Look, everyone, this is likely going to be a rant.
And the rant is this:
LITERARY FICTION IS NOT GREATER, MORE VALUABLE, OR OTHERWISE BETTER THAN GENRE, OKAY?!
I don't know where this kind of idiotic snobbery comes from. A lack of understanding, certainly. A feeling of insecurity? Hispter syndrome? Quite likely.
Snobbery is the pride of those who are not sure of their position.
- Berton Braley
I was an utter twat and have since learnt better. Much better.
The point is, I have experienced this kind of snobbery myself, from both sides. I have been the snob, and I have been snubbed. And it is the stupidest thing I think I can currently think of.
Well, that and Donald Trump is still the president of the United States.
Look, literary snobs, there is a lot to genre fiction that you would be able to understand if you could just get over the fact that it is more popular than your stuff (you hipster twats).
Is there drivel in genre? Abso-fucking-lutely. But here's the thing, literary snobs, there's drivel in your field too, so let's not pretend that you're better, okay?
There is no way that anyone who reads widely could possibly say that literary fiction tackles deeper issues more effectively than genre does. That's not to say that they don't tackle deep issues effectively, either. They do. Of course. But so does genre, guys. Honestly, just fucking read it. You'll see.
There is a bloody good reason why genre books strike a chord with readers (Harry Potter, anyone? It's been twenty fucking years, and that series is still incredibly relevant and looming large in people's lives) in a way that literary books don't really tend to. I'm sorry if that upsets you all, but fucking deal with it. I'm so fucking done with the mindset that because something is popular, it must be shit.
Clearly, if it was shit, it wouldn't be all that popular.
Spouting these ridiculous opinions about genre being trash just makes you seem bitter. And I suppose you are. Even your best literary works are fucking genre.
The Picture of Dorian Gray? That's horror. Slap on a literary title all you want. That won't get rid of the fact that it is genre.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? Genre, you sheep. It's science fiction and horror wrapped up in one classic novel. You can call it literary fiction if you really want to, but that doesn't strip it of the fact that it's genre.
I don't think that it is a coincidence that the most enduring classics are, in fact, genre pieces (and those that aren't tend to be read only because it's in a school curriculum).
Like I said, genre has a way of resonating with its audience. It's more than just silly stories with outlandish premises. It can use distance and the veneer of untruth to explore deeply human truths, to explore the human condition, traumas, and very current issues, and examining what it might take to resolve them. As G.K. Chesterton put it:
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
I'm also not alone when I say that genre books saved my life. I struggled with undiagnosed depression. Not only did these books transport me to a different place, away from the everything I was facing, but it helped me redefine my relationship with depression. If I could imagine myself as the hero of one of the books I read, and my depression as the villain of the piece, I found it easier to stand up and fight back.
Of course, like the heroes in those stories, I came dangerously close to giving up, and I even tried a few times. But I'm largely still standing today because tales of heroes battling overwhelming odds gave me something tangible to cling to; and example to strive for.
If Frodo can walk all the way to Mount Doom, I can get out of the fucking bed.
Since it is true that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least heard of brave knights and heroic courage.
- C.S. Lewis
Even the just fun "fluff" pieces in genre have at least that; an example of heroic courage.
The value of genre is so much deeper and richer than simple escapism (though there is a great deal of value in that, let me tell you).
That is why the bizarre snobbery against genre from those in the literary fiction field is so fucking frustrating. It tells me that perhaps those people are not as capable at examining literature as they pretend to be. If they were, the value of genre would become apparent almost immediately.
Look, literary fiction is genuinely wonderful. But so too is genre. Can we all just stop pretending that literary fiction is better. Those snobs who just love to express to me how frivolous, meaningless, and valueless genre is (in an effort to make themselves feel superior, no doubt... compensating for something, are we?) prove only how ignorant and close-minded they've chosen to be.*
And I don't have time for people like that.