Censorship in Writing: your thoughts? - Page 8


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Thread: Censorship in Writing: your thoughts?

  1. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post

    And that's, I think, what I'm saying about dealing with controversial content. There's a balance to be struck. If you're something of a polemicist and wish your work to deal in risky subject matter, I have the utmost respect for that...on the understanding the risk is yours , that we are entitled to scrutinize your work more closely, and that you can't later complain if your book isn't one that a middle school library or Oprah Winfrey wants to read.

    I'm fine with outrageous stories. I'm even fine with outrageous-for-the-sake-of-being-outrageous to an extent. There's a need for that. A writer like Edward Lee with his splatterpunk stuff, they're pretty good books and definitely entertaining. What I am NOT fine with is whiny fools who want to write obscene, pornographic garbage and then complain that there's a negative reaction. Of course there's a negative reaction. But it's not censorship just because Barnes & Noble chooses not to stock your crap.

    It's not censorship really until the book's banned by law, though the law can't ban a book that's never written or published, so there are pre-censorship levels of sorts. But a writer should definitely expect a harsher level of critique with every boundary they push. Totally agree. Can't rain shit on a story and expect it not to stink--or others not to notice the smell.

    I'm not stupid or naive enough to think people won't be offended, and I'm not going to blame anyone for being offended. I know damn well Pinocchio and "Joanna" are hard sells and likely to piss off/disgust/offend about everyone on the planet--and I'm not going to blame people for that. Fully expect negative reactions--to the extent that I've never sent "Joanna" out, despite the story being finished more than a year now.

    The weirdest part to me is that I didn't write either of those stories intending to be shocking or disgusting or obscene, but they're both certain to be called that (and pornographic, for that matter). Both stories feature victims of child sex abuse in prominent story positions--and much like actual victims--these characters have serious issues in the aftermath of said abuse (including becoming physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or sexually abusive with the POV character in both stories). It's a very unpopular and controversial take because I'm portraying the victims as being abusive with other people, and this seems to be a taboo, even though it's par for the course with real life abuse victims, which are generally treated in fiction as hapless crying blobs, angsty battleaxes or vicious psychopaths/villains. I wanted to show a darker but still redeemable side of victims--not to be shocking (and certainly shock-for-the-sake-of-shock-value) but to give such victims a voice in fiction. Reality is often more shocking than people want to think it is.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  2. #72
    I do think we live in a time when a kind of de facto censorship (which is not real censorship, as has been established) exists through social media. I would imagine that is what these people who whine about 'censorship' are referring to.

    In the pre-internet era, it was really hard to institute nationwide boycotts of anything. Now all you need is a good hashtag, on point meme game, and a 'movement'. Regardless of what happens, Harvey Weinstein has been effectively censored from ever making movies again. Ditto Kevin Spacey. Spacey was a fantastic actor regardless of what anybody pretends now. Whether he 'deserves it' or not is irrelevant, it's a shame to lose that talent.

    On a more micro level, a writer who becomes famous for bad writing/unacceptable messaging could arguably be de facto 'censored' from having their future work judged according to merit. If Stephanie Meyer somehow managed to come up with a work of mainstream literary genius tomorrow, I would suggest it would require some excellent PR and quite a bit of luck for her to win a Pulitzer, or even to obtain any readers at all, simply because she is known far and wide for very poorly-written teenage novels. A form of typecasting now exists stronger than it ever did before: Meyer is arguably 'censored' from serious literary conversation. A hundred years ago a well-known artist could probably reinvent themselves, could try a different tack. It's harder now. Impossible, even.

    Is that bad? I don't know. I suppose it depends on what is being targeted and why. Ultimately in a free-market society this is inevitable. On the one hand, its definitely a more democratic way to determine value. On the other hand, it is prone to unfortunate consequences, sometimes based on reality, other times based on ignorance and hysteria.

    If Twitter had existed in 1955 it's possible Nabokov could have been ostracized overnight for his 'pornography', his book boycotted and his career trashed - #VladThePerv has a snappy ring to it, doesn't it? But, as it was, the outrage at that time was almost entirely driven by newspapers, which have a limited capacity for influence and are generally only read by the intelligentsia anyway. Hence all these important historical figures were allowed to live double lives back then, simultaneously changing the world for the better while not necessarily being good people in ways that would likely hobble them in the 'Age Of Information'.
    Last edited by luckyscars; September 29th, 2019 at 10:00 AM.

  3. #73
    Also, I think authors can get away with a lot more if a novel is categorized as "literary."

    For example, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was published in 2016. The blurb begins: "A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives."

    This "beautiful and provocative love story" is about a man in his early to mid twenties who starts taking care of his meth head buddy's neglected eight-year-old daughter, then buys her an engagement ring when she's thirteen and... After he gets out of prison for the child molestation, the two ride off in the sunset together.

    I was horrified but it was a New York Times bestseller.
    Last edited by Ma'am; September 29th, 2019 at 08:44 PM.

  4. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    Also, I think authors can get away with a lot more if a novel is categorized as "literary."

    For example, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was published in 2016. The blurb begins: "A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives."

    This "beautiful and provocative" love story is about a man in his early to mid twenties who starts taking care of his meth head buddy's neglected eight-year-old daughter, then buys her an engagement ring when she's thirteen and... After he gets out of prison for the child molestation, the two ride off in the sunset together.

    I was horrified but it was a New York Times bestseller.
    Oh god, yes. Getting the genre is vital. Even try and sell that as romance and you're given a short-sharp reject slip from a publisher, and banned from Amazon. But it boggles the mind how the reject cries go up in one genre but not others.
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



  5. #75
    In the United States we, thus far, enjoy freedom of speech. The idea behind it being; curb that guy's speech, pretty soon they'll be curbing mine. This, as a result, finds us having to endure some pretty extreme speech from more directions than I'm sure our founding fathers could have considered at the time of their penning our constitution. Even so, I staunchly defend our right to free speech in the U.S., and it has to be continually defended as there are also people almost constantly trying to squelch the speech of those with whom they disagree.

    "I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." Thomas Jefferson

    I think I'll side with Tom on the issue of censorship, even today when flagrant and puerile speech abounds. A feature of today's U.S. is a questionable education system, especially at the middle school/high school level. One has to wonder if some of what is appearing in the U.S. today might be a result of that; trying to use the education system to indoctrinate, losing complete control of it as a result, then engaging in the blame game.

    Sustrai
    Last edited by Sustrai; October 26th, 2019 at 11:37 PM. Reason: typo emergency

  6. #76
    As a working book editor and author, a few thoughts. Censorship is necessary. Art is no excuse.

    The material my company produces is going to a wide audience. The public good is a concern because we sell to the public. Years of research, and feedback, has shown that the average person/reader is average, with a small number who fall outside that group, mostly imaginative types who want to be artists or writers.

    Society consists of individuals who must get along with other individuals. Good parenting should prepare most people for that.

    Offending people is not good. There is no excuse for it. You don't meet a stranger somewhere and offend him. You have a conversation. The same with books. The same with movies. The average moviegoer is not an expert or a screenwriter. They are looking for entertainment and they do bring their kids.

    Pre-internet, it was easy to boycott things and physically carry protest signs. The level of FBI and other surveillance on the internet has made it easier for law-enforcement to spot troublemakers.

    Prior to 1971, certain words could not be said on TV or the radio. Certain things could not be shown. That meant everybody, religious or not, could watch most anything.

    Finally, this fiction about 'power.' How much freedom do you want? You can publish anything as an ebook. It's entirely up to you. I would add that social responsibility exists. Just read the rules of this forum.

  7. #77

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