Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The blogger doth protest too much

In the last couple of months, I can think of at least four articles/posts that came out on the Internet and criticized some aspect of young adult novels. Unsurprisingly, these posts stirred up quite a flurry of responses, some more so than others. If you're not up on your latest Internet kerfuffles, here's a handy rundown:

"Darkness Too Visible" in The Wall Street Journal, discussing the dark and disturbing nature of YA. It references Leaguer Jackie Kessler, who wrote a wonderful response.

"Writing Young-Adult Fiction" on slate.com, which riled up readers and writers alike for painting YA as a simplistic genre.

Some Teen Books Surprisingly X-Rated, Study Finds from LiveScience.com and distributed via Yahoo and Fox News websites. Leaguer Jeanne Stein's books (which aren't YA) were originally cited and later changed to PC & Kristin Cast's series on LiveScience's site. Other news sites still mention Jeanne.

"7th Harry Potter Movie Hastens Diabolic Trend Among Teens" from Christian News Wire, with a nod to Leaguer Diana Rowland (who also doesn't write YA) for glamorizing demonic possession.

I feel some of these sources are questionable when it comes to bias and credibility, but I'll leave it to you to make your own judgments on that. Here are the things that amaze me. First is that my League buddies keep getting "shout-outs" in this subject matter. Regardless if you agree with WSJ, Jackie at least makes sense being cited as a dark YA writer. Jeanne and Diana, however, baffle me because they're mentioned in articles that are focused on YA, not adult, books. This makes me wonder if the article writers were really that careless or if they couldn't find good enough examples of illicit material in actual YA books. Believe me, I think there's plenty of material out there in YA that would shock people (that's what makes YA so awesome), but sometimes I wonder if these articles are really, truly about YA itself.

Because here's the thing. I'm not challenging these articles' various conclusions. I'm questioning their motives. When I watch video clips on Tosh.0, particularly ones depicting groin injuries, I'm always informing my TV that those videos were staged just so those people could get on the show. Likewise, I had a college friend who was obsessed with "voyeur porn" and owned all these pictures he claimed were taken of naked women unawares. I never examined his collection, but I didn't buy his story that they'd all come from photographers lucky enough to pass an oblivious sorority girl's window. I was certain they'd all been set-ups with models, then sold to gullible men. I'm a skeptic. I don't buy that the drama we're often shown is really the real deal.

So let's get back to the YA thing. I heard a blogger say recently that while she doesn't enjoy slamming authors or publishers, she knows that if she posts anything really controversial and scathing, her site and her ads will get hit like crazy. And some days, I wonder if this attitude is being taken to an extreme level by those who post these YA-slamming articles. It's no secret that YA is a hot genre now. It's crossed age lines, and many books are household names. So, if you write something sensational that gets people all riled up, you will get traffic. And no publicity is bad publicity, right? I mean, I've just furthered this point by posting the above four articles.

So what do you think? Is YA bashing a cool new way to draw attention to you/your website? Or are these writers completely serious about their messages?

8 comments:

Roxanne Skelly said...

I'm guessing if they really wanted to do serious journalism, they'd, well, they'd do journalism. Research, fact checking and so on.

Nah, when you're searching the google 'most searched' keywords for blogs, and write blog posts that fall under those keywords, you're just trying to up your page hit count.

The big question is what's next, and how can I cash in on it. Gothic/metal music, violent video games, and now dark YA have been done. I'm guessing It'll be social games.

Farmville Causes Promiscuity in Pre-Teens!

Amanda Bonilla said...

I agree that there's a certain amout of bias out there. Sensationalism seems to be a plauge and I wish it would just go away. Bashing the opposing viewpoint seems to have taken the place of open, honest debate. *sigh*

Mario said...

This sensationalism is muck-racking for the sake of pandering to a specific audience and getting attention. Maybe we Leaguers out to go with the flow and invent controversy of our own? Also, I resent the slam against voyeur porn. BTW, I want my collection back. I think you should be done with your *research*

Richelle Mead said...

Oh, Mario. I keep telling you that stuff's faked. Why won't you believe me?

Sharon said...

People have been bashing YA stuff since the beginning of time. The music, books, clothes, food (I have no proof of this one, but I am sure someone has done it )

Vickie said...

I do think that certain arenas honestly believe in the mud they fling. I work with a guy who is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am going to Hell for the movies I watch and the books I read. Supernatural, UF, paranormal, Harry Potter, what have you...it is a slippery slope I am on apparently.

Others enjoy the uproar they cause when they pick a shout out to obtain attention.

And some people are just poop-craniums...

blueyedirishgrl said...

Every time I see articles such as these mentioned in your blog, I get angry. There is little in life that offends me or angers me; I live by the motto "don't sweat the small stuff & it's all small stuff", but these types of articles offend me at the deepest level. They make me want to climb on top of my desk and yell to all who will hear about what idiots these people are. I want to write long letters to the authors of such articles and tell them what idiots they truly are. And once that anger burns off, I am left saddened by said idiots who write that garbage trashing such gifted & talented writers who have given us such treasures.

Annika said...

I think it's a bit of both, I'm sure some want the attention but I also think that in many cases it's about fanning the fire of their particular brand of righteousness. Often articles of this kind are aimed at people who don't really know anything about whatever subject the article is dealing with and don't want to know either, they just want to be horrified by it. In this case the supposed depravity of it all (Oh my..look at what our teens are reading!! Surely they will all become promiscuous devil worshippers!) They don't want the facts, they don't want the discussion, they simply want the drama and to reaffirm their own beliefs and code of morals.

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells

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