The editor’s notes on alt-right mouthpiece Milo Yiannopoulos’s manuscript of his memoir Dangerous provide a great deal of amusement, with comments ranging from “throughout the book, your best points seem to be lost in a sea of self-aggrandizement and scattershot thinking” to “DELETE UGH.” However, the fact remains that Yiannopoulos should never have been given a book deal in the first place and my question is, what exactly were they expecting?
When Simon and Schuster decided that it would be a good idea to give Yiannopoulos a book deal, with an advance of $255,000 (£200,000), did they momentarily forget that he is a peddler of terrible ideas based in nothing but bigotry, racism, sexism, and internalized homophobia? Of course not. They sought to make his brand of incendiary hate-mongering marketable, to cash in on the reaction he evoked from the outraged masses. So what, then, did they expect? What did they want from him, if not the type of ridiculous commentary for which he became famous?
The editor assigned to him, Mitchell Ivers, was not on board with any of it and did not make any attempt at disguising his low opinion of Yiannopoulos. The Guardian notes the editor’s constant requests that Yiannopoulos tone down his various problematic statements:
“Delete irrelevant and superfluous ethnic joke,” Ivers writes of a passage about taxi drivers. “Let’s not call South Africa ‘white’” is another request, while elsewhere Yiannopoulos is reprimanded for using the phrase “dark continent” about Africa…. Among other criticisms, the publisher’s notes say Yiannopoulos needed a “stronger argument against feminism than saying that they are ugly and sexless and have cats” and that another chapter needs “a better central thesis than the notion that gay people should go back in the closet”… Yiannopoulos goes on to criticise contemporary feminism as “merely a capitalist con-job – a money-grab designed to sell T-shirts to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé fans with asinine slogans”. “Um … like your MILO SWAG?” the editor responds.
It wasn’t Yiannopoulos’s sexism, racism, or homophobia that got the deal cancelled, however. It was only after “a recording emerged that appeared to show Yiannopoulos endorsing sex between “younger boys and older men” that the publisher backed out. Yiannopoulos is now attempting to sue for $10 million for breach of contract and it is this that has led to the documents emerging, as Simon and Schuster have submitted them to highlight the problems with the text. And I just can’t stop thinking: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT.
COME ON. | Via Giphy
When you offer a famous racist lots of money to write a book about being a famous racist, then you can’t get annoyed when he makes his famously racist comments, and his famously sexist ones, and also his famously homophobic ones. The problem is he should never have been offered a book deal in the first place. There was never going to be a way to package his brand of relentless bigotry as marketable. To attempt to do so was absolute madness in the first place. It was a completely tone-deaf attempt at cashing in on the newly-stirred (and incredibly dangerous) brand of hatred making a comeback across the globe. Only when his comments branched into paedophelia did the publisher finally draw a line.
If you’re interested in reading more of Ivers’ scathing commentary, including notes such as “Unclear, unfunny, delete,” then The Guardian notes that “a full copy of an early manuscript of the book, complete with the Simon & Schuster editor Mitchell Ivers’s notes, is available to download from the New York state courts’ website.” Journalist Jamil Smith summarized the ludicrous situation in his recent tweet.
The publisher knew who Yiannopoulos was when they gave him a $255,000 advance. The editor’s brutal comments are somewhat entertaining, but none of this should distract from the fact that they sought to make his bigotry both digestible and marketable. https://t.co/Ssg20zht0h
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) December 28, 2017
Exactly. It’s all very well to reject Yiannopolous’s carry-on in retrospect, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Simon & Schuster very much put themselves in this situation. They knew what they were getting into, and while Ivers’ comments are hilarious and exactly the sort of scathing, unrefined criticism I like to see aimed at anyone associated with the alt-right, the problem remains that the publisher did, if only for a short time, endorse him.
Dangerous was self-published later in the year, with Yiannopoulos claiming that it sold more than 100,000. This was, as with almost everything else he says, obviously untrue, and the book actually sold less than 20,000 copies.
Featured Image Via marketwatch.com