By Gibson DelGiudice, guest Dullblogger
As a 21st century Beatles fan (born in 1990, and so coming of age during the new millennium), it seems only natural that I probably have a different perspective than most Beatles fans on the literature that documents the group’s rise to fame and the careers of its members. I’d like to share a Tumblr-influenced way of looking at Beatles books and sorting them into categories, based on the attitudes they express.
Like many young people today, I’m a consummate Tumblr user. At the time of posting, over 277.2 million blogs make up the Tumblr network , so it should come as no surprise that many fandoms are well-represented on it, and that the Beatles are no exception. Fandom discourse is rampant on Tumblr, and often takes on predictable forms. User watertightvines has divided posts by fans (or critics) into one of five categories, based on the attitude expressed toward the subject under consideration: “Tagging Ur Hate,” “Callout Post,” “Look At My Garbage Child,” “MY CHILD WOULD NEVER,” and “FLAWLESS!!” (See descriptions of these categories at the end of the post.)
In the post naming the categories, watertightvines noted that biographies tend to follow the same patterns as fandom discourse, so that someone used to reading posts by fans or critics can recognize the same tendencies in these long-form works. Reading the post, I realized that one could sort Beatles biographies into the same categories. Some books may even fit more than one category.
As an avid reader of Hey Dullblog, I’ve come to admire both the blog’s authors and the prolific and intelligent commentators who appear on it regularly. I rank them with the posters at Tough Pigs (which aptly describes itself as a site for “Muppet fans who grew up”) as being a cut above the average fan in terms of intelligent discussion that might not be brought up at other sites dealing with these topics. I like to think you’re all hip, with it, and capable of embracing new ideas. So I thought I’d lay these descriptions out for you, and we can discuss which biographies fit each description, and which might fit more than one.
Let the categorizing commence!
Tagging Ur Hate: In a bio like this, you’re not quite sure why the author chose to write about this person, as they don’t appear to have any fondness for them. Like, at all. Ranging from dismissive to outright hostile, this type of bio goes beyond criticism and spends most of its length denigrating its subject on a personal level. And any speculations sound like entries in Regina George’s Burn Book, likely with gross –isms.
Callout Post: Much like “Tagging Ur Hate,” the author of this type of bio thinks the subject is an asshole or worse. Unlike “Tagging Ur Hate,” they won’t go for the direct attack, instead choosing to take the high(er) road of criticism instead. This bio provides sources for their subject’s horrible choices, and in the absence of evidence focuses more on the public than the personal. Speculations are not unilaterally negative, but they cut the subject very little slack.
Look at My Garbage Child: Again, this type of bio is upfront about a subject’s flaws, but unlike the above two classifications, the author has a soft spot for their subject, albeit one which they express through snarky language. They’re as likely to defend their subject as they are to call them on their behavior. The general vibe of works like this is “Oh, you!” followed by an affectionate rolling of the eyes. The speculations of the author of this type of bio are often accompanied by a reminder that we cannot know for sure, and their level of sympathy varies depending on the situation.
MY CHILD WOULD NEVER: At this point, let’s just start with a baseline assumption that the author knows their subject has problematic moments, yes? And let’s also assume that they are perfectly willing to criticize them. In the case of “MY CHILD WOULD NEVER,” however, they also have a lot of… feelings. Like “Tagging Ur Hate,” they will focus on the personal; however, they will do so with sympathetic leanings. They may go to great lengths to contextualize the subject’s bad choices, with the disclaimer that “explaining” and “excusing” are not the same. Their speculation is often the kind that you would expect the stereotypical teenage fanatic to preface with “okay but” and end with “I JUST…”
FLAWLESS!!: The equally toxic counterpart of “Tagging Ur Hate.” Some of the authors on Dullblog might already know this as a “puff piece.” This is the type of bio where the author genuinely believes that their subject is a fantastic human being beyond reproach or (for the more cynical of us) is firmly dedicated to pushing that particular line of reason. Their opponents are vilified (often with the same gross –isms – sound familiar?), and the subject’s problematic actions are either excused or outright ignored. As for speculations, they’re usually unilaterally positive, often in the sort of way that would show up in a political candidate’s campaign ad.
So, I now leave it up to all of you:
Which biographies of the Fabs would you class as which category, and why? For that matter, are there any that fit more than one category?
Gibson DelGiudice is Co Producer, The Two Per Cent Solution Production & Development Company Inc.
Vice President (Project Development, Management and Production), East West Image Media International