Friday, June 17, 2011


I've been thinking about Lesli's response to my previous post. Particularly the part about the difficulty in starting a conversation with someone about art, books, poetry, etc. and hearing "No, because I'm just too stupid/uncultured/ignorant for that sort of thing!"

There is an insidious pervasive attitude in our culture to tear down and sneer at anything that is popular or light. My six year old nephew would say, "They got an attitude." It's cool to sneer at Twilight, Rowling, bestselling authors, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, pop music, Disney, etc.

If you're like me one of those uncool people who happens to enjoy those things, then when someone asks you about books, art, poetry, you're going to say, "No, because I'm just too stupid/uncultured/ignorant for that sort of thing!" Because who wants to get sneered at?

A few days ago, I met my brother's new girlfriend. At one point, we were both sitting on the couch reading (me a book. her her kindle.) So I asked her about the kindle. And then we started talking about books we liked. And at the beginning it was like two cats cautiously circling each other waiting for the other one to pounce, because we both like popular books, the ones you find on the bestseller lists, and we were waiting to see if the other one was going to sneer. Once we figured out that we had similar taste in books and authors and that the other one wasn't going to sneer at what we liked, we had a great conversation about books.

And you know what? Lesli is right. It is damn hard to start a conversation about books. That was the first time in a very long time that I had had a decent conversation about books. And even if it had turned out that we didn't like the same kind of books, I think we would have had a good conversation anyway, because neither one of us was going to sneer at the other.

Those that sneer at what others like cut themselves off from hearing what those others might have to say. If we're going to have good conversations with an exchange of ideas, then the sneering has to stop.

If someone wants to play around with alternative art forms, pushing the edge of the envelope, that's fine. And if you enjoy that kind of thing, that's fine. Just don't get an attitude about it.


  1. When I took my course in Mystery, Horror and Gothic fiction, there was an absolutely bewildering passage about being ashamed to read mysteries: not wanting to be seen with them on the subway, joking to the friends about a light snack between "real" books, etc. I found this incomprehensible and was even slightly dubious: do people really think that way?

    But it's the same kind of thing. For me, I just don't give a darn and will happily proclaim that I read fantasy to anyone who dares ask ... but I know I'm in a minority.

    And just to add to this, I like Celine Dion, darnit.

    (This is Lindsey. Blogger won't let me comment from my main acct: it just loops from login to validation and back again.)

  2. I primarily read thrillers, romance, and fantasy. It's usually the romance genre that gets sneered at the most being labeled bodice rippers. I've read thousands of romance novels and I have yet to read one where the female MC has her bodice ripped.

    Interestingly enough, my brother's girlfriend admitted to reading mysteries and liking Harry Potter way before she confessed to reading Nora Roberts.

    Then again, aren't mysteries the ones that are labeled potboilers? ... A check of wikipedia and it's synonymous to pulp fiction of which many were mysteries. Here's the link to the wiki article. It's kind of interesting.

  3. Good God, who does this? I didn't like the Twilight series because I objected to the characterization of the leads - but if someone wants to read them, I am simply glad people are reading. If you like the bodice rippers, have at it.

    And nobody should ever be made to feel embarrassed by what they read. As I wrote on my own blog a few months ago: "Acting like you're better than someone because of what you read doesn't make you look smarter. It makes you a ****."

    If someone looks down your nose at you, based on what you *read*, tell them where to go. Quickly, and loudly. They aren't worth any more attention.

  4. LOL ... that's a helluva lot of people I'd be telling where to go.

    I don't take it personally. In fact, I realized recently that there are people who actually think the way most literary fiction is written. Bestsellers are as inscrutable to them as most literary fiction is to me.

    The point is that it stops conversation. I've had enough conversations with sneering asshats that I'm done with it. But take a trip around the writing blogosphere, you're bound to run into someone copping an attitude. Within the past month or so, there was a snooty post about Harry Potter not being literature.

    But what you have said here about Twilight does not. It invites a discussion about the characterization of that series. I haven't read it, so I can't contribute to a discussion. (Those were just examples I could think of off the top of my head.)

    You're right. People who act like they are superior to others because of what they read look like idiots.

  5. Snooty people irritate the hell out of me. And it's not only what you read, it's what you write. A friend of mine got a bumper sticker that says. "I write kick-ass romance! You got a problem with that?" Makes me smile.