Category: book censorship

Warning Label: Rape; Davey Wavey: The Worst Part of Gay; NYT Paid Content

Warning Label: Rape

In the 1950’s television shows were subjected to some of the worst kinds of censorship in the history of the arts. Censors forced producers like Desi Arnaz to use twin beds at all times on I Love Lucy because the thought of two married people sleeping (not actually having sex) in the same bed was found to be offensive and harmful to some people. Today television shows like American Horror are still being censored, and obviously the kinds of censorship Arnaz had to deal with in the 1950’s has changed drastically. But American Horror (and other shows like it) is still forced to put up warnings before each show if there’s anything considered questionable or harmful content.

There’s a blog post, written by an author I don’t know, about warning labels on books that’s created more than a few in-depth discussions in the past week. The post begins with a comment about how there’s an interesting trend now, especially with small niche presses.

 No, this disturbing trend is far more insidious. It’s the infantilization of the reader.

The riff goes something like this: “Oooh, that content is objectionable! It might upset someone! We better warn people away! Quick, tag it! Oh, how dare that author not include warnings! What a terrible, insensitive person! I bet they wrote it because .”

You can read more here.

As I stated, this post has created interesting discussions, to the point where one person left a comment on a thread at another blog posting on the same topic that went like this, in part:

She said she wished she could stop reading it but she couldn’t because she had to see if the rape victim (heroine) was going to survive but it was a horrible experience for her.

I felt terrible for that reader and frankly if a warning prevents someone like her from going through that experience I’m all for it. There is far more harm that can be done without warnings than with warnings.

I hate to see anyone harmed, but I’m not so sure more harm can be done without warnings. Should we start adding warning labels to classics? In Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, one of the most important pieces of literature of the twentieth century, there’s rape and incest portrayed as it applies to both the story and the culture of the main characters. As far as I know, I’ve never seen The Bluest Eye come with a warning label. The Bluest Eye, however, has always created a certain amount of controversy, especially in schools, and many want it banned in spite of its literary qualities because they claim it is harmful.

There’s always going to be something that offends or is considered harmful to someone, in books, films, music, and visual arts. I’ve heard there are people harmed because of gay content. Does that mean all books with any gay content should have warning labels? I’ve even heard where people are offended by certain dances. Unfortunately, the less sophisticated reader is usually the one who will be the most offended and harmed.

In the same respect, I don’t have as strong of an opinion on this topic as I probably should. Part of that is because I’ve become jaded with the abuse of search engines and censorship and I’ve had to learn how to avoid simple words in order to keep perfectly innocent books from being targeted for the wrong reasons. So if all books everywhere, in every single genre, including The Bluest Eye, were required to come with warning labels I wouldn’t complain. But I want them ALL to have labels, not just certain books with certain small publishers, in certain genres. ALL of them. I want them rated for content like films with labels…even Debbie Macomber books would have labels that read: No. Sex. At. All. Ever. And until that happens, or I’m forced otherwise, you won’t be seeing any warning labels on my books.

Davey Wavey: The Worst Part of Gay

I think what I find most interesting about Davey Wavey is that he comes up with things no one else would ever consider. In this case, he’s come up with the theory that the worst part about being gay is that a gay guy can have two ex-boyfriends start dating each other. And he’s right. Women can’t relate to that…unless they’ve been dating two men who turned gay. I’m sure that’s happened somewhere, at some point, but it’s not common. At least I hope not anyway.

In any event, here’s how Davey Wavey puts it. You can check it out here on his web site, too.

New York Times Paid Content

A lot of newspapers are now charging for online content. And when I saw this ad for The New York Times I thought I’d share.

It’s not something I would do at this point, but I hate to say never. I can get all the free info I want on the web from other sources that are just as good, if not better than the NYT. I find the NYT to be highly slanted, filled with spin, and patronizing to gays at times.  But I also think this paid content thing is going to be a trend that continues and it will be interesting to see what’s next.