Geek Girls Rule! #94 – On Alienating Your Fan Base

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:

Hi,

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.

Sincerely,

-Tammy Mickelson

This is the response she received:

Dear Tammy,

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,
Camden Clark
Personal Assistant
Cast, LLC

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?

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10 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #94 – On Alienating Your Fan Base

  1. Thank you doll! It’s really too bad. I thought the writing was pretty good and the concept was interesting but I just can’t support an author who is being hypocritical, uses damaging stereotypes, and is patronizing on top of everything else.

  2. Wow. That’s epic phail. I guess I’ll have to restrict my vampire reading to the Twilight books. 😉

  3. Glee!

    I’m also wanting to read the Southern Vampire series. But I’m unlikely to return to Anita Blake.

  4. Wow. I can’t believe they’d pile that much prejudice into one book. That list of ‘people she doesn’t like’ kinda rules out all my favourite people… verdict: bitch. Not the kind of heroine I’d like anyone to be looking up to.

    Tell me, does she meet a horrid end? One can but hope.

  5. As an author who is not a Goth, but who plans to write about them in an upcoming series, I am always grateful for tips! I will have to check out the Goth Charm School book. Thanks!

  6. From one Geek Girl to another: You said it, sister. I’m not a Goth myself but a lot of my friends are, and I do read a lot of vampire fiction (I used to like the Anita Blake series, and the first several Sookie Stackhouse books); now I know not to suggest these books to my Goth friends or their kids.

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