Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chick Lit & Maureen Dowd

Recently, New York Times columist Maureen Dowd ran an opinion piece where she basically degraded readers of that genre known as chick lit. Now, first let me say, I haven't seen the piece, as I don't get the Times. There is a link, but you need to be a Times Select subscriber, which I also am not.

I know this has been brought up on quite a few other blogs, and we're all asking pretty much the same thing:

What the f%^&?

What is it with some people who have to sneer down their noses when it comes to certain genres. For the longest time, romance novels were like bastard children of the book world. Even today, there are people who would rather cut off their lips rather than admit that they read a romance novel. There are book snobs who will sniff haughtily and say, 'I don't read smut'. Well, if they don't read it, how do they know it's smut?

I personally don't read chick lit. Nothing against it. But my stack of TBR books is almost touching the ceiling and most of them are historicals. However, if someone I know handed me a copy of (forgive me, I'm not even sure if this is chick lit) The Devil Wears Prada, I'd probably read it, eventually. And who knows? I might even like it. I'm not prejuidiced against the genre. It's just not the first section I hit in a bookstore.

Still, I would never suggest that this genre is any less worthy of readers than any other. Really, how is it any worse than horror or erotica? Give me a break.

And to label women as basically stupid and simpering simply because of their choice for leisure reading material is absolutely moronic. Please, there are plenty other criteria to choose from when it comes to judging stupidity. Reading a certain type of novel is hardly the most accurate. Besides, how does reading horror or suspense equate on the intelligence scale? How would any of them? I guess that would make people who read graphic novels barely register on the IQ scale, wouldn't it? What sort of an argument is that? That's like saying only the smart people could possibly understand an art film, while the rest of us (who apparently have the IQ of houseplants) can't possibly understand anything other than a comedy. Ask me, it takes a whole lot of brains and skill to write a truly funny movie (I think Harold Ramis is a genius, by the way.)

My reading tastes are eclectic, like my taste in music. If you looked at my bookshelves, you'd see classic literature, biographies, horror, romance, and Calvin and Hobbs. What would Ms Dowd have to say about that? I shudder to think.

What is scary is that Ms Dowd is perpuating stupidity. She is perpetuating myths and misconceptions that have plagued romance as a whole pretty much since the beginning. It isn't serious literature. Well, guess what? Jane Austen wasn't considered serious literature in her time. Had there been such a thing as chick lit, guess where you would have found her books. Go on. I'll give you three seconds.


As the author of several romance novels, I have also encountered the snobs. They don't bother me, if they can support their argument without resorting to the usual I don't read smut argument. I'm sorry, I had no idea writing about two people falling in love with one another and the problems they have to work through to reach a happy ending was so offensive to the elevated (read: snob) mind. Maybe it's me. I like that happy ending. I like that these two people manage to overcome serious crap to be together and that they are willing to work for it. Why is that so terrible? Especially nowadays. And maybe if real-life people were willing to work half as hard as those made up people, the divorce rate wouldn't be about 50%. And I know that not every marriage ends because people don't want to work on it, but that's another post.

Ms Dowd needs to pull her head out of a certain orifice and re-think her arguments. Maybe instead of bashing a book because it has a pink cover (hmm... maybe her mother never told her about judging a book by its cover??), she should try reading what is inside that pink cover.

She just might be surprised.


Anissa said...

I can't believe this is still going on. It's irritiating, it's petty, and it's total bulls&*^. Before it was the attack of the chick lit author, now they're going after readers? Makes me want to scream. ARGH!!

I wish people could just mind their own business. Seriously. And it's always women. Jealous women whose own novels aren't as commercially viable. I ran into this in the corporate world as well. Women can't stand to see other women succeed. They have to try to hold them down. I can't understand it. Never will.

A little tolerance is in order. I was glad to see your post, that you defended a genre that you don't even read. That's how it should be. Tastes vary. If the chick lit books go away, does this woman really think those readers are going to turn around and suddenly start reading literary novels? Sorry honey, it's not going to happen. Sometimes you just want escapism.

Great post! (Sorry I ran on.)

Kim said...

That is so true - if I wanted a downer, I could always turn on the news. I love to read because it's a chance to escape into a world where there is the certainty of happily ever after. To say that women are stupid and fluffy for reading chick lit is completely moronic. If she had defended her opinion with an argument that actually made sense, that's one thing, but to me it was like saying only serial killers read Stephen King (not the greatest analogy, but the best I could do)

Thanks for the comment!