Friday, July 6, 2012

Blame it on the books


I'm not a huge fan of book banning. I think that we should be allowed to read anything we want to read, so long as we can accept that it's fiction and move on from the fact that we aren't going to have supernatural boyfriends or live forever. I'm lucky to live in a country where book banning only happens in school libraries and libraries in general. If I really, really want to read a book that's banned I can probably purchase it from a store or, I could definitely purchase it online. This rant however is not supposed to be about book banning, but the blame placed on books, especially those of the YA Fantasy kind.

I was watching the news one night and the presenter starts talking about an animal cruelty case. Some woman in her twenties had mutilated her pet rat and been found out about it. It was pretty gross what she did, but I thought it was an unusual story to put on the news. The presenter finishes by telling the TV audience that she was a 'Twilight' fan. Goodbye, end of story, progresses to next one. Now I'm not the biggest 'Twilight' fan myself, but I was pretty outraged by that comment. Was this guy seriously implying that 'Twilight' was to blame for the mutilation of a rat?

Some time later, there was a story on nine msn about a woman who had dressed up in a meat outfit like Lady Gaga's and smeared herself in cat blood, that came from her (now dead) house cat. The article again mentioned the woman's obsession with 'Twilight' and also mentioned that she was depressed. Now wouldn't you think the culprit here would be the depression (or maybe she had some other problem with her brain) or maybe even Lady Gaga's outfit inspiration? Maybe it was the rise in meat prices?

On one of the morning programs there was a feature about how American high school students were now biting each  other as a way of being romantic, the reporter mentions that this is probably due to the popularity of vampire romance novels, movies and TV, such as 'Twilight'. She didn't mention that the parents and teachers had failed to teach the students about the difference between real/make believe, what normal behaviour is or how diseases are transported from one person to another.

These three instances are just a few that I can remember from the past few years. I understand that to outsiders 'Twilight' might seem like a very violent, blood thirsty tale that could influence you to do horrible things, but you can't judge a book you haven't read. 'Twilight' is actually one of the tamest of the Vampire series I have read. The good vampires in the story only drink animal blood. The main attraction Edward actually believes that he has no soul because of what he is. And, Edward encourages Bella to wait until after marriage. Really, If I was a parent and wanted my teen to read a fantasy book with morals, I'd hand them a copy of Twilight.

I wonder what the big issue is with YA Fantasy. Books in the Adult Fiction section can be pretty horrific and nothing is stopping a teenager from reading one of those. I don't hear anybody blaming gory horror movies or loud death metal bands. Those weird people that mutilated their animals obviously had problems and could have chosen to be obsessed with any number of other things and probably still would have done the sick things they did.

Also, what happened to the line between reality and make-believe? Where are the parents and teachers in all of this? These people should have been taught that fiction is fictional and that you don't be mean to animals and that humans don't bite other humans. If parents are a bit worried about what their children are reading, maybe they should read the book first so that they can talk about what happens in the books with their child.

I think a lot of the blame that is put on YA Fiction causes book banning rather than weird behaviour and that maybe news reporter's ought to be looking somewhere other than the suspect's reading habits when they are looking for a closing line to their story. I don't want to blame all of this on the parents, because I know that some people are born with problems that parents just can't fix, But, some parents just don't seem to teach their children any morals.

I think in any case reading is a good thing for teenagers. I was taught that reading improved punctuation and spelling when I was writing. I think that even in Fantasy Books teenagers are able to learn about social issues and morals that are often sugar coated to seem like something else. Also, reading is fun. It allows people to have an imagination, but also to realise that there is a difference between what's real life and what's fictional.

What do you think about blaming books? Why do you think they chose to blame books and not something else?

Your Favourite Blogger,


Katja Weinert said...

"It allows people to have an imagination, but also to realise that there is a difference between what's real life and what's fictional."

I think that fantasy may often be blamed for people claiming to have been inspired to do stupid/terrible things. The thing is that some people simply have a different grasp of reality, and don't get me started on our propensity for stupidity*

I agree with you, those who do terrible things are likely to have underlying issues.

*Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

"Only two things are infinite..." Did you come up with this? It's awesome :)

Candace said...

Wow, that is CRAZY! I haven't heard things like that on the news, but I guess I'm not TOO surprised. It seems like those that haven't read Twilight and just think it's some vampire story that people have gone crazy over have some different ideas. But I'm with you about it being pretty tame. I mean, even my mom, who is a strict Lutheran read them and liked them (I'm still in shock).
I'm definitely against book banning and I think parents need to teach their kids morals and they have to right to discourage them from reading books they don't think are appropriate. However, there is SO much worse stuff on TV and are they regulating that and throwing fits about it? Usually not.

Anna said...

by the time you're reading young adult you should really be able to seperate fiction from reality. I do not expect to meet a vampire in biology class, and if i do meet a guy in bio i doubt he'd be keen to wait until after marriage to have sex.

i work in a bookshop and do LOT of recommendations for kids up to about 16 yrs old and some parents ideas about apropriate literature confuse me no end. Some aren't fussed at all, some are really concerned about it, but most have really conflicting ideas. they always ask about sexual content and relationship stuff for girls, but violence and serious themes don't seem to worry a lot of parents. i've sold the hunger games to kids who look about 9 max. They want to be reasured that the book is appropriate, but most don't know what they consider to be appropriate. It's also hard to explain to them the only way to decide what is appropriate is to read some of the books your child's reading and discuss it with them.
either way teenagers biting can't be blamed on stephanie mayer.