Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thoughts on "Hot" Characters

A while back I was browsing the YA section at my library.  Now, my library isn't very big, so there's usually nobody else in the section.  But that particular day two girls I didn't know were browsing along with me, and I couldn't help but overhear their conversation.  (Note: this was brought to mind as I read everyone's recent updates on Goodreads for The Exiled Queen.)  It went something like this:

"Hey, can you recommend something for me?"
"Um, sure.  What do you wanna read?"
"I don't know.  I really don't care, as long as there's a guy who's *@$%&##ing HOT in it!"

I then proceeded to vomit all over the new releases. 

No, not really.  But if you were watching, you probably could have seen me cringe and hold on to the nearest copy of any Artemis Fowl book. 

I don't know.  I may very well be the only one who finds this concept completely and utterly appalling.  The idea of reading a book just so you can swoon over some fictional character who's been described as attractive?  *shudder*  It just seems...wrong, to me.  Horribly and utterly wrong.  Here's why:

1. I don't know about anyone else, but that isn't why I read.  I don't read so my mind can create mental pictures of guys to lust over.  That's just gross.  I read to involve myself in an exciting story.  I read to immerse myself in another world.  I read so I can find a book that really has an effect on me.

I don't read so I can pretend I'm the main character so I can be in love with some guy who doesn't exist.  To me, that's the literary equivalent of looking at questionable pictures on the internet.

2. I've noticed that many of these "hot" guys in books aren't realistic at all.  They're just way too perfect to be real.  They have everything, and they're virtually flawless.

If you know someone like that, feel free to shoot me a message.  But the truth is this: you don't, and you won't.  People are people and they make mistakes, so therefore they are not perfect.  Perfect people don't exist, and you'll never find one in real life.

3. Again, reading just so your mind can create mental pictures to lust over is just plain wrong.  That kind of thinking is wrong and isn't good for anyone, no matter who they are.  I'm not trying to be all preachy here, but if you aren't married, then...you shouldn't be thinking like that at all.  If you are, then isn't that like cheating?  How would your spouse/boyfriend/whatever feel if they knew you were reading about other guys in that way?  I know that if my future boyfriend asked me for a book recommendation "with a girl who's HOT in it", I wouldn't be too happy with him.  No, I lied.  I'd glare, ask him "What's wrong with me?" and then walk away to the children's section where they have copies of Rowan of Rin to make me feel better.

4. I feel bad using Twilight as the example for this, and I feel bad bringing it into my argument.  But I don't see an alternative.  Right here is an article that is definitely worth reading.  Take the part about fantasizing about Edward and apply it to any book you read.  There you go.   

5. Eew.  Really.  Are you so incredibly starved for entertainment that you have to read books just so you can lust over someone who doesn't exist?  Can't you find another alternative?  As a certain character on Cyberchase would say, "Ew, ew, and double ew!"

This is just what I think.  Feel free to disagree.  I don't care, but this is how I feel.  Now, don't get me wrong: there's nothing bad in reading about "attractive" characters in and of itself.  It's just when that becomes the whole point of reading that it just seems so incredibly wrong.  I'm not trying to tell you what's right or wrong, either.  That's not my place to tell you.  And I'm not suggesting we ban or censor these books, either, because that would also be wrong.

My point is...before you read a book just for the sake of reading about a "hot guy", think about it for a second, will you?  There's got to be a better reason for reading.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am a teenage girl.  So you can't say I'm stereotyping them, because I am one, and I know that everyone's different.  I have nothing against those girls I overheard.  I don't even know them.  I just know what they said, and what I've heard other people say in the past.

Yes, I am a Christian.  Got a problem with that?  Great, because I don't care.

Yes, I know there will be people who disagree.  Guess what?  I don't care about that, either! Feel free to give your opinion in the comments.  But please, please don't be mean.  Don't be rude.  You are entitled to your own opinion, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that I feel are unnecessary.

4 comments:

  1. This is a great post! I really do agree with you. I find it disgusting how half the girls in my grade read books (and why they read Twilight) so that they can swoon over fictional characters. It's just wrong and that's not why authors write books (or at least most of us). We write to tell a good story not to have someone read it JUST for the "hot" guy in it. Why read at all if that's what your going for? As an author I'd be offended if I heard that someone was reading my book just because there was a "hot" guy in it.

    And as a Christian this totally makes sense. It's a sin to fantasize guys (or women) in that way. It's breaking the sixth commandment. Sure it says "thou shall not commit adultery" but it also means it in mind body and soul...and not just physical.

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  2. That is kind of weird, yeah. I don't read because of that, though I tend to crush on guys in books all the time. (In fact they are the only people I crush on.) These crushes don't have much to do with hotness, though - for me it's all about personality - and I don't really fantasise about them. Not in that way, anyway.

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  3. Completely agreed. I've purposely made it so that the possible love interests in my stories aren't bad looking (so that those sort of people won't be disappointed) but they aren't ridiculously good looking either. They're ordinary people.

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  4. For reference, I'm not a Christian.

    I somewhat agree. I definitely don't like "trendy" books that teen girls read just to swoon over. Case in point: I read Twilight on the recommendation of a guy. And not just any guy, one of the "hottest" and most popular guys in my high school. Because I despise vampire books on principle, I had to be coerced into reading it.

    That being said, I read to feel something powerful. Sometimes that something is overwhelming sadness, sometimes it is pain or even happiness. And sometimes that something is lust. It has nothing to do with the guy himself; it has to do with the actions, descriptions (not just physical), and writing style of the author. The author has the ability to give me those powerful feelings, not the character. I think that makes all the difference in the world.

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