Darkness Too Visible: An Article Attacking YA Literature

05 June 2011

(to the left- an image from the article depicting topic)
           Recently, this article was published on the Wall Street Journal titled "Darkness Too Visible", part of many articles published over the years to ruin the name of young adult lit. Not only does the author, a 46 year old mother, condemn YA in general, but also the teen audience saying "adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness"  "The article is an attack on progress above all."

 Narrow-mind-ness is the problem.  It's understandable, this viewpoint these people have, but it's not understandable, however, that they have to attack young adult literature and question the intelligence of it's readers. The era where teens read only cute, fluffy and restricting teen books, mostly on educating kids about puberty, is long gone. Since then, teenagers have gotten smarter and more aware of all the trouble and wrong in the world. Parents like this author want their kids to be safe and protected forever, but that's really difficult to do in today's world, with violence and abuse right next door. To look down upon teen literature for reporting reality isn't very wise. We teens learn a lot through reading our books, so why be so against it?

"How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child" (Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of the article) So why is it darker? Because this generation has been exposed to a lot more at a faster pace than other generations before us, because this generation is exposed to the newest technologies that allow more information to reach us faster. In other words, progress. That word brings to mind a quote from Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix from Umbridge "Progress for the sake of progress must be prohibited"

"As it happens, 40 years ago, no one had to contend with young-adult literature because there was no such thing"  As stated before, this is evidence that this is an attack on progress. A new genre has emerged and evolved since many adults were children, and this unfamiliar setting had made them upset.

         Of course, the good news is, is that this article isn't being ignored or fought against. Like Steph from Steph Su Reads says about the online YA community "we're probably one of the most well organized informational armies out there." and we're fighting back. Libba Bray made a series of tweets against the WSJ article on her twitter and many bloggers are talking about the unjust accusations against YA Lit.

Conclusion "I hate willful ignorance, and closemindedness, and the determined denial to see things as black and white and dismiss even the possibility that things might be gray."

Works Cited:
The Only Thing I Really Hate- Steph Su Reads
Darkness Too Visible- Wall Street Journal

1 thoughts:

  1. I like the conclusion quote. I may have to steal it. Who wrote/said it? (So I can cite them).

    Quite honestly, that article is ridiculous, because sure a lot of the literature has dark undertones and topics, but so does the world. YA literaure is based off of what we see in the world. The pain, the trials, the challenges, the hardships,the bad that characters go through in YA literature, is mirrored off the the trials we face ourselves, see others face, and read out in the paper, or on the internet, or hear about on the news. This being said, most YA literature is more inspirational than it is about the bad. It's purpose isn't to overload us with dark, horrific images and ideas. It is to take a realistic hardship, to expand the feelings and emotions felt while going through them, and like most YA literature, give it a good ending, maybe not all happy, but one that doesn't leave us in the depths of darkness, but rather one that says yes, such bad exists in the world, but it's possible to get through it, to overcome it, to rise above it. That is the point of most literature. If one were to look at great American authors, you could say their literature was dark too. Edgar Allen Poe wrote about murder, and the stabbing of eyeballs. John Steinback, in Of Mice and Men, wrote about the inability to achieve the American Dream, as well as the lack of close relations and friendship, not to mention murder, and death. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby wrote about affairs, illegal activities such as importing alcohol during prohibitions, more death, the greediness of human kind, and of course the ever famous, death and murder. Walt Whitman, a poet, often wrote about the experiences and horrors of war, the horrors of seeing those on their death bed, with vacant eyes, and lifeless forms and so on. Langston Hughs, and his fellow writers during the Harlem Renissance wrote of the trials of being black, the hurt feelings of black little boys and girls understanding for the first time about prejudice, and realizing no matter what they did, it would never be enough. Ray Bradbury, who wrote Fahrenheit 451, speaks about the burning of books, the censorship, and brainwashing of technology and its effects of society.

    All the aforementioned, authors/poets are well known adult writers or classic American literature. They too wrote and spoke of the world around them, which had their issues as well. One could even say, that their literature too, had a darkness about it, and yet it isn't being attacked. In fact much of it is regarded as classic American literature, and is highly respected.

    Who knowns, maybe in 50 to 100 years, YA literature may be considered great works, so for now, ignore the haters and critics, because I do believe as writers and readers of YA literature we know that these works are not dark, but rather a reality, a reality we choose to depict with detail and precision, but also aim to help reform and make better.

    Yes, I realize, long comment, BUT I had to get my thoughts out there!


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