Chad Kultgen, author of The Average American Marriage, talks porn, squirrels and civil rights
That's a little bit scary, don't you think?
I don't see it that way. Not at all. I'm a big fan of change and I like to get to the end result as soon as possible. For me it's completely fruitless to try and stop social or technological change and it seems like in this country we try and do it at every turn. Take gay marriage for example. That's not right! It's just ridiculous that gay marriage is even something we're discussing right now. In a hundred years people will look back and say, we were ridiculous, we were so stupid for even having the debate. This is obviously the civil rights movement of this generation. It's just the nature of people not wanting change. It's simply not correct. It never has been and it never will be.
Switching gears, do you think you'd be where you're at right now if you hadn't launched those marketing videos on YouTube?
I don't know man. Those videos are an interesting thing and I think they worked. My first book is still my best-selling book. I think it sold over 100,000 copies or something, which in terms of publishing is successful, I think. But it's hard to say. I remember when those videos came out they got a million views pretty quickly. In certain ways I think they got enough attention that it spurred somebody to check out the book, which is always good. But I really don't know how much of the success of my first book those videos played a direct role in.
How would you describe your fan base?
I'm not really sure. It's varied. It's varied between gender. It's varied with age. I get a fair amount of Facebook messages that are surface-level comments about how much they like the crass nature of my humor and my unabashedly male point of view. And then I get a fair amount of people that are getting things from the book that are much more than that. They get the metaphors and the bigger idea of what I'm trying to say about society in some of these books. Then some of them say they never read books but read all my books, which is kind of cool. It's pretty varied, I'd say.
Do you receive a lot of backlash from women?
I certainly get my fair share of Facebook messages that tell me to never write a book again or wish I'd burn in hell -- things of that nature, which I'm happy to receive, by the way. I like getting those almost as much as I like getting the complimentary messages. But to each their own. If you are exposed to some piece of media or event and you have a strong reaction to it and feel the need to voice that opinion to the person who created it, I'd say go for it. That's all part of expression. It's all part of art existing in the world and evoking reactions. So I have no problem with anyone wanting me dead or wishing me to burn in Hell.
Has the vitriol you've received from women in the past had an effect on the way you're currently approaching your writing?
No, and I wouldn't say I'm criticized only by women, either. It's equal. I get a decent amount of Facebook messages from guys saying, "You think this is what the average guy is like?!? Well I'm nothing like this! I like to drink white wine and read on the beach!" But to answer the bigger question -- does criticism affect the way I write things? -- absolutely not. At least not in books, at any rate.
In a New York Times interview you suggested your college experience was "abnormal." What did you mean by that?
Well, I had a long-distance girlfriend. I went to college at USC and had a long-distance girlfriend back in Dallas for all four years. My parents would fly her out to see me or I'd go back to visit her every three or four weeks. I'd spend a long weekend with her. It would just be sex, basically. It was a strange thing. For those other three weeks I could really focus on whatever I was doing in college or hang out with my friends, but I never chased chicks, which I think is a super weird college experience. I don't know if I regret it, necessarily, but the way I had it was just a very weird experience. For three weeks I would be horny as hell and then for four days it would be nonstop sex. It was interesting in terms of that, but the rest of my college experience was as normal as going to film school can be. I just got drunk and made stupid movies with my friends.
In general, what was your life like growing up?
About as normal as you can get for American suburbia. I grew up in a really small town in the middle of Kansas, then when I was in about sixth grade I moved to a suburb of Dallas which is where I spent junior high and high school. So it was that suburban sprawl with strip malls everywhere and all the buildings were very new. That was kind of the impression I got of what the whole world was like. But I played baseball and football. I made good grades. I had a girlfriend. All the normal things that normal suburban kids do, I think. Nothing crazy ever happened to me. I never went to jail. I never did drugs. None of that kind of stuff.