I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I got to have two; one with my family and one with my husband’s family. ‘Twas good.

Now, I am almost done with our Christmas cards (I have to do them at Thanksgiving, otherwise, they don’t. get. done.), but there’s still more to do…

In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself reading all the uproar about Twilight series, and whether certain characters are good role models, and I am forced to ask you this:

Do we, as authors, OWE you, the reader, only morally upstanding main characters?

Think about it.

Better yet, take a long, hard look at some classic literature. I’ll give you a short list:

  • Madame Bovary
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Jane Eyre
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Beowulf
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • The Book of Job
  • Candide
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Anything by Shakespeare
  • [edit to include:] Tess of the d’Ubervilles
  • Oliver Twist
  • Moby Dick [/edit]

Discussion, COMMENCE! ๐Ÿ˜€


11 thoughts on “turkey, turkey, turkey

  1. No way.

    It’d be nice for the cosmic order of things if ne’er-do-well main characters learned something, but in real life, good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, and vice versa, so I don’t see why authors shouldn’t be allowed to write about whoever and whatever they want. (Art imitates life?)

    Characters should be sympathetic – even if they’re wicked, the reader should want to follow their story – but then, I’ve read books where I just didn’t care about characters one way or the other, be they good or bad. Other people may have cared deeply about those characters.

    As I see it, writers don’t owe readers anything. There are readers of all sorts out there – ones who like to be duped, ones who like long, boring, or confusing stories, ones who like bad writing . . .

    Writers owe it to themselves to write the story that they want to write, the story that they have to write.

    If they want a large audience, they just have to figure out how to make those stories appeal to a wide variety of people.

    If a wide variety of people want morally upstanding main characters, well, then, that’s probably an author’s best bet.

    Most people like characters with a few (or more than a few) flaws, though. Is Bridget Jones morally upstanding? What about Harry Potter? How squeaky-clean does someone have to be to be “morally upstanding”? But thousands (millions?) of readers and moviegoers love those characters.

    . . . And some don’t.

    So, my vote is that authors DON’T owe readers morally upstanding characters.

  2. PPS: Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler. What would THAT story have been if those two characters had been “morally upstanding”? ^___^

  3. Interesting post, I look forward to coming back here and reading more on your thoughts, time is pressing at the moment.
    I believe that the words form themselves, we have no control as such as to what flows, either readers like or they do not. Outside my blog what flows as words flows through me, like a river that runs free and wild, its the words that come, the muse if you must, that owes its very breath to those that read.
    I will call back here soon to read more of your words and thoughts, you have intrigued my mind.

  4. Erin: Exactly! ๐Ÿ™‚ And, I would have added ‘Gone with the Wind’ (and a few others) to the list, but in the interests of keeping it a short list, lol…

    Duma Key: Thanks for stopping by! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The thing that gets me is all the uproar about characters in YA lit needing to be “good role models.” Yes, teens need to have good role models in their lives, but in literature? If you limit what an author can write about, (one) that’s censorship, and (two) you might as well kiss the entire genre goodbye. The best books took chances, made us love scoundrels or hate the good guy, but above all, they made us think about life and how it all works. Not everyone is a good person, and not everyone is a bad person. Good peeps can make bad choices; the God-fearing, church-going woman can get a little drunk and have a one-night stand, or, the hard-working, single dad who doesn’t make enough might steal a loaf of bread to feed his kids. The thing is their individual journey.

    Life is colored in all shades of grey. I think the focus should be on the fact that kids are reading, and after that, to allow them the space to consider and to learn to think for themselves. (Maybe this is where parents need to come in and, you know, actually be parents? Hmm?)

    Any more takers on the discussion?

  5. You already know that I don’t like Twilight, and I think Bella is ridiculous, and it scares me to think that girls might actually consider the relationship in that story love.

    All the same, I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that they shouldn’t read it, or that authors should make role models for young adults. As Neil Gaiman wrote to a fan about another author not pleasing the fan, “He’s not your bitch.”

    So, sorry if anything I said suggested otherwise.

  6. ‘Kenzie: I know you don’t care for the books, and that’s okay. ๐Ÿ™‚ Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. This wasn’t spawned from anything you’ve written; just general grumblings in magazines, in newspapers, on blogs, etc. about “girls shouldn’t be reading this, they need a moral role model to look up to that doesn’t do A, B, OR even think about C…”

    Reading all of that just kind of ticked me off, partly because it’s a round-about form of censorship, but mostly because it’s hypocritical. “Oh, yeah, it’s okay to read Madame Bovary — in which the heroine leads her man on because she doesn’t have the spine to go after what she really wants, refuses to appreciate anything he does once she’s got a guy, has affairs, and in the end, commits suicide by arsenic — but it’s just NOT okay to read Twilight.” And I’m not even going to get into the fact that no one seems to care about the stuff that boys are reading, or what role models boys have to look up to… (whole ‘nother topic, right there.)

    It’s just… WTF? You know?

    I think Neil Gaiman said it best. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Heather,

    I get what you’re saying. It’s kind of like when all those people wanted to ban Harry Potter from schools for preaching witchcraft or whatever, but it’s okay to keep Shakespeare in school because he is a classic, even though Macbeth (among other plays) is filled with witchcraft and murder, etc. It is that sort of hypocritical thinking that is irritating, right?

    I also think you make a great point about parenting. Just the other day I overheard a mother say to someone else in a grocery store line, “Teachers just don’t teach these kids how to respect people these days.” And I thought, “Shouldn’t that responsibility start in the home?!?”


  8. I have to agree with your comments above, quite strongly! Writing is art, art should not be censured its creativity that breaths a life of its own.
    Besides who defines what is right and wrong, a set of ideals, ideological hegemony, that changes over time, what was wrong in one space, becomes the norm for the next.
    There is too much “Do gooding” these days, restricting what can be seen, said or done. They even tried to ban Noddy!!! Come on give me a break here… the removal of the golliwog was enough, an innocent character that was by no means racist, just a child’s character interpreted by the adult world in a perverse way and banned!
    Many all time classics have hero’s that are not the norm, Albert Camus Outsider not exactly your moral guardian, but that is one hell of a book! The Catcher in the Rye, another great book, another hero that is more of an anti hero.
    We can not wrap generations in cotton wool, they have to be exposed to different worlds, different experiences, to learn right from wrong, to make there own paths.
    Life is both light and dark, the words of the artist depict the suffering, are mingled with the blood of there own experience, and paint there own picture, to take that away takes away the whole point and purpose of art, of writing, of life!
    This whole nanny state that is breathing and living, constricting breath, choking the very life it says its there to preserve is insane….Drives me mad!
    Its not a good role model…I have to laugh at that one, prehapes if these cencership skills were applied to actual parenting, then role models in novels would not be a focual point, as the child would learn from example and not from the lines of thought written page!

  9. Mckenzie: That’s *exactly* the kind of hypocritical thought I was thinking of! ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes; IMHO, I don’t think parents take enough responsibility for their kids these days. Granted, (or rather, THANK GOD!) there are exceptions — I’ve met some wonderful parents at my library job — but it seems that too many others just don’t get it. Every now and then we’ll get an angry/upset phone call from someone who’s MORTIFIED that their kid was able to check out XYZ… When really, it is (and should be) their job to pay attention to what their kids read. Not ours. Our job is running the clicker/scanner.

    DumaKey: There *is* too much “do-gooding” these days, and I agree that it’s killing us slowly.

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