It’s a volcano of money that publishers and the estate almost certainly expected when they first announced the decision. If there is a lesson easily drawn from American culture wars, there are few ways to make a quick mountain of money as dependable as starting a culture war. With the announcement that the six books will be dropped, at least for the time being, Dr. Seuss Enterprises ran a run of Seuss books that quickly quadrupled sales, with almost every spot on the Amazon top 20 bestseller list going to a Dr. Seuss book.
And no, we are not talking about the actual books that are being taken off sale! People instead bought up famous classics like The Cat in the Hat because everyone wants these books. There aren’t nearly that many people asking for The Cat’s Quizzer, and unless you’re at least five decades old, you may never have seen a copy of McElligot’s Pool.
You can draw any lesson from this that you want to take because there are no more universal truths and anyone can now easily decide that reality is what their personal belief system most desires. The interpretations here include:
• Because Dr. Seuss was in the news, for the first time in ages many people remembered seeing this or that Dr. Seuss book and were stimulated to act. Maybe because they have very bored pandemic stay-home children, or because they got very bored when it comes to pandemic stay-home children.
• Because fascist right-wing propaganda grabbed the reluctant announcement of some dropped books to instead report that DR. SEUSS IS CANCELED, OH MY GOD, THE CAT IN THE HAT IS KILLED WHILE WE TALK GOODBYE GREEN EGGS bulbs on their TV screens .
• It was all planned from the start, a smart backroom deal between the Seuss family and far-right conspirators to create panic and put everyone’s money in their pockets. This is vanishingly unlikely, but only because Mike Huckabee would have been involved and somehow tainted the whole thing by now. Conservative law is to suck money off suction cups, but the usual plan is to offer pills that do nothing, protein powders that do less, or huge buckets of post-apocalypse survival food of indeterminate origin. It’s hard to imagine anyone on this team would want to work together to provide non-Reagan-centered reading materials to children.
In any case, things got very goofy very quickly, with the usual suspects jumping into the usual positions of maximum indignation and Ben Carson giving us nightmare fuel one last time before wandering off into the dark. But you don’t have to worry about Dr. Seuss’ family, his estate or his publishers. They come out of the week with a lot more money than they went in.
And if the Conservatives continue to insist that those six books were indeed the most popular of them all, the property can work out the objectionable parts (it was made before and is being made again) and publish new editions on which the distant-right becomes outraged again be because the racist parts were the only part of the books they were interested in and buy them by the thousands for some good old-fashioned book burns. I’m telling you this thing is a money cow. It is milked.