With an economy only encouraging to the makers of Rosetta Stone, a trite media narrative spelling doom for single black women over the age of 30 and three days, along with a host of other worldly problems it’s not surprising to see many people looking for tips on how to better themselves and their situations.
Of all the ways to do so, book publishers have arguably found the best way to capitalize on it monetarily by way of the celebrity self-help book.
Books from the likes of comedian Steve Harvey and actor Hill Harper have gone on to sell millions of copies and have since spawned new titles from stars such as Janet Jackson, Tyrese Gibson, and Lil’ Wayne’s ex-wife, Antonio Carter.
While these books may prove themselves to be easy bestsellers, one wonders what exactly qualifies these celebrities to brand themselves as self-help gurus.
Gibson was asked why he feels his brand of advice will work for others in his interview with theGrio.
In response, Tyrese claimed: “Because I’m living proof of it. Matter of fact, the higher you work your way up the ranks, the less sleep you end up getting because of stress and the level of responsibility that comes with being a significant personality in the universe.”
Tyrese is to modesty what deep-fried pig feet are to a healthy diet.
So what sort of advice does this “significant personality in the universe” have to share anyway? Based on his appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, much of what we’ve already heard before.
While discussing cheating, Tyrese explained to Wendy Williams that women shouldn’t “own” the cheating by their male partners. However, when questioned about forgiving a cheating woman he quickly quipped, “No, no way. It is expected of men to cheat.”
Tyrese did acknowledge the double standard, but he didn’t challenge it the way you would expect a VIP of the universe to.
Of course his book, like those from Steve Harvey before him, will be largely marketed to and patronized by black women. And naturally, much of their brand of advice seems to perpetuate varying degrees of already socially accepted sexism.
But aren’t people sick of this sort of thing yet? Do women still want to be told to “act like a lady and think like a man?”
Apparently so, because the soaring book sales of such works don’t lie even if the shtick itself reminds critics of the trend of a Sunshine Anderson chorus.
To be fair to the stars, we don’t always seek recipes from chefs nor do instantly seek out mechanics for every instance of car trouble. There are benefits to reading anecdotes from people largely admired. Unfortunately, this wave of published celebrity inspiration seems more about a dollar than actual depth.
It’s a conclusion easy to reach after reading what many of these stars and their ghostwriters pass off as meaningful advice.
In her book, True You, Janet Jackson writes: “So many things can block the true you. I am me, the true me; you are you, the true you — and that’s good. That’s beautiful. That’s enough.”
Those are a bunch of words that can easily be broken down to just three: “Blah, blah, blah.”
As much as I adore Miss Jackson, I’ve learned more from Big Bird. It’s disappointing given her story is one many could learn from. That is, if it were told with far more forthrightness.
Janet can talk all she wants about the truth, but the reality is she can be evasive as she wants and pass off scribbled down notes from her refrigerator magnets as advice and still add New York Times bestseller to her list of accomplishments because of who she is.
The same can be said for a twice-divorced comedian branding himself a relationship guru, a singing Twitter philosopher with a machine behind him, and anyone that’s been seen publicly in the vicinity of someone famous.
If these books are actually aiding people, then that is wonderful. Still, these days anyone who’s been on T.V. longer than five minutes has a legitimate shot of landing a well paying side hustle as a fortune cookie. That ultimately comes at the expense of those actually trained and educated on how to best aid people.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like the masses will notice until their favorite stars have moved on to the next gimmick.