About a month ago an article hit the internet (and made quite a splash) saying how people should feel ashamed for reading YA. I’m not even going to try to top some of the eloquent rebuttals written on the topic. I will say this: when I first read the article, I didn’t feel the same rage and fury as many others. I felt stung and annoyed, sure, but then I just shrugged and went back to reading my (YA) book.
No, I don’t possess some magic shield that protects me from getting irrationally angry. Unfortunately, I’m just very used to being picked on for something I’m passionate about that society deems immature.
Hello. My name is Beth, and I’m a Hanson fan that also loves reading YA. Try that one on for size.
Yes. Hanson. Mmmbop. These guys.
And I get laughed at. A lot.
Full disclosure: here’s the majority (sans all my shirts/keychains/jewelry/trinkets) of my Hanson collection:
(hard to see everything, but this entire drawer is crammed full of their CDs/DVDs/etc…oh, and I won that trivia game!)
When it comes to the whole “You should be embarrassed for liking this” argument, I promise you, I’ve been there since 1997. And I’ve heard it all:
“Hanson is seriously still around??” (yes–they went indie in 2003 after a long-ass battle w/their record label–a label that was trying to turn them into the Backstreet Boys. They’ve put out original new music every year since.)
“I thought they were girls?” (no)
“You actually PAY to see them? Seriously??” (yes)
“Don’t they all have like a hundred kids now??” (er, not exactly a hundred…)
“Aren’t you even the slightest bit embarrassed? Because you should be. Hanson are a bunch of little *insert hateful slur here* (no)
“Mmmbop?? More like MMMSUCK!” (ooh. good one. I’ve never heard that before.)
“You do know you’re not thirteen anymore, right??” (yes.)
For the record, the guys (and their fans) don’t exist in some time vacuum. We all grew up. They look like this now:
It doesn’t bother me when someone expresses genuine interest that Hanson are “still around.” I’m aware it seems they’ve been off the radar for many years. It’s the petty comments and name-calling I could live without.
I’m sad to admit I’ve second-guessed my decisions to wear one of my Hanson shirts in public, because I’ve gotten the eye-rolls and the snickers, and it’s even worse while waiting on line at a venue to see them. Here is just a small sampling of the jeers that I’ve personally experienced on line:
Two mothers (with their very young children) “Who’re you here to see?”
Two mothers: *point* *laugh* “That is SO sad!” *off-key versions of Mmmbop ensue*
Young children: *laughing even though they probably have no idea what’s going on*
Two thirty-something guys in business suits: “Hey, who’s playing?”
Two thirty-something guys in business suits: *throw heads back and laugh uproariously*
Middle-aged man, smiling politely: “Who’s playing tonight, girls?”
Fans, smiling back: “Hanson.”
Middle-aged man: *Hysterical laughing* “Mmmbop? Seriously? You mean they’re still around?”
Fans: *gesturing to the line that goes on for blocks* “Yes.”
Middle-aged man: “Wow. You seriously need to grow up.”
Car drives by and slows at the marquee. Driver honks until we turn around. Window rolls down. Girl pokes her head out the passenger side and screams “Hanson?? Seriously? Those LOSERS??? You sorry little bunch of ass**** They SUCK!!!!”
Let there never be a doubt: I am here to tell you that, yes, there is still a Hanson fan base out there. SERIOUSLY. If you still don’t believe me, this is a picture from a Rolling Stone article , taken just this past September, 2013, at their sold out House of Blues show in Boston.
My point: when you’ve quietly endured all of the above half your life, it makes reading a YA novel in public a walk in the park.
Labels like “YA” and “boy bands” are lame. Labels tend to create stigmas, and stigmas spur Judgy McJudgingtons on to spew their negativity all over our happy place.
So, yes, I know that Slate article was a bummer. It really was. If you found yourself riled up by someone saying you should be ashamed to read YA, or that it makes you immature–I’ve been there, and it’s just not worth it. Anyone who belittles you and proceeds to name-call regarding your hobbies is the immature one. No matter how hard you try and defend it, no matter how many facts you pull out about best-sellers, or the impact YA has had on the reading community and publishing industry, you’ll never convince the author of that article (or anyone not into YA) about the sheer power of YA.
Just shrug it off, smile (trust me–this smiling thing drives the haters craaazzyyy), and bury your nose in a great YA book. That’s what I’ll be doing the next time I wait on line to see Hanson.