Schmonzette refers to films or literary writings, which are not very clever, in part silly, inferior, and mostly kitschy. Consequently, the term is a derogatory term for works of art that are dramatically worthless and mostly dishonest. Often, however, the term is also used synonymously for a kitschy work, and then means writings and films, which are sentimental and dishonorable, as well as appearing in a spurious way. In this case, the term “Schmonzette” can also be regarded as a subterfuge for strong kitsch.
The term is derived from the Yiddish noun schmonze, which can be translated into words about gelatin, empty words or chatter. The origin of this word is not clear, but it is probable that there is a closeness to Schmus. The noun Schmus means the attitude connected with many (superfluous) words. Thus, the origin of the Schmonzette is, in any case, in a word which is used synonymously for empty or superfluous speech, whereby the inferior is underlined.
However, there are no uniform features that make a work for Schmonzette. But if the focus is on the fact that it is a piece that is not very clever, and beyond it, it is striking that the word is mostly used subjectively. As a matter of fact, the speaker degrades a work of art because of his personal feeling for the Schmonzette. This is plainly justified by the fact that adjectives such as cheesy, dishonorable, and inferior often depend on subjective judgment.
The Heftroman, also Groschenroman or Groschenheft, is a form of trivial literature. Such staples are produced in a low-cost staple form and are characterized by a small circumference (often 64 pages). They use numerous stereotypes, stereotypes and simple linguistic means, while they are designed as cheap consumer goods (book price <2 €).
As a rule, they appear in series or series, with a hero often standing in the center (cf. protagonist), who is often also the title-giving figure of such a series and has to deal with new adventures in every issue. Furthermore, such staples are usually restricted to a predefined setting (love romans, Western romans, horror romans, etc.) and are often published under a pseudonym so that several authors can work on the same series.
Examples from the German-speaking world are Perry Rhodan, Jerry Cotton or the notebooks about the ghost hunter John Sinclair. Works of this series follow a simple as well as recurring structure and can therefore be called Schmonzetten. Nevertheless, the examples cited in the German-speaking world have achieved cult status and are of great popularity.
Even more striking – to be mentioned here as examples – are all Groschenromane, which revolve around the theme of love: among other things the series Dr. Stefan Frank, Dr. North or Der Bergdoktor, which, as a doctor’s romance, are a subspecies of love romans. The examples given were all successful and were even partly – mostly as a television series – even filmed.
In most cases, the illustrated romances follow a predictable and simple dramaturge in each booklet: the love couple meet, there is a conflict, love seems lost, one of the two fights for love, and in the end, both swear by loyalty (see Happy end) , Consequently such love romances are dramatic, at least not very intellectual or inferior, which makes them trivial, but to the same extent-especially when the kitsch is superficial-to Schmonzette.
Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
Schmonzetten are generally works of low dramatic quality, which are often characterized by kitsch and sometimes appear silly. Their construction is simple, they are produced as consumer goods, usually presenting one-dimensional characters.
Typical examples are the so-called “Heftromane”, which revolve around themes which remain the same, as well as numerous telenovelas on television (such as Sturm der Liebe, Marienhof and Verbotene Liebe, and also GZSZ etc.). The use of the term is, however, mostly subjective.