Thursday, April 27, 2006

How Opal Got Busted

Okay, so now there's another plagiarist in the news. Kaavya Viswanathan is a 19 year old at Harvard and she wrote a chick-lit book entitled "How Opal Mehta Got Her Groove..." I mean, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life." And it's apparently filled with passages from another teenage chick lit novel entitled "Sloppy Firsts" which is on my reading list if I ever get sent to jail and want to take my mind off of getting raped. I'm not sure these sort of books are really that hard to write in the first place. Don't they all have the same theme? "Most people go through an adolescent phase of thinking that the world revolves around them. But, they have to outgrow this and learn to socialize with others in some meaningful way. Unless they're American women, in which case the answer to every life problem is to go shopping more often." How hard can this be to write?

Apparently, the trick isn't writing anyway. It's hooking up with a groomer and a team of co-authors and looking good enough to go on The View. Like Ashley Simpson, Kaavya's parents seem to have seen her more as a product than a person, and they paid some company to get her into Harvard while getting her hooked up with the publishing company. Also like Simpson, I'm guessing the internet will soon be abuzz with the usual losers piling on and taking her down to assauge their constant sense of free-floating resentment. Making things worse for her, she's claimed that she unconsciously absorbed the passages in question.

But I feel bad for her. Why? Because she's 19. Who exactly can write a 320 page book while starting at Harvard at age 18? Who possibly could have the life experience to write a book at that age?

The plagiarism is terrible. But, something makes me think that I've seen these sorts of parents before- status-obsessed, amoral stunted personalities living through their children. I went to school with the sort of kids these people produce. They're Stepford Children. Their parents have taught them to see every moment in life as a chance to one-up someone else and get Mommy and Daddy off their back for a few minutes. The goal isn't to live up to your potential- it's to get the gold star and the pat on the head to gloat about. Can you imagine being raised with such a manichean world-view? Would you really know that it's worse to do something wrong than it is to fail your parents? I don't know.

I hope her next book is entitled: "How Opal Told Her Parents to Piss Off"


Anonymous said...

love it. how opal told her parents to p*** off.
that could become the definitive indian subcontinental novel for our times.

Rufus said...

Oh, well thank you!