And I think that there is nothing wrong with loving what you love; I do think it’s important to be able to critique problematic narratives, or stories that are pushing forward flawed representations (of gender, of race, of sexuality, of size or ability, etc.), and to be open to critique of your own work and of work that you enjoy — but at the same time I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the disdain for certain elements of commercial fiction and, especially, commercial YA. Certain conventions get employed so often because a lot of people want to read them, primarily women, and a blanket contempt for “cliche” more often than not looks to me like a blanket contempt for stories produced and consumed by women. That, to me, is often more problematic than the individual narratives themselves. You’d have a hard time convincing me that that kind of scrutiny and dismissal doesn’t get applied much more intensely to female writers and female readers than male writers and male readers.
And honestly, I’m not sure that those conventions are so much a problem — I think it’s doing teenagers (and especially teenage girls, who bear the brunt of our cultural concern-trolling) a pretty big disservice to suggest that, for example, reading Twilight is going to turn them all into brain-dead girl-zombies in abusive relationships (I grew up obsessed with Flowers in the Attic, which makes Twilight look like the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and I turned out pretty okay). If we want girls to be growing up self-reliant and making good decisions, that’s our job as a culture, not my job (or Stephenie Meyer’s job, or anybody’s job) as a writer.
I do think it’s a huge problem that publishers put so much weight and so much money behind the same kinds of stories — heteronormative romances starring white kids, written by white authors — but I think that’s a totally different conversation.