I couldn't look at my news page without seeing Falcon, the six year old boy we thought might have flown away in a homemade hot air balloon, and his father, the one who thought exploiting his children in the name of a reality show was a good idea.
It got me thinking about reality, and our collective definition of the word. We've come to accept reality as being subject to editing, and, though that's super attractive to my writerly soul, it lessens our appreciation of basic human experience. Love, friendship, family, career, food--all of the elements of our day-to-day existence are now subject to documentation and manipulation. This destructive media influence goes beyond peppering fashion mags with models so severely photoshopped their heads are wider than their hips, it confuses the lines of what is natural and contrived until we just can't tell anymore.
Contemporary, realistic YA fiction offers one antidote to this. Stephanie Kuehnert, author of The Ballads of Suburbia, discusses this in a recent blog post. As she says, the characters depicted in these novels may undergo completely different experiences from those of the teens who pick them up at the bookstore, but the dialogue that follows validates the realities of the readers' individual experiences. Yes, we're talking fiction, but teens are classic "reader response" critics--their understanding of literature relies heavily on what they know of the world, and what they're curious about. They make it all about them, and in this case, I think that's a good thing.
I wonder, for these teens, how growing up in the age of created realities will affect how they view themselves and the world, as adults. What do you think?