Editorial, Opinion

Romancing the Public

Rom-coms and Nicholas Sparks. 

There are several people who love them and aren’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops, but mention a romance novel and they run for the hills.

However, this is not the case for TV shows such as “Sex and the City” and “Jane the Virgin”, maybe even “The Carrie Diaries”, but I don’t think that show was loved enough to help my case. These shows were wildly popular when they were on the air and with the series picked up by streaming services, they continue to be a favorite among viewers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Sex and the City” drew a staggering 10.6 million viewers on its final episode in 2004. To better understand that number, the final episode of “Game of Thrones” drew in 13.6 million viewers, according to CNN. These numbers don’t take into account the multiple people attending viewing parties.

Carrie Bradshaw is even considered an iconic character that, according to Forbes, has left “a lasting impact on the world of pop culture.”

Besides their popularity, one defining feature these two shows have in common is their love for romance. Both Carrie Bradshaw and Jane Villanueva love to write about love. While Jane runs wild with her need to become the next best-selling romance author, Carrie isn’t afraid to bare it all on the page covering sex and relationships.

These two characters may take different approaches to their topic, but the message is still the same for both authors: Romance is good.

If they can easily share their love for the genre, why can’t we?

As a society, there is a stigma about romance novels. They are considered something taboo, something that should not be mentioned in public and you should definitely never share that you’re a fan of the genre.

I recently had several English Bachelors of Arts and Bachelors of Education majors, students who are supposed to be learning about what is literature, take an anonymous survey about their feelings toward the romance genre.

Out of the 33 students that completed the survey, only five admitted to continuously reading the romance genre. None of the five was willing to publicly admit who they were. However, 23 students admitted that they have read romance novels in the past. Only eight of the students surveyed, though, thought that the romance genre was one of the highest grossing book genres.

Most of these comments prove that the commercial success of the romance genre is often overlooked. According to TCK Publishing, “The #1 most competitive category on Amazon Kindle is Romance -> Contemporary.”

Bookstr reports that, Romance/Erotica is the highest grossing fiction genre earning $1.44 billion, followed by Crime/Mystery at $728.2 million and Religious/Inspirational at $720 million.

There are also other writing platforms, such as the popular user-generated website Wattpad, that have made an impact on the genre. Self-published stories on the site, such as “After” by Anna Todd and “The Kissing Booth” by Beth Reekles have since been made into major motion pictures.

In June 2018, “The Kissing Booth” was “one of the most-watched movies in the country” from its streaming platform Netflix, and in the top 10 of IMDb’s popularity rankings, according to Business Insider.

Other online platforms highlighting the genre include the video streaming service Passionflix created by filmmaker Tosca Musk, sister of tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. Passionflix is a streaming service that adapts romance novels into films and TV series. The website also includes popular rom-coms, such as Kiera Knightly’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Marilyn Monroe’s “How To Marry A Millionaire.” Musk was recently featured on The Today Show promoting the service.

Still, even with the mass success of the romance genre, individuals feel the need to publicly dissociate themselves for fear of ridiculous repercussions. No one should ever feel embarrassed about something that they feel passionate about, especially if that activity promotes reading.

So, in order to help eliminate these negative stereotypes in pop culture today, I would like to publicly state I am an avid fan of the genre. I have been reading romance novels for the past seven years. I hope that the information I provided in this article, if it doesn’t persuade individuals to read the genre, will encourage them to think twice before making those negative comments. There are plenty of people who enjoy romance novels, and we need to start sharing that enjoyment rather than hiding it.

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