"In this expertly researched, wonderfully witty essay, O’Connell explains why we enjoy watching the spectacular artistic failures of others. The culture of the epic fail is a culture of "sublimated predation," he writes. It’s a concept well understood by great artists, including Shakespeare, but understood little by its unfortunate victims, who often remain convinced of their creative genius even in the face of mass ridicule.” The San Francisco Chronicle on our own Mark O’Connell’s Epic Fail.
1800s Scotland: He wrote about 200 poems, including his infamous ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’, which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature.
1900s Ireland: Her works were not read widely, and her eccentric, over-written, ‘purple’ circumlocutory writing style is alleged by some critics to be some of the worst prose and poetry ever written.
2000s America: After the video went viral on YouTube and other social media sites, ‘Friday’ was derided by many music critics and viewers, who dubbed it ‘the worst song ever.’
Dublin-based staff writer Mark O’Connell has penned an exploration of the Internet-era obsession with terrible art – bad YouTube pop songs, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, and that endless stream of “Worst Things Ever” that invades your inboxes, newsfeeds, and Twitter streams. What, exactly, draws us to these futile attempts at making songs, movies, and art? What are the essential ingredients that render a ridiculous failure sublime? More importantly, what does our seemingly insatiable appetite say about our aesthetic impulses? In setting out to answer these questions, O’Connell uncovers the historical context for our affinity for terrible art, tracing it back to Shakespeare and discovering the early 20th-century novelist who was dinner-party fodder for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Read on for the first chapter of The Millions‘ first ebook original, Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever.