Stephen, King Of The Sweeping Generalizations

We get the local newspaper and every Sunday there’s this insert called Parade Magazine. I usually ignore it and head straight to the Letters To The Editor because there are always a few that are off-the-wall and amusing, but this Sunday the insert’s main feature was an interview with Stephen King. I don’t really know why I read it – I’ve never finished any of his books because they’re scary and I’m wimpy – but one passage in particular left me indignant.

Parade: “Do you think reading occupies the same importance for kids today?”

Stephen King: “No, absolutely not. I think it’s because they’re so screen-oriented [TVs, computers, smartphones]. They do read – girls in particular read a lot. They have a tendency to go to the paranormal, romances, Twilight and stuff like that. And then it starts to taper off because other things take precedence, like the Kardashian sisters.

I did a couple of writing seminars in Canada last year with high school kids. These were the bright kids… they all have computers, but they can’t spell. Because spell-check won’t [help] you if you don’t know through from threw. I told them, “If you can read in the 21st century, you own the world.” Because you learn to write from reading. But there are so many other byways for the consciousness to go down now; it makes me uneasy.”

That quote is so wrong that it’s hard to know where to start. Might as well let out the Fire-Breathing Dragons of Snark and Sarcasm and start from the top…

My generation is screen-oriented, I admit. We zip around the Internet with ease and try not to giggle when our grandparents ask for the sixth time, “Now, how do I copy and paste?” (Or at least I do.) Screens make up a large part of our day, including mine. But do you know what I do when I’m “plugged in”, Mr. King? I read and write. I write stories; I write about books; I write about famous horror writers who say foolish things. I read writing advice. Perhaps many other teens spend their time online IMing and looking at pictures of adorable baby animals but I spend mine doing the very things that, supposedly, people my age just don’t do.

Wow, Mr. King. You must have made boys feel great about reading! They felt like nerds for reading before, but now they also feel like girls. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that (and how is reading feminine anyway? Riddle me this, Batman.) but most boys probably don’t feel that way. They feel uncomfortable because teen bookworms are already weird and now they’re being told that they’re even freakier because supposedly only girls read in their teens.

There’s nothing wrong with paranormal stories or romances or even paranormal romances; I want to clear that up before I begin this next bit. King is one of the biggest critics of Twilight (and I agree with most of what he says) but it’s unfair to say they’re all as bad as Twilight or that all teens are reading them. You know why I don’t have time to read your books, Mr. King? It’s because I’m too busy reading Ash (fantasy), Cinder (dystopian), A Clash of Kings (fantasy), The Screwtape Letters (satire), and Code Name Verity (historical fiction), as well as rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (fantasy) and Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (science fiction).* For some reason adults have decided to focus on my generation’s experience with paranormal romance stories, even though most of the teens I know who really love to read don’t stick to just one genre.

*Yeah, I know that’s a ton of books. I’ve always read this way, with my nose in multiple good books at any given moment. I have a short attention span and pick up a new book when I’m only halfway through another.

Mr. King, I know you expect me to like the Kardashian sisters but I don’t. I’m so very sorry. I like the Everdeen sisters better. And the Black sisters from Harry Potter. The Bennett sisters in Pride and Prejudice are pretty great too. I don’t spend my time thinking about celebrities because characters are better.

I know some kids who can barely spell but do you know who, in my experience, really has the Dreaded Spell-Check Problem? Adults. When I email my friends they reply with excellent spelling and good grammar, not to mention punctuation. Compare them to people like my boss at the restaurant where I work. He typed up recipes for us to follow and they’re littered with spelling errors. And it’s definitely not limited to him. Most of the kids I know do at least try their best to write well by looking through dictionaries or Googling, whereas most adults apparently don’t. (Why else would someone write “defiantly” when they meant “definitely”? I’ve seen this mistake too many times to count.) We all have the Dread Spell-Check Problem to some degree but why aren’t we harder on the grown-ups? They’ve been around longer and should know what they’re doing, should set good examples for us. Teens are not the issue here.

The problem here, Mr. King, is that it’s unfair and incorrect to make sweeping generalizations about large groups of people – about anything, really. I could say that all people of your generation are self-centered pessimists who whine a lot about young folk but I won’t, since they’re not all like you. Thankfully.

Does anyone know Stephen King’s official address for fanmail? (Either snail mail or email is fine.) It would be much appreciated as Snark, Sarcasm, and I would like to send this to him!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Stephen, King Of The Sweeping Generalizations

  1. matttblack42 says:

    Although I like most of Stephen King’s work, I get annoyed by some of the things he says in real life, such as this. Once when writing a review for the Hunger Games, he called “Good YA fiction” an oxymoron, which irritated me to no end.

    I forgive him though, because he wrote “The Shining.”

  2. Amanda says:

    Oh yeah. You tell him. 😉 I agree. Completely. With you, not him.


  4. Artgirl says:

    I completely agree with you. I read quite a bit, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read a paranomal romance book. Romance as a genre just doesn’t interest me much, and usually whatever romance I write into my stories ends in the deaths of one or more characters. I do feel bad for my characters sometimes. I read many books at once, of many genres, and don’t spend much time online, nor have I been eaten by social networking sites. So there, Stephen King. I am not the stereotypical teenage girl mentioned in your interview. It irks me to no end when people (especially girls) are stereotyped/generalized unfairly, particularly when it has to do with intelligence or reading preferences.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I don’t mind romance, but I prefer it to be a “side dish” – not the main theme of the book. It makes me mad that people think all other teen girls care about is romance. Um, excuse me? I care about yelling at authors. xD

  5. Miriam Joy says:

    AGREED! Ugh. It makes me so angry when I hear people say stuff like that. Also, Twilight isn’t even the problem. Do you know how many people it got into reading? How many people started there and went onto bigger and better books? It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible if it’s a gateway into reading. The most important books are the ones that start people off — that’s the greatest legacy of, say, the Harry Potter series.
    Even within internet communities like Tumblr, it is full of artists and writers and readers and literary critics. You only have to look at fan art to see how amazingly talented they are. Reading fan fiction will show you creativity beyond that of most adults. The analysis of character and dialogue and plot is more intense than anything I do in my English classes (and has helped me get better at writing essays).

    • nevillegirl says:

      I didn’t even go into that because the post was already long enough, but it’s a good point. It’s just important that you start by reading SOMETHING, then move onto to better things (without forgetting what got you there in the first place!).

      It’s weird how whenever I analyze a character/book/plot point/etc for a blog post, I feel like I’m getting a lot more out of it than when I do the same thing for a school assignment. I guess with assignments I’m just trying to get the work done and the characters often don’t mean that much to me.

      • Miriam Joy says:

        I’ve learned to analyse characters in a lot of depth from all the meta I see in Tumblr tags and within specific fandoms (the Les Mis fandom do a lot of literary criticism). I forget to talk about the author though — I talk about the characters as though they’re real people. To me, they are, but my English teacher writes this on every essay I hand in. “They’re not real, Miriam! AUTHORIAL INTENT.”

        I should work on that…

    • nevillegirl says:

      But they ARE real to their readers! :O Sometimes characters are better friends than my real friends.

  6. hcfbutton says:

    I appreciate your response to this, and I think he would too. Sometimes I think people like him make these statements because they want to be proven wrong.

    And you can form him here:

  7. Erin says:

    Sadly, I do think that Stephen King is talking about the majority of our generation, but this doesn’t mean I’m happy with his comments (especially the one about girls reading more than boys…huh?!). I feel like he’s being unfair because there are teens out there that do read, write, and know when to use “your” and “you’re”, even if those teens do make up the minority. And as for the spelling thing, I know so many kids who have trouble spelling even the simplest of words. I once had a fourteen year old girl ask me if “equestrian” started with an “i”. …Really? That said, I also know many adults who really need to improve “there” spelling as well. Both kids and adults need “sum” help…

  8. Andrea says:

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s so very infuriating when adults think that everyone in our generation is a delinquent, and that we’re the ones who will end up messing everything up…Yes, there are some messed-up people in our generation, but to make generalizations like that is absolutely stupid, no matter if you’re Stephen King or not. (Also, since when is reading “a girl thing”??? That’s just…that’s just…I can’t even. :))

    Ahem. Awesome post! 😀

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! Sure, we mess up occasionally but most of us aren’t even old enough to vote let alone make the laws and other big decisions… so quit acting like we’ll mess up the world with our spelling!

  9. themagicviolinist says:

    *Applauds* I agree with you COMPLETELY! Why do all teenagers get lumped into the same stereotype without even giving them a second chance? It’s ridiculous!

    Hey, that’s basically what I’ve done for the past couple months: reading, writing, e-mailing, and blogging. I haven’t played for longer than an hour on any computer game in weeks, and I don’t care! I’d MUCH rather be reading or writing instead of “surfing the web.”

    The thing that bugs me the most: your/you’re. Really? Schools teach THIRD graders these things and you can’t bother to correct yourself? I just love it when people say, “Your an idiot.” It just cracks me up.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I used to play computer games a LOT but now I don’t because I’m honestly not very good at them and I need that time to write.

      And “ain’t”. Also “she don’t”. We don’t even live in a particularly, um, “hillbilly” area, but people talk like idiots and complain about how the kids aren’t learning anything at school.

      • themagicviolinist says:

        *Snorts* I’m thinking about putting a character in my book that says all of the grammatically incorrect things I can think of.

  10. Charley R says:

    I like Mr King on the whole, although like you his books just aren’t my thing, but you make an excellent point here! Also, I think he has a contact details thingiemajig on his blog or website or whatever he has. Just stick “stephen king website” into Google and it’ll bring it up quick as you please, I bet.

    Brilliant post, brilliant point!

  11. Thomas says:

    While I loved Stephen King’s On Writing, I agree with your post on various points! King did utilize a bunch of generalizations in the passage you included in your post and it would’ve been much more effective if he didn’t categorize ages and sexes so cuttingly. Of course some girls read Twilight and I suppose on the larger scale girls read more than guys, but that doesn’t mean all girls read Twilight and paranormal romance (and like you said, not all paranormal romance is bad) or that guys should feel feminine for reading. Sometimes I think people take statements like these out of context but I believe you’re spot on in your analysis, even if King didn’t intend for his statements to implicate such meaning.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I really should read On Writing, just to see what advice King has.

      Have you read Ash by Malinda Lo? I’m reading it at the moment and would classify it as fantasy and paranormal romance. It just blows Twilight out of the water.

  12. themagicviolinist says:

    Question (though I may be mixing you up with someone else): How did you get a word-count goal gadget on the side of your blog that showed your progress in your book? I’d love to get one for my blog but I don’t know what it’s called! 😀 ;P

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