Thursday, April 10, 2014

J.K. Rowling is Robert Galbraith... But Does That Matter?

When looking at hoax’s it is important to decide what a hoax is, and what is not.  There are three levels it seems to this. The lowest form would be a prank. I see this is a small joke played on a friend, or a small group of people. It is not large scale, and usually does not last for that long. The prank is usually revealed after the first laugh. 

A hoax would be the next level. For me this would be something that a large group of people would buy into that media picks up and believes in and promotes, and then is revealed to be untrue. An example of this could be the HUVR Board hoax that just occurred.  Creators had almost an entire nation wanting to preorder an object that does not really exist. For me this is a hoax. 

The final level, cons, is extreme. This would usual involve money, or even causing someone to change their lifestyle in a negative way. Cons are usually for some sort of profit or gain that is negative toward the intended audience. I will be focusing on hoax’s and how those can unintentionally affect audiences in a negative way, and if it matters how the audience is affected.

JT Leroy is not a real person. And I am surprised I had never heard of him before, or after the hoax was revealed. From my reading of GirlBoyGirl it seems as though this hoax was widespread and affected a large portion of the population. It seems as though it was the subject matter that really frustrated JT Leroy’s audiences. They felt as though they had had the wool pulled over their eyes. JT had presented them with novels filled with stories on what they thought were moments from his life. This personal connection to the work is what I think really upset everyone. I can understand being upset, and even disappointed that the book s that had made a difference in your life were really just pure fiction. And even losing the connection to another real person can feel like a shock. What I have difficulty grasping with this is that the emotional reaction readers had of JT’s books did not change. It is not that those who had read his books before the hoax were able to change how they originally felt. I even question whether they really cared about the author when they first read the text.

I was really interesting in this type of reaction. How readers could read a book and have one reaction, and then find out more about the author and completely change their opinion. I feel that this happened a lot with Robert Galbraith, aka. J.K. Rowling. Rowling had decided to begin publishing under a pseudonym in order to relieve herself of the magical stigma the Harry Potter books had created for her. Rowling’s success with Harry Potter had started to become the downfall in her writing. Her audience was unwilling to read, or accept any other genre.
Rowling wrote A Casual Vacancy, a crime novel, which did not have great critical reception.She then decided to create a pseudonym. JK has stated that she had planned to write under the pseudonym in secrecy for longer but that it “was wonderful while it lasted”.

Some feel that the reveal of Robert Galbraith was an elaborate marketing campaign to boost book sales. The Cuckoo’s Calling had only been in print for three months, and during these three months it “sold 8500 copies across all formats, reached number one on the UK audio book charts and received two offers from television production companies”. Why would Robert Galbraith need to reveal himself as Rowling… he was doing pretty great on his own.
This would make sense if the book was not doing well when originally published. 
What I am really questioning is why the reception of the reveal was taken so poorly. Audiences felt that Rowling was trying to trick them, or even hurt them by refusing to write in the genre they knew her from. Rowling simply wanted to write in a new genre without expectation or hype, and her readers do not want to accept that as an answer.

She has continued to write these novels under the pseudonym, but what is interesting is they no longer publish them without J.K. Rowling’s names emblazoned on the cover. It is actually almost impossible to find a first run of the novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, and if you do they are very expensive. I feel that even though it has been revealed who Galbraith really is the publishing companies should still publish the books without Rowling’s name attached. With JT Leroy I had never heard of the hoax, and would have been able to read his other novels in blissful ignorance. I feel that Rowling deserves this same honor. If the books are published without her name attached readers who go into the bookstore and pick it up off the shelf at random will read the book without knowledge of the hoax. Rowling wants to continue writing under the fake name, and I feel that giving her the luxury of writing without hype is something this generation owes her.

Another extremely interesting tidbit, I found most of my information on Robert Galbraith’s website not  J.K. Rowling’s. It does state that Galbraith is a pseudonym for Rowling if you look, but the rest of the website runs as though Galbraith is a person. There is even a Q and A where Rowling answers questions as Galbraith. This is a hoax which I wish had never been revealed. I wonder now if I ever would have read these crime novels without knowing that one of my favorite story tellers wrote them.
Why do readers place such a heavy reliance on the author themselves, when the stories are just as good without the name to prove it?

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