So. I’m poor again – unemployed which means more time to muddle through some writing. Not that I’m doing it. Unemployment has a tendency to, well, kick one in the proverbial balls and therefore, and consequent to, you tend to lose your will to be productive until you are looking through loose change trying to see if you can put a spittle of gasoline in the tank to go to an interview that may or may not pan out.
It also means I find myself with abundant time to read. Unfortunately it also means that I find myself without a suitable book, or at least one that suits me and my present flattened attitude. So off I go to the bookstore with my meager savings and to what do my wondering eyes does appear, but a host of bloodsucking teens in full malaise gear!! Or should I say, girl teens in giggly malaise gear. I honestly didn’t know that giggly and ennui could be put in the same room together but apparently I’ve been missing out in life since the days when I wiled away my bleak teen existence in my basement bedroom listening to The Smiths. Things have indeed changed.
These days bleak can indeed coexist with bubbly. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. It can be written in sparkly letters on the covers of trapper keepers. Do they have trapper keepers anymore? I’m sure if they do they will be adorned with the visage of some immortally pale teen with a dental issue. For evidence of this you need look only so far as your local bookseller. Go to the children’s or young adults section. Carry a dead cat. Swing it three times and let it go. If you don’t hit a book with a vampire in it I will eat the dead cat. Or if it isn’t a vampire may I suggest the other possible Dramatis Personae: Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennett, Mr. Darcy, or (a slightly smaller chance) any number or combination of Bronte’s.
Personally I’m a bit disgusted on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin.
Look. I’m a good old fashioned American guy. I love Elizabeth Bennett. Wait, that didn’t come out well. I love the Bronte’s. It’s getting worse. Jane Austen, she’s my gal. Honestly. Now before I go and emasculate my Amercanninity further may I just state… Ah screw it. Nothing can help my case now. Let me just state that I prefer each of them, in turn, within their respective pages. I’m not adverse to literary license and let’s face it – he who doesn’t appreciate Elizabeth Bennett – Zombie Slayer just isn’t worth my time at all. But this is getting ridiculous.
My last tour of the ‘Literary’ section of the bookstore was like a grand romp through a clothing catalogue display circa 1825. There were more Empire waists and bonnets in attendance than were housed in all the greatest families of England in that year. It seems that everyone who writes is writing some dredged up romance teetering on the graves of some very capable and long deceased authoresses. What happened?
While the film industry resurrects every eighties TV show and produces such a massive pantheon of comic book movies that Olympus and Asgaard can now be seen on a daily basis quivering with rage, the literary world sinks deeper and deeper into the festering graves of a long past century. Here’s an idea: How about those who write – please stop borrowing other people’s imaginations? I don’t want to see Lizzy Bennett anymore, except where she richly belongs – between the covers of Austen’s original. I don’t want to see Austen, wandering the darkened streets of Bath solving crimes like a Georgian Jessica Fletcher.
And I am definitely done –DONE- with the Gothic Vein. Shit. Put a stake in that mouldering old bastard already.
I’m very happy that Edward and his ilk have given the Beatles Bereft teens of this generation something to coo about. (Though to be honest I think teens of every generation are pretty resilient in finding things to coo about) I’m happy that it’s gotten them to read and discuss books. If I have to hear those discussions, though, nothing will stop me from attempting to stab myself in the chest with a pointy stick. I’m not so happy that Edward and his ilk have left the generation of boys growing up nothing to hope for and therefore a dismal excuse to sink into their disgusting slurry of shitty video games. But hey, I suppose that just secures the future of the free world for women – who will soon be the only ones capable of reading.
It sucks being a teen boy. I mean really. I remember it with considerable nausea. If you’ve never been one before I highly suggest you try it sometime. See if you last a full day with your self esteem intact. We all resign ourselves to delivering up all our self respect through the high school days to whatever sacrificial altar is set before us: Sports, status, achievement, girls, parents, the local law enforcement buzz-kills. We hope that once we make the jail break from the teenaged years we can slowly start to recover, rebuild, or create from scratch. Some of us make it – many of us don’t. And yeah, you may say that the world is still owned by men and all of the glass ceiling stuff. It’s true. We suck, still. But the cultural deck is stacked way against us and with glossy jerks like Edward around causing all the available eyes to swoon, it starts young.
If you ask any girl of a certain age which one they prefer they will invariably have one of two answers. If you ask any straight boy of any age which one they prefer I can fairly guaranty only one answer: Kick either (preferably both) of them in a place where even a Werewolf or Vampire is guaranteed to feel it. The point of this is that when I was a kid of that age I muddled my painful way through the all too shitty days of High School by burying myself in a world of books, adventure stories, horror stories, hell, I even really enjoyed Vampire stories back then because they were vicious and dangerous and they jumped out of the dark and scared the ever living hell out of you. But no more. An adventure, such as it is, has become a trip to the mall for cute shoes. Vampires don’t lurk in shadows anymore. They sulk on bookshelves and on the sides of girl’s lockers. (and worst of all they provide a great target for certain types of boys to mimic to get what they want – you know what I mean?)
I would despair – and actually as a thirty something adult I do despair which is why I am writing this – at the state of the literary world. I think it sucks. I’m trying to do my little bit for it here and there but man, I can’t help thinking of that poor kid I once was, rooting through the available world of culture and finding nothing but a noisy videogame for solace. I can’t help but feel for that guy, longingly looking at bookshelves, wanting to read, and finding nothing worth reading: “Guess I’ll play Halo 45.”
I don’t really quite know how to fix this gaping chasm of the cultural gap. I do know that, if I were fifteen again, I would probably be even more suicidal than I felt I was at the time. I know I would look around desperately for something to believe in, something to get me through the day, a hero, a thinker, something, anything and I would find only empty husks of men barely able to support their own weight much less the responsibility of being adult. Sports stars, movie stars, rap stars, where does a kid go?
Well… Hit the books, pal – if you can even find them anymore. They’re all buried somewhere under that giant pile of adorably pale puppy dog eyes and pointy teeth. Let’s admit it – the damned game system is boring as hell anyway. You only do it because it’s the only thing you can do where you know you won’t get yelled at.
Hit the books, pal. I’m serious. And if you don’t like the stories you find there start writing your own. Find a door somewhere in the diminished experience you’re allowed to have at your age and crawl through. For me it was science. I read a lot of it – that and the horror stories of Stephen King and HP Lovecraft – where vampires were still scary and not cuddly.
Hit the books because the video game world doesn’t care that you finished Halo for the fortieth time on Legendary level. It doesn’t care about much of anything, really – not even giving you a decent story to chew over. It cares about your money and it will destroy your brain if you let it so that you won’t be able to tell what is good, interesting or intelligent anymore.
Alright. I’m done ranting. I’m sending this out completely unedited ‘cuz I was just in the mood to soapbox. I apologize for any inconsistencies or the crappiness of the essay form – at which I was never good and which has since denied me access to graduate studies. Yeah. I’m bitter. Grrr….