Rod Serling, Famous Writer
Molly Finnegan, in The Atlantic (October 12, 2006), looked back at Jessica Mitford's controversial Atlantic article, "Let Us Now Appraise Famous Writers" (July, 1970):
Jessica “Decca” Mitford… was a refugee of the British aristocracy. She chose a different path from most of her high society sisters—a life of radical activism, cultural exploration, and the not-terribly-glamorous profession of muckraking. As a newcomer to the United States, Mitford’s invaluable outside perspective enabled her to make incisive observations about the country, and she homed right in on America’s penchant for turning nearly everything into a commodity...
In another famous Atlantic piece
, Mitford confronted the phony faculty of the Famous Writers School, a correspondence-course racket that promised fame and literary success to aspiring writers. Upon interviewing the 15 figureheads who appeared on the school’s marketing materials—writers of genuine literary accomplishment and renown who had allowed their names and images to be appropriated—she found that none were willing to take responsibility either for the quality of the instruction or for the deceptive advertising practices. Some incredulously insisted that the advertising wasn’t predatory because most people couldn’t be naïve enough to have fallen for it. Another frankly conceded that the program was pointless because, he said, “‘Of course, somebody with a real gift for writing wouldn’t have to be taught to write.’”
At the end of the piece, she imagined how the school might grade her article:I can visualize the helpful comment on my paper: "Good work, Miss Mitford. The Oakland widow's problem was well thought through. But characterization is weak. You could have made your script more believable had you chosen a group of shiftyeyed hucksters out to make a buck, one step ahead of the sheriff, instead of these 15 eminently successful and solidly respectable writers, who are well liked and admired by the American viewing public. For pointers on how to make your characters come to life in a way we can all identify with, I suggest you study Rod Serling's script The Twilight Zone in the kit you received from us. Your grade is D-. It has been a pleasure working with you. Good luck!"