Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wall Street Journal Response (Or how to write an attention getting article)

(This post is in response to: Darkness Too Visible, a WSJ post at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357622592697038.html?mod=WSJ_Books_LS_Books_6 )

It seems like every few months, someone in the media takes the good old fashioned formula for attention grabbing and recycles it. Have you figured out what that formula is, over the past few years? Let me help you with that:
Pick a popular past time of kids--usually videogames, TV, or movies
Pick something to bitch about--usually profanity, violence, or sexuality
Bitch about how dangerous and inappropriate these things are for children and blame it all on the publishers, producers, or creators
Does that sound familiar to you? Because it sounds familiar to me, although I might give points for originality to the writer of the newest YA fiction review on the Wall Street Journal. Most media corporations try to push reading, but I guess everything has to be done once, yeah?

So this new article can be summed up in the above formula. The fill in the blanks, in this case, are young adult fiction and violence, profanity, AND sexuality. And, big surprise, the article targets writers and publishers at being at fault for YA fiction with "Darkness too visible" to the readers.

See, these sort of formula articles tend to make me laugh, because every time someone in the industry is being blamed for providing material that isn't inappropriate for children, which is complete and utter bullshit.

You won't find anything in a YA book that is so inappropriate you won't find it in music, movies, TV, or, hell, the hallways of your precious children's school. Anyone who tells you that your child is going to be corrupted or harmed by reading YA books is looking for a new controversy. That's it.

I've been reading since I was 8. I read Sherrilyn Kenyon's Acheron, a very not YA book about the sexual and physical abuse of a man from childhood until adulthood, including prostitution, incest, rape, and any number of other gruesome and dark topics, when I was fifteen. Before that I read the rest of her Dark-Hunter series since I was ten. I've thrived on dark fiction of all age groups for years. And you know what? It hasn't done a damn thing to me. I'm a reader, a writer, a straight A student. I'm going to college, I had a job, I graduate in less than 2 weeks from high school, I'm not pregnant. I don't cut myself. I haven't attempted suicide. I'm not violent. I'm open minded, something the writer of the article apparently can't say, and I'm responsible. I have my own book blog. And I'm certainly not the only perfectly normal person who broke their teeth on this so called overly dark YA fiction.

But hey, if you are a parent or adult who thinks that children need to be kept away from dark young adult fiction, then fine. Good for you. You're entitled to your own opinions, and to raise your children the way you want. You want your child in a plastic bubble, sheltered from the real world, then do it. But don't blame the publishers because your child is reading something that's a little too dark for your tastes. Instead, why not take some damn responsibility and monitor what your child reads yourself, instead of pushing the blame on someone else?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. It is quite funny when the NYT and Wall Street make articles about too much sexuality and violence in YA books. Why don't they start with moviesif we'respeaking violence? But i must say, there are different cattegories of YA. YA is a broad variety of ages: from 10 to18. And 10 and 18 are very different ages.
    I've recently read Stieg Larsson's "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and i loved it. But if i read this book the first time i laid eyes on it, at the age of 10, well, i don't know how that would've ended. Probably would have freaked me out of my mind.

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