What do you call delusions when they’re masquerading as totally legitimate thought?

21 Apr

I stumbled across this piece in the New York Times via gossip_oracle’s blog, 137 Ways to Be CruelHer post on the issue is better than mine, but I still have to add my own voice to the issue.

The article starts with a basic update on the twins and how it’s all scandalous and shit that they’re older and having sex and drinking.  There’s nothing new, here, but the first quote in the article from Francine Pascal irritates me:

“I’ve had people who have questioned Elizabeth having orgasms,” said Francine Pascal, the creator of the original series and author of the new book. “And I say to them, if they’re listening, would you deny a 27-year-old woman the right to have an orgasm?”

Um, I’ve followed the coverage of the release of this book pretty closely (read: obsessively), and I don’t remember seeing anyone trying to deny Elizabeth the right to an orgasm.  I’ve seen people questioning the need for the reader to have to hear about the orgasms (and the fact that she cries after them), but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks she doesn’t deserve them.

St. Martin’s publisher makes a comment about how there’s always going to be a group of fans who don’t want things to change.  Pascal expands on this, saying:

Sweet Valley was their adolescence and I’ve done some very radical things…But you are different from that inchoate person of 16, and you have to allow that change to those characters.

I’m going to talk about my reaction to that statement in a minute, but let’s get through the article first, okay?  The editor of the book, Hilary Teeman, adds her own opinion:

“You remember how innocent and chaste they were,” said Ms. Teeman, who read the books when she was younger. “But when you make it an adult novel, naturally some of that innocence has to go away. This is a novel for adults, and we expect these characters to grow up and be adults.”

Okay.  Obviously, there’s SO MUCH WRONG here that it’s hard to know where to begin.  Like gossip_oracle, I take issue with the entire statement about these characters being adults, because they still aren’t.  The characters from Sweet Valley have literally been growing up since 1983, and they still are emotionally-stunted cry-babies.

The problem is that the book isn’t really all that enjoyable for fans.  It’s depressing, both in content and structure.  Sometimes when I think about how bad the writing is in this book I have a physical reaction.  It’s clunky and awkward and full of inaccuracies.  For a woman who brags about having kept the “Sweet Valley Bible” for all the years that ghost writers were working on the books, the woman might have considered consulting it when actually writing the book.

What’s more is that Pascal doesn’t seem to be in touch at all with the people who continue to be devoted fans.  There are a lot of us out there who are still reading the books and snarking on the content.  Say what you will about the snark, but at some point, you have to recognize that the amount of time we put into these blogs and posts is indicative of a genuine affection for the series and its characters.  Not delivering on a promise of updating us on what the characters have been up to is not okay.  (And yes, I stand by this statement.  SVC did not update us on the characters we know.  It gave us different characters–perhaps lobotomized ones.)

I don’t know what else there is to say, really.  The concept of Pascal writing another book about these characters makes me kind of sick.  It’s not about “giving the people what they want” so much as “making fistfuls of money,” and that’s really depressing.

What do you guys think?  Am I taking this too personally?  Talk back.

See also:
Sweet Valley, New York
Snark Valley’s Insanely Awesome Detailed Recap of SVC

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5 Responses to “What do you call delusions when they’re masquerading as totally legitimate thought?”

  1. snarkvalley April 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Oh, I agree with you! “Depressing” is a good way to put this book. There were times where I had to put it down because it was making me all mopey. As far as the characters still not being grown-up, YES – the only example I could see of them acting like grown-ups was having casual sex and whatnot. Take that away and they’re still a bunch of 16-year-olds hanging around gossiping at Lila’s parties and getting what they want with almost no real consequences in the end.

    For me, perhaps the most irritating part of all was that most of the important secondary characters we grew up and loved had barely any mention in SVC, if they got a mention at all. And Winston? That was ridiculous. Talk about your ridiculous contrived send-off. I just thought the book could’ve had way more thought put into it. I wanted to know more about what the adult characters think and feel – all of them, not just stupid Liz.

    I read Sweet Valley Confidential, and all I got was 304 pages of Liz-worship.

  2. aubynpeach June 6, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I totally agree as well. I am most mad about the Winston part of the story. It seems like he got punished for being the one who witnessed Todd cheat with Jessica. It was like she had to make sure that he couldn’t tell anyone and that Todd wasn’t a dipsh*t for not talking to him after. If Winston had stayed sweet and Todd froze him out we may find out that Todd is not a good person. This would have been an awesome revelation. Instead, everyone just conformed to the molds that they started at 16, except for having orgasms.

    • Clementine Bojangles June 6, 2011 at 8:23 am #

      I never thought about Winston’s death being a sort of punishment, but it is an interesting theory. I saw it more as a way for Francine to add some shock value to her story by killing off a character that was (pretty) beloved. But it didn’t work because she decided to have his character decay personality-wise, to a point where he was unrecognizable.

      It’s been months, and I’m still mad about this. Haha.

      • snarkvalley June 6, 2011 at 8:31 am #

        I’m mad about it too. I think it’s b.s. that she clearly did it just for the shock value. I feel like Francine doesn’t realize who the real beloved characters in her stories are/were. If she had to kill him off and make Lila a do-nothing trophy wife, fine – it’s her book. But can’t we hear a little bit more about what they think and feel – rather than just getting more about how great Liz is and how everyone worships the ground she walks on? The whole book could’ve been called “Elizabeth Confidential”

    • snarkvalley June 6, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      YES! There were so many wasted chances for adult character development! We could’ve learned tons of new things about each character, but we didn’t. Everyone is the exact same at age 27 as they were at age 16!

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