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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Is Latest Trend Towards Demonology & Sexually Explicit Scenes In YA Fiction Concerning?

Current trends in YA fiction which include more specific sexual content, demonology and in dwellings of fallen angels concern me. When young adult fiction was first identified, it seemed to be separated from other genre. Its content had to do with teen aged "coming-of-age" and angst stories, friendship cliques, family dynamics, mild fantasy, syfy, and boys' sports conundrums, just to name a few fairly harmless plots. 

*It must be said up-front that I do not mean to include these series':  "Harry Potter," the "Twilight" series and lighter YA fiction in my discussion but use them only as examples of the evolution of YA fiction toward fantasy in a non-threatening way.

Upon the debut of the "Harry Potter" series, YA fiction took a greater leap into the fantasy world, drawing adult readers as well as young adults and children whose parents readily read the books to them.  While this series drew some controversay from conservative groups, it was massively received and marked a new trend toward the magical and mystical we'd not seen in children's literature in recent times.

Then came the vampire series topped by "Twilight" and its copycats. A seemingly harmless group of novels that soft-peddled beautiful, teen aged vampires who were for the greatest part, sad they had to drink blood to survive and wanted to be part of an ordinary high school. No explicit sex and no demonology with succubi and incubus's, werewolves included, at the beginning of this trend.  But, not your old-fashioned vampires in the long-run ...

Suddenly, or perhaps insidiously, I'm not sure which, some authors have turned a corner seeming to draw unwitting YAs who seek a little more darkness, and are led by gorgeous book covers. Why have writers begun to lose their sense of what is appropriate for young adults to read?  Their sense of direction has become strange.

Some books have begun to tell occult stories, easily drawing the darker sides of teen aged minds and troubled/drug-exposed lives or worse. They're writing stories featuring beautifully etched spirits and angels from the dark side, demonology, losing one's soul, humans selling one's soul forever, in dwellings of angels of darkness, fallen angels who are minions of Satan, sexually explicit scenes and the like.

What has happened to a sense of concern and awareness of young adult audiences? Where are these stories leading them, anyway?

I'm afraid, but I'm compelled to speak out and to take a stand about this trend. 

When things began to deteriorate in some countries of Europe in the 1920's, no one spoke up about the "mythologically-based" trends of the Nazi regime.  Were you aware that their symbols, their beliefs and rules of order were taken from ancient occultism and mysticism? Were you aware that Wagner's music and opera were mythologically based and were the favorites of Hitler and his staff? Beautiful stage settings..gorgeous program covers..stunning performers...


Hitler's justification for the murder of Jews and other "undesireables"  was based on mythology and beautiful gods and goddesses who came down to fraternize with humans. These stories birthed his compulsion to create the pure Aryan race, which is based on a mythological people. 

The symbol for the "SS," Hitler's most feared secret police, is from the mythological symbol for Vril or the "god" Odin.  The Swastika is also.

In an article by Dr. Danny Penman called "Hitler and the Secret Satanic Cult at the Heart of Nazi Germany," he writes:

"Historians have tended to downplay the occult foundations of Nazism for fear of trivialising its heinous war crimes, but a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel laid bare the untold story of the secretive religion at the heart of fascist Germany. And bizarrely, it is thought to have been based on a 19th Century science fiction novel that predicted flying saucers, an alien race at the centre of the earth, and a mysterious force known as Vril.

“Occult myths played a central role in Nazism,” says Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, head of the Centre for the Study of Esotericism at Exeter University. “When we look at these ideas today, we think of them as crazy, but they were central to the early Nazi Party and through them played a critical role in 20th century history.”

“The Vril society was dedicated to evil,” says historian Michael Fitzgerald. “Through their control of the Nazi party they committed the greatest acts of evil in the 20th Century.


“Vril occultists worked in complete secrecy doing anything that would promote Aryan power. This ranged from straightforward political assassinations, through to evoking the spirits of the dead, human sacrifice and summoning mysterious energies – or Vril - through sexual orgies.”

“They began by indoctrinating the Hitler Youth with Satanic ideologies,” says Michael Fitzgerald. “Children and the future leaders of the SS were taught that compassion was weakness. They were encouraged to celebrate pagan festivals and to carry out occult ceremonies..."


I'm hoping you will add your comments to this post.  I'm hoping I won't be alone in my worries about this trend.  I really don't know what else to do but share my concerns.

Deborah/TheBookishDame

8 comments:

Joy Renee

I just spent two hours composing a comment here and lost it when the page mysteriously refreshed returning with this form blank. It probably serves me right for being so long winded and composing what should properly have been my own blog post in your comment field. sigh.

Yet I will try to reprise:

Since I haven't read any YA books fitting your description I can't speak to them but I am wary of talk of 'protecting' our young adults esp from sexual knowledge but I'm biased as one who was so protected and feel it did me no favors. I speak to that here

As for the Rice, Rowling and Myers series, I find them allegories speaking to that feeling which is at its height in teens of being an outsider, a stranger in a strange land and aspects of magic and the supernatural in the stories speak to that feeling of powerlessness we experience throughout puberty in spite of the powerful emotions raging in us.

I see culture as a feedback loop in which it is hard to separate out the cause and effect. When cultural artifacts such as literature, film, music and art undergo dramatic changes (whether corrupting or enhancing of character) they are rooted in attempts to meet psychological needs not being met. Thus another way of asking your question would be: What is it in those stories concerning you that is speaking to some unfilled need in our young people.

Young adults have the most sensitive of hypocrisy meters and so when they turn from the norm it behooves us to ask in what way that norm is inadequate or inadequately embodied by those in authority over them.

As for the latter paragraphs, I am unfamiliar with the sources you quote so can't respond directly but I looked up that sci-fi novel which originated the term Vril: Vril, the Power of the Coming Race and apparently its author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, writing in 1871, was extrapolating upon their current understanding of electricity and magnetism.

The fact that several generations later individuals involved in a war may have used references to his story or even ancient mythology to justify nefarious deeds doesn't place the roots of those deeds in those stories.

That makes as much sense (to me) as if 60 to 100 years from now our current wars were explained by historians on the Star Wars movie and a secret society devoted to Darth Vader intent on educating the youth in the dark side of The Force via organized groups modeled on the Boy Scouts.

And finally, I do not believe the answer is ever to be found in suppressing the stories that disturb us or repressing the soul-deep questions those stories attempt to address. The best response is another story. Story is the language of the mind.

Julie P.

It definitely seems to be the trend. As a mother, I have to be very careful. I don't believe in banning books, but I do think it's part of my responsibility as a parent to know what my child is reading.

Deb

Hi, Joy, and thank you for your response. I've clarified my discourse because I didn't mean to classify "Harry.." "Twilight" and other such less fantasy/syfy books in this post. What I was intending to highlight were the books tending toward demonology and sexual explicity. I completely agree with you on the issues you bring up!

Julie, I agree...don't want to ban books, either! Just concerned that this new trend/popularity in authors is taking a scary turn.

Sher A. Hart

I think desensitization in general, not just because of the increasing depravity in some books, has proceeded pretty much unhindered because of misguided notions that freedom of information and speech was meant for children as well as adults. It was meant for adults, period. Not YA or almost adults.

It's to the point where they finally have enough SF and fantasy on TV that I could watch it all day long if I wanted, but most of it is so dark I don't want to watch it even as an adult. Doesn't anybody else notice the way it makes your heart feel heavy and your mind dull? That's because you lose contact with the Spirit, something an atheist would deny is even possible.

The same thing happens with books, the reason I quit reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. After the third book, I realized the tone wasn't improving. Although his characters are fighting against evil, they don't ever seem to make real progress. There's no better word for the feeling than hopeless, unless it's despair. Need I explain the need to keep teenagers from feeling hopeless? It's called suicide, for the unaware. You know, teen hormones raging out of control + hopeless = dead.

I haven't had the misfortune to read any book that encouraged going over to the dark side via demonology yet, only Philip Pullman's sad and inconsistent mythology which required angels to deny God's existence. I don't agree that the best remedy is another story once you find your teen read something against your wishes. The best remedy is a discussion of what was wrong with the first story and why it's not a good role model. The next best remedy might be another story of the opposite stripe.

The problem when it comes to YA is that some teens will find a way to do what they want no matter what their parents said. My parent never tried to stop me and that did me a whole lot worse, guaranteed, than anybody who says his or her parents protection never did any good. If you only knew what terrible experiences your parents saved you from, you would take back those words.

Parents who keep sexually explicit books from their children aren't "protecting them from sexual knowledge", they're protecting them from the wrong kind of sexual knowledge, encouraging sexual activity out of wedlock, which is not just irresponsible, it's dangerous and an invitation to further desensitization, denying the value of human life. Interpret that to mean abortion.

Sex education is properly done in a family setting with the parents leading the discussion, not via some steamy romance. We did this once a year with our sons until they got to the point where misinformation from school no longer overcame the correct information they received at home.

The most important thing to remember about the trend towards darkness and demonology in books is that most of them aren't in the school libraries. So if your teen isn't old enough to have a job and buy their own, and you keep enough good books in the house that they don't run out, they're not likely to seek out a bad one unless it gets a lot a media attention and word of mouth. Once that happens, prepare to do a lot of explaining and damage control because the publishing industry is no longer acting like responsible adults when it comes to classifying literature suitable for teens.

Okay, that's the long of it. I should have written a book.

Jennie

Interesting article, I also noticed when I check my libraries "just arrived list" there are more and more of this type book. I wondered about it too. I did read Harry Potter & loved all of them and I liked If I Told You I'd Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter. Enjoyed all in her series. None have anything to do with the dark side. So what is the attraction to these dark books by teens?
Would like some teen input about it. hmmmm..

Deb

Hi, Jennie, I'm posting to my other blog:
http://bookishdameyafancifulfiction.blogspot.com but don't know if it will engender any comments. It's a new blog... :[
It'd love to hear what teens think, too, but I have my suspicions that many will think the "covers are so beautiful" they'll want to buy them (even if they don't read them) for their book "collection." That's what I'm seeing on YouTube's "In My Mailbox" entries.

For those of you who are understanding that I mean to highlight the demonic, darkside, sexually explicit content and such...thank you. This is more than censoring what our children read...

roro

i'ma almost adult bloggr , but this is @%#%#%$$
love reading ya and pnr/uf bouth this stuff
have u evr read gena showalter lords of the undrworld
its pretty wicked
just b's

LP OBryan

Interesting post, particularly on the way culture and politics intertwine.

When war and death fill the headlines is it any wonder that our novels are filled with it too, but in a metaphor, and that YA echoes this? Evil has many forms. My suspicion is that good will triumph, that our natural inclination towards a happy ending will endow such books with success, but I know too that for far too many the ending has not been happy.

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