Monday, July 4, 2011

"We’re called The Midnight Society."

Meghan Cox Gurdon just won't quit. This is probably old news as her last article, My 'Reprehensible' Take on Teen Literature , was posted on June 28th but I haven't had the time to actually read through it properly and pick it apart until now. If anything this article is worse than the first because it reads more like a personal journal entry filled with sarcasm and spite. It reads like every diary entry I ever wrote about high school and those jerks who made fun of me. Correct me if I'm wrong in my belief that an article written by a journalist shouldn't sound like that.

"By focusing on the dark currents in the genre, I was of course no more damning all young-adult literature than a person writing about reality TV is damning all television, but from the frenzied reaction you would have thought I had called for the torching of libraries."

Gurdon may not have called for the torching of libraries but she wrote an article that was highly inflammatory. In a world where books are banned, people may cite it as evidence and take it up as proof to support their ideas about what teenagers should be allowed to read. She made things sound a lot worse than they actually are and then didn't support her claims with evidence or statistics.

"There are real-world reasons for caution. For years, federal researchers could not understand why drug- and tobacco-prevention programs seemed to be associated with greater drug and tobacco use. It turned out that children, while grasping the idea that drugs were bad, also absorbed the meta-message that adults expected teens to take drugs."

My father smoked cigarettes and now my brother smokes, do I smoke? No, I don't because I don't want to. I've never even tried it. I never got any meta-message that my parents expected me to fall into the habit of smoking cigarettes or getting into drugs. Not ever. This is someone's research findings? I can hardly believe it because it sounds like something I'd hear in a bad science fiction film on the Space channel.

"I also don't believe that the vast majority of American teenagers live in anything like hell. Adolescence can be a turbulent time, but it doesn't last forever and often—leaving aside the saddest cases—it feels more dramatic at the time than it will in retrospect. It is surely worth our taking into account whether we do young people a disservice by seeming to endorse the worst that life has to offer."

Hell is what we make it. Adolescence is a turbulent time and the things that happen there can affect us later in life. These dark themed novels tell the story of just a few. It's not saying that every teen does these things nor does it in any way try to normalize them. They're trying to make people aware. They're not being overly dramatic with these stories, they're being honest.

I think Gurdon needs to move on from this subject. I think she should have done this some time ago instead of writing this article.

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed.

(note: title quote from the TV show Are You Afraid of the Dark?)

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