Monday, May 10, 2010

You Will Buy This...

It's gotten to the point where people who have never read a single piece of young adult literature snicker at the fact that the genre is now the "vampire" section of the bookstore and has been for years now. What they don't know is that it's also the section of handbooks to train girls into mindless, bitter, shopping dolls so that they grow up to be the kind of women adored on Real Housewives. These guides are disguised as fiction. They hide behind the "these are teens and it's fun" mantra, or the rather poor excuse that "this is how teens really are" as if teenagers can be withered down to the lowest common denominator.

What really bugs me about this type of book is that it's the kind that seems favored on a lot of the book review blogs that focus on young adult books. It should be noted that most of these blogs are run and reviewed by adults who read YA, not by teens themselves. So it begs the question, why are you recommending this trifle crap to teenagers? There are so many good and worthy YA books out there that deal with romance in a mature way and not like the plot of some bitchy movie. Of course, marketing departments have cleverly skewed these books as some sort of female empowerment, but is it really? I can't imagine the new goal of feminism is for a girl to grow up and be like someone off the set of The Hills or Sex in the City?

So why then do we have these trends that always seem to swallow up a genre? Easy money. People buy them and companies strive to give the people what they want. But when marketing is geared to children or teenagers, can that mantra really be a guiding principal? All you need to do is look at junk food advertising over the past fifteen years and see what it has done to the overweight generation.

I'm not suggesting there isn't a place for these books. Escapist fun is a relevant genre to be sure. And vampires have always been a popular subject, one I also enjoyed when I was young (Lost Boys RULES). But it would be nice if the flood of publishing into trends could at least, at the very least, have some redeeming quality as written pieces of fiction. Don't publish a book because it's about vampires and vampires are popular...publishing it because it's a good story.

American publishers are aiming their products at the mental equivalent of the armpit...Perhaps these publishers secretly admire their ruthless philistinism, their mastery of the ugliest sales conference jargon, the lack of the faintest glimmer of literate sensibility. Sales are what counts...
-J.G. Ballard

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