“I don’t want my son reading trash and wasting his time.”
My mom spewed those words at me several times in my teen years. She said that in reference to most of the YA I read, some of the nonfiction I dabbled in, and mostly anything that wasn’t strictly “literature” or science/math related. Deep beneath her blunt delivery lay good intentions: how could I be successful in school and in life if I spent my time reading about teenagers falling in love and doing drugs (or, er, each other)? As an incoming college freshman, how will I survive without a vast repertoire of literary references and knowledge about the subjects that matter?
If I could time travel to a few years ago, I would tell my mother that every form of media has value. Not only can you discern what not to do by reading bad books or watching insipid television, but you can pick up any work’s hidden qualities too. If person A were to read To Kill a Mockingbird – regarded as a classic by many – and
one of my favorite books ever fanboy screech only pick up that the story is about some girl growing up in a hick town in the south, while person B reads Twilight – regarded as a joke by many – and uses it to cultivate knowledge about the cultural implications of vampires, you can see that it’s the person that matters, not just the media. Pop music, while with its faults, can empower and inspire and motivate. Even the most mindless TV provides endless discussion; while I hate to rag on Glee, some of its story lines and characterizations need serious work. But, through the show, one of my close friends and I have discussed rape culture, the importance of consistency in fictional characters, bisexuality, etc.
You shouldn’t judge people based solely on the media or entertainment they associate with either. I have a friend going to MIT who still loves the Twilight series. My close friends, while different, have qualities ranging from reliability to empathy to intelligence and more – and they watch Teen Wolf or play video games like Animal Crossing and Uncharted. Even though I read a ton of YA and occasionally play RPG video games, I like to think I’ve accomplished a decent amount by gaining acceptance to some great colleges and scoring pretty well on Harvard University’s social intelligence test.
Keep in mind that it’s always easier to criticize than to create. While it’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that something – a book, a video game, a TV show, a movie, etc. – may not be the best of its genre or art form, it’s a waste of time to look down on others who enjoy it. Instead, use your opinions and ideas to improve yourself.
Anyone agree or disagree on the value of media and how we should evaluate ourselves and one another because of it? Have you ever felt judged because of something you’ve read/watched/played? I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Camp NaNo, life, and most recently, illness, have taken over my writing time. Here are my brief thoughts on the third Harry Potter book and I hope to hear from you all soon!