Friday, August 23, 2013

Gothic in Contemporary Culture - Week 1

I feel as if recently the gothic has had a resurgence in contemporary media.  From the popularity of such books as Shiver or a twist on the Jane Austen classic, Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies, I can't seem to walk into a bookstore without seeing a section now completely dedicated to a genre labeled 'Teen Paranormal Romance'.  Such a section did not exist when I was growing up as an avid reader of the young adult section, but I can see where the elements of the gothic- dark themes, distant lands, and forbidden love can be easily marketed towards a young and extremely impressionable audience.  While the classics haven't completely disappeared off the shelves yet, these books can now be so much more easily targeted to their market audience.  I guess what I like about classic novels like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is that the idea of the Gothic can stand on it's own without needing to be a blanket statement to give the main character a 'meaning' or 'purpose' in the novel.  In a novel like Twilight, the character is virtually nondescipt, until she finds herself in a gothic world and she is given a unique purpose in the novel.  Though there are many contemporary gothic books that I dislike, there are many that I do enjoy.  Young adult books like Harry Potter have proven that elements of the gothic can be utilized in a way that only helps tell the story.  The location of the castle, the elements of magic and mystery are all used to create a world that we understand and furthermore believe to be possible.  So, while I am not a fan of many contemporary gothic novels, I believe they are here to stay for a while and as long as teenage girls still believe their werewolf boyfriend is out there looking for them.  Though every once and a while, we get novels like Harry Potter which really restores my faith that good contemporary Gothic novels do still exist.