Monday, October 6, 2014

Musing Mondays #4 — How YA Books Can Affect Young Teens



Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme – hosted by Should Be Reading – that asks you to muse about one of the following each week...

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you're reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; why you are (or aren't) enjoying it.
Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let's hear it, then!
Do YA Books Affect Their Young Teen Readers?

Okay. So I've been pondering over this topic for a few years now, and I ended up ranting about it to my parents a couple weeks ago.....which put me in a writing mood, and here I am ;)

Basically, I'm interested in how books, especially YA, affect the mind-sets, attitudes, and beliefs of it's readers.
So firstly, you might be asking, why YA in particular?
Because a lot of the genre's audience are at that impressionable age where they are maturing and still forming their ideals and thoughts on topics and issues (such as gender roles and racism) that will quite likely carry on to when they're adults.

Today, I'm focusing on the female gender role......I know, I have great interest in this topic ;) Hence why one of my last MM posts was on what makes a strong female protagonist.

Should we promote particular books and encourage others to read them if they give a bad example of how females (and males too) should act?
Take Twilight, for instance. I've seen lengthy discussions and debates on GR where people throw opinions at each other about how reading Twilight could be a bad influence, especially on impressionable young teen girls, readers and non-readers alike, who buy into the hype and pick up the books and are then influenced because the characters end up distorting their image of a perfect female in society.
You could argue that people don't necessarily use book characters as role models, but in fact I think, even unconsciously, all figures, including characters we read in books are bound to add to our mental image on how society expects us to act, a mental compass to guide our own self, if you will.

And that is a big problem if many girls of this generation think Bella is a great role model. Because I think it's reasonably safe to say that Bella is a horrid role model (no offence Meyer, but seriously). Romanticism is great, but obsession? To the point of recklessness? No. Just no. If you've read the books, you'll know what I mean, e.g. the hopping-on-a-motorbike-of-a-random-stranger-to-fancy-hearing-his-voice business. Urgh. *shudders*

So yeah, getting young teens to read books with characters like Bella that represent a very undesirable view of society's idealistic female might not be the best idea.
But then you'd say, wait a second. Reading is subjective. If you like a book, you like it. That's hardly anyone else's business.

So on one hand you could say that, hell, fiction is an art. It's creative writing, and it wouldn't be correct to come up to an author and tell them that an aspect of their story is unsavoury and hence the book is ruined. That's subjective, yes?
Then again, if you happen to be on GR like so many book lovers, you'll have noticed that each book has stars so that we can have an average rating to give us an inkling on whether we are likely to enjoy the book in question. So while you can't exactly say whether a book is good or not, you can say if there is a likelihood of a person enjoying it or not.

But while Twilight doesn't necessarily have the highest rating around (at current it's 3.56 stars on Goodreads), it certainly has the numbers at over 2.5 million ratings. No, you didn't hear me wrong. Yes, I did say 2.5 million.
So, many people have read Twilight and obviously enough people liked reading it to create such a hype, regardless of the characters, or more disturbingly, heedful of the characters. And just what does this tell us about our society? Is Bella really a distorted image of what society expects, or is she an accepted ideal of a female in the general public's eye? I really hope it's the former.

Now I'm exhausted so I'm going to stop. Not sure how much sense I just made but I hope you kinda understand what aspects I'm debating XD
Andd........*glances up* uhhhh yeahh....idk how Twilight suddenly monopolised most of my post......*cough* whoops XD I guess I've had a bone to pick with that series for a long time coming heheheh *winks*

—MissBloodsucker™ All Sucked Out!