He's absolutely right in many regards.
Snobbery is rife in the writing world. You would not believe the number of "literary" writers who willingly and furiously turn up their noses at genre writing. Any genre writing. And plenty of writers in genre turn their noses at genres other than their own (some science fiction writers turn their noses at fantasy, and many writers of other genres turn their noses at romance (I, ashamedly, used to be one of those)). The most common reason for this snobbery is, frankly, the mistaken belief that one's own genre alone is best for examining the human condition.
Look, I get it. People want to be important. So they try and trump (heh, not a deliberate word choice, but strangely apt) up their own importance by dragging other things down and pretending they're less important. But that not how it works. That's not how any of this works.
Your genre, literally or otherwise, is not more important than any other genre. Your particular tone in your writing is not more important than any other tone. A dark book is not better than a light read. It's just different, so shove your judgement, please and thank you.
Honestly, everyone needs to get over themselves.
That also means that fun, light reads—fluffy stuff—doesn't get a pass just because it's light and fun. If the writing is bad, the writing is bad. The tone doesn't matter. Eric used the example of Ready Player One, which was covered by our video podcast Nights at the Round Table. Two of the panellists really liked it. I... did not. You can read my review of the book here if you're really that interested in what I thought of it.
Eric's complaint is that terrible story and lazy writing got a pass because the book was considered unimportant fun fluff. Fluff, for him (and many others) is an insult.
I can totally see why, if you're constantly lumped in with objectively terrible books like Ready Player One. Or if you're continually dismissed by other writers, even in your own genre, because they somehow think that the tone somehow devalues the work.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, guys. Stop doing that. You're not right. You're just obnoxious.
Look,just because a book uses familiar tropes and is a light, fun romp, doesn't mean that it doesn't tackle really important issues, or explore what it means to be human any less that something dark and dour. As a general rule, I like my books dark, and heavy, and complicated. But my personal reading preference is not a case for superiority. It just means that I'm not-so-secretly an emo kid revelling in torment (from the safety of my blankets where I can put the book down if it all gets too much).
Fun adventure books that are not challenging reads can and do still explore really serious issues. No young adult book is difficult to read, but damned if many of them don't tackle really fucking serious issues. Even the funny ones. Even the silly ones.
Just because a book doesn't have a death every second page doesn't mean it's not great writing or doesn't have something really important to say. Most of them do. Some of them, genuinely, don't. They're pure escapes, and don't particularly care to make a commentary on the human condition. And that's okay too. So long as they don't let their writing, story, or characters suffer because of it.
Bad writing is just bad, no matter the genre or tone.
By the same token, just because you feel like a book doesn't have anything important to say doesn't mean it should get off scot-free for terrible writing or harmful characterisations. And, I would argue (given the number of articles that sound off about these issues in media), that they aren't.
I don't consider fluffy to be a pejorative in writing, though I do know that many people do. All I mean is that it's a fun romp with a light tone. But some people, for some reason, think it means terrible or boring writing without much to say. Those people are twits.
Does that mean you should feel ashamed for really enjoying a book that is, if you think about it at all, pretty bad? No. Of course not. If you loved Ready Player One that's more than alright.
It's like video games. God of War is a game filled with awful things including terrible representations of both masculinity and femininity. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy slashing my way through hoards of enemies with plumes of pixelated blood going everywhere. It's fun.
You can enjoy the bad stuff.
Who am I to judge?
But one genre is not better than another. One tone is not better than another. Let's all just get over ourselves, m'kay?