Should Bizarro Go Mainstream?

BAMA book photo

I’ve decided to depart from my usual content to discuss something that’s been gnawing at me for weeks now. Those who know me well know that I am loathe to express my opinions, let alone trumpet them to an audience like this blog, but I feel I need to share these thoughts.

At BizarroCon, I attended a panel entitled, “Expanding the Bizarro Audience.” It got me thinking: should we really do that? A few thousand more readers would be great. It would to pump more life into the genre, allow the printing of more books, and add to the otherwise barren field of bizarro journals and e-zines. But a mainstream following? I think it would destroy the genre.

From a monetary perspective, yes, it would be great for writers and publishers alike. Many authors could stop working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. (Don’t think I’m not sympathetic to that.) But I feel it would kill the very spirit of bizarro fiction.

Bizarro functions as a subversive genre. By its very definition, the subversive cannot function if it’s commonplace. This can be seen in one of the growing phenomena of the last fifty years: “rebellious conformity,” in which the resistance against conformity grows so large that it becomes a type of conformity itself. When too many people fight against the “Man,” they start to become the Man.

If bizarro becomes the next mainstream genre, it will lose potency and become diluted. Authors will no longer write to shock, to horrify, to weird out their readers. Most likely, it will become a cookie-cutter genre with the occasional flash of originality. Just look at fantasy. Since J.R.R. Tolkien, much of fantasy is just a variation of Lord of the Rings with a few outliers, trying futilely to break away.

No, I’m not clairvoyant. I could be completely wrong. I probably am. But if the magic that is bizarro fiction gets spread too thin, I fear the originality and eccentricity born of its subversion will fade away.

I realize the hypocrisy, this coming from the writer of a blog that seeks to promote bizarre fiction. I make it a point to recommend its literature to anyone willing to listen and I hope you do as well. I just think we should treasure the genre for what it is: that mysterious crevice in the wall through which we peak, rather than a vast window for all to see and thus destroy the mystery.

If you disagree with me or think I got something wrong, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. After all, this is just one (foolish) man’s opinion.

Tchau,

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