Some of these YA paranormal romances want to have these dark, mysterious, dangerous heroes, but they don’t want to show the consequences. There is some fantasy involved in having a dark, dangerous hero without the actual danger. So these unseemly behaviors get glossed over or even romanticized.
But is this really as big of a deal as those articles on the internet make it to be?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand how serious and frightening being stalked is. I would never want to make light of it, but there are other stories that glorify other horrible behaviors like killing.
The movie the Matrix is one. I loved that movie (the first one, the sequels not so much), but it was extremely violent. Some people have blamed it and other violent movies and video games for being somewhat responsible for very tragic school shootings.
I understand that there is power in stories, that they can inspire and uplift and change minds, but I’m not sure if every story has that power.
Some stories like Twilight and The Matrix are really just for fun. They are not meant to be groundbreaking, world-changing novels. I don’t think the teenaged audiences are as impressionable as others make them out to be. Most people know the difference between reality and make-believe long before they are teenagers, and if they don’t, then there is a much bigger problem there.
I honestly don’t think that the reason someone gets into an abusive relationship can ever be simplified to “I read Twilight as a teenager.”
I don’t know. Am I wrong?
But I do know that I don’t like censorship in any form. Claiming that some novels are dangerous for impressionable teenagers is a slippery slope because it opens up the flood gates to keep some very important and powerful books from teen readers just because some people don’t agree with the world view presented in the story.
I believe we should trust the teen readers and teach them to think deeply and critically about what they read. Let them make up their own minds.
There was no YA section when I was a teen, and when I think about some of the things I read….
For example, when I was fifteen, I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera. I listened to the music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical all the time, went to LA to see the play, and read the original novel by Gaston Leroux. I loved the story, and I still do.
But talk about a stalker.
The Phantom is unquestionably manipulative, abusive, controlling, and a murderer. But he is also isolated, rejected by society and his own mother because of a physical deformity. He is brilliant, a musician, a genius. Cold and callous, and yet deeply wounded. In my opinion, he is one of the most fascinating characters ever.
There is also something deeper in that story than an obsessive, controlling love.
In the book, we come to understand The Phantom, and by sympathizing with a villain, who does unspeakable things, we see that people aren’t born evil. They are twisted by how they are abused by society.
But his tragic past in no way excuses his behavior. He does not win. He does not get the girl. He is only redeemed when he gives up what he wants most. In the end, he learns that if you really, truly love something, you can’t trap, manipulate, or control it; you have to let it go.
I understood this as a teenager, and I don’t like the idea of keeping powerful stories like this from teenagers because it could be interpreted as romanticizing the stalker.
So what do you think?
Do you think that romanticizing the stalker is harmful to teenage girls and boys?
Do you feel that YA authors have a responsibility to present healthy romantic relationships or at least not glorify unhealthy ones?
And how do you really decide what is a healthy relationship?
I’m very curious because I've been fascinated by darker characters like The Phantom, Heathcliff, and Raskolnikov ever since I was in high school.
ETA: This post was inspired by this converstaion on Hatrack: http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=007142;p=0&r=nfx