It's my Genre, I Can Say What I Want To

I wrote a send up of Erotic Romance at AAR and a reader sent me a basically polite note saying "if you hate and disrespect the genre that much, why do you write it (as Summer Devon)?"

Hate it? I love the stuff. I get a huge kick out of it. I buy, read, critique and write romantica. But that doesn't mean I think it's beyond mockery. For one thing, there's a lot of really bad/derivative stuff out there. (Calm down, Summer. Not you, usually, I hope. Or anyone else reading this. And anyway, even it is you, Summer? What do you care? You have fun.) For another thing and this is more important to me: The moment anything moves into the unmockable zone, it's dead. It's just . . . Cliff Notes. **

And actually, for my third and final thing [why purple? why not?], I'm feeling pretty secure about the genre these days.

I had a Chaucer professor who was kind of a flake. He said that the reason people could get away with mocking religion during Chaucer's time was because their belief is rock solid. In other words, they had no doubts and it's only when you get insecure that you clamp down on mockery or satire as disrespect.

Like I said he was a flake, so I don't know if he was stating a commonly held scholarly belief but it sort of makes sense to me on a personal level.

If someone attacks something you care about but have deep doubts about, the instinct is to snarl and protect yourself and those tenuous values. If it's something you have no problem believing, you smile and nod and stay polite enough to outsiders. If another insider mocks it, you laugh without reservation. Outsiders aren't as funny because they lack basic respect. But in the end, it's not worth bothering with them.

Back when I was first writing romance, I would justify it to non-romance-writers as Real Writing. Now, pfah. I don't need to. It's held up fine without my justifications and if people like this dude (thank you, I don't think, Fiona) want to be patronizing chin-chucker about it, doesn't hurt me or the genre.****

It's like what I say to my kids: I'll explain a joke, but only if you ask. If you don't like it, don't whine to me. I'm busy enjoying it myself and don't need company.

___________

**See? Therefore I mock it because I Care. Kind of the "I hit you because I love you," sort of argument but works for me. I've been reading some BDSM.

**** And actually now that I've managed to drag myself all the way to the end of Carlson's deep-dicking RT article . . .okay, damn. Well-written and funny and kind of mean. And they say bloggers are jerks. Meh, it's his right.

Comments

  1. Well, some people have no sense of humor and ought not be reading paradies of any kind.
    Thought yours was a Hoot - nice write-up besides!

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  2. If someone attacks something you care about but have deep doubts about, the instinct is to snarl and protect yourself and those tenuous values. If it's something you have no problem believing, you smile and nod and stay polite enough to outsiders. If another insider mocks it, you laugh without reservation.

    And this is why I spend so much time writing about politics. I almost can't help it; the next political post is always brimming just under the surface. I so deeply believe that there SHOULD be a way to get education going along smoothly.

    In my little realm of politics, we mock it mercilessly. If we didn't, we'd slowly loose our minds. (Right now our Superintendent has an email signature which miquotes Mark Twain about not letting crtiticism get you down, and the quote is incorrectly punctuated and spelled wrong. This goes out on EVERY email from the Superintendent of Schools? Yeah, we're not mocking that. No way.)

    I think a certain amount of the self-mockery comes about organically form being frustrated that your core belief or avocation is not serving you as well as it could. The great stuff is great, but the derivitave crap begins to rankle, and then the mockery begins.

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  3. That was great (your satire). And I'm happy to note that I'm not falling into any of those stereotypes. Except perhaps for the moaning part. (Have you read my sex scene yet?)

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  4. I had a Chaucer professor who was kind of a flake. He said that the reason people could get away with mocking religion during Chaucer's time was because their belief is rock solid. In other words, they had no doubts and it's only when you get insecure that you clamp down on mockery or satire as disrespect.

    I think he's got a good point there. The fifteenth-century Castilian love-poetry I've read was full of blasphemy. For example, there were parodic masses where the God of Love appears to the lover and gives him advice. They compare the lover's suffering with Christ's Passion. It wasn't till a bit later (outside my area of study, so I'm going to be vague about it) that the Inquisition started to censor books, and I think that coincided with the rise of religious dissent. Yes, I've found a relevant quote:

    Before the Reformation there was little demand for the services of the censor. The Church was worldly; its supremacy in all matters of faith and discipline seemed to be so immutably established that it regarded with good-natured indifference abstract speculations such as those of Marsiglio Ficino, Pomponazzi and Agustino Nifo, and concrete ridicule like that of Sebastian Brandt, Thomas Murner and Erasmus. It was otherwise when the Lutheran revolt threatened the overthrow of Latin Christianity and spread with such rapidity that no man could foretell its limits. We have seen that, as early as 1521, Rome called upon Spain to prevent the introduction and dissemination of Lutheran writings, and that Cardinal Adrian promptly assumed that it was the function of the Inquisition to do so.
    Henry Charles Lea's History of the Inquisition of Spain

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  5. That was a great post! Love the footnotes!

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