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Which way to the Judith Regan slapping line?

There seems to be one publishing industry story each year that makes people in the publishing industry want to become dog groomers -- and makes the general public sit up and say, "What? There's still a publishing industry?"

This year it's the fall of Judith Regan, genetrix of Regan Books, the Harper Collins imprint that imploded over the publication (not) of If I Did It, OJ Simpson's...what are we calling it--hypothetical memoir?

One interesting aspect of the story is the minutia of the book contract, which raises some interesting questions about who gets what if a book is dumpsterized after the writer has completed the manuscript and slogged through the entire editorial process. What happens to the rights and subrights? Does the ghostwriter still get paid? That is one seriously fraught situation. Stuff like this strikes fear into my little ghostie heart.

But you wanna know what bothers me most about this whole thing? It's the unbridled lip-smacking glee with which so many people are watching Judith Regan get consumed by the volcano.

Women in our culture are simply not entitled to be that powerful. The more powerful a man is, the more moral leeway he's allowed. The more powerful a woman is, the more she is reviled no matter how high or low the moral ground she occupies. I didn't hear any complaints from Rupert Murdoch when he was cashing in on the ballerina's "erotic memoir" about her penchant for anal sex or the porn star's "cautionary tale" about her busty, boozy adventures. He's allowed to play out every sleazy card in the deck, but how dare Judith Regan be that evil without a penis? How dare she be that shrewd, unflinching, nerveless...and that bombastically successful?

Judith Regan is easy to hate. She's a skank. I'm not defending her. But let's be honest with ourselves. She's tied to the whipping post right now because she did something nice girl aren't supposed to do. She gave people what they wanted. And she did it better than any man in the business.


Well, she *almost* gave it to the people. But not for lack of trying. And yeah, she knows how to pander to the lowest common denominator with the best of 'em. I'm not sure that's praiseworthy, but I know what you mean about the villification of the Tough Bitch in American culture.

Seriously, I'm wondering how many showers per day a ghost writer would have to take to scrub off the ooze collected from wading through that cesspool of material each day. He could stand to take a share of villification himself, IMO, along with everybody who stood to profit or ordered the book.
Anonymous said…
I have worked for a number of powerful men and women, including the lovely Judith. I reject the idea that women have to display their power in the ugly and unprofessional way that Judith did. I work for a woman now who is more powerful than Judith ever was, is respected throughout the industry, and has never ever used the word "cock" in a business meeting or discussed her sex life with strangers. It's fake feminism to assert that theatrics like Judith's are somehow empowering and that it's sexism that keeps people like her down.
Joni Rodgers said…
I repeat: "She's a skank. I'm not defending her." If she had been fired for being unpleasant or saying "cock" or behaving badly, I would have applauded that. If Rupert et al had said, "You know, Judith makes a lot of money for us, but she's just too too awful. We have to get rid of her." Hey! Boo ya! Praise God and pass the pink slip!

But that's the high road not taken.

She got fired for pushing the envelope, and her signature was not the only one on that book contract. I'm not sticking up for Judith. I'm calling out the hypocrites who are pretending they weren't salivating at the idea of that OJ score.

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