by KellyAnn Bonnell
I’ll admit it, I love romance novels, or as my husband refers to them, mindless drivel. I also happen to be a real fan of Young Adult Fiction. Having said that, Twilight never appealed to me, although I will admit to having seen the movies on cable. So it didn’t come to a surprise that the Fifty Shades series held little interest for me as an avid book reader. These two series do however, hold a professional interest for me. Particularly in how they portray romantic relationships for adolescents and young adults and for that reason I did take the time to read all three of the Fifty Shades books.Let me be clear here. I will not be author bashing here. As the President of an organization that educates the community about issues related to teen dating violence, it would be very easy for me to point out all the ways that these two series might glamorize unhealthy aspects of relationships; but then I’d be as two dimensional in my view points and many accuse the authors of being with their characters. While their materials don’t appeal to me as a critical consumer of fiction and their topics do not appeal to me as a youth development professional, I respect their creative spirit and honor their contribution to the world of fiction.
The fact that these books have taken such a powerful place in our cultures consciousness means that they can be used as powerful teaching tools with the right populations. I could easily see Fifty Shades of Gray in a Psychology of Sexuality or Sociology of Sexuality Classroom at the college level. I can see the books being used in a college level writing class to discuss revisionist writing. Twilight also has a place in the college classroom exploring mythologies and looking at adolescent development. So what I’d like to do is take a moment and go through the pop culture artifact evaluation process on these two franchises and explore how they can be used in our classrooms to promote the kind of messages we want our students to receive.
Join me next time to look at Twilight.