Have You Thought About This? Targeting Teenage Girls
(Boys, don’t feel like you have to sit this one out!)
Teenage girls get a lot of stick. Anything marketed towards teenage girls, or that teenage girls like a lot, tends to get labelled as “awful” by the rest of the world. Look at Justin Bieber, the Twilight Saga, One Direction. These are things that are popular with millions of teenage girls worldwide, and yet the rest of the world- and even some teenage girls- view them as trash. And a lot of the time, the reason the thing will be viewed in such a negative light is because “teenage girls like it.”
Upon writing this, I have two days left as a teenage girl (two days! Dear goodness, then I’ll really be an adult). For the past four years or so, though, whenever someone caught me reading a young adult book I would hastily hide the cover and say, “Oh, it’s just some awful teen fiction. So bad it’s good.”
But it wasn’t “so bad it’s good.” It was good.
This is something that is constantly on my own mind, although I don’t know about the rest of you. Most recently, in regards to the film The Host which a friend and I went to see. I enjoyed it immensely, and ever since have been reading reviews bewildered as to why it’s had such a bad reception. The main crime it seems to have committed? Being written by Stephenie Meyer, who wrote some books that appealed to teenage girls, and also being a film that is appealing to teenage girls in itself.
I’m going to stick with Stephenie Meyer here a little longer because she’s a perfect example. Even when saying that I feel the urge to reassure you all that I’m not a Twilight fan- but why should it matter? Why should it matter if I did like a particular series of books? Lots of other teenage girls do. But I want to sound intellectual here so I have to disregard the opinions of those teenage girls, because they’re just stupid teenage girls, and they like stupid things. Whenever Meyer’s last book in The Twilight Saga was released, people complained that it pandered to the unrealistic fantasies that teenage girls had about romance. But is that really such a bad thing? We pander to boys’ fantasies all the time, James Bond, Alex Rider, all these characters whose lives are really much more exciting than an eighteen year old marrying her childhood sweetheart. So what is the difference between the two?
As far as I can tell, there’s no real difference, and surely teenage boys and teenage girls should have the same social standing. Yes, there are some truly dreadful books out there aimed at teenage girls, and some equally dreadful books aimed at teenage boys. And equally there are dreadful books aimed at adult women and dreadful books aimed at adult men. There are dreadful books aimed at all teenagers, dreadful books aimed at all adults, dreadful books aimed at people of all ages. Doesn’t it therefore follow that there are lots of good books written aimed to all of these groups of people as well?
So does a book being aimed at teenage girls make it a lesser book? Would it make you more reluctant to read it- even if you are a teenage girl? What do you think? Do you think it’s unfair, or do you think there’s just a lot of rubbish thrown at teenage girls because they are considered the most easily pleased?