Satire isn’t for the faint of heart.
The best satirists make it look easy, from Mark Twain to Mark Steyn. They X-ray society, see its flaws and foibles and react accordingly.
They often open our eyes wider in the process.
It’s the job description that best fits Bruce Wagner. The celebrated author behind “I’m Losing You” and “The Chrysanthemum Palace” is known for skewering Hollywood as few others can. He’s also dabbled more directly in La La Land, co-writing the well-received “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” and creating the “Wild Palms” miniseries.
He began his literary career by self-publishing “Force Majeure,” the tale of a wannabe screenwriter’s trek through Hollywood. Now, as luck and our increasingly woke age would have it, Wagner is returning to his self-publishing roots.
It’s not entirely by his own choice, though.
Wagner says his latest novel, “The Marvel Universe: Origin Stories,” was set to be published by Counterpoint Press when his editor stopped him cold.
Wagner must remove a single word from the novel before proceeding, he was told.
It’s what one of the novel’s characters, an overweight woman gunning to break the 1,000 pound mark on her scale, calls herself.
So Wagner bailed, deciding to publish the novel in toto on his web site.
Not only would it be too slow—it would take, at minimum, a year to release what was very much written to be read today, right now—but print-publishing this particular novel seemed old-fashioned, given its subject matter. Wagner would publish the entirety of The Marvel Universe online, releasing it into the public domain.
Wagner calls the move “liberating,” but he’s also aware of the big picture.
“My entire body of work,” Wagner told me, “would be thrown into a furnace if it were to be read and judged by sensitivity readers.”
And he’s not alone, of course.
Cancel Culture demands obedience with both new and existing art. It’s why Disney Plus just put warning labels on classic fare like the animated “Peter Pan” and “Dumbo.” It also explains a successful comedy director abandoning the genre to pursue other stories.
Comedy is often the hardest hit by the woke mob, but authors are increasingly under fire for writing the “wrong” words. Wagner found that out the hard way.