Hollywood proves my point

Over at Teen Librarian’s Toolbox, for a guest post on YA and guys, I wrote the following:

I believe the zombies and romance elements are rooted in the same concern: love. This is a giant untouchable for boys. They don’t talk about love. They don’t talk about feelings much, period (at least in a class). Men don’t either. Not stereotypically or theoretically, but in the majority. So why should boys buck the trend? Because they’re still naive enough, still hopeful enough, and still vulnerable enough to learn.

Zombies are the manifestation of death of the human spirit. They exist, but have no emotion, just pure desire for the ultimate taboo. Romance is on the other end of the spectrum, the pining, the swooning, the tears—all of which gets made fun of during Romeo and Juliet, but in reality hits home when it’s delivered correctly in YA. Boys stumble, are inarticulate, are overwhelmed by hormones. They need a character to be there, too, but somehow still manage to go out with the girl. Not because possession of the girl is the goal, but love is. Feeling. Not being a zombie.
Hollywood has proved my point. Thank you Warm Bodies.

My addiction to the humanity of The Walking Dead

I am addicted to The Walking Dead. Yet, I don’t read many Sci-Fi novels nor watch any other shows of the genre. I don’t even care for zombies all that much. So why do I like the show? Precisely for all that it is beyond the obvious.

I was late to the game with The Walking Dead, having only begun watching it over the summer. I admit, the first season was, good, not great. But I wanted more, because I felt as if the show had a significant amount to offer, much like a new author and a sophomore effort. Therefore, when season two was released to Netflix, I went on a Walking Dead marathon, watching all thirteen episodes in two days.

My wife was worried about me. She didn’t understand my addiction, and was concerned about my predilection for gore. I agreed, because it was over the top, and I didn’t understand the pull, either. And then I thought about the similarities with my reading habits.

When I read a novel I love, I devour it. I read non-stop, as if compelled. Obviously the same is true for The Walking Dead–as well as Breaking Bad, but that’s a whole other post–so it begs the question, what am I drawn to in both novels and this show?

It is the focus on questions of humanity. The Walking Dead isn’t only about staving off zombie attacks, it digs for answers about how we view our worth as humans, and possibly more important, how we view the worth of others. For me, any time a novel brings this issue to light, I’m on the edge of my seat. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still looking for an answer for myself, or because I know finding one is as elusive as holding water. Therefore, I am enamored with any story willing to probe the issue.

Our world is constantly evolving, and I’m in the thick of it as a parent, a writer and a teacher. I want to be able to provide a framework for understanding for my children, my students and my readers. Isn’t that what a good story should provide?

I think so. That message is very clear in Tap Out. I believe that is why it is so raw and moving and painful, and ultimately, too difficult for some readers. I do not deliver easily palatable answers. I don’t think such are warranted for such a topic, setting, conflicts and characters. Yet, I am currently revising my next novel. It is a much lighter affair, but still has some very dark undertones. I’m happy reading through and finding that I am still asking some very important questions. Ones that teens are asking, and want answers to.

And why wouldn’t they? It’s a crazy world out there, especially when a show about zombies may contain more substance and importance than the prime time offerings or popular writing. That’s not to say that all we should ever read or watch should be heavy and dark. But whatever we find ourselves in love with should strive for more than the superficial.

I’m into season three and am considering the novel I wrote this summer, the one that has yet to be analyzed. I will return to it as soon as I am done with my current novel, and I am certain my critical mind will be at work. Does that mean there will be zombies?

No. But there will be substance. And I hope you will fall in love.