I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendships in young adult books, and how they tend, overall, to be relegated to the background, pushed to the margins to make way for romance. In a way, it’s a reflection of the tension some young adults experience as they pass through important, but sometimes very liminal, stages of their lives; they are growing into themselves and at the same time making connections with other people that are different from the friendships they’ve had in the past. One consequence, for some, is the loss or dilution of friendships in the face of romantic relationships, which can be very consuming.
So it’s not surprising to see that echoed in YA lit as well—authors write their experience, but they also think about the experiences of their readers, and they know that friendships and romantic relationships can become a balancing act, especially when the two become entangled. At the same time, though, it reinforces specific social attitudes about friendships, and friends, that I find unnerving, because they tend to devalue friends in preference for romantic relationships, setting people up for a lifetime in which their friendships are less important than the people they have romantic and sexual relationships with.
Reading Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr last year, I was struck by a number of themes, but obviously the friendship was one of them. This was a book that revolved around a friendship, which made it a standout in its genre; in a world where every book I pick up seems to be about romantic love in some aspect (chasing it, finding it, grieving its loss), Zarr defied the norm to talk about friends and what they can mean to each other in a complex, multilayered book that resonated with me in ways that romance often does not (though I am, of course, a reader of romance novels and romantic YA—especially since it’s very hard to find YA without romantic themes these days).
It’s not that friendships aren’t featured in young adult fiction; on the contrary, they’re a very important part of the story. Friends support each other, fight with each other, follow each other to the last. Harry and Hermione, for example, have an important bond that is very specifically a friendship, and they offer things to each other that are different from what Ron and Hermione bring to their relationship. Friends are a tapestry of young adult lives, and discussions about building, making, and maintaining friendships are an important part of narratives from historical fiction to dystopian nightmares.
It’s that friendship takes to the wings when the possibility of a romantic relationship is on the horizon, and suddenly the story becomes about that. We focus on the relationship with the love interest (or interests, since triangles are enduringly popular), and we’re driven away from the textural complexity of the friendship, and the interaction of friends and lovers.
In Team Human, Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier managed to strike the balancing act very well: this is a book about two friends who love each other very much, and are determined and feisty and independent, and it’s also a book about a romantic relationship, and the tensions that arise when one friend disapproves.
While the book is of course told from the point of view of the friend rather than one of the lovers, which slants the book in the direction of a more friend-centric narrative anyway, I’d argue it’s still an excellent example of a YA that manages to preserve a strong balance. Friendship, Team Human states, is important, and friendships make up an important part of your life. They are not less valuable in the face of romantic interludes, nor are they practice relationships for you to cut your teeth on until the ‘real thing’ in the form of romance comes along. Team Human doesn’t set up the implied value system many other books do, where a friendship is less-than as soon as a hot character trots across the pages.
In a market, and a society, that demands romantic books and expects to see such relationships given precedence, it’s hard to go against the tide, and authors who do choose are to be commended. It’s possible to write a book just about a friendship that will be fabulous, rich, complex, and interesting, without suggesting that the characters in the book need romance to feel complete. And it’s possible to write a book with a mixture of both romance and friendship in which the two types of relationships are given equal time and equal treatment, occupying spaces of comparative importance both for the author and the characters.
Because we live in a world where friendship is often treated like second place, and as something that should be set aside for romance. Whether you’re being told to tolerate something hateful your friend’s boyfriend said to you because they’re so in love, or you’re dating someone new and you slowly stop calling your friends, you’re reminded on a regular basis that the most important form of relationship in this society is romantic love, and that anything else is lesser. I like to see narratives that push back on that, that position friends and other kinds of relationships as great, important, and valuable too. And I suspect I am not the only reader who feels this way.
In the quest to push for more diverse depiction of romantic relationships, we must also remember that there are other kinds of relationships that are getting short-shrift. Yes, I want more Tamora Pierce-style romantic couples and less Stephenie Meyer-style stalking and controlling in the name of ‘romance,’ but I want friends, too. Glorious, excellent, wonderful friends.
Fandom: Person of Interest
Main Characters: Joss Carter (POV), Zoe Morgan
Spoilers: Very, very vague
Warnings: None really
Beta: Louisa and Allaine
Disclaimer: Don't own these characters, or anything else about the setting
Summary: Just because Reese isn't telling her everything, it doesn't mean that she can't try and find things out for herself
( Read more... )
A couple's seemingly perfect life is disrupted when their new, expensive  radio turns out to allow them to listen in on other tenants in their building. This leads to a series of increasing disturbing revelations, ones the wife can never unhear.
I think Mind Webs did this as well.
1: $400 in 1947 $ = ~$4100 in current US dollars.
I know this is boring and it should go without saying, but apparently it hasn’t been said enough: this idea that fembots are the perfect women is just wrong. It suggests that men want someone over which they have perfect control. And that’s creepy… and boring.
Also, that part where they make eyes at each other, he instructs the GPS to take them home, and she hits the button to heat up her (cold, hard) “seat.” Just… ew. That is all.
Here’s another especially troubling example, sent in by a reader. It’s some sort of ad for Play Station 3. It features a fembot being assembled and “woken.” The narration explains that she will ”cook, watch the house, take care of the kids” and be “entirely at your disposal as a sexual partner.”
At some point the fembot realizes she is being sold and expresses shock and disappointment. The man in charge explains, “Of course you’re merchandise, baby.” When she says that she’d thought she was alive, he labels her “defective.” That thought was not “part of the protocol,” he says, “You’re not supposed to think at all.” He then decides to destroy her, but succumbs to her pleas to let her “live” after all. Again, a super creepy story about the ideal woman.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Music: Fever Ray
Video: Twilight (all movies)
Notes: Premiered at wiscon_vidparty 2013. Thanks to everyone who listened to my babbling everywhere about this and everyone who watched and cheerleaded, and extra special above-and-beyond beta thanks to bookgazing for her effort and thoughtfulness.
"Morning, keep the streets empty for me." Hunter and prey in Twilight.
Stream at Vimeo | Stream at Youtube | Download (Box, ~71mb, .avi)
Password = rawr
I sort of went for the minimalist approach.
( large pic here )
Those girls will never know, and maybe wouldn't care if they did, the human devastation they left in their wake. A woman, crumpled and crying, using the wall for support as if her back had been broken by the weight of their disrespect. I don't know what to do in these circumstances but I headed over to say something, someone had to say something. We all saw it. We all knew what happened.
Silence is consent.
Silence is complicity.
Silence is collusion.
But before I got there another woman had arrived. She's someone I see around from time to time. She has an intellectual disability and works in one of the stores in the mall. She stood with the woman, talked to her quietly. Soon, they were laughing.
I rolled away, not needing to do anything,
I don't know what was said, I do know that when laughter starts - healing is underway.
What struck me as wonderfully ironic was that the woman who arrived to help wore a tee-shirt with the logo of a community living organisation. Sometimes slogans stay slogans, sometimes they become action - "community living" isn't a concept it's an action.
2. I wasn't thrilled about working tonight on my day off, but I got to take home a ton of free meat, so that was a nice bonus. (I posted a picture on Twitter of my haul.)
I have also watched a lot more SnK OP parodies since the last time I posted some. SO I DECIDED TO POST ALL THE ONES I'VE ENJOYED SO FAR! so some are reposts and some are new. mostly from youtube b/c I can embed from there (the youtube ones are often reposts from niconico), but a few I couldn't find on yt so they are niconico links. you need an account to watch videos there but they're free/etc. so IF YOU ENJOY THESE YOU SHOULD MAKE ONE, THERE ARE LOTS ON THERE!
( ones I had already watched on/before may 2nd, most of which I already linked here )
( ones I watched since then and haven't linked here yet )
It really is quite ingenious, and it's all contained in this one little clause
"By using the platform, authors give all rights to the work to Amazon, who can then license your elements to other authors with no compensation to the original poster."
They're not trying to sugar-coat it at all. It's a straight-up, bare-bones IP theft type dealie, the kind of thing Big Media has been doing to comic book illustrators, musicians, and other artists since copyright first was invented, but even worser. Pennies, pennies will they offer to pay fanfiction writers for their brilliant plots and 'verses and OCs, because Hollywood has been out of ideas since 1965 and has been rehashing the same ol' since then.
If I have to see another remake of the A-Team or Tron, I'll eat my left sock.
So here it is: we are a gold mine, and they want to cash in by putting some pasty interns on the job of hashing through the heaps of fanfiction that impoverished writers will publish on the new service because they, you know, what to eat and stuff. One of these writers will make maybe $54 all-told on their fabulous 150K wd AU where, I dunno, some glittery vampire has a meet-cute with a barista at the magical coffee shop on the corner when he has an allergic reaction to her Chai latte. Which turns into the next mega hit for MGM starring Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling.
Writer goes to the movie, pays for the ticket out of her meager budget and gets to see her characters on the screen. But doesn't see her name on the ending scroll, or get paid a single penny.
Repeat ad infinitum.