No, this is not a blog post defending all those popular, mean girls who made so many people's lives miserable in high school. It's my defense of popular culture, things that so many people love but which end up being the whipping boy of critics and those who think they are above such popular things. Pffftt, I say.
Romance novels are favorites when it comes to making fun of something that has a huge and dedicated audience. I honestly don't understand this. Why, in a world where the news carries stories of murders, kidnappings, a tanking economy and a 50% divorce rate, do these critics not understand the validity and attractiveness of empowering stories of enduring love? Why is a happily ever after something to look down upon? Isn't that what most people really want in their lives?
That said, I have to say I don't like it when those in the romance genre make fun of other types of writing either. If you don't like Nicholas Sparks' writing, fine. But there are lots of people out there who do like it. If you don't like something you heard him or any other writer say in an interview, I totally get that. But, to me, calling someone like Sparks a hack doesn't do anyone any good. If you don't like a writer or his/her work, simply don't support their career by not buying or reading their books.
I saw an interview recently with Chad Kroeger, lead singer of the band Nickelback, in which he talked about how some critics say that Nickelback "sucks." He said that the band doesn't suck. They have zillions of fans and top-selling records that say otherwise. Kroeger said that they don't appeal to everyone, and that's fine. But that doesn't mean they suck. I saw Nickelback in concert a couple of weeks ago, and it was awesome! Loved the music, loved the show, loved the energy.
Another very popular figure who has been criticized very publicly is young adult author Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series of novels. Even Stephen King, who I've admired for defending genre fiction, jumped on the "attack Stephenie" bandwagon recently. I've seen many a fellow YA author publicly criticize Meyer's writing, saying it's not very good. So many times, those comments smack of jealousy to me.
Will Meyer win a Nobel Prize for Literature anytime soon? Probably not. But they've been giving out that particular Nobel Prize since 1901, and you know how many of the winners I've read? One -- John Steinbeck. I like Steinbeck, but give me a Meyer novel for pure enjoyment any day. There's a lot to be said for writing an engaging story, one that attracts lots of kids (and adults, for that matter) to reading.
So, is anyone out there a popular culture junkie like me? Is there something you love which takes a beating from the critics? What would you like to say to those critics?
And here, a little extra bonus -- the video for Nickelback's "Gotta Be Somebody," off their new album, Dark Horse. I like the lyrics to this song, which include:
"Cause nobody wants to do it on their own
And everyone wants to know they're not alone
There's somebody else who feels the same somewhere
There's gotta be somebody for me out there."