Friday, June 29, 2012

Define Your Genre...

I hopped around to a couple of blogs yesterday, catching up on things and the like. I read a list on Michael Offutt's page with a list of titles that were being listed as Epic Fantasy.

I felt ... well, I felt disgusted when I saw Twilight on the list. So yes, this makes me an elitist genre snob. But not for the reasons you think. I first want to say this: I read all the Twilight books. I have my opinion about them and most of it isn't nice. In my defense I didn't like the way Bella was portrayed as a spineless girl who needed a man to feel complete. And that is all I will say here, simply because I have blogger friends who like the books and I don't want to intentionally insult anyone. If I've already done so, you have my apologies.

I have to add to all of this, that some of the other titles on that list sort of disgusted me as well. Why? Because of the fact that when people think fantasy or epic fantasy, they jump and run. They think of geeky little people running around dressed up as Elves and Dwarves and speaking in Tolkien's Elven language. When they think Sci-Fi, they think of those same people dressed up like Star Trek crew and speaking Klingon.

And I'm the elitist genre snob. Have you seen the lengths people go to to look like vampires??

People have been shunning fantasy and sci-fi for years because of the stories it has produced. So why are they trying to blur the lines of genres? When I think of Twilight, I think paranormal romance. When I think of Evil Dead, I think horror. While some of the werewolves in paranormal/horror could be classified as shape-shifters (and thusly fantasy) I still don't think of it as fantasy.

Heh, I said 'thusly'.

Anyway, a couple of my friends and I were discussing this on Face Book and I thought I would bring the discussion here. You already know my opinion. And if you want the definition of epic fantasy, I have a page here. And for the record, any of those titles could be defined as epic fantasy according to that page. I will agree to that.

So what do you think?


Angela Brown said...

When I think epic fantasy, I would NOT think Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse series or the wolves of Mercy or however is the correct reference to Maggie's series - which, by the way, I've been meaning to read.

When I think epic fantasy, I DO think Tolkien, Lewis, Martin, and even that new fellow that authored The Name of the Wind. Something like Fablehaven even comes to mind, but not vampires and were-animals. Not sure if that would make me a genre snob, but I would place those as either paranormal or urban fantasy, slightly different.

So much blurring of the lines.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Werewolves and vampires are not fantasy - they are horror. Twilight does not belong in the same section as fantasy and sci-fi.

D.G. Hudson said...

You've convinced me to change my view a bit, Mel. You and a couple of other bloggers have pointed out that the line between horror and fantasy have blurred. You're right.

Labels cause a lot of problems, don't they? Thanks for showing a different viewpoint.

Unknown said...

It's a definite toughy, and while I'm very firmly in the fantasy camp, I fully believe that the lines can blur.

I'm a fan of vampire fiction, and I think that vamps for the most part are fantasy. However, you move into the Nosferatu region, vamps are horror. When they sparkle like a friggin' my little pony, it's stupid (so stupid it transcends genre). Blade, to me, is a sci-fi rendition of the vampire myth. I'm D.G. in that labelling things causes problems and creates snobbery, but the lines are very easily blurred otherwise.

Tonja said...

I love LOTR (books and movies) and Star Trek. Would I dress up as a character given the opportunity? Probably.

But I generally don't read books in any of the categories you mentioned (except Tolkien). They just don't appeal to me at this point in my life. It doesn't bother me that the lines of genres are blurred.

Mel Chesley said...

@ Angela ~ Exactly. Urban fantasy at best, but then again, there is that pesky 'F' word: Fantasy.

@ L. Diane ~ I agree, horror, paranormal. But when I think vampires and werewolves, I think horror right off the bat. What was Dracula? Or the Wolf Man? Horror!

@ D. G. ~ I agree, labels cause lots of issues. You label your reading and music genres like you label people in the world. Causes just as many problems there as well.

@ Jamie ~ I believe the lines can blur, but not so much as to call something that is obviously horror or paranormal epic fantasy. They aren't in the same league as each other to begin with, which again, makes me a snob. I don't mind some blurring (and I almost snarfed my drink at that my little pony comment... lol!) but don't try to label something as one thing when it is blatantly obvious it is something else entirely.

@ Tonja ~ I appreciate your opinion, Tonja! Thank you for commenting. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who don't mind the blurring of genres and I suppose that is what I am wanting to get. Just how many people does it bother and how many just don't care?

Thanks guys, you brought your A game to this discussion!

Donna Hosie said...

I think lines are constantly blurred within fiction, but I'm okay with that.

I would classify books like Twilight as urban fantasy: contemporary characters meeting a mythical world. High fantasy is far easier to define because that is entire world building.

Horror needs to scare me. The only thing that scared me about Twilight was just how spineless Bella was!

Mel Chesley said...

I have to agree about the High Fantasy. That is complete world building and Epic Fantasy, I feel, falls into that category as well. Urban Fantasy definitely fits Twilight. I don't consider it horror because it isn't scary, but I do consider it paranormal in the fact that is includes vampires and werewolves, but that also defines horror. It is pretty confusing sometimes, but there are books and movies out there that are clearly defined.

Unknown said...

I agree that there is a breaking point between sub-genres, but I think that they can all come under the parent wing of 'fantasy' or 'speculative'.

Interesting that you compared horror to epic fantasy rather than just fantasy. I see them as branches of the same tree - epic fantasy is the son, let's say, and horror is the creepy uncle who gets too drunk at Christmas and tries to get off with the neighbours.

Mel Chesley said...

Ohmygah Jamie, I'm laughing so hard at your drunk uncle comment! Lol!

But I have to agree with what that link says when it defines epic fantasy. Depending on the book, the plot and all that, there are moments of defined heroism, people being raised to a higher "status" for lack of a better term. Take an ordinary person and elevate them to a heroic level and write it all out as if it were legend.