The Politics of Stephen King

In the last couple of posts I’ve been writing about an interview that Stephen King gave Rolling Stone recently.  It’s really informative for King fans and you can read it here.

Stephen King caricature by Garrett Morlan
Stephen King caricature by Garrett Morlan

In it he talks about whether he believes in God (covered in my last post), and how he views why he’s not taken seriously as a literary author (in the post before that).  He also points out that he is a pacifist, that he thinks Obama has does a pretty good job considering, and he goes a little deeper into his political beliefs and how they impact how people know him.  And about his politics:

“[Stephen King:]  I’m going to do a TV ad for the Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows this afternoon. She’s running against Susan Collins for Senate. And I don’t know how much goodwill I have in the state, but I think it’s a fair amount, so maybe the ad will make a difference.

[Rolling Stone:]  Do you worry that being too political will turn off some of your readers?

It happens all the time. I wrote an e-book after the thing in Newtown, Connecticut, when that guy shot all those kids. I got a lot of letters, somebody saying, “Asshole! I’ll never read another one of your goddamn books.” So what? If you’re to a point where you can’t separate the entertainment from the politics, who needs you? Jesus Christ.

I never really cared for Tom Clancy’s books, but it wasn’t because he was a Republican guy. It was because I didn’t think he could write. There’s another guy that I sense is probably a fairly right-wing writer. His name is Stephen Hunter. And I love his books. I don’t think he likes mine.”

The thing is, King’s politics aren’t overt in his books, like Robert Heinlein’s are.  With Heinlein (and John Barnes for that matter, of which I will post about in the future), I feel as if it’s been forced on me sometimes, like he took pains to detour the story so he could fit some political statement in, but I can’t think of a single instance when I thought King was trying to make a political statement.

A thing, be it a book or movie or whatever, is either political or it isn’t.  And if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be.  That’s sounds redundant but I guess I’m just saying that if given the choice I will choose the mainstream nonpolitical story over the political one most times.

I actually think a lot of people are like this.  They are understandably turned off by the ugly politics of our time.  Probably why they don’t vote, as evidenced by the record low turnout just a few days ago.

More from King and Rolling Stone on the political state of affairs in America:

“Why do you think the country is so divided?

It doesn’t have anything to do with Obama. There’s a fundamental discussion going on in America right now about whether or not we’re going to continue to protect individual freedoms or whether we’re going to give some of them up. And the discussion has become extremely acrimonious.

In the wake of 9/11, we’re searched invasively at airports. There are CCTV cameras everywhere. There’s a whole bunch of people who say that America is for the individual and that we’re all the gunslingers of our own house. Basically, there’s a whole side of the country that’s fearful. They’re fearful that if same-sex marriage becomes legal, then God knows what will happen – all at once, all of our kids will be gay and America’s way of life will die out. They’re afraid that immigrants are going to swamp the economy. And on the other side, there are all of those people who say, “Maybe there’s a way to embrace these things, and maybe we need to give up our right that anybody can buy a gun.” They’re basic arguments.”

And on to a new author and book in the next post…

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