Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On my soapbox

It's been a while since I got up on a soapbox, but I've been up since 5:30 this morning, I'm off the codeine and feeling a little feisty.

I came across a discussion today about The Hunger Games. There was talk of it being slightly disturbing, parallels between it and stories like 1984, The Lottery and Lord of the Flies. Also a very sobering mention that in certain parts of the world, some people have to do crazy things just to survive and that this really isn't so very far us after all. Yes, yes, and yes.

I dig that. Even if someone thinks the books weren't particularly well-written - that's okay. That's their opinion. But what I got stuck on was the comment that someone hadn't read them because they were stupid and a waste of time.

I'll be honest and say that this is, in no way, personal. I really like the person who said that, actually, and I've known them for a long time. But I strongly disagree with that statement, and admitted that I'm particularly sensitive to that sentiment because I see it all too often.

How can you possibly judge something if you haven't read it?

How many times has the romance genre taken a beating from someone who calls the books fluff, anti-feminist, a waste of time, and other derogatory terms but then admits that they've never read one? How can you possibly form an opinion about something you know nothing about? And I'm sorry, but reading someone else's opinion doesn't count. That's just someone telling you what to think. 

Let me be transparent here and admit that I haven't read the latest "hot thing", which would be 50 Shades of Grey. I'm not particularly interested in reading it, actually. For one thing, erotica isn't really to my taste (you'll notice I don't call it Mommy Porn, a term that drives me insane), and I have close to 100 books on my shelf that ARE to my taste waiting to be read. I don't want to read it just because everyone else is. It does bug me on some level that these started out as Twilight fan fiction. I think I would go into it with Edward and Bella in my brain. Worse, I think I'd go into it with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in my brain, and that makes me want to reach for the brain bleach. I would find it hard to separate the two. The majority of people out there don't realize that the books started as fanfic - at least the ones I've talked to. So for most people this probably wouldn't be an issue.

But I can't call these books stupid, a waste of time, or poorly written, because I haven't read them. I'm not qualified to offer that sort of judgment. Neither can I offer a judgment on whether or not they are abusive, denigrating to women or dangerous - all terms I've heard it relation to the stories. I can't say that because I haven't read any of them. In essence - I have no opinion. And I won't offer one until I know what I'm talking about.

It's one thing for someone to say "I don't read Romance because it's not to my taste; I much prefer mysteries/thrillers/scifi/biographies, etc." It's quite another thing to make a judgment statement dismissing an entire genre you've never deigned to read.

This doesn't just relate to reading material either. It's everywhere around us, in ways that scare me to death.

And I'll let you think about that one on your own.


  1. Well said on all counts , Donna!

  2. I read all sorts of books. Some are better written than others, but I agree that one can't dismiss an entire genre of books without at least reading them.

  3. You do excellent work on your soapbox, Donna! :-) I sure agree. In fact, when there's buzz like this, I also want to know--what makes this book hit when there are other similar books that don't? Had no idea it started as fanfic.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly! And you've said it perfectly. I've walked away from such a conversation or two before. I have learned the hard way those who are willing to judge based on something they have no experience with, aren't willing to 'hear' anything I have to say. I love a good debate. I love hearing new opinions. I love having someone show me a new perspective. But it has to be a knowledgable give and take. :-)