I was talking to somebody the other day about these genres and how in the United States there are many stereotypes that make reading them "un-cool" I've heard that these stereotypes are not nearly as strong in other countries. So we began to figure out why these are considered to be read by only a narrow type of people.
Mostly using imagination is extrainious and unnecessary in our society. American's don't really believe anything is worth doing unless it has some other beneficial value. If you read fiction, it is only really acceptable if it's teaching you about something else in life. Fantasy, Horror, and Sci-Fi are based on an alternate reality, making the lessons/morals/themes less valuable to the reader. Doing things strictly for pleasure are for the most part looked down on.
I personally love to read the genres and get a lot out of them. However, I don't always admit to it. How accurate do you think this is? Are the stereotypes strong in other countries?
Well the reason I dont care for the genre of scifi is mostly the overdone, flooded market. There are so many bad books that it is hard to find the good ones.
But personally, if the book dosent do anything for you (and entertainment IS somthing), then what is the point?
When I first read your message, I was going to disagree with you. I mean this is America (where I'm at), and stereotypes should not be around, but they are. Reading should not have them - it doesn't matter what genre you read, you are in the minority in America - A lot of people DO NOT read in our country.
Then I looked (quickly) at the top 150 sellers at USA TODAY, and I was amazed!!
The first real 'fantasy' book came in at 107 (Harry Potter) - I'm not counting the Chronicles of Narnia which was a bit higher. The first real 'horror' book came in at 110 (Stephen King). There was no 'sci-fi' books in the top 150. Maybe this is an odd week, because I'm sure there are sci-fi books that make the top 150. The list was dominated by FICTION books (there are a lot more of those produced, so I think that they will dominate the list most weeks).
Anyway, I probably didn't do much to answer your question, but I am proud to read books, and I don't care how many people know that I read fiction (especially Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror), and if somebody wants to stereotype me as 'wasting time', then I'm okay with that!
I certainly don't think that these genre's always have the sterotype, but I definitely find myself a little reluctant to admit to reading them, or take my Fantasy novel out in public.
The reason I started thinking about it was actually an interview I saw for the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They said they were hugely popular in Euroupe (the specifically mentioned Germany, England, and France) because the stereotype isn't as strong. It's actually a great show, once you get over the intial reaction of "Its a vampire show about teenagers that was on the WB. Can that possibly be quality?"
I also totally agree that there are tons of trash novels out there, but I think that happens in any genre - even Literature/Fiction. You have to weed through books all the time. It's a little harder for the Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror reader because you don't have a mass populace giving you a dependable reaction to the books.
I agree that there is a stereotype in North American Culture when it comes to these genres. The proof that these stereotypes exist are all of those Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror/Comic Book/Anime conventions that are held all over the place.
I think that the unfortunate thing is that people are regarded as just being that stereotype and nothing else, and that's what's a bummer. I may like The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars and have played Dungeons and Dragons, but those are different aspects of my personality. It doesn't mean that is all that defines me.
But alas, some people don't see that. And I don't really mind. I am who I am and if that bugs people that's fine with me. "To thine own self be true" n'est ce pas?
Americans have shied away from escapism. People have gravitated to crime novels, non-fiction, and historical-fiction for their books. Only recently has fantasy come back in style in hollywood epics. Even then, most people tend to think anything other than Tolkein is a derivative work not worth reading.
It's probably a similar reason to why reality TV is so popular. People here like things that make them feel like they could happen. A sort of escape rooted firmly in reality, with real people. The suspension of disbelief and the imagination required to enjoy fantasy is something that we often lose as children grow up.
Sci-Fi movies are starting to get out of hand. Everything was cool for a while, but now Sci-fi authors have gotten so deep inside of peoples heads, that the majority will probably come up with new paronia's about different things.