It’s strange how random and rampant silliness can lead to some really deep philosophical discussions on everything from social mores to writing themes.
Instigated by my own energetic Labyrinth promoting lately (yes, I listened to the soundtrack all day today again and sang until my co-workers started throwing pencils at me), and built upon by some other folks’ real life experiences, those of us in the AW Purgatory found ourselves discussing little girls and romance. My friend Bryn Greenwood has a superb post on the subject on her blog. I’ll wait while you read it and come back.
*whistles, thinks of David Bowie in tight pants*
Anyway, welcome back. I don’t have a lot to add to Bryn’s thoughts, except to say that I agree with them. You should also watch any and all movies that she mentioned that you haven’t seen. (Labyrinth and The City of Lost Children being two that I particularly enjoy)
It’s obvious that watching Labyrinth as a young girl marked me for life, and it still calls to my now-adult self as well. I think that’s probably the same part of me that actually enjoyed Twilight (regardless of what other faults the work may have had). I mean, what girl doesn’t wish for the dark, dangerous stranger to come and protect her, only her, because she’s special somehow?
Even now, all grown up, there’s a part of me that is still that little girl, and I admit a certain giddy pleasure when reading/watching those kinds of stories, be it a goblin king, a vegan vampire, a hard-boiled assassin, or what have you. It’s not about sex at all. It’s about romance, and magic, and the pounding of your heart in your ears when he calls your name… And if he sings? Oh I'm done for.
I have to wonder though, as the mother of a young girl, how I’ll feel about her and those kinds of stories. I mean, you can’t say “a grown man falling in love with a young girl” without generating all KINDS of squick. (even me, just typing this, I do the full body shudder) It can be done beautifully, and has been, but I don’t know a single parent out there who, if hearing this in real life, wouldn’t immediately jump to the most disgusting conclusion, including torches and pitchforks. (and I include myself in that raging mob) It’s that one area where real life is just NOT allowed to be like the movies (or books).
Sure, the kiddo has watched Labyrinth, but she’s six. I don’t think she’s really getting much more out of it than how cool the muppets are and how gross the Bog of Stench must smell. But when she’s older?
I want her to experience the giddiness, the breathlessness, the joy of falling in that magical kind of love, but I want her to do it safely within the confines of a book’s pages, or a movie’s opening and closing credits. I worry about the people she’ll encounter in the real world, those who prey on this exact desire of all little girls to be special and to have that one whirlwind and breathtaking romance.
I intend to make my living off of worlds of imagination, and yet I worry that I’ll somehow squash hers in an effort to protect her. “Yes, honey, that was beautiful, but the real world sucks and this never EVER happens.” I don’t know how to let her believe in that perfect and pure love with all the magic that entails, and still ward her against all the things in the world that aren’t so bright and shiny.
I’m sure there’s no right answer to this, like anything else with parenting. You just kinda muddle along, and twenty years down the line, if your kid still speaks to you and isn’t in prison, you might have done ok.
I think this is why I don’t write YA. My neuroses won’t take it.