I was wading through the masses of emails that have been coming to me regarding Comicon this year, trying to make sense of their whole registration process and whether or not I was going to be able to get my professional badge in time, when my mind drifted back to a kinder time. A gentler time. When I could simply just fill out an actual paper form and within a few weeks, get my shiny, plastic encased Comicon badge, and be able to wander the San Diego Convention Center in relative peace and with plenty of elbow room. Obviously, this was a very, VERY long time ago and things have certainly changed. For those of you haven’t experienced Comicon within the last 5 years, let me try and paint the picture for you: imagine masses of people, most of whom are dressed in some elaborate costume, most of whom have spent hours if not multiple nights waiting in line to catch a glimpse of some Hollywood wunderkind, and it’s absolute, wall to wall, nerd-dom. Expect to be stabbed by at least one rolled up free poster as it’s owner smashes past you, and bring coffee beans or smelling salts to try and rid yourself of the smell that thousands of people in hot sweaty costumes brings.
Which then got me thinking about sex.
More specifically, this new wave of sex in literature. Hot sex. Overly graphic sex. The ‘thank God this is on my Kindle so no one actually knows what I’m really reading’ kind of sex. And even more specifically, the fans that swallow this kind of literature up (yes, the pun was totally intended.)
Both the diehard Comicon attendee and the 50 Shades fan share one thing: absolute obsession over their respective passions. These two groups of fans are singularly responsible for turning their passions into global phenomenon that have made those industries billions of dollars.
And yet, the Comicon geek can proudly wear their home made Sailor Moon outfit in public, while the reader of the latest Sylvia Day novel has to sit in a dark corner and pretend she’s reading Jane Austen.
Why is that? At the end of the day, these celebrated heroes all have the same exact story: Superman/Anastasia Steele think they’re just ordinary people, with ordinary lives. Until one day, they learn they’re not. They’re special. Superman learns he’s the son of Kal-El, Anastasia learns that the unattainable Christian Grey has fallen in love with her. It’s really the same exact story of the ordinary person being elevated to extraordinary status, but the way it’s told is different. Men secretly want to have superhuman strength and save mankind from unimaginable evil; women secretly want the bad boy that nobody could have, to want them and then give them the best orgasm of their life.
But why is one form of storytelling branded as right of passage Americana, but the other is branded as mommy porn?
Because it involves sex and the women who read it.
Honestly, that’s the only reason I can think of, and it’s totally unfair. It saddens me that in 2015, we still can’t talk about sex in literature without brushing it off as trash or not worth seriously considering. And for you 50 Shades haters out there, don’t go down the path of it being bad writing and that’s why it’s not taken seriously. I don’t remember the movie “Daredevil” bringing down the superhero institution. Superhero stories can go on, despite a bad movie or story. The same can’t be said for erotica in literature, and I’m really hoping that changes. While Comicon will get Hollywood going there in throngs, ready to promote their latest high profile movie, a romance novel convention might be met with a roll of an eye when told it’s happening.
I do have hope though. Many, many, MANY years ago when I attended my first Comicon and it only filled half the Convention Center, I remember the same rolling of the eyes whenever I told anyone outside of my industry that I was going. What was once seen as something only comic book dorks and D&D players attended, is now the hottest ticket in town. Maybe, if we can get over the fact that, yes, people do have sex, and YES, it can be hot and YES, people may want to read about it, AND THAT’S OK – maybe then we can celebrate this genre the way it deserves to be celebrated: as a relevant art form that resonates with millions of people who get a tremendous amount of joy from reading it.