In the last few weeks, I’ve seen two of my favorite authors come under fire for being too successful in the Young Adult Literature genre. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars (which destroyed me) and J. K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter (which raised me) have both been told that their success is problematic.
The Daily Dot’s article about the John Green Effect is primarily focused on the fact that he’s a white, heterosexual male and his success has led us to also celebrate female authors he’s endorsed. The problem is that his success is greater than most of the female authors in the genre combined. I can see that being problematic, but John Green isn’t the problem. The problem is that we, as a culture, don’t degrade white males with the same types of comments that non-whites and females get. When you hear about Stephanie Meyers, for example, you hear that she is stupid, shallow, overweight, and that her books are romantic wish-fulfillment. The same can be said of so many men in writing but you don’t hear it nearly so loudly or so publicly. I support wanting women to succeed without needed a lift up from an already successful male author, but I don’t think it’s right to hate on the author doing the lifting.
So I thought all of this was just about cis-normative cultural problems, but it seems that J. K. Rowling has also been asked to stop writing her crime series because she apparently has enough money and enough fame.
So is this really about John Green being a man or is this really about punishing the too-successful?
Follow your dreams and reach for the stars, but if you don’t fall short you are greedy and problematic.