Monday, May 18, 2009

Author Bites - Beth Fantaskey on Mob Rule

This time around on Author Bites it's all about Beth Fantaskey and mob mentality. As you all know (if you don't, time to crawl out from under that rock), Beth is the author of the marvelous Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and while it's filled with snark and high school drama, it taps into some pretty serious issues like mob rule (not THE mob, just A mob) and being different. Read on to find out what Beth has to say.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
is, of course, a love story. But it’s also about being different, whether you’re a size ten in a society that prizes size two – or a vampire prince walking through a high school cafeteria.

I am really drawn to that theme, and to people who have the courage to stand out.

I encourage my kids to wear the crazy, mismatched outfits they love, or do their hair up in ponytails that sprout all over their heads, or take drama when everybody else is playing soccer.

And, although I’m shy, I try, in my own way, to take small stands against conformity. A few years ago, I had a job with this awesome dental plan, and one of my friends kept saying, “You should get braces! Fix that crooked tooth!”

But I kind of like my crooked tooth. It might not be traditionally “pretty,” but it’s ME.

And in the end, I kept my face the way it’s been since I was a kid. My little rebellion.

And being REALLY different… well, that takes guts. I applaud people who live on their own terms. That’s why, when Lucius first walks through the cafeteria, and students edge away, I stress that he doesn’t get embarrassed. He interprets their cringing as deference to his difference.

Of course, being different can be risky.

For all the efforts to boost “tolerance,” a lot of people still struggle with accepting those who don’t look, sound or act like “we” do. And if you don’t think this can get downright dangerous, just read the news. Recently, a bunch of Pennsylvania high school kids got into a fight with an immigrant boy, racial slurs flew, and the outnumbered “outsider” ended up dead.

Scary, scary stuff. But it happens.

That’s why, in Jessica’s Guide, I included a fairly literal interpretation of the classic movie scene, where the villagers descend with pitchforks and torches to expel the monster – the “different” being – from their midst.

At first glance, that might seem over the top. But is it, really?

I’m not preaching. I’ve edged away, too, from difference. Who hasn’t? But our reaction to different people… it’s definitely worth trying to think about, before we act.


robin_titan said...

Hmm never really thought about it that way, not for this book anyway. But it's true. :)

Jessica Kennedy said...

I see what you mean. Great post Beth.

Donna said...

This was probably one of my favorite themes addressed from this book.

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