Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stephen King's opinion about Stephanie Meyer doesn't have to start a fan war

Over the weekend,an interview with Stephen King appeared in USA Weekend and some of his comments regarding Stephanie Meyer and the Twilight series has ignited quite a bit of fan frenzy(I've seen some of the comments on various talk back boards and even checked out a couple of YouTube videos that have already surfaced,with more to follow,I'm sure).

I understand the initial anger-after all,I've had to defend authors that I like(including Stephen King) to those who find their work unappealing and don't see why in the world anyone with taste other than in their mouths would spend any time on it. However,I do think that folks need to calm down and take a real look at what the man actually said and why he feels the way that he does about her writing.

King was asked if the huge success of his career paved the way for the likes of J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. His response to that was this:

"King, whose Stephen King Goes to the Movies collection came out last week, doesn’t know how much of an influence he had on Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger. "I think that has some kind of formative influence the same way reading Richard Matheson had an influence on me," King explains.

"People always say to me, 'Well, what about H.P. Lovecraft?' And the thing was, you read Lovecraft when you were a kid but I never felt that he was speaking my language. It was chillier than my heart was, and when Matheson started to write about ordinary people and stuff, that was something that I wanted to do. I said, 'This is the way to do it. He’s showing the way.' I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that’s a good thing. Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. ... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."

He then followed that up with:

"But then King recalls that when his mom was alive, she read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason mysteries, obsessively when he was growing up. "He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful," King says. "Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful."

"People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet."

Now,before you get all hot and bothered,let's go over a few facts,ok? The worst thing that King said about Meyer is that "She's not very good". He also is not crazy about James Patterson and has mixed feeling regarding Dean Koontz's books as well. So clearly this was not an "I hate Stephanie Meyer" rant or a deliberate attempt to hurt her feelings or those of her fans.

He was specifically asked about Meyer's work and he gave his honest opinion,no more,no less. The man was once a English teacher and used Dracula as the template for his vampire novel,Salem's Lot,which makes his standards for the genre more academic than most of the average readers out there.

One of the big complaints regarding this article has been"Hey,I'm not a teenager or a girl,but I like the Twilight books! What's up with that?" As one of the Twilight fans who is far away from her teens as possible, I say unto you,please don't take that personally. The books were marketed to a teenage,female audience by the publisher just as Rowling's books were marketed to a younger reader fantasy crowd at first.

Also,to those of you out there who don't like the Twilight series to begin with and feel as if Stephen King has vindicated you,check yourselves before you wreck yourselves. I recall a time when admitting to be a Stephen King fan was as socially acceptable as a flesh eating virus and putting up with some mockery myself. Don't use this little brouhaha as an excuse to taunt other people. Bad karma is no joke.

Speaking of bad karma,I hope that folks don't use this as an excuse to stir up the Harry Potter/Twilight feud again. In my opinion,comparing Rowling to Meyer is like apples and pretzel sticks;sometimes,you want a subtle sweetness and other times,you just crave some salty goodness(which one is which is entirely up to you).

In the end,all this is just one writer's opinion about another author's work. There's a whole history of literary feuds between writers that were way more intentional and vindictive,and Stephen King's comments about Meyer and Twilight doesn't even qualify for the minor leagues of this bloodsport. Sometimes,it's better to just let things go:


Mary Akers said...

GREAT post! Thank you for injecting a little much-needed perspective.

darbyscloset said...

Nice post! It's funny what King said about Dean Kootz and James Patterson for sometimes after reading one of their books, I'll scratch my head and wonder "who really wrote this book", for it doesn't have their personal beat.
Thanks for sharing,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

lady t said...

Thank you,ladies-I appreciate the feedback.

Ladytink_534 said...

I haven't read King in years but I have read (and own) almost everything he's ever written and although I have three copies of Dracula, I bought that particular one because of his intro lol. I'm a Twilight fan and a Harry Potter fan so while I totally understand where he's coming from, I don't really have an opinion either way.

Steve said...

Yeah! that's it, apples and pretzel sticks