I'll come up with something in a minute.

The Rise of Women’s (trash) Literature.

I’ve been noticing that a lot of the criticism of Fifty Shades of Grey falls into the same bullshit that Twilight criticism falls into. It’s so badly written, it’s got an unhealthy relationship at its core, it’s going to teach girls bad lessons.

It’s that last part that always irks me. So many complaints basically lay the idea that Twilight will teach girls to be submissive little Mormans. Like females are unable to read a book without the ideas in that book invading their fluffy little heads. I read James Bond and didn’t turn into a racists, misogynistic, homophobic hired killer. I read Batman and didn’t turn into a member of the 1% beating up on the lowest and most desperate members of society. I read Spider-Man and I don’t wear spandex and didn’t become a photojournalist. I’m pretty sure girls can read a fantasy romance and not turn into the pet of some vampire. I find it condescending, misogynistic and insulting to the women I know to suggest otherwise.

Syd read them, she kept her independence in tact. My friend J read them, she’s relatively normal. I’ve got a buddy, D we’ll call her. Her son is autistic, her daughter is on the cusp of her teen years, she’s raising them both alone because her husband left her after being a completely selfish dick for years. She’s not stupid, or weak, or particularly dependant on any men that I’ve ever seen. She’s tough, smart, independent and she luuuuves her some Twilight. Actually, I think she likes some of the young men playing characters in the movies, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, all these women have recognized the fantasy element and got on with their day without being unduly swayed by the books’ stupidity. To suggest she might be otherwise is to insult her. Besides…

Women have been reading this stuff for decades.

Oh, yeah, didn’t you know about that? Yeah, see, if you want to complain that Twilight or 50 shades is stupid and badly written… you need to admit that either you know nothing about women’s fiction or admit that it’s 1961. Would you like me to make a Mad Men joke now or shall we wait to break those out? I pick 1961, because the oldest crappy romance book I’ve ever read was dated that date. Kind of squicky to be honest, a lot of “force her ‘til she likes it” kind of stuff. Of course, since even the Pern novels written around that time have some of that, it’s hard to differentiate.

Actually Harlequin Romances have been around since the 50s, and other crap like it has been around since before then. However, everything I’ve ever been told about the Twilight series has always lead me to the same sentence “Sounds like a Harlequin to me.” And every time I say that, the woman telling me about it has nodded and said “Oh yes, they’re just like one.” It’s not always old Harley, but enough times it works. Most your basic romance novels work this way. You’ve got the rich boy, the poor boy, and the girl who must choose between them. There are a few things that separate one company from another, like the quality of the sex and the level of commitment, but more or less… yeah. That’s what the books like that I’ve read where like. That’s just it, I get the idea that most these people have never read anything like this before.

Twilight it just a basic romance novel… Mit Vampires.

See, there used to be a place for these things. It was a little corner of shame, tucked back where no one but women went. No hard covers in this section, paperback only. You grabbed something with rose vines around the edges and cursive on the cover and you got the hell out. Most people who are complaining about this stuff though, have never read them. This ignorance of most people complaining about Twilight astounds me. Because I’ve read a couple Harlequin, and yeah, they were stupid and badly written. Thing is, I’ve read a lot of things that were badly written. A lot of the “boy’s fiction” I’ve read has also been stupid and badly written. Jack Higgins is not Shakespeare. Not in any respect. Come to think of it, neither is Dick, Chandler, Poe or Twain. Yeah, I went there! They were also once crappy popular authors, disregarded in their own times. And most of them aren’t Shakespeare because they weren’t trying to be.

They were trying to be entertaining and occasionally thought provoking. Mostly though, they were just trying to make a buck. When you read Azimov, for example, you forget that 90% of the stories that were published along side his were barely readable trash. I’ve gone through some Amazing Stories reprints, there is a lot of junk in there. That is the bane of the paperback reader. The pulp world is full of that, but the romances get dismissed more. Once in a while though, I’d read a pulp romance that actually was okay. While the Detective Novels started hitting hard cover, even the crappy pulp ones, the same never seems to have happened for the girls.

The romance novels, never got respectable, like the Sci-Fi or the Detective novels did.

Danielle Steel is still considered to be a trashy writer, despite selling more books than any other author alive! 500 million Danielle Steel books are out there, 150 million more than all the Harry Potter books put together! She’s the 4th highest selling author of all time! And Barbra Cartland, another romance novel is #3. Steel’s books actually do make it to hard cover at least, but it’s hardly been considered respectable for the mainstream reader to buy one of her books. You still had to go to the corner of shame if you wanted to read Steel. And for the most part, no critic, and certainly no male critic ever bothers to read any of these books. They’re for girls, and as such have never been worth reading. The same applies to Erotica. Most erotica has gone ignored by men, unless they were looking for the good bits.

But now, suddenly, something has changed. A shitty romance (mit vampires) is number one in the charts, with a crappy erotic novel at #2. They sell the hardcovers in boxed sets and stock hundreds of copies because they know they’ll need them. Why should that be? Maybe because someone is reading this stuff. And why does it offend so many people if it is? I mean, so some extent, who cares what people are reading? I know, I know, but honestly, what does it matter? Why all this constant harping and bitching and moaning. It’s not like anyone forced you to read them. However, to another extent, you’d better figure out why they’re so popular. Someone is working out why this works, someone is riding this train, someone is getting rich. Someone had better get a handle on this whole mit vampires thing, and soon. Most of all, you need to stop insulting it all the time.

Just dismissing it and insulting it only serves to alienate the people you claim you want to reach.

Insulting 50 Shades is boring, I’ve gotta tell you. And no one cares. The publishers don’t care what you think, they’re making money hand over fist. I don’t care, it has no effect on me but to make you another troll decrying something that someone actually enjoys, which makes you an asshole. The women reading it really don’t give half a fuck what you think. They like it, they’re gonna read it, and then they’re going to go to work the next day and not fuck the mail boy in the stock room, because adults don’t actually do that. They’ll get their fantasy kick, they’ll sigh a bit, and then they’ll read something else. Maybe, if you engage them in conversation, you might find out why they like it. If you’re really skillful, and not an asshole, you might even steer them towards a better book.

So let us review…
1, Shut up about Twilight. No one cares if you think it’s stupid.
2. Shut up about 50 Shades of Gray. No one cares if you think it’s stupid.
3. Have a little respect for the intelligence of the women around you. They actually do care if you think they’re stupid.

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July 19, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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