SarahPhilip

SarahPhilip

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

    8

    Romance novels - too easily dismissed?

    Romance novel are often looked down on and seen as somehow inferior. Chick lit is a name that has negative connotations. It suggests something trashy or throwaway. Even Jane Austen, whose books are considered classics, is criticised for not concentrating on weightier issues. But why are romance novels so easily dismissed? Is it because it’s mainly a genre written by women? Is it literary snobbery for something that is so popular? Romance, after all, is an important part of everyone’s life. Most people either get married or live together. Obviously not all romance novels can be of the same calibre but many are well written and engaging. So there does seem to be an unfair tendency to criticise romance novels.

    Look at this idea in terms of classic authors like Jane Austen and modern day authors like Diana Gabaldon or Nicholas Sparks.

    • You've brought up some really good points, Sarah. It could be a tough sell for anyone who takes on this topic, but worth pursuing all the same. – Amyus 2 weeks ago
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    • An interesting aspect of this is that unlike other genres, Romance as a genre has never experienced a wane. It's form may have changed slightly to match the socio-cultural values of a particular time-period, but unlike Fantasy, Horror or the Detective novel it has remained a viable and popular genre. It is also worth looking at that there is, like in any literary discussion, a hierarchy of texts. Austen is recognised as a classic, Shakespeare's greatest play is a tragic romance, but counter to that is Mills & Boons and 50 Shades of Grey. Romance is a very large category that has some strong allegorical values in reflecting societal norms, if nothing else this provides the genre with value. – SaraiMW 1 week ago
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    • (I know none of the claims I am about to make are based in fact, but this how I feel about romance novels or the genre as a whole.)For me personally, I think a lot of the criticism of romance novels is due to how they depict romance. Novels like the twilight saga and books by Nicolas sparks often times create a romance that I personally cannot buy into. A lot of stories that's main focus is love often fall flat for me because I cannot suspend my disbelief for the scenario that the author is creating. I know they are works of fiction and the author is trying to create an interesting scenario that will lead to conflicts in the relationship, but the conflict often times feels too contrived. Using SaraiMW's example of Shakespeare the tragic romances in Shakespeare's great plays is just overly complicated with characters miss hearing conversations, walking in on compromising situations, or simply lying (this largely due to these situations being done for comedic effect or being a metaphor some other idea and despite the romance being the main motivation for the protagonist, they often hint at a deeper message or social problem.) But stories like Madame Bovary and Re: Zero Starting a Life in Another World resonate with me as a love story, because the romance is pretty straightforward. Emma Bovary has a warped perception of love (due to reading romance novels ironically) and this leads to her being disappointed in her marriage. Which ultimately leads the tragedy of the book. While RE: Zero sets itself up like a typical anime romance and uses that show the flawed perception of love that they. Which in turn makes it one of the best anime/ novel romances of all time in my opinion, because the Subaru actually has to struggle to prove and earn the love of Emelia. This leads to all the events matching the character's motivation. Making the romance feel all the more believable. I honestly think you should write on this topic, because like SaraiMW said, I do not think people hate romances. Romances find their way into almost every genre of writing. I think they are pointing out flawed idea's love that seems to exist in these stories that have a deep focus on romance. – Blackcat130 1 week ago
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    • Do you think "romance" as a genre is more an add-on to any other genre rather than a genre in and of itself? You can tell sci-fi romances. Historical romances. Fantasy romances. Is a romance novel any novel that focuses on the search for love of the main character? I think romance novels are easily dismissed when they are particularly salacious. The stereotypical romance novel treats relationships shallowly. But that doesn't have to be the case. Romance novels can give keen insight into the search for connection. – Kidcanuck 1 week ago
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    • I'm interested to see what the writer comes up with, as I have written a romance novel and had it published. It was a Christian romance novel at that, which - you wanna talk about dismissal? I could tell you stories. Most people hear that and think, "Oh, so you're just writing romance without the sex? Boring." Which--ugh. But Christian or secular, romance novels do not deserve the bad rap they get. – Stephanie M. 6 days ago
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    • I think romance novels often receive criticism for being "fairy-tale" like and for portraying relationships that often have the happy ending in a way that many of us will not experience. In real life, from my experience in my own relationships and marriages (there have been two of those...), romance ebbs and flows and partnership and collaboration seems to be a longer-lasting bond. In novels like _Pride and Prejudice_ or _Sense and Sensibility_ and today contemporaries like _The Notebook_, the viewer's attention must be kept, thus the author creates a passionate, sexual tension between the characters that doesn't go away for the few hours it takes us to read the books. We are bombarded with a thrilling (and give-me-some-of-that) unrealistic representation of the life of true partnership in many cases, and therefore, such novels are criticized. However, I think we need to look at who is criticizing the novels, as well. Is it mostly men or women? I think it would be interesting to research that and uncover what gender stereotypes might come into play. Regardless of whether we like it or not, I still believe society dictates our behaviors as male and female, and some men might criticize such literature because it is not masculine enough and some women might criticize it because it presents females in a weaker light, always searching for "true love," or something of the like. This is a really cool question that begs other questions about our society. – kategasp 10 hours ago
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    Is 'the evil twin' merely a lazy stereotype?

    The evil twin is, at first glance, a predictable trope where pure villainy is set against the heroism of the central protagonist. Evil is subsequently only something that is external to our hero. But is this all there is? Does having an evil twin make the hero confront another side to himself? What does it mean for the viewer to see someone who looks exactly like the hero we know behave in a completely different manner? Does it make us reevaluate his behaviour, think about what circumstances could make him turn to the dark side? Or is this all negated by the disappearance or death of the evil twin and a swift return to the status quo?

    • This is a very valid exercise in self-judgment or sizing up of strangers. In a personal sense, evaluating the inherent goodness or bothersome evilness can be cathartic in times of peril or doubt. In dealing with others, it can be a make or break relationship that start productive or end disastrously. Seeing this dynamic in action through the twin phenomena can be insightful for the viewer, and probably transformative for the director as well. I think there is a good reason this narrative exists, it really serves a useful purpose in finding the root cause of positive or negative personalities or situations. Movies and television are littered with the story line, contact me to discuss. – lofreire 10 months ago
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    • Interesting topic and questions. I tend to think the evil twin trope is tired and clich├ęd--if it's played completely straight. However, I like it when heroes are forced to confront "shadow" versions of themselves. For example, I once wrote a character whose nemesis embodied what her worst traits would have been, had she not possessed the morality and inner strength to control her own weaknesses. I think confronting that is a lot more powerful than confronting an evil twin, because it's actually scarier. If a hero has an evil twin, then yes he or she can just say, "Oh, that's the evil me. I don't want it, I have to kill it, I killed it, so let's go back to how things were." But if a hero is confronted with another, unrelated person, the stakes are different. Example: an intellectually gifted but loner hero confronted with an equally intelligent person who uses his or her brain to hurt and alienate others. In that situation, the hero has to confront, "That *could* be me. I can relate to and sympathize with that, so how do I approach and cope with this person?" – Stephanie M. 10 months ago
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    • The basic emergence of this cliched trend harkens back to the very existence of matter and antimatter in this universe. Interesting topic. – Vishnu Unnithan 9 months ago
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    • It can certainly be used as a lazy trope, undoubtedly; however, it also harks back to the doppelganger concept, which would be an interesting addition to exploring this theme. – JudyPeters 8 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    SarahPhilip

    You’re right. As much as we might criticise editors for not showing us exactly what’s happening, they are great at their job. There are so many reality tv shows that get millions of viewers, especially compared to more traditional dramas.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    That’s so true. On social media you are your own producer and editor. You show a particular image of yourself. In fact, social media is connected to reality tv in many ways. The rise of reality tv parallels the rise of social media particularly with so many people discussing these shows on various platforms. What’s more, many reality tv stars extensively promote themselves on social media.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    I think you’re right. Programmes about families or animals who need help are just as manipulated. They have to follow a formula so that, in this case, by the end of the show the Supernanny is shown to have improved their lives. Producers probably not only influence the kids to act up before and after her visit but also choose the worst examples of their behaviour before she comes and the best behaviour after she’s left.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    I agree. Scripted reality TV can go too far. Producers are always trying to bring out participants’ bad behaviour. I suppose that’s why it can be so addictive.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    News stations use some of the same techniques. They edit footage to focus on certain people who they think will come across as more sympathetic or entertaining. One example is the famous Antoine Dodson ‘hide yo kids, hide yo wife’ interview. (https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=EzNhaLUT520) News stations repeatedly showed Dodson’s dramatic ranting after his sister was almost raped. He was the one highlighted, not her.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    Celebrity versions are everywhere, sadly, because producers think that it’s celebrities who will make their shows more interesting. Even z list celebrities are more likely to increase ratings.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    Thank you.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
    SarahPhilip

    Thank you. I agree. Reality TV is quite enjoyable despite its flaws.

    The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV