Surprisingly enough this post isn’t going to be about EA Games.
As one of the Gothy persuasion, I am constantly on the lookout for good vampire novels. As with every time the “Darque and Spooky” experience a rennaissance, an awful lot of dross gets published along with the mediocre and excellent. So, knowing this and knowing each others’ tastes, my friends and I recommend books to each other in person and over the net via sites like GoodReads.com and LiveJournal communities like Whatweread. We talk a lot about books and our interactions with authors, publishing housess, booksellers…
So, when my friend Tammy (of Girl Game fame) read the book Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast and found a couple of elements troubling, she talked to the rest of us about it. The first troubling aspect is the fact that when characters aren’t going to successfully transition to vampire, they get fat. Yeah, so once again fat is bad. Great. This alone ensures that I will never recommend this to anyone in its target demographic. Young women do not need any more negative body image reinforcement.
However the second troubling aspect of these books is the shit-talking of Goths by the main character. As Tammy said, at least once per book there has to be a snide comment about “raccoon-eyed goths” or comments that Goths don’t bathe, etc…
So when Tammy, a proud member of the PaleoGothic Brigade read this and knowing, as she does, that Goth teens catch a large amount of crap, she decided to write to the authors to give them a heads up. This is what she wrote:
I’ve read a couple of the House of Night books and I generally like them. I’m a Goth, though, and while I don’t expect everyone to like how Goths dress and such, putting forth ideas that they don’t bathe (book 1) is concerning in a book aimed at teenagers. While it may be the way the character feels it’s a gross generalization that is not accurate. I wonder if you would consider learning more about Goths via the Gothic Charm School Web site which includes links to a few 3 minute videos to promote the new book that she’s published: http://www.gothic-charm-school.com/
It might give you a bit more information and perspective on Goths when you write about them. The characters in the House of Night books certainly don’t need to like Goths but I really wish there weren’t such derogatory comments about those of us who are Goths – particularly teen Goths who already have enough to be getting along with by being teens and being different – and isn’t that a main theme of the books after all.
This is the response she received:
The Casts would like to remind you that the fictional views in the books are the heroines. Zoey wouldn’t go to a website to watch a video on Goths, Emos, Dorks, Okies, Gay Boys, etc., right now as she’s too busy being a teenager and/or saving the world. It is especially a moot point because Goths are mentioned very, very briefly. The books aren’t about them.
Thank you for your support,
Wow, patronizing and rude.
Ok, Ms. Clark, let me tell you a little secret. If your clients are going to write about vampires, your primary market (the success of Twilight notwithstanding) is Goth, with a capital G. Now, I’m going to let you in on secret number two: adult Goths read YA vampire books, and who do you think everyone asks about those books when they’re debating whether or not to let their YA’s read them? Yes, that would be the spooky woman wearing all black in the back of the office, who they see reading those books at lunchtime.
And those adult Goths remember what it was like to get name-called, beat up, pushed around in hallways and sneered at by teachers. We have long memories, and we have no interest in promoting books that further an agenda of bullying.
So, I’d rethink your response, perhaps get your authors to think a little harder about which demographic will actually be buying their books in the long run, and perhaps a class or two on manners and not being a patronizing dipshit is in order. The Lady of Manners will, I’m sure, be glad to help you out.
Edited to add: Also, looking at the list of other groups the heroine has no interest in learning about, it seems their “heroine” is an intolerant little snot. Why on earth would anyone read these books?