Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cry me a river, Eckler...

Rebecca Eckler is someone I’ve tried to avoid reading for the most part. I forget when I first read her column, but I was seeing Cathy at the time. I read it and then threw the paper across the room in disgust. Cathy, obviously, was a touch in shock as I can read some pretty horrific things and not toss a paper.

However, Eckler’s column was that bad, that vapid and inane, that the only sane reaction was to remove the paper from my proximity as quickly as possible.

I remember having a conversation with someone who wanted to know how to be a columnist in a newspaper. And I tried to explain to them they need writing ability, a good, distinctive “voice” and an ability to generate a lot of interesting material that will get people talking. That while many people think they could write a column, not everyone is cut out for it.

“Why do you want to be a columnist?” I asked him.

“Well, I figured if Rebecca Eckler could write that crap in the Post every week and get paid, how hard could it be?”

So there you go – Rebecca Eckler, setting back the credibility and respect of journalists and columnists across Canada. And I don’t hate her because I disagree with her writing or perspective. There are plenty of columnists who I don’t always, or rarely, agree with. But I still respect the argument and the craft they put into their writing. Eckler is just vain and narcissistic. And, this is coming from a blogger. Oh, and she’s also a terrible writer.

Eckler is just a mystery and proof that occasionally crap can float to the top.

So why the rant on Eckler and her mere existence? Well, I got to read one of those rare stories that makes me actually talk to the computer yesterday. And what I said to the computer, and for the record it agreed with me, was “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Eckler is suing Judd Apatow, the director of the recently released Knocked Up, which by staggering coincidence, is the exact same title of Eckler’s first book. It’s also a phrase that’s been in use, according to some reports I’ve read online, since the early 1800s. Eckler believes there are enough similarities in her book that makes it obvious that Apatow clearly robbed it from her and created a now very popular, very critically acclaimed movie. How are they alike? They are both about a woman who gets pregnant after having sex. Wow.

Yes, there are other supposed similarities, but they are honestly some of the weakest similarities I’ve ever heard. It’s insane to think this lawsuit has a chance in hell of succeeding. On the surface, if I were Apatow, I’d counter-sue for her being a nuisance and a god damn poor writer that has wasted people’s money and precious minutes in their life when they’re read her stuff.

Actually, if he wants to start a class action lawsuit on that last point, I’ll sign up.

Less generous souls than me on blogs and message boards have also noted a couple of things - that Eckler’s two books have been critically savaged and have not sold all that well. So this is quite possibly a desperate attempt to generate some book sales by stirring up controversy in the wake of a popular movie.

“Wow, they ripped off her book? Well, I’ve seen the movie and liked it, maybe I ought to pick up her book and see if they did.”

I haven’t seen the movie (hasn’t opened in Iqaluit yet) nor have I read her book (not an idiot) so perhaps I’m not the best to comment. But I have read her column writing, so for those unfortunate souls contemplating a purchase, I’d strongly advice you not to.

After all, books tend to have a bit more weight when you’re tossing them across the room in disgust than a newspaper. The likelihood of damaging something you care about or value is much higher.

Just once when a director is sued in one of these ways where it is fairly obviously an attempt to boost book sales on the back of your hard work, I wish they would counter sue for the profits the book made after the lawsuit gained all that lovely media attention that’s so good for sales.


Geoff Meeker said...

"However, Eckler’s column was that bad, that vapid and inane, that the only sane reaction was to remove the paper from my proximity as quickly as possible"

Nice line, Craig. No one can accuse you of not having a "voice" as a columnist.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read her stuff, though I did hear the storey on cbc radio today. If she's that bad a writer it doesn't surprise me she's at the Post, but she mentioned MacLean's (sp?). It's been many years since i read that mag, but has it really sunk?

She sounded rather vapid in the interview on cbc, using "I" instead of her book's main character, which struck me as more than a little dumb for a writer...I mean, was it fiction or was she writing a memoir?


Corey said...

TB, every now and then you write an essay that makes me sit back and think - damn, I wish I could write like that.

This is one of those essays.

Well crafted, my friend.

towniebastard said...

I think that Eckler's book is mostly autobiographic with probably more than a dash of fiction in it. Then again, in her brain, I suspect it's hard to keep things straight anyway.

As for Macleans, I think it's gained quit a bit of credibility in the past few years. It's made a nice editorial turn around. But every publication has it's blindspot and weakpoint. If Eckler is doing regular work for them, well, then I guess she's it.

And Corey, Geoff, thanks for the kind words. Although to paraphrase from a conversation I had with OM last night, when you get stuff like this it's almost too easy. A bit like being a professional baseball player and having a game of slowpitch.

myrick said...

I think Eckler was given a column at the Post as part of a Conrad Black ploy to weaken CanCon regulations (i.e. here's a poorly written, crappy version of Carrie Bradshaw -- we could have the real thing if there were fewer regulations, instead you''re stuck with Eckler). Sure, there are no such regulations on columnists, but the point was well made.

Either that or the rumors at Frank about horizontal mambo with an editor.

Anonymous said...


Nancy said...

Unfortunately, I read Eckler's book for a book club I was in (but am no longer a part of) and I can assure you that bad, vapid and inane are good words to describe it.
The book is supposedly autobiographical, which is why she would refer to the character as I in interviews. However, the character is also a shallow, self-absorbed, annoying bitch, so why she’d want to claim it as herself is beyond me.
All I can say is that if Apatow took that worthless piece of crap and turned it into a movie as good as the reviews say it is, then he must the world’s most brilliant writer…