|Women in novels:|
How I see them.
However, these are some books that hit it really fricking big in the last few years, and that still confound friends of mine with their popularity, and even with their very existence. This might count as a rant, but, damn it, some of these things are stupid. And wrong.
Now, keep in mind, I haven't read any of these books, but I've been told about them, researched them a little, and every stupid little thing I've seen has amounted to one great big question: Who the Hell is reading these books and why?
If you remember the "Strong Female Character" blog, you can see this as a bit of a sequel. We've gone from fully fleshed out, well-developed, kick-ass women .... to this. Books that treat women like crap, and they're made into bestsellers.... by women!
Twilight .... Where do you start with Twilight? Maybe over at RM Hendershot's blog, where she discusses how the main characters have little to no personality, and there's almost no plot at all.
Maybe with my friend Annie (wife of my co-author from Codename: Winterborn) noting that "Vampires are going crazy over blood from a paper cut. why aren't they going insane every time the heroine has her period? Have we forgotten that teenage girls have periods?" Or, another of her sayings, "Vampires don't sparkle! They immolate!"
Another quarter is an online fellow named "The Nostalgia Critic" on YouTube, who sums up Bella Swan like this .... (WARNING: R-rated language ahead.)
I think Twilight was summed up for me in a matter of minutes when I tripped over the movie played on cable. Two characters were in a diner, and the vampire explained to our hapless nimrod (named "Bella") that he could read the mind of every person in the diner except for her.
Bella: "What's wrong with me?"
Vampire: "I tell you I can read minds, and you ask what's wrong with you."
That's it. Twilight, summed up by its own content.
Then I'm told, "Oh, but the writing, it's sooooo good. There was this really well done rape scene that was a chapter long and --"
Wait? A what? Who writes a rape scene for a whole chapter? Is it just me, or it that a form of sadism on the part of the writer, and masochism on the part of the reader who puts up with it?
If you're not exactly following my line of thought on this, well, let me elaborate. I don't care how "well done" a rape scene is written, RAPE IS NOT A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT. EVER, IN ANY CONTEXT.
Mayhaps I should back up a bit? I have, in my life "collected" rape victims -- meaning that I have encountered people who have informed me with stories of being raped. Notice I said "people," there are two guys in this list. This list is at ten people. Imagine that, would you? Listening to the guy who was assaulted with a broom handle, the girl who was kidnapped on California by an online associate, the one who was gang raped, the two who were date-raped, or the three who were molested by relatives...
I don't care how well the story's told. I'm not going to find rape and underground sex clubs entertaining.
50 Shades of Grey -- While I have no read this one, I have heard audio clips of people reading from it. The point of the audio clips is to show exactly how bad the book is written.
Premise: a bored housewife signs a contract to enter into a dominant-submissive relationship with a billionaire. There is sex..... The end.
The truly bewildering part of this is the audience for 50SoG -- women. There's a reason this is referred to as "mommy porn." So, in 100 years, we've gone from Equal Pay for Equal Work to "tie me down, spank me, treat me like a slave"?
Really? Really? How about no. Just no.
Now, before you ask, no, I'm not necessarily against all sex in novels ... just make sure sex is used in a context where it adds to the story. However, when sex is the story .... why bother buying it? It's called porn, and easily accessible online...
No, I'm sorry, it's called "erotica," also easily available online. Don't believe me? Even I can find some websites that can cater to every taste on the planet, from romance to bondage, to fantasies over your favorite celebrities, and some of them STILL have better characterization and plot than this lousy novel.
It's porn. And on top of that, it's lousy porn. "Good" porn you can at least laught at. Hell, nowadays, porn parodies have as much content as the source material. 50 Shades is just awful.
And yet, in print on demand publishing (pre-"brick and mortar publisher"), this book sold a quarter of a million copies. For those of you who prefer numerals, that's 250,000 books sold, with at least a million dollars of profit. Shoot. Me. Now.
I think the last word on the subject came from a story told by an agent acquaintance of mine on Facebook. Usually referring to it as "Fifty shades of poop," one of the authors she represents is quoted as saying "I could eat alphabet soup and defecate a better novel."
And yet, at the end of the day, we've got sites like the NewStatesman whining about how female characters like Buffy aren't really developed characters, they're merely "strong."
Well here's the other end of the spectrum. And between a one-dimensional character like Bella Swan, or books like 50Shades, I'll take a two dimensional Xena, or a comic book Black Widow any day of the week.