Romance novels and their writers took it on the chin again today, courtesy of Regis Philbin.
This morning I happened to be watching Regis and Kelly while I had my morning coffee since I'd overslept. The daring duo called a woman for their daily quiz. Regis said, "I understand you like trashy romance novels?" He went on to ask how raunchy they were. He confessed that he'd never read one.
SOS (And you know what that means!)
I'm always amazed that no one hesitates to brand romance novels as trash. The genre written primarily by women for a mostly female audience is considered fair game to denigrate and disparage by everyone from the snotty Half Price Book Store clerks to television celebrities.
Other Genres Get Respect
Horror novels aren't called malevolent, evil trash. Serial killer novels aren't called depraved, gory trash. Even male-authored romance novels, which are usually marketed with great acclaim and sold under the guise of general fiction, aren't called trash.
Rodney Dangerfield Of Literature
So why is a book with romance on the spine called trash. This genre that is primarily about male-female courtship, sometimes with consensual sex, and with the end goal of a committed relationship is the Rodney Dangerfield of the literary world.
You know, I've been married 31 fabulous years to the most wonderful man in the world. That's a romance in the real world and that kind of magic is what romance novels try to give a reader: the possibility that a man and woman can fall in love and live happily ever after. I take umbrage with anyone who says a relationship like that is unrealistic and unachievable. I take offense when someone says that romance novels, which are all about that type of male-female relationship, are trashy books.
Old School Thinking
If nothing else, Regis, it's really old school for anyone to label romance novels as trash. You're not the first. You won't be the last. It wasn't even an original or witty comment. But it did offend. Not just me but probably the other 12,000 plus members of Romance Writers of America and the millions of fans who have made the romance genre the best-selling genre in history. And that's just in this country. There are comparable writing organizations in other countries along with legions of readers.
Call To Action
Next time, it would be more original if you said something laudatory about the genre. Call the headquarters of Romance Writers of America and get someone who knows something about the genre to be on your show. Now that would be a real shocker! I'd be the first to applaud, and I wouldn't be alone.