March 27, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Feel about the Whole Mean Girl/Boy Theme?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WHOLE MEAN GIRL/BOY THEME?

Man. Bad, that's how I feel. LOL.


Let me elaborate just a little...

Me and tropes don't usually get along very well as it is. But fresh spins on old tropes I can actually LIKE on occasion. Only...not this one. I try to stay away from books whose blurbs promise such a thing, but if I am to judge from the very few I stumbled upon, it seems to me that all these girls and boys are mean without a real purpose. They're just flat-out bullies. Sometimes it sounds like hating on other people and making their lives miserable is the only thing they get a kick out of. Also, I'd rather not relive my worst middle school moments (YEP, MIDDLE SCHOOL) in a book. I can tolerate the casual mean antagonist, but there are WHOLE BOOKS out there with toxic friendships born out of mutual love/hate, or the derogatory bad boy to reform (yeah, right), and PLEASE DON'T GO THERE BOOK. Give me strong, evil characters all the time - or strong, damaged characters - but I'm tired of cliques and slut-shaming and dress-coding and brooding (anti)heroes one is supposed to love to hate. Not to mention...are there all those cliques in high school nowadays? all these mean girls and boys? all this vapid hate? all these people who "rule" schools? all these predatory boys? is this even ACCURATE, for goodness sake?

OK, I give up...I didn't want to use him again, but there's a David for everything!

Sorry for the rant, but the very mention of the word "mean" flips a switch in me LOL. Anyway, if you happened to read some good books where the mean girl/boy trope is done well and has got a valid reason to exist, I would like to hear from you...

Well, that's it for now. And if you're interested in participating, here is the TMST prompt list for April:
  • April 3rd: How often do you actually start reading a hot new release the day it hits shelves?
  • April 10th: Do you feel pressured to get your reviews posted in a timely manner?
  • April 17th: Do you prefer series or stand alone?
  • April 24th: Do you still accept review requests? Why or why not?
My next TMST will be on April 17th, but I plan on participating in the following two rounds too! There are a few things that I'm DYING to write about - and to hear your take on!

Now tell me something...do you love or hate the mean girl/boy trope?

16 comments:

  1. Hmm, I'm kind of over the trope at this point, to be honest. But I also believe that if it is done well then it's acceptable. That said, the fact that mean characters - boys especially - got freaking romanticized... yikes. IDK if you heard about it, but there's a book called "Bully". It received many a positive review, so I picked it up a few years ago, and wowowowow, it was awful to read!! Even if the guy had his own reasons for being that way. (Pretty shit reasons tbh.) I was so baffled by the fact that nearly every one of my goodreads friends loved it. Anyhow, great post! :)

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    1. I went and had a look at the book you mentioned, and really? is there a "Bully Romance Books" list on GR? Talk about skewed perspective...

      Bully books have only one reason to exist IMO: to teach something. If they don't...NOPE. Glad to hear I'm not alone with this way of thinking LOL.

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  2. I wouldn't mind it if there was some complexity to it and bullying is a real thing but just generic mean girl/boys - not interested.

    "cliques and slut-shaming and dress-coding" <- this is basically all there ever is to it and it's very cliche and one dimensional. And a lot of the time it's swept under the rug by the time the book ends.

    For me personally, there were cliques and mean kids in school but we mostly stayed out of each others way or there was some snickering at clothes or whatever.

    But I do know of several LGBQT friends that were beaten and even gang raped during HS (outside of school grounds though) so it's real.

    Now whether you wan to read that or not - I've seen too much of it irl so I don't care to read it unless the book has something important to say about it or it's done well but for the most part it's usually just about clothes and class differences and, like you, I lived enough of it already.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Quote: "I don't care to read it unless the book has something important to say about it or it's done well".
      THAT. Of course what I meant wasn't "gah, bullying shouldn't have a place in books". But the bullying I usually see in YA novels sounds...artificial. And just there for conflict's sake. And since you read many more books than me, it sounds like I got the right impression...*sighs*

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  3. It's not a trope I'm a fan of either. I tend to stay away from most books in which the protag is in high school because of the mean girl, the cliques, and all the other tropes. Although I think part of the reason they annoy me is because my high school wasn't bad when it came to cliques, and even though I know some are (and actually, my middle school was), it just feels so cliche when I read about it. Like Karen said, maybe if it had more complexity and nuance, it'd work better.

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    1. So glad I'm not alone in this. I was in high school a lifetime ago, so I sometimes wonder if the US version of it I see in books nowadays is somehow accurate, and just "slightly" exaggerated...I hope the call for more realistic and nuanced books about bullying will finally reach authors. Those books ARE needed - just in a different way.

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  4. I don't read enough YA to come across this problem much. I'm not ungrateful for it either. πŸ˜‰
    There really is a David for everything. 😍 Be still, my dark and twisty heart...

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    1. Ha! You might say I read selected YA. I do tolerate the bully/clique thing in Christopher Pike's books because I'm a fan of his, and besides, most of his high-school novels are set in the '80s/'90s...but with new books, we should get something meatier to sink our teeth in...

      Welcome to the new meme "Tell It with a David" πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

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  5. I can go either way on this trope. I have a fondness for mean girl stories, but they have to be done well (e.g., Nova Ren Suma is AWESOME at this). I think my favorite toxic girl friendship story is Whores on the Hill by Colleen Curran. It's my shout from the rooftops book that no one's ever heard of. Beautifully written, tragic, destructive, and so underrated.

    As far as my high school experience went, cliques were not really a thing. People had friend groups and pretty much sat at the same tables every day at lunch, but it wasn't cheerleaders only or enforced in any way. I had friends in a lot of different groups, and I never noticed any extreme bullying either. Teenagerhood is bound to have its dramas, but it's definitely not like the fiction lol.

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    1. I think one of the reasons Ren Suma does it well is because she doesn't put her characters in high school. I mean, they are HS age, but we don't usually see them interact in that context, which rules out a lot of unnecessary drama (lunch table segregation, slut-shaming, making fun of fashion sense...).

      And thank you for the insight into your high school. Also, I'm going to check WOTH now!

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  6. Thank your insight. I totally agree. I can’t stand using the mean theme just for kicks. It is unnecessary and I think harmful to younger readers.

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    1. It's unfortunate at best that it's used that way in this day and age. I wonder when the authors who still do will get the message...

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  7. That was an interesting read! I personally have nothing against this trope if the characters have a valid backstory or some kind of justification for why they are the way they are, but yes, I do agree that it has all gotten so unnecessarily romanticized and I don't really have the patience for such characters anymore unless they are REALLY well-written and have some kind of redemption.

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    1. It's lazy to use the trope as it is...and, as Heidi above pointed out, potentially dangerous...there's more to it than a personal preference (like, I want to read about bullying or I don't). Sadly, backstories and redemptions are quite rare in YA novels that deal with bullies. Let's hope things change for the better, also thanks to our little blogger voices united...

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  8. Most people seem to say that the extreme cliques you see in books don't really exist in schools. But I have heard a lot about bullying, so unfortunately meanness is real. I agree that I'm over the trope of mean girls who are mean for no other reason than ... just because. I want some depth!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I'm sure bullying is still a real thing, and I do think it should be addressed in books. It's just that most characters nowadays seem so unreal. As you said...mean just because.

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