I love reading. I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. I usually read autobiographies or biographies of people I really admire, but, I am known to read the occasional realistic fiction novel. I hardly read Young Adult though. I read some realistic YA, but never the fantasy or sci-fi section of the genre. So, I was excited to find that I now had the opportunity to finally read YA fantasy as my college’s book club selected a book of this genre (which shall go unnamed). I picked it up from the library and started reading it and was kind of disappointed to find that I didn’t really connect with any of the characters.
I, however, was downright disgusted with how the male lead of this story, lets call him Tony for the sake of this post, was portrayed. Tony was a jerk. He was horrible to everyone he meets and a complete douche to his love interest. He was also a douche to the very people he was supposed to care about. BUT, we were supposed to forgive him! Why? Well, because he cracked the occasional sarcastic joke and because he had a ….wait for it….. TRAGIC BACK STORY ladies and gentlemen!! Isn’t that great?! Another male hero who has to be a jerk because he had a rough childhood!
Obviously this is a touchy subject for me. I myself had a rough childhood and I want people like me to be portrayed accurately in the media. Instead, I get a stereotypical portrayal of a dude who has become a dick because of ‘daddy issues’ or whatever. It sickens me to see that media thinks every male with a rough childhood grow up to becomes jerks (females usually grow up to become manic pixie dream girls). This is not true. My therapy group has some of the nicest guys around who’ve had the most messed up lives I’ve seen. Stop saying that we don’t have the capacity to be good people. We do, and I have living, walking, breathing proof of it in the form of a guy from my therapy group who e-mails me every Friday talking about how he went paid for the orders of three additional customers at Starbucks.
Dear authors, stop using a rough back ground as a lazy way to develop your characters. Do some research for God’s sake, and see what we’re really like. Develop three dimensional characters! You’ll be making a whole section of people happy by doing so.