With the recent closure of Lazy Fascist Press and Bizarrocon seeming to draw less people with each passing year, it’s time to talk about what we can do to revitalize the genre of bizarro fiction.
When LFP announced earlier this year that it would be closing its doors, several reasons were given. The editor was too triggered by the name of the press given current social and political climates to continue operating a publishing imprint containing the term “fascist.” Understandable considering his compatriots’ enthusiasm and affiliation with the hard-left communist domestic terrorist organisation ANTIFA.
Another reason given is one that I’ve been warning against for over a year here on the pages of my website: A “market downturn.”
This is publishing-speak for “our audience evaporated and we don’t know why.” But we do know why. We know that years of capitulating to one alt-left moral hysteria after another and endless ugly in-genre witch hunts have reduced the readership of bizarro fiction down to only people who aspire to be bizarro fiction writers.
The alt-left progressive gate-keepers of the genre are a humorless bunch. They’re male feminists who spend a good portion of their online footprint being as white as milk while using the term “white people” as a pejorative, and lecturing the public about whatever nonsense neo-Marxist outrage topic is trendy on Twitter this week.
You’ve all seen those cringe-worthy Berkeley ANTIFA videos by now. The upper-middle class white kids who can’t answer basic questions about Communism or Marxism or what the hell they’re even there protesting about. These are the people who claim to be arbiters of bizarro fiction. But as Dr. Jordan Peterson would say, they can’t even clean their own bloody rooms let alone lead a contemporary weird fiction movement.
These dorks are about as cool and edgy as the rapping pastor from the 90s viral video and no matter how many articles they write on trendy lit sites trying to convince you otherwise, it only takes a cursory glance at today’s glut of bizarro books to see that, aside from a few mavericks who self-motivate to push the boundaries, bizarro fiction is in a state of stagnation that offers nothing remotely transgressive or counter-culture to someone searching for a “different” literary experience.
So now that we’ve established that modern bizarro fiction is about as cool as your mom trying to meme on Facebook, the question is, what the fuck do we do about it?
Bizarro is a genre. Albeit a genre that the alt-left gatekeepers have poorly defined over the years leading most people to believe it’s just a lazy goof-off comedy sub-genre of horror or worse that it’s just surreal or experimental alt-lit. But it’s not.
Or at least it shouldn’t be. It hasn’t always been. In its heyday, bizarro was truly transgressive, shocking, offensive. The point of the weird, gross or obscene titles and covers was to evoke a visceral reaction from the reader. “No way did they go there! How the fuck is THAT a book?”
When was the last time you can remember being shocked or offended by a bizarro cover? The trendiest bizarros of today act like moral church ladies. They’re too concerned about their online reputations on social media to dare shock or offend anymore. Bizarro has become milquetoast.
We have to take it back.
I think the only way to do that is to inject an entirely different culture into bizarro fiction. Can you name a single conservative or alt-right bizarro fiction writer? Even one? One of the guiding principals of modern bizarro is to capitulate toward progressive politics. The brain-dead gate-keepers will assure you that this is simply a matter of self-evident natural progression. That all subversive subcultures are left-leaning.
Except that they’re not and haven’t been for some time. The alt-left is as mainstream as mainstream gets. Eminem and The View share talking points with the alt-left. They’re cozied up next to the godawful late night talk show hosts and Kathy fucking Griffin. This movement completely lacks self-awareness. They’re trendy. Worse, they’re boring.
The only way to keep this amazing genre that’s circling the drain from disappearing forever into the blackness of post-modern neo-Marxism is to teach a new generation about its potential as an art form.
Modern bizarros will tell you that what’s bizarre is too commonplace now. That memes are more weird than anything an author can dream up. They’re half right. The memers of the new generation, the internet shitposters who draw shitty comics and create shocking, politically incorrect Pepe memes are the PERFECT heirs to bizarro fiction.
We need the 4channers, the meme factory workers, we need generation Z to pick up the ball the alt-lefters dropped somewhere back in 2011 or 2012. Will Amazon carry books with titles and covers meant to provoke outrage from normies? Who gives a fuck? Bizarro is dead as a door-nail as it is. In another few years, all the bizarro small presses will close up shop or be bought up by bigger publishers who will sanitize the genre even further.
There is literally nothing to lose. Bizarro is failing either way. Fuck Amazon. Fuck even putting neo-bizarro fiction into book form if none of the POD printers will fuck with it. We can publish TRULY transgressive fiction on our websites. On maverick social media like Minds or Gab.ai. Hell even 4chan has a /lit/ section.
Where bizarro goes from here is not up to the alt-lefties in Portland. They had their chance and they blew it. They’re just trying to figure out how to stay afloat in this “market downturn” era. There’s never been a better time to reinvent bizarro and return it to the spirit of what made bizarro so special to begin with.
The genre is yours. What are you gonna do with it?