Fictional Fiction

Okay, America, answer me this: why do you hate fiction?

Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation as to why people don't read as much these days. The blame, it seemed, was placed mostly on TV and video games. And while I understand that idea, I think it's simplifying the issue a bit.

Yes, people are reading less. But, to be specific, they're reading less fiction. Something like 80-90% of books sold are non-fiction. So imagine doubling current books sales. I would hazard to guess that the "people aren't reading anymore" theory would lose a little steam.

In other words, the question isn't "why aren't people reading," it's "why aren't people reading fiction?"

So is it TV? Is it video games? Let's look at both.

The numbers on TV would argue against the idea that it's what's causing people to stop buying fiction? Why? Because people aren't watching fiction, either. Granted, it would be hard to make a case that reality TV is actually reality it does, however, require much less fiction writing than a scripted show. Don't get wrong; I understand why people watch shows like Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It's something that makes them feel good, something that makes them have some faith in humanity. And who doesn't want an hour of that once a week?

But, again, none of these so-called reality shows have anything to do with fiction.

The obvious conclusion here, then, is that people don't want fiction.

What about video games? Well, it is possible to make a connection here. Obviously, video games don't just supply fiction, it makes it interactive on a level that books can't really touch (even Choose Your Own Adventure books). But, Wii notwithstanding, video games are catering to a specific demographic. Are we to believe that only a certain segment of the country even wants fiction anymore? Does this mean that the majority of the country, once they read a certain age, are done with fiction?

A lot of this points to the (perhaps unintentional) genius of JK Rowling. Her first Harry Potter book was targeted at children who were too young to engage in complicated Xbox or Playstation games. Rowling hooked them before they were swept away by video games, and then grew along with them. But what are the 20 year olds, who were 9 when the first Potter book came out, reading now? Is it fiction? Or are they even reading at all?

All of this leads me to a small digression, one which actually deserves more thought. But it would seem to me that the last true bastion of fiction in this country lies in comic books. Because the majority of comic -- probably 99% -- are fiction. And that's absolutely mind boggling. I don't think you can even say that about movies anymore.

On the flipside, this might explain why alternative comics, some of which only look or seem like non-fiction, have been all be ghetto-ized in the world of comics. But, like I said, that's another discussion entirely.

So I ask again, America: why do you hate fiction? And what can we do to change that?