Too many people take themselves too seriously.
I had that thought back in 2013 when I began forming an outline for my satiric campus novel, “Whole Lot of Hullabaloo: A Twenty-First Century Campus Phantasmagoria.”
Though completed in 2014, I shelved the book until 2020. By that time, the academic world somehow had become more ridiculous. With activity restricted due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, I decided that if the mainstream publishing world didn’t want reality in front of them, too bad.
After some further revisions, as well as professional editing, I independently published my novel in Fall 2020. Since then, critical reviews and reader response has shown there’s still an appetite for fiction that isn’t watered down by the misery of out-of-control PC.
The tale begins in the now seemingly distant year of 2011. Troy Thomas is a sophomore at Central Ohio University, living a normal college life with his best friend and top lacrosse player, Ian Mueller. One night, Ian arrives at an off-campus costume party dressed as a “Miami Vice” character in controversial fashion.
All is normal until Ian receives an e-mail from the university administration. Unbeknownst to Ian and Troy, a fellow student became greatly offended by the costume and is threatening to take the incident to the local media.
A whole slew of shenanigans ensue as Troy tries to make sense of not only his friend’s actions, but that of the reactions and behavior of the college community and other local residents.
Having graduated from college in 2007 and hearing campus reports over the years, the change in the atmosphere of university life has been shocking to me. What had been a place for growth and relative freedom switched to world of moroseness and censoriousness without the moral fiber that generally accompanies such climates.
The academic world has claimed a mantle of moral superiority despite looking sillier with each faux outrage. It’s an environment ripe for satire, and satirize it hard I did.
Growing up, I enjoyed the ’80s teen comedies of John Hughes and his fellow Reagan-era film makers that I came across via VHS and cable. In addition, I appreciated the nearly forgotten ’90s campus classic, “PCU,” and others introduced me to the brilliance of Mel Brooks.
When my literary interests broadened during college and immediately afterwards, I took to the 20th century British comedic novelists Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell. These influences, along with a support for synthwave culture and its appreciation for entertainment for entertainment’s sake, led me to poking the bear of contemporary mores by allowing the reader to think without telling them what to think.
And doing this with a winking eye and a slight smirk.
There’s more to me hoping you’ll dive into “Whole Lot of Hullabaloo,” whether by print or eBook, than selfish reasons. I want consumers to be more discerning of the entertainment they purchase. No, this isn’t a rant to tell you what to read, watch or hear. There’s just too little time to pay attention to media that thinks its audience is stupid and in need of lectures that were trite back in middle school.
The contemporary “good taste” arbiters’ crusade is to remove every stereotype, with the exception of those they approve, and try to destroy what was considered fairly innocuous just a few years back. In their wake, they’ve created new stereotypes and failed to replace what they tried to remove with anything close to being satisfactory.
There’s a reason why there are multiple YouTube channels with millions of views where people react to popular film, TV and music classics. It’s equally clear why studios are mining deep the franchises of decades’ past.
Much of today’s entertainment is too preachy, dismissive and forgettable.
It doesn’t have to be this way. However, it doesn’t look like the pain is going to stop. Do yourself a favor and look for artists who will treat you as an adult but still let you have some fun.
Christopher Fried works in the maritime international shipping and logistics field. His novel, “Whole Lot of Hullabaloo: A Twenty-First Century Campus Phantasmagoria,” was published in Fall 2020. In addition, he has published poetry, as well as book and film reviews. Since 2019, he has been on the Advisor Circle for the upcoming 1980s sci-fi film documentary “In Search of Tomorrow” (2022).