issues. I can look back at those interviews and see how people would be uncomfortable. I watch or read those old interviews and I don’t really like the guy who’s saying all this stuff. But at the same time, I don’t want to retract the jokes I made because I'm still a humorist.
Part of the shift for me in the last few years, is that I used to want to be a shock humorist. I wasn’t really going for laughs and much as gasps. I would like to return to the Dave Barry style writing that I did when I was 15 and writing for the Anchorage Daily News. I know you don’t want to second guess things; but if I could go back and do it again, I’d probably tone it down a little [laughs].
People like to see maturity. They like to see a writer or creative folk mature and evolve emotionally. My hope is that people understand the purpose of the misogynistic jokes in that phase of emotional growth. I think everybody can relate to being really crazy with hormones, but they don’t have to do deal with that period of their lives or words being cached on the Internet forever and have to answer to it.
Since 2004, I’ve had people come up to me at parties and ask if I was the guy who thinks that women shouldn’t have sex. I thought, man, is that how people think of me?’ How could the human race procreate—even though on certain days I do think that the human race shouldn’t procreate [laughs]. But seriously, that’s not the legacy I want or how I want to be remembered: as the guy who hates women or thinks the sexual revolution was where the human race went wrong. I’m much more liberal now than I was back then. There’s really nothing much I can do about people who won’t change their minds about who I was then versus who I am now.
Did you have a difficult time writing the humorous punch lines in Dumbocracy where you make sexual comments about the relationship with your girlfriend or the Israeli girl?
No, not really. With Generation S.L.U.T, the central premise was it's better to be loved than be caught in series of anonymous hook-ups. With a few years of perspective, I realize that it’s not the end of the world to get drunk and have sex, but for me it would be because my girlfriend would castrate me and I’d be dismembered [laughs].
I don’t think it’s the end of the world to have fun while you’re in college. Relationships can be difficult. And maybe people at that age can’t deal with the complex emotions that come with relationships. There is a lot of compromise and adult stuff involved. A lot of kids at 18 or 19 just aren’t psychologically ready for that, so what’s wrong with them having a little fun. Generation S.L.U.T was the result of me working out the fact that a lot my peers were having a lot more fun than I was. I’m a little embarrassed about it, but I still stand by the central premise of the book.
In the Israel chapter you spend a lot of time searching for the existence of God in the Holy Land, and in the postscript you mention how being agnostic and struggling with faith reminds you of friends who committed or attempted suicide in high school didn’t have faith in God. You were being funny, but I also sensed a bit of pain.
Faith is something that I struggle with all the time. I’ve been an agnostic since I was a teenager. I go in and out, some days I believe in God, and others I don’t. I think that faith becomes the silliest thing in the world when you realize how most of the problems in human history are about people fighting over religion. In that final chapter when I go to Jerusalem to see if I can believe in this stuff, I discovered that so much of political discourse is centered on religion, from abortion, to stem cell research and even war.
A lot of conservatives try to pass war off as a religious crusade. American generals were even calling US enemies the Army of Satan. Once you inject religion into a thing like war, you’re not dealing with reality anymore. The realist school of foreign policy got thrown to the curb in favor of the religious crazies, which didn’t makes us that much different from our enemies.
In those final chapters, I was really trying to see if I could inject myself into the heart of these hot-button issues and find that faith in myself that is rational and reasonable. I stayed with Orthodox Jews during that time and that was probably a mistake [laughs]. I also found that the extremist fundamentalist views and psychology are the same across all religions.
A group of Christians told me that God doesn’t hear the prayers of Muslims, and Muslims and Jews told me vice versa. I wanted to scream at all of them and say ‘if God is everywhere doesn’t he fucking hear everything!’ [laughs] I found that in all the extremist fundamentalist theology, the central teachings of love, respect and peace, of all the religions get lost and abandoned for complete lunacy. We shouldn’t be spending so much time obsessing over religion and spend more time doing and thinking about things that make life meaningful to us.
Do you think this rabid fight between liberal and conservative extremists has caused lethargy in the younger generation or other Americans who have grown tired of the fighting? What do you think about the galvanizing impact of this past election and the Obama campaign on the younger generation?
With Obama there seems to be an era of transition happening. Young voters turned out in higher numbers. Most people don’t know this, but in 2004, Republicans got half of those votes and this year they got less than a quarter of those same votes. In four years, young people went overwhelmingly liberal. Most of it was because of the Obama factor. It really shows the shift in the mentality of people our age I think in many ways we are a Libertarian generation.
In the past I would have considered myself a Libertarian but I don’t agree with a lot of their economics and doctrine. Many people in my generation have gay friends, and the conservative Republican Party completely pushes anyone under 30 away when we hear some conservative say that our friends are going to destroy society. Many young people perceive the Republican Party as the party of negativity and bigotry and skepticism towards science. That perception could change in ten or 20 years, but I think for a lot of people they see the Democratic Party as the party of sanity.
It’s a pendulum that swings every 20 or 30 years. We swung so far to the Right in the last eight years that I don’t think anyone will look back and say the problems we have are because we were too liberal[laughs]. A lot of young people feel our country was destroyed and as a result we became ashamed of our own country under conservative leadership.
With the Obama Revolution—I guess you could call it—all the important documents and the history lessons we learned in elementary school, and so called secular scriptures like The Gettysburg Address, I Have a Dream Speech, or the Emancipation Proclamation are resurfacing. Many of the same emotions and pride and excitement that are associated with those moments in our nation’s political history seem to have been recaptured in how the younger generation perceives what Obama will do for our country. We believe in the power of our nation’s history.
The irony is that the Bush Administration promised to spread freedom but most of us aren’t really sure what freedoms Republicans believe in. Besides the right to worship Christ and own guns, I’m not sure Republicans believe in any freedoms; and a lot of the younger generation feels the same way. Yet suddenly, we became the nation of torture, religious fundamentalism and war.
I think a lot people were proud of what the country stood for but not really what it actually was. All of this change is not just because of one man. Obama will soon become the most powerful man in the world but he’ll make mistakes and we’ll have to wait and see. The meaning of this election goes far beyond just one man. It really is a revival of the meaning of America. Just as long as the economy doesn’t completely crumble and we’re not cannibalizing one another and eating our pets for protein, I think things are getting better all the time.
You dedicated your book to Dr. Steven Edgell. How was he influential?
Dr. Edgell was a psychologist who, when Generation S.L.U.T came out, contacted me after reading an interview I did. He started writing to me because he noticed the raging puritanical things coming out of my mouth. We started a dialogue because he was a guy who shared some of my same beliefs when he was my age, and I think he wanted to sort of help with the evolution of my thinking. He told me he recognized a lot of the rhetorical rage and testosterone-fueled rants.
I’ve never been in therapy before—and I don’t know if our correspondence counts as therapy—because I never met him. Over the course of a year we had phone conversations, email and exchanged letters. I won’t say he changed my thinking at the time but I know he planted seeds of doubt. So as the press rolled on from Generation S.L.U.T, I got huge negative reaction from liberals. And just as my thinking was starting to change he died of a heart attack. It was really rough, someone who was responsible for changing my thinking suddenly dying, but over the next year or two, my perspective grew when I traveled and thought more about what he told me from his life experience.
He came along at a time when I needed to be brought back to Earth because I was really starting to freak out my friends who thought I had been abducted by aliens and replaced by a Republican pod version of myself. [laughs] In Dumbocracy I’m trying to say “Calm down, America. It’s going to be okay”” and he’s the guy that really instilled that sense of sanity in me.
You also dedicate the book to God Almighty.
Yeah, I felt I had to do that because, it was my chance to put in a request that should he try to create “intelligent life” again, he should try harder [laughs].
Dr. Edgell never got the chance to read Dumbocracy. What do you think he would say about it?
I don’t know. I wonder what he would think. I know he would be interested to see where I’ve gone since our conversations. His wife read the book and she said he would be proud of it.
What type of book do you want to write next?
I’m done with politics for sure. I’ve said all I need to say at this point about politics and I really want to move on to something else. Since I finished Dumbocracy, I’ve mellowed out and been thinking a lot about the craft of writing and how most people don’t understand how long it takes to write a book. I’m a perfectionist. I agonize over syllables. It’s all about the rhythms of the words for me.
Hunter S. Thompson once said that writing is like music and he would type out his favorite books like The Great Gatsby entirely to try and capture the beat of the words. I spent thousands of hours writing Dumbocracy and the truth about writing about politics is that it makes you angry and takes you to bad places. All those news stories in there can really get you riled up after reading the book for a few hours, but imagine reading and writing about them for four years. It can really piss you off. After awhile I was really starting to freak out my girlfriend. She told me to “Calm the fuck down" and that being crazy wasn’t very sexy. [laughs]
Politics has to be the most difficult topic to discuss and write about. You have to be immersed in it constantly and well-versed in everything from history to mathematics. You can’t miss a week of the news or you’re completely out of the loop. I don’t want to live like that. I have plenty of friends who are political writers but being a pundit is not for me.
So you’re heading back in the direction of the style of humor writing you did as a teenager for the Anchorage Daily News?
Yeah. Many people told me, when I wrote like that, I was going to be the next Dave Barry. Back then I took that as a huge compliment; but as I’ve gotten older I don’t see it that way so much. I really admire Hunter S. Thompson’s work but again, a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they’re going to be the next Hunter and that’s a huge mistake. There will never be another writer like him. When you copy another person’s style, people can tell you’re faking it. And the reason so many people love a guy like Thompson, Barry or Stephen King is that those writers have found and are writing in their natural voice; they’re not faking it.
At the same time, I’d like to return to humor writing. I feel pretty comfortable that I’ve evolved into my own style. I’d like to write some goofy shit. I would like to be more of an entertainer than a shock artist or a pundit. I really want to just make people laugh by telling them what I think of the world. As hard as it is to admit, I’m not a prophet or intellectual [laughs]. What I’ve realized that I do better than most people is synthesize opinion with humor.
Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone and was admired in the music industry as well as the film and literary world, what types of parallels do you see between books and music?
When you’re a teenager, music and books strike you in a different way because your emotions are all over the place. It’s funny talking to people who listen to emo music. And I don’t know what the kids are listening to anymore [laughs]. But regardless of what you listened to as a teenager, when you go back to that music it still means something to you because that music was there for you in your life when you actually felt things.
You can slam all the emo bands for being silly and melodramatic but then you go back and listen to Nirvana and Soundgarden and it’s not quite as happy as you remember. I know this might make me sound like an old man but new music doesn’t really do that much for me. It might be because all the bands right now suck [laughs] but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s mainly because whatever music was there for you in certain times tends to stick with you and be more meaningful for you.
The same goes for authors. I still read books and enjoy them. But I feel like I haven’t found a favorite author since my 20s started, one that meant as much to me as when I was a teenager or made me want to be them, which leads us back to trying to capture our own voice and not copy someone else’s.
Did you feel scared or concern about how Hunter S. Thompson ended his legacy?
Funny you should ask. I used to have two posters over my desk. One of Thompson and one of Hemingway. One day I had this freak out moment when I thought, “Oh, my god, I have two suicides looking down at me.” And if you really want to get freaked out go read The Great Shark Hunt -- it has a story in it where Thompson wrote about Hemingway’s suicide. He writes in detail about whether or not what led Hemingway to his final decision. Thompson wound up reliving some of that in his own life, with a failing body and a cartoon to live up to, and I don't want to follow in their footsteps in that regard.
It really showed me how far back the influences go and what that says about me as a person and a writer. The fact is that as a writer you’re only going to be relevant or read for so long. But great writers live on by influencing new writers, and I hope that what I write will leave some type of mark that will inspire other writers.
You’d think it gets easier as you get older because you become a better writer. And technically I am a better writer. As you get older you learn how to add texture and depth to your writing. For me, to go back and do humor writing will be massively refreshing because I was so massively wrong last time as a raging hormonal conservative with Generation S.L.U.T.
Part of being a writer is being able to face the embarrassment and chalk it up as experience and move on. If you don’t you’ll just cripple yourself and never write again. Conquering that fear is more of a challenge than most realize.
I’ve never been a guy who’s been afraid of speaking my mind. But in college or high school, I would have never realized that it takes time for a person to develop, and that you develop by taking chances and not being afraid to fail. It’s just a little harder to keep the weight off.
Putting your thoughts on paper and having complete strangers read them in a book can be a terrifying or an exhilarating experience at any age. There’s always a chance for humiliating rejection or adoring acceptance. You were offered a major book deal at 19 and published at 20. What do you think about the impact that has on a young author’s development?
When I was 19 and first got to New York there was another teenage author got published before me. He had family connections which helped him get the deal. I was filled with jealously and talked a lot of shit about him and I feel so bad about it now. Because a year later when Generation S.L.U.T came out, I was on the other end getting shit that I was too young to have a book deal.
Maybe some of the offense is justified to giving a 19-year-old kid a book deal, but either way I understood. I thought about it and said to myself “If you put years of work into something, you deserve it.” Now I wish I could take what I said back. I was so caught up in the thought that this kid was going to get to be the spokesman for Generation Y and not me because of something someone told me about how there are only so many slices on the pie of success. That was so silly to think that, because who’s to say that one person sums up the entire feelings and emotions of an entire generation? There are tons of writers and musicians who contribute to a generation of music and literary works.
Knowing your previous work, it was interesting to see you mix humor and vulnerability as you describe the fallout and publishing challenges since Generation S.L.U.T and why you wrote Dumbocracy.
I really feel that those last two chapters [in Dumbocracy] are some of the best non-fiction writing I’ve ever done... it does get harder to speak your mind as you get older, because you're afraid of how it will look in five years -- and you can't judge people as easily, because you start to see those same faults in yourself -- but when you’re a writer honesty is really all you have, especially as a humor writer. Being who I am is really all I have. That seems to be what resonates with readers the most.
Some people just don’t have a sense of humor and that’s a shame. The whole point of humor is to ease people into being comfortable, into dealing with tragedy. A lot of people would rather cry than laugh. I’d rather laugh than cry.