Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Yes, Perhaps I'm Overthinking This

Usually I try to stay home on Mondays so that after I'm through with my ritual time-wasting, I'll have a little more time to write. Yesterday, however, I had to go run an errand. Just before I left the house, I decided to hit the library to see if by some stroke of luck I'd find Breaking Dawn just sitting on the new book shelf. Hey, it wasn't just a fantasy. It happened to me with one of the Harry Potter books.

Well, sure enough, there it was. So I've got it before all the teen girls in town (except for the one who, the librarian told me, had reserved the second copy).

Okay, so here's my thought after reading maybe a quarter of the book--Forget about the vampires, the Twilight series deals specifically with traditional (or stereotypical, depending on how you look at it) women's issues. It's very retro, meaning it deals with women's issues from a time when the mainstream didn't understand that everything--science, economics, religion, war, peace, the fate of nations, the fate of mankind--was a woman's issue. Our heroine is totally focused on love/mating. The female vampires are all about beauty, fashion, and the home. None of them hold jobs. (Though, in all honesty, only one male vampire has enough interest in life to go out and work.) All of the female vampires are coupled up with a male. So far in this fourth book, everything is built upon a traditional women's issue that hadn't come up before.

Now, I think that when a book becomes wildly, wildly popular, the reading public is interested in the content more than the quality of the writing. There's something in the story that means so much to readers that any failings in the quality of the writing just don't matter. For instance, readers wanted a story in which Christ got to have a family and become a father, with descendants who walk among us today. (The DaVinci Code) Readers wanted a story in which a put-upon child becomes a magical, heroic figure. (Harry P.) And, right now, female readers want these stories that are throwbacks to an earlier time when women were considered to be weak and frail and needing to be cared for by men.

Why? Why, why, why?


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