But I see an unmistakable comparison between the rationalization of the ALA and that of the FX Networks in at least one respect. Let me show you the evidence, then figure this out for yourselves.
First, please read the following stories:
- "Castration: The Next TV Frontier," by Brent Bozell III, Townhall.com, 27 September 2008.
- "Racy Reading; Gossip Girl Series is Latest Installment in Provocative Teen Fiction, and It's As Popular As It Is Controversial," by Linda Shrieves, The Orlando Sentinel, 6 August 2005.
On Sept.17, viewers of the appropriately named new series "Sons of Anarchy" were "treated" to a graphic castration scene, complete with hacked-off genitals shown lying in a pool of blood.
Completely tasteless programming is in, and FX bathes in it. The mastermind of all that Rupert Murdoch-backed villainy is an executive named John Landgraf, who pronounces his philosophical approach thusly: "One of our writers used to say, 'Bad men do what good men can only dream about.' There is a sense that what these characters are doing is allowing us to explore, in a safe context, our id and subconscious, what we might do if there were no restraints of society or conscience on us."
In a nutshell, what we're hearing is FX executives who have a lot more sensitivity to the "vision" of a seriously twisted human being than they do to the prospect of a 10-year-old boy finding a terrifying castration scene as he's flipping channels in his home.
Now here are the quotes from the "Racy Reading" article:
The latest book to fan the flames is Paul Ruditis' "Rainbow Party," about an oral-sex party that never happens, in part because the teens who've been invited have major reservations. The book ... highlights the dangers of oral sex and sexually transmitted diseases, but has been criticized by some parents and conservative commentators.
"Rainbow Party" isn't exactly flying off the shelves -- because it isn't on most bookstore shelves. Barnes & Noble and Borders are selling the book on their Web sites only. And many libraries are passing on the book -- not for censorship reasons, but because it lacks literary merit, they say.
But books can provoke discussions, says Pam Spencer Holley of the American Library Association. Although she wouldn't hand a child a copy of "Rainbow Party" without comment, she thinks that book -- and others -- can provoke family discussions.
"I think I'd say, 'This is something we need to sit and talk about,' " says Holley. "It's a way for kids to experience something at a safe distance -- and a way for them to make up their minds about how they would respond in that kind of situation."
She's happy to see teen girls reading. Eventually, girls who are reading Gossip Girls will move on to better books, she says.
"Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are," says Holley. "But when you get them hooked on reading, then you can lead them so many other places, as far as books go."
Besides, she says, what's the worst thing that can happen? "Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances."
Does anyone see the similarities? Do I have to spell it out? Are these rationalizations for sexualizing children legitimate? Any comments?