Feb 12 2008
moar funny pictures
There’s a couple of things that I wanted to blog about this morning. First off is the irritating number of press articles about romance as we lead up to Valentine’s Day. This is frustrating for me because we don’t read romances for the “romance”, do we? We read it for the excitement, the conflict, the emotionally satisfying ending. Since when does Valentine’s Day guarantee a happy ever after ending?
I think what sticks in my craw is that the only time that romance novels seems to penetrate (how’s that for a pun) the mainstream media is to a) say how oppressive they are or b) to say how fluffy and silly they are. The articles are generally written by those who have little to no experience with the topic and the tone of the articles are often mocking. This year’s Valentine’s Day articles have taken no different of a tack. The focus this year is that it’s all about super graphic sex. It’s like a revelation to some reporters. Girls like sex too. Who knew?
- Reuters takes on the sex, sex, sex but contains a quote from Bindel which she gave in the Guardian article. Unfortunately, Reuters calls her Birchel? WTF, Reuters? You are so lazy that you get your quotes from an old news piece and then can’t get the attribution correctly? Use the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V combo on your computer. It works like magic.
- Mills and Boons debuts new price point, covers and titles to India audience.
- National Post cites unnamed pop culture experts as saying that the lust for graphic sex is based on “a cultural desensitization; young readers are more blase and have a morbid fascination with vulgarity, having been brought up on music videos and the Internet.”
- Christianity Today put out an article about how to overcome your addiction to romances. It begins with the realization that romance novels fulfill a lack of intimacy in one’s life. Recognize and own it, ladies, and you too can kick that bad novel habit.
- Yet to come is the infamous Washington Post article about the bedrooms of romance writers.
Now that your blood pressure is going up, there were some decent articles out there:
- Sacramento Bee interviews Celeste Bradley who offers up the quotable bon mot: “Romances are stories of self-realization and the search for fulfilling relationships. Women cannot get enough relationship stories.”
- Times Online sits down with Mills & Boons’ lone male author, Gill Sanderson. “It’s about love: an absolutely universal emotion. Everyone – well, 95% – has experienced it. I think when people read a Mills & Boon they remember what it was like when they first fell in love.”
- Independent in Ireland talks to Irish author, Trish Wylie, who states that her biggest pet peeve is “how Mills & Boon is portrayed in the press, is that people will quote things from the 60s and 70s, but that’s not how things are now.“
- NYTimes columnist, Charles McGrath, writes that literary divide between genre fiction and literary fiction is new and unnecessary.
What we look for in genre writing, Mr. Updike suggested, is exactly what the critics sometimes complain about; the predictableness of a formula successfully executed. We know exactly what we’re going to get, and that’s a seductive part of the appeal. It’s why we can read genre books so quickly and in such quantity, and happily come back for more of the same by the very same author. Such books are reassuring in a way that some other novels are not.
Does that make them lesser, or just different? Probably both on occasion. But it doesn’t necessarily make them easier or less worthwhile to write.
In some weird synchronicity, today I received a fancy, colorful, very expensive mailing from Harlequin. No, it was not books, it was it’s annual study on romance which Harlequin ships out to media wanks everywhere to further emphasize how romance is all about sex and superficiality. I’m learning to love Harlequin and believe that it is a large and important part of the romance community. But I cannot stand these annual mailings. I really think that these “studies” and the lavish amount of money spent on polling and whatever could be better used to promote romance books in a completely different way.
I wish the publishing juggernaut of Harlequin would take its power and money and make efforts to have romance better received because it can be done. When the one thing that mainstream media receives in mailings or press reports is this annual report and not about its contributions to literacy or the smartness of its readership or the broad reach of its demographic, it simply contributes to the idea that romance books are brainless books for brainless bimbos and perpetuates the stereotypes that those outside the romance community have.
Note: I was going to blog about ethics today but am awaiting some source material which I hope to have this week.