In the 2012 film 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum’s character enjoyed his popularity quite a bit in high school. When he goes back, years later, as an undercover cop, he assumes high school has stayed the same–that homophobic jokes, making fun of nerds and not trying hard in school will help him relive his glory days. In fact (spoiler alert) he discovers that the landscape of high school has changed. The new popular kids are good students, LGBT-accepting, and nice to everyone. The tables have turned, and what follows is both hilarious and oddly realistic.
I’m worried that some YA authors are making the same mistake. Why does young adult literature assume that all its readers are coming from a particular social situation? Why do we lump together entire groups of people as “shallow” so that our precocious narrator looks down on them? Even the Harry Potter series, my all time favorite, leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding Lavender Brown, Ron’s first girlfriend. She and her friends are portrayed as simpering and idiotic compared to the virtuous, brilliant Hermione. Or how about in Twilight where Bella instantly writes off practically an entire school of people? Is it fair to say that some authors are projecting their own high school insecurities by writing thinly-veiled versions of themselves who orchestrate revenge, or at least quietly devastating wit, on the social elite? Perhaps. Continue reading In Defense of Gossip Girl