…and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
If you haven’t read the series by Stephanie Meyer, it involves a young woman, Bella, who meets a handsome young vampire named Edward, and falls in love with him. They become the latest pair of grave-crossed lovers since Buffy and Angel. The series has been hugely popular, and the first book, "Twilight", is soon to be adapted into a film. The series has also gotten lots of criticism from its non-target audience for borrowing too much from BtVS, and Anne Rice. Meyer’s writing style itself is criticized for being somewhat weak. (I have no idea if it is or not, that’s just what I read.) So there have been scoffs and rolling eyes along with the praise.
When my geek-pup read the first book, she (politely) demanded the entire series, and spent the next several days reading them pausing only occasionally for food, bathroom breaks, sleep, and air. So, the other day while washing the dishes, I called her over and asked her about the books. I wanted to know every single character, everything about the vampires of this world, what powers did they have, all the plots, all of the issues, etc. After that, I downloaded all of the images I could find of the series, particularly of the upcoming movie, and put them on her computer. I set the best one as her wallpaper, and set the rest as her screensaver slideshow.
I didn’t do this to geek-out over a new vampire book series. While I like lots of vampire movies, I haven’t read a vampire book since Queen of the Damned, which I hated and never finished. I didn’t do this to make sure that my daughter wasn’t reading something objectionable. I didn’t do this to encourage her in reading. (It’s harder to stop her from reading.) I didn’t do this to blog about it. I had a more personal reason.
When I was a young geekling, I read comic books and science-fiction, and for that got my unfair share of teasing and derision from various family members and school-mates. I was called geek and nerd, at a time when it was not a compliment. I was told that the stories were stupid; that I was not a mature person if I read them. It was escapism. It had no literary merit or value whatsoever. It didn’t help that every English teacher in every school I went to held the message of the previous sentence to be absolutely true.
Probably the most universal dream of all parents is the often doomed hope that your children will be spared any of the pain you felt as a child. I can’t stop others from telling my little slayer that her beloved books are stupid, but she won’t get that message from me. This isn’t just because I love her and want only the best for her. It’s because I now know the truth about all of this. If you enjoy it, it has artistic merit. If a story is poorly written, poorly filmed, or in any other way is poorly made, you won’t connect with it emotionally. The very fact that you enjoy it proves that, in some way, the writer or artist (and writers are artists, by the way) connected with you on some sort of emotional level. They said something that spoke to some part of your life, some common experience of the human condition. That is the only thing you can require of any artist, from Shakespeare to Troma.
It was a thorough geek-grilling, but my little Pup survived it like the slayer she is. She not only survived it, she actually seemed to enjoy the questions. It appeared as if she felt validated in some way, by my interest. It was as if, even a passing interest from this chunky geek she calls "Dad", made her feel better about herself and her hobbies. Imagine that. I know some of you geek-‘rents are already openly encouraging of your children’s pastimes. For the rest of you: if your geekling has a pastime you don’t understand, sit them down, ask them about it, and above all – assume that they’ve got a good reason for liking it.