The Wall Street Journal published an article criticizing YA fiction last week that pissed a lot of people off. I’m not going to respond to the arguments made in that article, in part because smarter people than I have already done so.
Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the Genre Bashing Dumbassery Scale (patent pending).
When you criticize a genre without really understanding that genre or recognizing its range, you’re probably going to come off as a dumbass. If your GBD score is high enough, you might even get a dedicated Twitter hashtag where thousands of people will chime in to explain exactly why you’re full of crap.
Here are some sample scores, with 1 being insightful, educated commentary and 10 being the ultimate cluelessness.
- “YA is all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation and darkness!” Easily disproven generalization used to justify an old-fashioned “Protect the children!” rant. GBD: 8.
- “Science fiction is for kids; it’s all rockets and explosions and flat, emotionless characters.” A claim made by someone who once saw a Heinlein paperback in the grocery store rack. GBD: 9
- “Romance is formulaic hack-work.” Some romance lines do have formula guidelines for their writers … but show me any genre without its formulas. GBD: 9.5 (I nudged this score higher because I’m sick of romance being the easy target.)
- “Literary fiction is dry, plotless crap written by ivory tower wannabes.” Some is. Some isn’t. Some is brilliant. Some is crap. Bored now. GBD: 8.
- “Author X is another author who built his career writing unoriginal Tolkien knock-offs.” Suggests a generalization about fantasy, but then again, Author X really has built his career from ripping off Tolkien… GBD: 3.
- “I don’t read ______ books.” That’s nice. If everyone read the same stuff, it would be awfully boring… GBD: N/A.
- “I don’t read ______ books, but let me tell you why they suck.” Congratulations, you’re a dumbass. GBD: 10.
High GBD scores may result in public mockery, criticism, and being thoroughly schooled by people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about.