Thursday, December 26, 2013

On Youth, Fascism, and Enlightenment

Subtext can be a tricky, subtle beast. I’ve looked back on my own fictional work and been surprised to find, say, what had been envisioned as a thunderous sci-fi romp wherein humankind was not top galactic dog also happened to look exceptionally critical of the UN if you squinted hard enough. I like the UN! So I understand how, in the push to bank some Harry Potter and Twilight bucks by making something similar, sloppily conceived YA serieses end up with themes and undertones not necessarily intended. Still, though a strange alchemy of themes, tropes, and archetypes, lots of these lesser YA series end up feeling, well, a bit fascist. Specifically, a peculiar, youthful sub-thought I’d call Nerd Fascism, a strange mixture of young alienation, entitlement, cliquiness, with archetypal monomyth elements of the special birth or hidden parentage blended in, creating something that can feel thematically distasteful—a sense that the work believes some people are born better than others. But, in the vastness of culture oriented toward the young, not all special births are equal, and some handle their themes better than others.