Fantasy Vs Fantasy AKA Why YA novels are a disease

Just to Clarify: This post is not saying the following:

Ban books. Women should not read. Girls are Stupid. Steal Honey from Bears.

YA is crap. Twilight is terrible. There should be no Young Adult Books. Kids like Skittles too much.

Eat More Chicken. Eat Less Chicken. Save the Earth from the Ice Age. Save the Earth from Global Warming.

It is not trying to steal your rights to read books, or to read good books or to read terrible books.

It was written about Young Adult Books. It wasn’t meant specifically for girls or boys. The example quoted is girls but that’s just coincidental. You could take something like video games and find the same triggers being used to affect boys. PLEASE don’t turn this into something about women’s rights to read books. Or for that matter, about the right to read books.

What is this post saying, if it isn’t saying any of the above things?

It’s saying that a lot of the psychological triggers that are used to manipulate people are slowly entering YA fiction.

That it’s a trend which has a logical end-point – The devolution of books into something that isn’t very good, and which will end up being harmful to readers.

These psychological triggers, and the way they are used – are a bad, bad thing. Because we can’t defend against them. That’s the beauty of psychological triggers – Even knowing they exist isn’t defence against them. They are powerful because they are built over millions of years and 5 minutes of thinking they’re ineffective now won’t end their influence.

Millions and millions of years of human experience is more powerful than any argument about ‘people aren’t that stupid’. No, of course not. They’re human and they are susceptible to anything that wields influence over humans. It’s like a reaction to fire or to cold – it’s inside you and you can’t turn it off.

Also Note this key phrase from the post:

… we are moving away from the middle and going towards the far right.

The post is saying that we are headed in the wrong direction. That’s very different from saying ‘the world has ended’.

Please Also Note: This post observes the situation. It is not calling for action - and you can read it end to end to confirm this. It is pointing out things without asking to ban books or end things.

Finally, no politically correct werewolves or metrosexual vampires were hurt in the making of this post … unfortunately.

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Imagine a continuum of Fantasy.

  1. On the very left is imagination exercising Fantasy. One that gives you a sense of wonder and makes you think about the things that might be possible.
  2. In the middle is escapist Fantasy. Where you turn off the real world for a bit and dream away.
  3. On the very right is Reality-Polluting and Reality-Destroying Fantasy. Where the fantasy ends up destroying your hold on reality and/or ends up making you unhappy with reality.

If you want a very rough analogy then you have -

  1. Far-Left Fantasy = Playing a sport, reading a good classic book, drawing something. It’s an exercise of a faculty.
  2. Smack-in-the-Middle Fantasy = A board game, reading an entertaining book, a good (but not necessarily artistic) movie, a concert. Perhaps not the most amazing use of time but good entertainment and definitely doesn’t hurt you.
  3. Reality-Killing Fantasy = hitting your head against the wall, living in a bubble, taking wishfulness to an extreme.

The distinction is important because with Young Adult novels like Twilight and, to an extent, The Hunger Games – we are moving away from the middle and going towards the far right. To the Reality-Killing and Reality-Polluting Fantasies.

The Distinction between Fantasy and Reality-Killing Fantasy

There’s been a morphing in Fantasy.

Consider how video games have devolved from ‘look what might be possible’ games like The Legend of Zelda to ‘push all the psychological triggers’ social game corruption like Zynga’s games.

The same thing is happening with books for young adults. Authors are, knowningly or unknowingly, pushing psychological triggers instead of actually writing good stuff.

Let’s consider what psychological triggers you could push for a young teenage girl:

  1. Love.
  2. The Rich Boy Loving You.
  3. The Exciting Dangerous Boy Loving You.
  4. Both Fighting Over You.
  5. Social Validation.
  6. Social Status.
  7. A Feeling of Fitting In.
  8. Feeling Beautiful.
  9. Feeling Accepted.
  10. Your Hero not caring whether you’re rich or poor.
  11. Your Hero not caring how popular you are.

In the past, the focus was on all mediums (movies, games, books, music) delivering a message. Even escapist fantasy had a message. The book left you with something.

Now it’s just a hole in your soul that you’re told/sold can only be filled by a werewolf and a vampire wooing you with the ardor of jackrabbits.

These days, the message is forgotten in the pursuit of psychologically addicting the reader. And every YA fantasy romance novel is doing the same thing.

It’s no longer about romance or love. It’s about pushing the right triggers. Unfortunately, pushing the right triggers too well means you start destroying reality.

Push too many psychological triggers and you start destroying Reality

If you set up a romance novel with 3 or 4 triggers i.e.

  1. The Hero is rich.
  2. The Hero is good-looking.
  3. The Hero chooses you out of several options.
  4. There’s intrigue and perhaps a dash of danger.

Then there’s a pretty good chance real life can compete. Perhaps your real-life hero only hits 2 out of 4 points. But he’s flesh and blood and there to hold you in his arms. And there are ALWAYS other women to add some competition.

Real life is as compelling – sometimes more compelling.

However, YA books these days are getting too good at pushing psychological triggers:

  1. The Hero is rich and good-looking.
  2. There’s a Rival Hero who is also very desirable.
  3. The Hero is a Vampire. The Rival Hero is a werewolf.
  4. The social pressure and loneliness is amplified and then your Hero magically makes it all go away. 
  5. The fate of the world hangs on you.
  6. You have magical psychic powers.
  7. Your family has magical powers and drama of the sort few human families ever do.
  8. The Hero and the Rival are fighting over you.
  9. There are added enemies and dangers.
  10. You are told you are special.
  11. You are told you are entitled to whatever your heart wishes – use the Hero and Rival Hero like pawns if you wish.

How can Mr. Darcy compete with that?

And Mr. Darcy isn’t even real. How can the real love of your life compete with that?

Plus there’s no message. Instead of being good or love or decency – the message is entitlement and running away from reality.

It’s one thing if Disney is trying to manufacture fantasy boy bands for teenage girls. It’s quite another if you couple the power of these girls’ overactive imaginations with a plethora of psychological triggers (that take advantage of their vulnerabilities) to create something even Disney’s Boy Bands can’t compete with. Not unless they grow some fangs and develop some superpowers.

All the Fantasy Overload is Killing Reality

If you’re a young boy you’re hit with runway models and centerfolds and porn stars.

If you’re a young girl you’re hit with reality-destroying YA romance where a merman and a centaur and an Orang-utan man will fight a cosmic war for Earth’s fate and the prize will be you.

It’s getting so ridiculous it’s hard to believe. We don’t have woolly mammoths and other prehistoric monsters to challenge us for survival so now we are creating monsters of our own.

At this rate soon no boy and girl will fall for each other because the girl isn’t what some idiot in a mansion thinks women should be and the guy has neither vampiric powers nor a werewolf to play the perfect foil.

As a race we’re beginning to feed on our young. It’s so important to create ‘consumers’ that are unhappy and need to consume to fulfill themselves that we are doing everything we can to destroy their sense of reality.

That’s the problem with all these Twilight clones. They are a de-evolution of books. We don’t have literature or even pulp fiction any more – we just have a set of psychological triggers wrapped up in novel form. They are neither horizon expanding nor pure entertainment – they are just reality-destroying, unrealistic-expectations-creating, unhappy fantasy. If people are worried about declining birth rates and failing relationships now – wait till you get the generation that have grown up with Twilight.

56 Responses

  1. Does this mean I should stop waiting for Little Joe on Bonanza to find me and fall in love with me?

  2. If you take out the fantasy elements like vampires, don’t you just have left a romance book? I’m picturing a book with a Fabio-looking man sporting an opened shirt and a weak-knee beauty nearby. Have YA-versions of these romance books been around or are is it a relatively new market (and hence the need to put fangs on Fabio)?

    • Yes, but it’s the fantasy elements that are the problem. Neither fantasy nor romance is wrong – however, when they’re combined specifically to affect young readers more, then it becomes a problem.

      • to be more precise – it’s the psychological triggers that are the issue. And the way they are stacked.

        It takes things from ‘eascape from reality’ to ‘detachmed from reality’.

  3. Outstanding analysis. This is the kind of thing that should go viral, instead of a video of someone’s behind.

  4. Short response: Those damn kids are always walking on my yard.

    Slightly longer response: young adults are reading more now than any time since the 1950s in spite of the huge competition of video games and texting and the internet and tv. Harry Potter has helped give rise to real readers. Yes there is some fluff, there has always been fluff. Have you read some of the pulp fiction western and science fiction? The world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket. You can go back to worrying about some other non-existant problem now.

    • There’s no complaining against kids in the post.

      I think you just interpreted the post in a way that you thought you’d like it to be – as opposed to actually reading it.

      It’s a non-existent problem. Yes, totally. We’ll see over the course of the next 20 to 40 years how non-existent it is.

      • Or you could interpret the large number of commenters think that you are ranting against kids literature in a way that is either unfair or inappropriate, in spite of the fact you say you aren’t, as proof that you didn’t prove your point.

        I think most people actually did read your post, and just didn’t agree with it. But your blog, you can chose to believe whatever you want.

      • Yes, and please stop reading my blog because instead of reading the post or trying to understand what I’m saying you’re just attacking me.

        How on Earth can you interpret a post that’s pro-Kids as ‘get off my lawn kids’. Please stop reading my blog. I’d really appreciate it.

      • to be more precise. Instead of an intelligent answer or trying to think about what the post discusses you’re trying to reframe me as

        some crotchety old man who thinks kids are idiots.

        ***********
        Which is unfair and inappropriate. Exactly what I would expect from YouTube comments, but not from you.

      • Seriously?

        I think a lot of your content is good, but you go on rants every once in a while that I think just miss the point. And then you do this type of thing when people disagree with you.

        You have the right to blog and say what you want. But when people give some rational arguments (or irrational arguments) it doesn’t mean that they are attacking you personally. It means they disagree.

        You keep telling people that they aren’t reading your post. But when you have said that a dozen times, it might be time to look at the post and see if you really communicated your point. That was the only point of my above comment.

        Maybe I didn’t say it clearly or directly enough.

      • Great. Since you don’t like my rants perhaps you could stop reading my blog and that would save me a lot of frustration from you leaving comments without actually reading the posts.

      • Actually, you’re right. It’s my fault since I didn’t communicate well enough and it confused a lot of people into thinking I wanted to burn YA books.

        My apologies.

  5. Interesting, and maddingly I agree and disagree!

  6. In my teen days, we read VC Andrews, which featured multiple instances of child abuse, at the very least. Flowers in the Attic also had romanticized incest rape. Our trashy books sneer at your trashy books.

    Somehow, we all managed to reach a reasonably sane adulthood.

  7. You are so right on this one . . .

  8. I somehow feel the need to shout “Get off my lawn!” at kids.

    • How does that have to do anything with the post. I’m talking about psyhcological triggers being used to create unrealistic expectations in kids’ minds. Isn’t that more like – stop prostituting the kids?

  9. I feel I have to step in for a minute on the Mr. Darcy comment. I hope you’ve read Pride and Prejudice. Do you know how very, very unlikely (in Jane Austen’s time) it would’ve been for a Mr. Darcy to fall in love and marry a Lizzy? Preposterous!

    But let’s leave Jane out of this. I don’t like her mentioned in the same breath as Twilight. Just thought I’d say how that didn’t help your argument.

    Many YA novels are fluff, and A LOT are mostly romance novels. They’re the equivalent of a chick-flick. On the flip side, there are plenty of crime/action novels for men. Everyone is guilty of escapist entertainment. I enjoy reading Proust or a little Hemingway, but then sometimes I’ll read a girly paranormal or a sci-fi.

    I just don’t get why you consider this “dangerous.” I’d rather YAs read Twilight than sit around and watch Jersey Shore. I’d rather my daughter read Jane Eyre than Some Vampire Romance, but she will if I expose her to great stuff now.

    • I think the big difference is that Mr. Darcy existed. We’ve had Kings of England abdicate their thrones for commoners.

      But there’s never been a vampire. That’s the difference. Difficult but possible Vs Impossible.

      • Then you have a problem with fantasy in general? Because I thought it was just the promotion of an unlikely standard- like the fantasy that two incredibly attractive males are going to fight over the average girl.

    • I mean extremes and layering extremes.

      How about this: Step away from the belief that I am attacking YA or Fantasy or Romance or Female Writers or Unicorns.

      My problem is with psychological triggers being layered and stacked to create a ‘detachment from reality’.

      It’s the equivalent of someone being upset if Coca Cola had cocaine in it. It doesn’t mean he hates Coca Cola or soft drinks or thinks kids can’t handle Coca Cola.

      It just means he hates that there’s cocaine in it.

  10. This is a good analysis of the current trend. I read VC Andrews & Sidney Sheldon at a young age and there were disturbing elements. What bothers me about some of the Fantasy is that domestic abuse is acceptable. What comes to mind is the “Fever” series (Faefever, etc.). The man she chooses goes through the whole abuse cycle of calm, explosion (i.e. slamming her into a wall), and being sorry (usually in the form of gifts). Then, it’s excused because it’s not his fault, after all, he is a beast (or, it is suggested it is her fault because her sexuality set him off). Perhaps this is simply a mirror of the high level of domestic abuse in the US, or, perhaps it leads young girls to think that this is an element of loving those dangerous men. Maybe it’s just reinforcing what they’re learning in their own homes. No matter, tho, I don’t think it’s healthy.

  11. ” It’s so important to create ‘consumers’ that are unhappy and need to consume to fulfill themselves that we are doing everything we can to destroy their sense of reality.”

    That is so very very true.

    However, the rest of your concerns resemble the concerns my mother (who is 28 years older than me) expressed when I was in my early teens. And I’m over 50 now. See what I mean?

    There’s some pretty good psychological and sociological analysis of porn out there (less so, of violent or addictive video games). There’s even some (controversial) analysis of romance novels as the female analogy to porn — “A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire.”

    I do hear your concern about adult material foisted on young minds in the form of stories with apparently no redeeming social value. However, haven’t we always consumed stuff we oughtn’t, simply because the forbidden fruit is always sweeter — particularly when you’re young and heedless?

    • My main concern is not ‘consuming stuff that isn’t ideal’. It’s about the ‘stuff being consumed’ becoming better and better at triggering psychological triggers.

      It’s different levels of bad. One is exposing kids to things that might not be ideal for them. The second is attacking kids’ psychological triggers and addicting them to unreality.

      • In the alternative, could you entertain the theory that it’s not “becoming better and better at triggering psychological triggers,” but rather, that it’s had to up the ante because teens are now inured to lots of stuff which would have shocked us, or satisfied us, or whatever (okay, me — I have no idea how old you are!) when we were young? Perhaps it just seems better at triggering those feelings, because you’re thinking of how you would have felt if you’d been confronted by it, when you were that age? However, you hadn’t been hardened by 500 channels and no-holds-barred sensationalist tabloids.

        (I’m mainly trying to provide some comfort here.)

      • Yes, I get your point.

        There are four possibilities:

        1) Books are just the same today as ever.
        2) Books are more ‘influential/impactful/shocking’ today but young adults are smarter – so it balances out.
        3) Books are more influential today and young adults are the same as we were – so they get more influenced.
        4) Books are more influential today and young adults are more malleable today – so they get even more influenced.

        Who knows what the reality is.

  12. I’m not sure I follow your analysis… how are these books ‘soul polluting’? Do you really think girls are so weak that they can’t tell fantasy from reality? (“if you couple the power of these girls’ overactive imaginations with a plethora of psychological triggers (that take advantage of their vulnerabilities)”) That they don’t know the difference between escapist fiction and good writing? Really?!? This is just the same argument that has been made against girls reading fiction for hundreds of year. I read VC Andrews as a tween. I also read Les Miserable, the Three Musketeers, and Jane Austen. Now my oldest is a tween. He is currently reading The Hunger Games.

    FYI — Twilight actually DOES have a message. Twilight was written with a very specific message in mind by it’s conservative, religious author — she wanted girls to see virginity as something sacred that needed preserving and she wanted boys and girls to resist temptation no matter how strong. Hence the vampire wanting her blood thing. I’m not saying it’s a great message… but it does have one.

    I’m also quite a bit surprised to see Hunger Games lumped in with Twilight in your analysis. (Have you read it?) I’ve read both. Twilight is a light, trashy romance novel with moral undertones. It is poorly written. Hunger Games is a well written YA dystopian novel with interesting anti-war and anti-government themes. (Interestingly if you read the Gregor series, you will see that she was beginning to explore these same themes in the last two books of the that series.)

    • Yes, I’ve read The Hunger Games.

      If you don’t follow the analysis, there’s nothing I can do about it. If you think Jane Austen and Three Musketeers and Les Miserables have the same effect on a reader as Twilight and Hunger Games, then there’s absolutely nothing my analysis can help you with.

      • Wow. That wasn’t a mean…
        I don’t think they are the same. I was pointing out that I read BOTH good books like Les Miserable and junk books like VC Andrews and that, as an impressionable teen, I could tell the difference.

        I’m just not sure I understand the mechanism by which you claim reading junky books corrupts a teen girl’s soul. Are there medical or sociological studies that show reading garbage does this? Do you have any proof that it does this? Are proposing a mechanism by which reading garbage corrupts the soul? Teens and tweens have been reading junky books for tens of years… shouldn’t we have seen a correlation by now between reading junk and deleterious effects?

      • I think you just didn’t understand the post. Perhaps you could read ‘Influence’ by Cialdini. And then compare how many of those elements you find in one of the YA books these days versus how many you would find in ANY of the books you read before.

      • You really threw me off because I don’t think you realize it but you’re accusing me of a whole ‘anti women agenda’. Perhaps there’s something in the post itself that causes the confusion. I don’t understand where you see an anti-women agenda.

        It’s just one that’s very hard to stomach when it wasn’t meant at all.

      • Wow. Condescending much?

        “if you don’t agree with me in every little particular, it must be because you’re too stupid to understand what I mean” is *not* a particularly good debating tactic.

      • I don’t mean to be condescending. I really don’t. If you read the first comment, she’s bringing in some angle of ‘women are being told not to read fiction’ which is not meant at all in the post.

        It’s a post talking about the psychological impact and trying to address something else entirely (banning women from reading) is just off-base. We aren’t talking about banning books here or telling girls what they should read.

        It’s an observation. There’s nothing in the post that says – Women should read X. Ban Y. Or Anything of that sort. It’s just talking about what psychological impact and what long term impact these books will have.

        It’s the difference between saying:

        Product X should be banned.

        Versus

        Product X has some negative consequences. Be aware of those when partaking.

  13. I don’t disagree with your analysis, but I do disagree with the genres and the way you’ve labeled them.

    YA Fantasy Romance, by and large, is how you’ve described it. Emphasis on the Romance. As such, it has much more in common with traditional romance books (e.g. Harlequin et al) than it does with traditional fantasy books. The ideas, themes, and plots are much the same, it’s just the settings that have changed. Fabio has been replaced with Edward.

    The “de-evolution of books” as you call it has been going on for much longer than the current YA phenomenon.

  14. @Katya- I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Women readers and women authors have always been talked down to in fiction- which is funny since we do most of the reading and writing statistically. Let’s not discuss the crime fiction, or westerns that men read.

    Books are just like any enterainment. I don’t watch an artsy French subtitled film with my morning coffee. I’m not reading Proust every day either (although I adore him). And I don’t feel like reading Hunger Games, or other good YA novels like Ship Breaker or Graceling are corrupting my-or anyone else’s- soul.

    I will be glad if my kids read. Hopefully my daughter will read Jane Eyre, but if she wants to read about a girl whose vampire baby claws its way out of her uterus, then she can read that.

    • Agree wholeheartedly about kids and reading for entertainment! People have always read “trashy” books. It’s escapism, whether you like hunky vampires or big guns and explosions.

    • Heather & Katya – I didn’t mean to say anything about ‘women should not read’. I apologize if that’s what the message came across as.

      It’s difficult because citing the example of YA seems to suggest things that I didn’t mean.

      So the whole ‘girls shouldn’t read or girls should read x’ part isn’t what I meant.

      The post is more in the vein of ‘Look at what’s happening’ + ‘something bad is happening’ and not about directives or telling people what they should read. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s pointing out a shift that perhaps people won’t acknowledge until 10 to 15 years down the line.

      Basically, it has nothing to do with sex or gender. And everything to do with fantasy carried out to the point where it’s probably causing a detachment from reality.
      Same as too much video games or por for boys and men.

  15. Oh, I forgot. My 2 year-old son is reading a book where the protagonist turns into a red race car. Should I be worried? That is a major trigger for him.

    • Do me a favor – detach what you think of the readers and think of it as a scale.

      My argument is that we’ve gone too far to one end of the scale. I know it’s difficult to think of it as a continuum and that what might be OK at the far left of the scale or even in the middle of the scale might become dangerous at the far right. However, that’s the point.

      That there is now ‘excess’. Not that it’s bad – that it’s bad because it’s being carried to excess.

      I think people love to avoid the fact that the post discusses we are going too far on one end of the scale because then there’s nothing to argue.

      • In publishing they call this a trend- and you’re right- trends saturate the market. Vampires are already over and dystopian is on the way out.

        If Amanda Hocking tried to sell her subpar vampire series now, she’d be S.O.L. But don’t worry- there will be something equally outlandish to desecrate their souls next. Maybe leprechauns.

        I get a laugh at some of the free books that are a disgrace to the English language. Angels are getting so overdone. I read one the other day that was hilarious. Part of me thinks we agree on some level, switch. In any case, I love your blog and good discussion!

  16. Yesterday I mentioned to my significant other that I have only classics on my Kobo ereader, because I’ve been too cheap to do any shopping in the Kobo store. (Kindle’s a better deal.) I said I was too tired to deal with a classic at that moment. He observed that he’d never read any Jane Austen. I couldn’t recommend he do so. Unless you’re a woman of a certain literary bent, Jane Austen is relevant primarily as an historical source for the thoughts and opinions of people — mainly women — of a certain time and place.

    Similarly, I think Meyer (Twilight) and Collins (Hunger Games) will be relevant in the future. Meyer does represent an economic and cultural phenomenon, and a particular aspect of American society at this point in time.

    I love Jane Austen, but beyond the obvious feminist/Women’s Studies relevance of her writings, there’s equally a romance aspect which is unappealing to most men.

    When I mentioned A Billion Wicked Thoughts… above, I meant it in aid of the points motherearthseries and Heather Ponzer are making. While what’s usually cited as the male equivalent/parallel normally doesn’t make it past the glossy disposable form of dead tree reading artifact, it’s too bad the female equivalent — romance novels — are primarily available in book form, and hence are perpetually tarred with this anti-intellectual brush. If romance novels (adult or YA) came in magazine form, I wonder if we’d be having this discussion.

  17. @switch11 – Let’s look at your scale of badness. Your argument, from what I can gather, is that the combination of paranormal elements with the romance is tipping the scale too far. If I’ve misinterpreted, I apologize.

    To me, this harkens back to a movement in the early eighties, I believe, that wanted to reform Saturday morning cartoons because they were too violent. Kids were being bombarded with too many images of the Coyote being flattened with the Acme 16 ton anvil, or any number of other things. These images were bad because they were encouraging our kids to become more violent, according to the proponents of the movement.

    The underlying premise is that they were not giving the kids credit for understanding the fact that they were watching a cartoon. It was pure fantasy and the kids understood that fact (as shown in studies later on). Switch, by your arguments, you are making the same assumption: people reading YA Fantasy/Romance can’t grasp the concept that what they are consuming is not real.

    My reading preferences have always been along the scifi and fantasy lines. I read to escape and entertain myself. When I was young, I don’t recall ever believing that those stories were reality. It was fun to think that they might be, but I never thought that they actually were.

    To close, Mary Shelley wrote a controversial book called Frankenstein that critics railed against for similar reasons. It was too intense! Some even suggested that people would possibly become insane just by reading the story.

    Times change.

    • Basically, you are misinterpreting the post. I think the one thing I’ve learnt is that whatever you write – People interpret it according to ‘what they think you wrote’ and then respond to that.

      Please read my response to the copmment from Don’t Be A Hater.

    • No, that’s not my point.

      My point is the introduction of too many psychological triggers (the sort used in direct sales and in con jobs – like compliance chains and open loops).

      Not sure why everyone is jumping in to defend books or genres. I didn’t mention banning books anywhere. Nor did I mention all the fears people are bringing out.

      What does ‘Kids are on my Lawn’ even mean. I’m talking about helping kids – not asking them to got off any lawn.

      • The people saying “Get the kids off my lawn,” are referring to a crotchety old man/woman who thinks the younger generation are a bunch of no-brain deadbeats, or similar. Watch the beginning of the movie “Up”

        So, let me try again. You believe that many of the popular books today have “too many psychological triggers” that are a bad influence on young minds, yes?

        I’ll point back to my above post regarding the Saturday morning cartoons, and say that I think you’re short-changing people’s ability to discern fantasy from reality.

      • All those people are interpreting things wrongly.

        Or perhaps they just want to argue for argument’s sake.

      • Yes, you’re right.

        I am assuming people can’t cope against the manipulation being used against them.

        I don’t know whether that’s the right assumption or your assumption that kids are not going to be adversely affected is right. Who knows.

  18. I think what you’re saying is that YA books themselves are not bad, but the over saturation of the market with the cookie cutter YA Para Rom outline is bad. Right? Either way, I disagree. First – by limiting the “saturation” you are dancing dangerously close to the slippery slope of banning books because they don’t fit your individual (and totally book snobbish) tastes for what is relevant and high quality. Do you want to know why there is an over saturation going on right now? You need only to spend a few hours watching Mtv for it to be blatantly obvious. The majority of young males wouldn’t know manners and etiquette today if they written in sharpy on Kim Kardashian’s chest. It’s “cool” to be a thug and refer to girls as “bitches”. Out of the blue comes this Victorian or Edwardian gentleman who makes YA females feel respected and appreciated and of course girls will swoon. Heck, I’m a 45 yr old woman and YA makes ME swoon. It’s usually more about the pursuit of love rather than the flat out bodice ripping passion of Adult Para Rom. And yes, I’ll say it (I have a nice flame suit I kept from Cherie Priest’s Valkyrie – so I’m ready) I prefer and read mostly YA fiction because they DO remind me of updated Austin and Bronte. I appreciate the fact that there are 4 pages written about the attempt to hold a hand rather than 4 pages of highly detailed sex scenes. I have a phenomenal sex life with my husband and so far no writer has come close to getting it on page better than my reality – so I stick with the Victorian manners and romance of YA – because really – after 16 yrs of marriage THAT is what I fantasize about – the courting dance. And there’s a mammoth plot point that you’ve conveniently left off all your lists – in all of those same books, the YA girl is ALWAYS the truly strong one, or smart one. And trust me, after 20+ yrs working with foster kids and girls who have been belittled, disrespected, abused, and thrown out like trash – a little fantasy goes a LONG way.

    • This: I think what you’re saying is that YA books themselves are not bad, but the over saturation of the market with the cookie cutter YA Para Rom outline is bad

      I’m actually saying neither.

      Here is what I’m saying:

      YA Books are not bad. Oversaturation is not bad. The oversaturation of these books with unreality is bad. Because unreality makes it difficult for people to live happily in the real world.

      **********
      The reason most young men don’t have manners and etiquette is that they bought in too much into the unreality they were being sold i.e. where women are just objects, where life is supposed to be like porn, where there’s always instant gratification, where courtship doesn’t have to exist, and where there are no rules, and they get things without working for them.

      There is no reason to believe that unreality won’t affect young girls when we’ve already seen what it’s done to young men. Perhaps you think girls are immune to manipulation and can never have unrealistic expectations.

      The solution is not to have young men going more and more towards what they wish the world was, and having young women going more and more towards what they wish the world was.
      First, they have to see reality.

      You can’t change reality until you understand it. Until girls and boys don’t understand what really exists and what the other person’s perspective is, they can’t really be expected to work well together.

      *************************************************

      The point of the post is not

      A) Kids are on my lawn.
      B) YA Fantasy is bad.
      C) Banning Books
      D) YA should not mix fantasy and romance.

      OR any of the other things that you are trying to defend against some imaginary assault.

      ******************************************************

      It’s exactly what you wrote:

      *** Do you want to know why there is an over saturation going on right now? You need only to spend a few hours watching Mtv for it to be blatantly obvious. The majority of young males wouldn’t know manners and etiquette today if they written in sharpy on Kim Kardashian’s chest. It’s “cool” to be a thug and refer to girls as “bitches”. Out of the blue comes this Victorian or Edwardian gentleman who makes YA females feel respected and appreciated and of course girls will swoon.
      ***
      We can all agree that it’s not an ideal situation when young men think women are just bitches and hos.

      That is created because youngsters bought into the unreality they were being sold.
      You can’t fight psychological influence via banning or arguments. You can only fight it with reality.

      You yourself have given a great example of how something that is not bad (music) can be mixed with unreality (a false reality, if you prefer that term) and can cause a major negative impact.

      **********************************

      So what’s happening is that we have

      young men fed on their unrealities + it’s so strong that they buy into it.
      young women fed on their unrealities + it’s becoming so strong that more and more are buying into it.

      That increases the potential for a loss of communication.

      Men and Women have to meet in the middle. But that’s impossible if entire generations are being brought up with absolutely unrealistic expectations.
      *********************************

      The post is saying – More and more elements are getting added that are taking readers away from entertainment and reality to a false reality. It’s the psychological elements. I think that’s the key thing people are reluctant to admit.

      It’s not that there is fantasy. It’s the fact that there is fantasy designed to subvert the normal reality processing abilities.

      Imagine if there was a type of painting that gradually made the viewer turn blind. That’s what’s happening. It’s not the book and not the fantasy and not the romance. It’s the mechanisms being used.

      You don’t have to defend books or reading or YA. I am only talking about the psychological triggers. You know what – let’s just wait 20 years and see how this generation of young girls fed a steady diet of unreality (which real boys, even polite ones) can never compete against – how they do in their relationships.

      When we get this new generation fed on a thousand unhealthy unrealities grow up and start families – then we won’t have to wonder about what effect it might have. It’s very different from anything that has happened in the past because you never had a system that

      A) Knew exactly what psychological triggers to use.
      B) Had the means to deliver these psychological triggers to an entire generation.

      Basically, the means to manipulate humans are multiplying far faster than our ability to fight them. And our intrinsic belief that ‘oh, we could never be played for fools’ means that we don’t even care that our kids and grandkids will have to fight against all these forces alone.

  19. Another example of psychological triggers being manipulated ever more expertly is with advertising. Its not just that products are being advertised,its brands that are being built with psychological hooks into the consumer. We stood a chance when it was just clever adds using a bit of humor, or playing on our inner needs – but now:
    - Every aspect of an advertisement designed to hit psychological triggers – colours, shapes, movement, sounds, facial expressions, relative positions of people
    - smells piped into the air conditioning to trigger physiological reactions in your body
    - store layout to maximise spend (flowers near the entrance, bread and milk at the back, kids toys on the lower shelves, sweets by the tills, smell of freshly baked bread)
    - brands creating a psychological dependency in terms of aspirational values (witness the Apple fanboys)
    - product placements in movies and tv
    - celebrity endorsements hitting more emotional triggers.
    - mining of social network data to target personalised adverts directly at YOU.

    These psychological triggers that are being hit have been developed over millions of years of evolution and I also find myself wondering what the world will be like after 20 or 30 years of this… How do we defend against these things when we are not even consciously aware of them.

    Yes there has always been advertising (just like there have always been romance novels) but I believe that this is the first time in history that its been done so scientifically, combining cognitive psychology, neuroscience, brain chemistry, physiology, sociology and more – all combined into one targeted hit. Some of the marketers and authors are just following proven formulae, but others are surely taking a very scientific approach.

    • Yes, you state it much better than me. In particular, this part:

      Yes there has always been advertising (just like there have always been romance novels) but I believe that this is the first time in history that its been done so scientifically, combining cognitive psychology, neuroscience, brain chemistry, physiology, sociology and more – all combined into one targeted hit.

      That’s the part our natural human hubris prevents us from understanding/accepting. It’s not just that things are better now at manipulating us, they are exponentially better.

      While we ourselves are getting a bit lazy with all the amenities and conveniences, we have people combining psychology, sociology, influence/manipulation techniques, and other sciences to create really, really compelling angles of attack.

      Social Games are one early indicator. It’s going to get a lot more interesting when people start using identity and self-actualization and appreciation and recognition drives and go beyond the baser instincts.

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