Saturday, January 14, 2017

Misery Porn, a controversial genre


                         

Do you like to read Misery porn?   Or watch it in movies or on television?  Wikipedia's definition states:   

a genre of supposedly biographical literature mostly concerned with the protagonist's triumph over personal trauma or abuse, often during childhood. It is also sometimes called "pathography."   


The term has a definite negative connotation to it.  This approach seems to generate strong opinions and can provide strong sales for writers of the genre.  Sometimes written in first person memoir format and other times third person literary fiction the focus is one or more characters' miserable, painful and tragic life stories.  Child abuse, physical and sexual, is a frequent topic as is living with addicted parents, surviving terrible conditions in war, being forced into prostitution, suffering under extreme disability, poverty or misfortune.    

This article expands on this topic and includes references to many works, literary and TV and movie productions, that compete in the most miserable life contest.  Some claim to be true, some based on the truth with fictional elements and others are completely fictional.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara has a cover photograph of a young man looking to be experiencing great pain and misery and can fairly be called a warning for potential readers (according to reviews) but is actually one of a series of photographs of orgasm.  

The New York Review of Books describes plot development wherein "The sufferings recalled in the flashbacks are echoed in the endless array of humiliations the character is forced to endure in the present-day narrative: the accounts of these form the backbone of the novel."  Read further here.

Reviews on Goodreads here give mixed opinions.  Some cried as they were reading it, cried themselves to sleep after.     How do you feel about this genre?   Do you feel sympathy/empathy for the character(s)?   Do you feel relief/guilt that your life has been so much better?  Do you feel compelled to action to prevent future misery?  Does a dark cloud follow you for weeks as you contemplate man's inhumanity?




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