Warning: Uncharacteristic rant ahead.
I had been meaning to put something out here today in protest against packaging sexual abuse and calling it “romance.” After all, that’s what all the cool bloggers are doing, right? And then I realized I’m not a cool blogger, so that took the pressure off, and I decided I wasn’t going to post a darn thing about anything at all today.
And then, I listened to Catholic radio during my 2.5 hour errand-running experience this morning (I won’t name which shows, as I’m about to rant about them, after all). All 2-plus hours of it was about how nobody should read that trash, nobody should watch that trash, please reach out to others who think that trash is treasure, if you want to protest at your local movie theater we’ll help you out, why is the culture normalizing this stuff, why doesn’t Hollywood understand that family films grossed more last year than anything else…?
And that’s when I got ticked off.
See, when I first heard about The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About, I wasn’t offended as a Catholic. I wasn’t offended as a Christian. I wasn’t even offended as a woman.
I was offended as a writer.
I remember when I wrote fanfic back in the day, watching my stories get modest attention and lovely, hugely positive but rather low-volume feedback. Meanwhile, the erotica stories got a gazillion hits and lots of awards and so much attention… and I kept hearing about how poorly written most of them were. I found it frustrating. Petty jealousy, though. I brushed it aside, learned the “Litany of Humility,” and kept writing.
But I found it even more frustrating when The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About got all this attention… enough attention for me to hear without even reading it that the darn thing was just so poorly written: flat character, bad dialogue, laughable descriptions… all those things I kick my own butt to avoid and let myself be humbled by editors and beta readers so that I don’t inflict them upon readers, and this Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About gets away with it, makes bazillions of dollars, and promotes abusive relationships? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!
That’s okay, though, right? I consoled myself. I write clean fiction. I strive to write excellent fiction. I read it, too. Surely the target market for clean entertainment will ignore trash and promote treasure. Right?
Instead, writers like myself send media releases and go to conferences and try to connect with the media types who could help us share something of (hopefully) better value, both artistically and spiritually… and those same media types ignore our contacts so they can SPEND AT LEAST TWO HOURS COMPLAINING ABOUT TRASH WHEN THEY COULD BE PROMOTING POSITIVE ENTERTAINMENT!!!!!
So I’m cheesed off. In both my professional and my non-writing life, I put a lot of energy into accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative, and tuning in to the affirmative. I try not to be That Author. I spend a lot of time reading and promoting as best I can fiction that is well-written and entertaining. I’m blessed to work with a publisher who does the same thing. I am active in the Catholic Writers Guild, and we’re all about promoting fiction that is both excellent and Excellent.
The media that is supposed to share our goals, however? Right now it looks like they’d rather complain about the popular and scandalous than promote the positive and affirming.
Okay, each of the three shows I heard did give at least brief mention to Old Fashioned as a positive option for moviegoers this weekend. Yes, it’s a start, but that’s all it is: a start.
Here’s my challenge. The likelihood of this challenge being heard is miniscule, but here’s my “YOPP!” For every minute you spent complaining about The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About, spend at least half as many minutes promoting some kind of positive entertainment.
And now, the fruits of that Litany of Humility: I’m going to take my own challenge and promote more than seven positive books, in no particular order.
- A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer (historical romance, specifically Civil War)
- Opal’s Jubilee by Leslie Lynch (mystery/romance–and THIS one is anti-domestic violence, so take THAT!). Let me add Hijacked by Leslie Lynch (more romance, but ALSO anti-sexual assault, so take THAT!)
- End of the Road & No Lifeguard on Duty by Amy M. Bennett (mystery/suspense with a little bit of a nice, clean love triangle thrown in there for you)
- A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable (historical romance/suspense set in Golden Age Philadelphia)
- Two Statues by Brian Kennelly (a buddy-priest mystery; the ending needs a 3 Kleenex Warning)
- The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt (literary, genre-busting)
- Viper and Bleeder by John Desjarlais
Readers, can you add any others that I may not have read yet (or just ran out of numbers for a 7QT)? In the event someone actually reads this whose radio show I heard this morning: why, why, WHY don’t you spend more time highlighting godly entertainment? I hear plenty of whining about scandalous secular movies and books. I hear lots and LOTS of interview with non-fiction authors. WHY ARE YOU PROMOTING THE MALNUTRITION OF THE CATHOLIC IMAGINATION?!?!
Lord have mercy on me. I’m about to post this.