Stop Blaming Trump

 

the-trump-coloring-book-9781682610282_hrOkay, I’ll admit: The headline here is clickbait.

But here’s a data point which I think exonerates Donald J. Trump — if, in fact, he needs exoneration — from any charges of diminishing the culture. (I’m not trying to dive into the Trump vs. GOPe argument. I’m just trying to run a business here. I want people to read this post, think about the data point I’m writing about, and then join Ricochet.)

Well, two data points, actually. The first, from Mike Shatzkin at the Idea Logical Company, about publishing trends:

The good news for the publishers is that print sales erosion — at least for the moment — seems to have been stopped … A variety of industry and company sales statistics seem persuasive on that point. The percentage of revenues coming from ebooks for big publishers has declined and the sales of print have risen. And there is even some anecdotal evidence suggesting that bookstore retail shelf space is increasing again.

Oh, wow, great! They’re printing books again, and what’s even better: People are buying books! Not just ebooks, but book books.

But wait. Not so fast. A few days later came this clarification:

The other challenge was a pushback against my claim that print book sales overall are rising. The commenter pointed out that more than the entire print book sales increase shown in industry stats can be accounted for by the rise in sales of adult coloring books, a category which has taken a big leap forward in the past 12 months. For one thing, it is impossible to predict with any accuracy whether or for how long those sales will sustain. But, more importantly, the sales of print that do not include adult coloring books, which have no ebook equivalents and are the good fortune of a few selected companies, are still declining.

Go ahead, read that again: Book sales are rising, but that’s only because of the popularity of something called adult coloring books.

We now have a population of adults who buy coloring books. For themselves. To color in. Because, I guess, real books are too hard? Chapter books are complicated? They need something to do while Netflix is buffering?

There’s lots of talk about the infantilization of grown-ups. Lots of talk about the “dumbing-down” of American culture.

But those verbs seem too passive to capture what’s really happening.  Grown-ups are not being infantilized. They’re actively behaving — choosing to behave — like children. The culture is not being dumbed-down. People, Americans, of all shapes and sizes and colors and creeds are doing the dumbing. It’s self-cretinization at a massive scale.

And that isn’t Trump’s fault.

There are 71 comments.

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  1. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    We seem to think that if we need the answer to something, just Google or Bing it.  We have embraced a world where a 5-nanosecond attention span is a good thing, or at least non-objectionable.  Reading, contemplating, understanding, requires work, time, effort.  And yes, it requires Ricochet.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Adult Coloring Books bring something to mind different than the picture above.

    • #2
  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    It’s meaningless. Today, adults relax with coloring books and Sudoku. Yesterday, they relaxed with horseshoes and Checkers. And not so long ago, they relaxed by drinking beer or lemonade on a porch, talking and watching the birds.

    “They’re all lazy!” Or they’re all exhausted from work, mountains of paperwork, and children with the flu.

    • #3
  4. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Rob Long: And that isn’t Trump’s fault.

    Trump didn’t sink the Exxon Valdez either.  I’m not patting him on the back for it.

    • #4
  5. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    I have a bit of hesitation in responding to this because I’m an illustrator and the adult coloring book market has actually gotten some of my friends some work. I know the idea of adults coloring sounds kind of sappy. But you know what other sector of licensed art has been around a lot longer and is going just as strong?  Puzzles.  Not NYT crossword puzzles – picture puzzles, and not just the kiddie ones.  Does the image of adults doing puzzles bring forth the same reaction?

    • #5
  6. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Unless everything is back like it was in the 1950’s it is a sign of the end times!

    Frankly, I can’t imagine how people waste so much time typing things to strangers on the internet…remember when they used to talk to people in person? A sign of degeneration I say.

    • #6
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Adult coloring books have no ebook equivalent?  Just wait.

    • #7
  8. Matt Upton Inactive
    Matt Upton
    @MattUpton

    Aaron Miller: It’s meaningless. Today, adults relax with coloring books and Sudoku. Yesterday, they relaxed with horseshoes and Checkers. And not so long ago, they relaxed by drinking beer or lemonade on a porch, talking and watching the birds.

    I will second any motion that Millenials are terrible, terrible people, but not for reason of coloring books. Are they (we) generally flaky, entitled, and irresponsible? Yes. But coming from a proud heritage of artists and doodlers, I cannot fault a grown adult for purchasing a coloring book.

    Now please excuse me while I spend an evening watching anime and playing video games in my parent’s spare bedroom.

    • #8
  9. MGK Inactive
    MGK
    @MGK

    Fine Rob, I’ll get off your lawn

    • #9
  10. Tyler Boliver Member
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    In the good old days, people worried about the culture because Mickey Spillane sold well. Mike Hammer was a Lucky Strike smoking, pork pie hat wearing, .45 1911 Colt carrying hard boiled P.I. who was even to hard boiled for Raymond Chandler. Hammer would kill (not beat up, not try to arrest, kill) murders, rapist, thieves, and child abusers. He would also sleep with most women around him.  Perhaps worst of all for some critics he hated commies!

    To a lot of people this was outrageous.  They thought it was worse than things even written in the pulps in the 1920s. How terrible!

    Now though, our generation has to come to grip with the fact that our fellow citizens are more interested in coloring books then reading anything.

    Welcome to the brave new world. We can’t even debate over characterizations anymore, now the only thing to complain about is when people don’t color between the lines.

    • #10
  11. Tyler Boliver Member
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    Basil Fawlty:Adult coloring books have no ebook equivalent? Just wait.

    I’m sure you can find them. Mario Paint was a thing in the early 90s.

    • #11
  12. Tyler Boliver Member
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    Valiuth:Unless everything is back like it was in the 1950’s it is a sign of the end times!

    Frankly, I can’t imagine how people waste so much time typing things to strangers on the internet…remember when they used to talk to people in person? A sign of degeneration I say.

    My Grandparents used to type things to people, yes even sometimes strangers, all the time. Of course back then they were called letters. My Grandmother had a pen pal that she only meet once. The closest thing I have to pen pals, I guess is you guys and gals.

    I imagine most people just wrote letters long hand, I’m guessing a typewriter was a rather expensive thing to own though, and most households didn’t have one.

    • #12
  13. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Tyler Boliver:Mike Hammer was a Lucky Strike smoking, pork pie hat wearing, .45 1911 Colt carrying hard boiled P.I. who was even to hard boiled for Raymond Chandler. Hammer would kill (not beat up, not try to arrest, kill) murders, rapist, thieves, and child abusers. He would also sleep with most women around him.

    So the culture really has deteriorated since then?

    • #13
  14. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Rob,

    It’s self-cretinization at a massive scale.

    It is worse than you think.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
  15. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    Coloring books are OK.  There are many of my fellow Americans who I would only trust to safely handle a crayon.  You just have to watch, otherwise they will put it in their mouths.

    • #15
  16. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    The Troll returns!

    I don’t know that adult coloring books are the end of the West.  I remember that paint-by-number kits used to be a big thing.

    Some of those kits would be pretty impressive if finished (see the link above).  Far more impressive than jigsaw puzzles, say, another classic entertainment before the television.

    I actually think this is not a bad thing, as getting people to stop watching the propaganda idiot box can’t be but good.

    • #16
  17. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    And I’ll further more observe that Mr. Long only posted this to cement his position in the GOPe: making fun of those in flyover country is obligatory.

    Perhaps his membership is up for renewal?

    • #17
  18. Lidens Cheng Member
    Lidens Cheng
    @LidensCheng

    Adult coloring books, grown men needing safe-space. Grown men lock themselves in their safe-space with their play-doh and their coloring books. Maybe western civilization is too dumb to survive.

    • #18
  19. Tyler Boliver Member
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    Hoyacon:

    Tyler Boliver:Mike Hammer was a Lucky Strike smoking, pork pie hat wearing, .45 1911 Colt carrying hard boiled P.I. who was even to hard boiled for Raymond Chandler. Hammer would kill (not beat up, not try to arrest, kill) murders, rapist, thieves, and child abusers. He would also sleep with most women around him.

    So the culture really has deteriorated since then?

    I guess the question is, who are our heroes? Many men who came back from WW2 although tired of war, still enjoyed reading about a tough guy who carried his services pistol with him to “clean up the streets”. Hammer in many ways can been seen as the WW2 GI’s rejecting the changes that grew out of the 50s and 60s. Mike Hammer’s last canon case came after 9/11, when he realistically should have been 80, but he was still shooting Muslim terrorist with old World War 2 army surplus .45 rounds. The spirit of his character may have mellowed a bit, but he was still dealing with bad guys with lethal force.

    Who are the heroes of our age? Are they found in Fifty Shades of Grey? Twilight? Harry Potter? I honestly don’t know. To compare the heroes of the past to the ones today, we must first figure out who the heroes are that our generation created.

    Maybe that’s why people would rather just play with coloring books.

    • #19
  20. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Lidens Cheng:Grown men lock themselves in their safe-space with their play-doh and their coloring books.

    Hey, don’t forget my 60 in. Samsung HDTV and wet bar.

    • #20
  21. OldDan Inactive
    OldDan
    @OldDanRhody

    Rob Long:We now have a population of adults who buy coloring books. For themselves. To color in. Because, I guess, real books are too hard? Chapter books are complicated? They need something to do while Netflix is buffering?

    Lighten up, it’s just a form of relaxation, of not thinking so hard, of shutting down the operator interface while the background program continues to run.  Physical exercise would be better but not everyone is able to do that.  I play solitaire while listening to Ricochet podcasts – how is that different?  On the other hand, I take notes during sermon in church to keep my mind from wandering off subject.  You don’t have to be totally engaged all the time.

    • #21
  22. Rob Long Editor
    Rob Long
    @RobLong

    Bryan G. Stephens: Blaming

    I was thinking the same thing. As Donald J. Trump would say, “Sad.”

    • #22
  23. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Tuck:And I’ll further more observe that Mr. Long only posted this to cement his position in the GOPe: making fun of those in flyover country is obligatory.

    Perhaps his membership is up for renewal?

    I hardly see this as an indictment of flyover country. I doubt the guy working at the auto body shop is coming home to a pile of coloring books. The first image that sprung to my mind is an effete Brooklyn hipster with a pile of artisanal crayons and a bottle of kombucha.

    • #23
  24. Rob Long Editor
    Rob Long
    @RobLong

    Pencilvania:I have a bit of hesitation in responding to this because I’m an illustrator and the adult coloring book market has actually gotten some of my friends some work. I know the idea of adults coloring sounds kind of sappy. But you know what other sector of licensed art has been around a lot longer and is going just as strong? Puzzles. Not NYT crossword puzzles – picture puzzles, and not just the kiddie ones. Does the image of adults doing puzzles bring forth the same reaction?

    Okay, this is a good question. No, they don’t. And that may make me a hypocrite. But for some reason, the image of adult humans relaxing with puzzles — even picture puzzles — doesn’t affect me at all.  But coloring in coloring books? For some reason it does.  Although I respect any illustrator who makes a living with books.  It’s against my creed to criticize someone’s legal rice bowl.

    • #24
  25. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    I think we’ve forgotten how to adult. I noticed this when advertisers started marketing kiddie cereal to grown-ups.

    Sure, I’ll buy that crap for my kids (and, yes, occasionally steal a bowl after they go to bed), but at least allow me the dignity of blaming them for my Crunch Berries when I’m standing in line at Safeway.

    • #25
  26. Rob Long Editor
    Rob Long
    @RobLong

    Tuck:And I’ll further more observe that Mr. Long only posted this to cement his position in the GOPe: making fun of those in flyover country is obligatory.

    Perhaps his membership is up for renewal?

    Never!  I’m a Founding Member!

    • #26
  27. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Brian McMenomy:We seem to think that if we need the answer to something, just Google or Bing it. We have embraced a world where a 5-nanosecond attention span is a good thing, or at least non-objectionable. Reading, contemplating, understanding, requires work, time, effort…

    TL;dr

    • #27
  28. Rob Long Editor
    Rob Long
    @RobLong

    OldDan:

    Rob Long:We now have a population of adults who buy coloring books. For themselves. To color in. Because, I guess, real books are too hard? Chapter books are complicated? They need something to do while Netflix is buffering?

    Lighten up, it’s just a form of relaxation, of not thinking so hard, of shutting down the operator interface while the background program continues to run. Physical exercise would be better but not everyone is able to do that. I play solitaire while listening to Ricochet podcasts – how is that different? On the other hand, I take notes during sermon in church to keep my mind from wandering off subject. You don’t have to be totally engaged all the time.

    I take your point. Anything done while listening to a Ricochet podcast is by definition perfect.

    And yeah, I see the need to zone out and relax. (That’s what bourbon’s for, if you ask me.) But I can’t get the image of grown up people coloring in coloring books out of my mind — so smug and precious. But maybe I’m seeing progressive/liberal/regressive behavior in places where it ain’t.

    Sometimes, maybe, a coloring book is just a coloring book?

    • #28
  29. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    To be fair, coloring is fun. It is a good distraction while your mind can wander and recharge. Think of it as active meditation.

    Now Rob, you get PAID to make up stories. Look at where you live. It is the least grown up place in America. People dress up, role play, and throw tantrums like little kids.

    • #29
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Tuck:And I’ll further more observe that Mr. Long only posted this to cement his position in the GOPe: making fun of those in flyover country is obligatory.

    Perhaps his membership is up for renewal?

    I hardly see this as an indictment of flyover country. I doubt the guy working at the auto body shop is coming home to a pile of coloring books. The first image that sprung to my mind is an effete Brooklyn hipster with a pile of artisanal crayons and a bottle of kombucha.

    But the guy in the auto shop never doodles while he is stuck on the phone with a customer?

    • #30
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