Hey all I’m back with a few guidelines on what really pushes my buttons and why I get so mad at certain authors for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. It’s all about my Bottom Lines!
Bottom Lines?: Yeah, if an author crosses one of these I tend to stop reading a book immediately. Or shortly after if they don’t make up for it quickly.
#1 Killing Kids “on Screen”: I absolutely have no sympathy for an author who will kill named characters that are kids on screen. If it’s a monster’s point of view you often get it for a random set of characters that are never named and it’s glossed over for the most part by the story except for whatever purpose it served. Killing child characters that the author names and introduces to us? That’s inexcusable for me, and I’ll drop any book that has it in it. Dungeon Lord was a huge offender and my most recent example of a series that just ticked me off. It named a kid and gave us a point of view through that kid’s eyes. You grew attached to the character, and the author brutally murders it in one of the most horrific ways of any story I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve experienced a literal truckload’s worth of books, not counting movies or games.
Ways to get around this? Don’t kill them on screen, have the characters find the aftermath if the author must have such a plot occur. Or just don’t do it at all.
#2 Mental Illness: I deal with mental illness personally, so when an author demonizes people with mental illnesses, or they treat it like any other plot device and depict it in incredibly poor ways I’m going to get more than a little angry. The fact that I can write and do what I do is a minor miracle I’m grateful for every day. I don’t have a glamorous life, I’m not wealthy and I really only get by just barely. However I’m still happy that I’m not a psycho or curled up in the fetal position and unable to do literally anything. When people treat Mental Illness as anything other than what it is, which is a terrible disease that is not easily treatable and may never be fully curable for many people, I get really angry.
Why?: Because I fight myself every day, saying that my life is a literal hell is not an exaggeration. I constantly have parts of me that hate myself, another wants me to give up, and yet another tries to beat me into submission. It never goes away and while medicine helps keep the negativity of my own self in check, I don’t ever have a good day by most people’s standards. For me a good day is when I can distract myself with something that keeps most of my consciousness from being able to do any self reflection for a majority of the day. But that’s it, because a part of me is every second of every waking minute trying to drag me down into a pit of despair. And that’s just my depression, I have other issues that I won’t go into here, because frankly it’s none of your business. Needless to say that I absolutely have no respect for any author who treats depression or other mental health disorders as anything other than what they are. A living hell for those who deal with it. People who don’t have depression will never fully understand the absolute suffering people who deal with severe depression go through on a constant basis. So to those authors out there reading my blog. If you have to use mental health issues in your stories, please do your due diligence and actually learn about whatever issue you plan on using. Because depicting it in anything other than truthful ways is a great way to alienate readers who actually deal with the same problems.
#3 Bigotry: I don’t have any respect for bigots, I think they are cowards and troublemakers at the best of times. Having the protagonist subscribe to any form of it is a great way to get me angry and stop reading the story. What is it like to be Eternal had an incredibly homophobic remark 3/4ths of the way through the series and I immediately stopped reading it. I had enjoyed the series up to that point, because it was well written. But the moment a lead character stated something like that I had no desire to continue reading it. Now I know that some stories written in the past are going to deal with such things, and some are just plain old satire. I love Blazing Saddles, it’s my favorite movie of all time. It’s also got a ton of bigoted characters in it, because that’s the point. It’s supposed to make them look like ridiculous fools.
That’s it for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. Next week will cover some lesser offenses that won’t get me to drop a story nearly immediately.
So basically Dungeon Lord, Deathlord Unbound, and Eternal.
My question would be if this applies to single works or if, by the author having crossed this bottom line in one of his books, you would refrain from reading any of their other works because you so strongly disagree with the author’s values that would lead them to include such things?
I ask this with the intention clause you mentioned in your post in mind.
I may give authors a second chance for lesser offenses, which I’ve detailed some of my biggest ones in next weeks post. I had originally planned to do it all in one, but it got too large for just one of my posts, so I split it up.
But yes if something is intentionally making a joke out of bigotry than I’ll be much more forgiving. Also foreign works from very different cultures also get much more leeway. For example some Chinese stories there are disparaging remarks of Japan or Korea and I’m more forgiving because there is a known history of very bad blood between their cultures.
Also if someone makes a satire that disparages their own culture like Sasha Baron Cohen with Borat and the atrocious Jew jokes I’m much more forgiving. They poke fun at themselves as much as others, so I give them a ton of slack.
Sure, but to clarify, the key part of that question was the “because you so strongly disagree with the author’s values that would lead them to include such things”
I can separate an author from their art most of the time and might try another project. But if they’re constantly trying to push forward their values as their books underlying messages (e.g rape fantasies or Randian philosophies with Terry Goodkind’s later books), I find myself not reading them.
If this is part of your next post, I’m sure I’ll get an answer there, but if not, I would interest if you shared this aversion.
Yes and no, I try not to read too deeply into underlying meanings in stories because I find that it prejudices me towards thinking badly about authors in general and I find deep Literary Analysis to be an annoying and terrible way of judging a story (more on that later). I dislike Goodkind for his blatant use of bad plot devices that borderline Deus Ex Machina and the rampant explicit on screen brutality of his characters. His actual use of Randian political philosophy is not a reason I would stop reading his books. That’s merely a point of view to me, one which I don’t agree with much if at all (been a very long while since I read a Sword of Truth novel). But I try not to judge a story based purely on that.
I draw the line with racism (with caveats and exceptions which I’ve said above) and bigotry against creed or sexuality to be my biggest no no’s. If a character particularly the protagonist(s) express bigoted views that’s where I have the biggest issue. If an antagonist expresses them I’ll cut a bit more slack, because you are supposed to dislike such characters. Anti hero protagonists are a case by case basis for me.
The reader is supposed to connect with the protagonist most out of all the characters and I find that you can judge an author a lot by their main characters. I know that sounds like a double standard and it probably is, but to me I hold story and what actually occurs in the plot to hold more meaning than perceived deeper meaning you find through Literary Analysis.
Literary Analysis is another post I’ve got cooking up for the future, probably soon as I’ve had this particular view on literary analysis since I was in grade school and I was reading books meant for people twice or more my age.
I look forward to reading them.
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