(Warning: this is going to be a post that depends a lot on you, because I am interested to see what everyone thinks!) Often when I’m wasting my time, er, doing valuable research online I love to read blogs about fashion, beauty products, opera and ballet, jazz, all sorts of things, and I especially love blogs about movies. (Even though this means my Netflix account is totally out of control because of it). One of my favorite movie blogs is the Self Styled Siren, a wonderfully witty and intelligent look at classic movies. She recently had a fascinating post called “Unearthing the Uncool”.
This post started with a statement the Siren made on Facebook: “It is much easier to proclaim dislike for a popular movie than to admit liking an uncool movie,” which sparked a fascinating stream of comments and proclamations of love for movies and actors that are generally deemed “uncool.” (For instance, the Siren defends the 1940 Pride and Prejudice, stuff like Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Stewart Granger, and, gasp!, even Kevin Costner). I myself have a deep and abiding love for movie musicals, like The Sound of Music, Brigadoon, and Camelot, that others often hoot at derisively. (you know who you are, haters!). I know this is also true in literary fiction, and that in mysteries some sub-genres are looked at as “cooler” than others, so I started to wonder if this could apply to romance novels. We definitely don’t seem to have that “cool”/”uncool” divide that movies do, though I suppose there are genres or authors that have a cooler reputation than others. Is it “cool” to admit to liking old-skool stuff like Whitney My Love? (I think I just came to reading historicals too late, when tastes had changed, to get into them. I had very different romantic fantasies). Is it “uncool” to admit we can’t really get into, say, urban fantasy, which seems very cool (as I mostly can’t, much as I want to!)?
Traditional Regencies certainly used to be “uncool,” considered by some to be dry books for stereotypical grannies (I had someone tell me once I couldn’t possibly write them, I looked too young! Which was flattering, of course, but kinda made me want to get all lecture-y on them about the intelligence and variety of trads. Ditto for a friend of my mine who ONE TIME read a Regency, didn’t like it–even though she couldn’t remember the title–and decided they were all like that one). But now that they’re obscure and out-of-print and all that, maybe they’re like some little indie band out of Austin. And on some book blogs there are often threads like “books you like that no one else has read” or “books everyone liked that you hated,” which I guess can be sort of like cool/uncool. Mostly, though, romance genres seem to be pretty much anything goes. If I don’t like something, someone else will, and vice versa, and I like it that way. The variety is what makes it fun.
So I am sending it to you! Do you think there is that “coolness” factor in romance fiction? If so, what would it be? And what movies do you love that others make fun of?
(p.s. I have not seen that movie The Enchanted Cottage, but I totally want to! I mean, look at that poster. People were whispering about them! The whole town!)