Is Dr. Seuss a sellout?
Oh boy, I almost feel as if I am breaking some writing code of conduct for even asking such a thing.
By the way, I am kind of sneaking this question onto my movie blog because Dr. Seuss movies have been made before.
It is a stretch but I don’t have a books blog and I got rid of my first blog a while back.
Let me first ask you; what is a sellout?
Do you need to be popular to be a sellout?
What is the difference between finding a niche and running with it and selling out?
Is there a difference?
That is tricky.
Let’s start with who Dr Seuss is in today’s world.
It is safe to say that Dr. Seuss is one, if not the most popular writer out today.
Yes, he even challenges Shakespeare with that title.
I know, he only wrote kid’s books, but I am talking popularity here, not quality.
He is one of the few writers that everyone knows.
Even if you never read him.
All the schools have his books.
All the bookstores have a section for his books.
High school students are given his book for graduation for crying out loud.
So what is the deal?
Is he that good?
Is there something else going on?
The guy’s most famous work has the words cat and hat in the title, so as a writer, you can’t make an argument that he was some sort of genius.
Like say, Twain, or Poe.
He didn’t write The Great Gatsby.
He wrote Green Eggs And Ham.
Or maybe he was a genius for capitalizing on the children’s niche market and excelling at it.
He knew that there was a bunch of kids who had to learn something through books so he decided to make them with a more playful, fun approach than seen before.
I find that one hard to believe.
That is like saying the Larry The Cable Guy is a genius because he knew that there is a large demographic of rednecks in the world.
It is feasible, yes, but not very convincing.
How did a guy who wrote only kid’s books become the one author that challenges Shakespeare?
Well, because he kind of sold out.
Everyone is reading his books now.
They are used as reading tools for young kids.
Don’t know what to have your kid read?
Have them read a Seuss book.
Want to make a kid’s movie?
Make one based on the Seuss book.
What is a sellout?
What does he have to do to be a sellout?
If he writes one bestseller, is he a sellout?
Or how about two or three?
Is it once he writes five best sellers, he is officially a sellout?
Maybe he even gets one of those plaques they give away for memberships.
Here is how I answer the question.
When your material is used in a commercial way that differs from the original context of the story, then you have sold out.
Urban dictionary defines it as someone who changes their style for personal advancement.
Did Seuss do that?
Did he change his style?
Well, no he didn’t.
And this is where your personal beliefs may differ from the definition.
Can you sellout without changing your style?
If a band makes a hit song and continues to make songs that sound just like that song, are they sellouts?
Or are they limited in their ability and lucky that their approach gave them some fortune.
Dr. Seuss never changed his style.
He never switched it up.
He always wrote his style.
So he definitely wasn’t a sellout in the traditional sense, in that he changed his style to sell, you could make the argument that he never changed his style, period.
That lack of adjustment on his part, makes him a sellout?
I don’t know.
The next time you see the news cover Dr. Seuss’s birthday, or you his book in the school library or you go to see one of his movies, ask yourself; just why exactly is that guy so famous?
Turns out rhyming is more difficult than you originally thought.
Is Dr. Seuss a sellout?