Just finished reading Divergent, the latest YA novel/trilogy headed for the big screen. Lots of interesting ideas, but does seem to fall into the main YA category these days: Dystopian Boy Choosing.
Dystopian Boy Choosing(referred to from here on out as DBC) was first spawned onto the world by Twilight. People can argue it’s not dystopian,but they’re wrong. They’re not thinking about it from an adolescent viewpoint. In all these, it seems that if the world is not actually ending, they main character certainly feels like their world is. There’s certainly no shortage of negative worldviews in YA cinema, especially the films and books aimed at girls.
Chief among these problematic viewpoints is the idea that a woman needs a man to be fulfilled. I’ve watched that particular line of BS kill so many women;s hopes and dreams , it ain’t funny. Girls need to be taught to hoe their own row, and to keep their own personal inventory. I’m hopefully raising my daughter to need a man for only one thing, and that’s for only one hour at a time, and easily replaced by advances in technology.
Before anyone gets up in my face about talking like this, and how men and women need each other for survival of the species, let me point out a couple things. I’ve been a stepfather to three girls, starting when the youngest was ten, through the oldest now being 26. Most of my friends in college were female, largely due to a long term lease I held in the friend zone. So while I may not be a member of the estrogen sea, I’ve certainly sailed a lot in those waters.
Here’s the problem with all of this DBC stuff flooding the Wal-Mart shelves and Kindle lists: It’s gutless and whiny. The heroines may be great(except Bella,who I’d have staked in a second) but the overall tone and message of this subgenre is pathetic and sad. And it’s lazy. Writing fiction where everything sucks in the future has been lining pockets for decades. Nihilism, and the concept that the world is/has/going to have an apocalypse is easy as hell, and gives into despair and apathy.
Where is the YA science fiction that is actually worthy of the title? Science fiction used ot be about the possibilities, about seeing hope in where science would take us. There’s very little science in these futures, and no hope.Where are the Heinlein juveniles of today, that show a brighter future? Where are the heroes that get ahead by brains and not super powers?That show that the world may be different, but that we’ve advanced as a species and gotten better.
I’m not suggesting a sunshine bright future right out of the Lego movie. I’m thinking of a bright future where there are new challenges, but a lot fo our old ones have gone away.Where’s the writer willing to put that out there? And yes, I do think I’ll try to write one myself.
I’m not saying this just to be some literary know it all. I think it’s vital to our future as a nation and world. If you don’t give people hope, they give up. That sort of thinking leads right down the path to a nihilistic pit iof inactivity, which is the last thing this country needs. We need to encourage our young folks to dream of a better tomorrow. I’ve already watched two generations get chewed up by nihilism, apathy and ennui. Can we really afford to lose another?