11 votes

Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books

4 comments

  1. BuckeyeSundae
    Link
    In case it needs to be said: It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to make a death threat toward anyone else, for any reason. At scale, someone is likely to engage in this behavior because they...

    In case it needs to be said: It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to make a death threat toward anyone else, for any reason. At scale, someone is likely to engage in this behavior because they believe the mob gives them cover for their despicable actions. Assholes should never be defended, especially for the harm they cause.

    I am sympathetic to something that this article quotes from Mary Watson:

    “I think there have been many careless and even damaging representations of people of colour in books,” she says, “and as a reader I’ve experienced it throughout my life. Sometimes it’s just eye-rolling, sometimes it makes you want to shut the book in exasperation, so I understand that there’s a lot of anger about how people are represented. I absolutely get that. But the way that things have played out this year doesn’t sit comfortably for me … I absolutely agree that sloppy representation should be spoken out against, but I think this should happen in ways that encourage constructive dialogue rather than cancellation.”

    Unfortunately, with things at scale on social media, there will be trolls that want to latch onto extreme positions just get a rise out of people. There will also be people who actually believe those extreme things. I think it's entirely possible for someone to respectfully write a character that comes from a different background than they, the author, comes from. That fact alone should never be the basis for canceling a book. That's counterproductive and the people encouraging that cancellation should do some introspection about what their actual goals are when it comes to increasing diversity of characters in these media.

    People are complex and nuanced. No one likes to be stereotyped. No one likes to see the only person who looks like them in a series represent the stereotypes that they hear on a regular basis from disgusting strangers. I think that frustration is valid and justified. Criticizing a book for a questionable representation of people who look like you can be totally fair. The details will matter in those criticisms.

    Young Adult as a genre hasn't really interested me since I was a young adult, but a friend of mine has been tracking Ellen Oh's response to that backlash closely and sadly. I feel bad for her. I can't imagine the backlash was proportional or comfortable. So often these controversies feel like the entire world is against you when you're on the receiving end. It can be really tough to manage in a healthy, constructive way and keep your head on your shoulders. Sometimes I think if Twitter were shut down tomorrow, little of value would be lost. But there was still a kernel of hurt coming out of it from people who felt like their families' stories were being unfairly played with. That seems fair to point out, even if the manner and proportion the response took wasn't particularly helpful.

    8 votes
  2. [3]
    skullkid2424
    Link
    While Harry Potter is the biggest YA series, it definitely wasn't the origin. So many great YA series come before it...anyways... I wonder how much social media is responsible for both the...

    The YA category is still a teenager itself, with origins in the Harry Potter years at the beginning of the century.

    While Harry Potter is the biggest YA series, it definitely wasn't the origin. So many great YA series come before it...anyways...

    I wonder how much social media is responsible for both the progress and awfulness of things like this. The increased communication leads to a wider audience having a say and more viewpoints being present. But it also allows for psuedo-anonymous communication without consequences along with the viral spreading of outrage (even among those that don't read the book in question). Is there any way to separate out the teaching and learning from the mobs and death threats? Is it a platform/technology thing? Or is any platform at that scale going to be problematic?

    4 votes
    1. nacho
      Link Parent
      There are simply more young adults around as it is today. Works like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew or even the Famous Five books (which could also be argued to be more children's books) have sold...

      While Harry Potter is the biggest YA series, it definitely wasn't the origin. So many great YA series come before it...anyways...

      There are simply more young adults around as it is today. Works like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew or even the Famous Five books (which could also be argued to be more children's books) have sold tremendous amounts. They were just as determining, or even moreso, than the culture-dominating works of today. Reading was a larger activity then than it is now for young adults who spend a lot more time behind screens.

      Apparently the Famous Five series still sells between one and two million copies a year, with a total of well beyond 100 million books sold.


      It's easy to forget the past due to the recent future.

      4 votes
    2. ThisIsMyTildesLogin
      Link Parent
      Most of the rage comes from Twitter and Goodreads; so without these two toxic hubs of hate, YA writers would have it a lot easier. Personally, if I ever felt like trying my hand at YA fiction, I...

      I wonder how much social media is responsible for both the progress and awfulness of things like this.

      Most of the rage comes from Twitter and Goodreads; so without these two toxic hubs of hate, YA writers would have it a lot easier. Personally, if I ever felt like trying my hand at YA fiction, I would delete my social media accounts, and write under a pseudonym.

      2 votes