Saturday, June 11, 2011

Profiteering Instead of Therapy in Vulgar YA Literature

There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Darkness Too Visible" (Link to article) by Meghan Cox Gurdon in which she includes the sub heading, "Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?".  She makes the point that there is too much extreme violence and explicit sexual content in YA literature today.

I agree with her to a point. While I am not in favor of censorship and banning books, I think parents have the responsibility to know what their children are reading and to control it if they do not feel it is appropriate. It is also not responsible parenting to have no idea what your kids are reading. That is not permissive or enlightened - it is lazy parenting.

Some argue that Ms. Gurdon and others who agree with her cannot see that writers of such depravity are helping young readers by teaching them about what the world is really like. 
I say that it is a bullshit excuse to say that this extreme violence and sex is being written solely with our kids' best interests in mind. These writers are not some sort of quasi-therapists or inspirational figures who are seeking to enlighten our youth - they are simply profiteering and taking advantage of the market.
Still writers should write what they want, and they should do so to try to sell their books. You have to be honest if you want to be a writer. 
That's why I think it is the parent's responsibility to make the decisions about what is appropriate.


  1. Thank you for commenting on my blog. It's definitely a controversial article, but in the end it comes down to good parenting. Which is, asking your kids about what they are reading. In our family, we share books. Both parents read what our kids read. Nothing is forbidden and our children make wise choices because they have learned for themselves to distinguish trash from good literature.

  2. Thanks for commenting here Trudy. One of the best memories I have from raising our sons was when we shared the Harry Potter books with our sons, and some people think they are too dark for children. At first my wife read the early books aloud and we all listened, but by the end of the series, we were all reading and discussing the books.

  3. Teens live in a world that is far different from that of even ten years ago. They are bombarded with explicit EVERYTHING these days. I suppose some writers feel that they won't be heard amidst the din if they don't throw some of this in.I feel that some 'reality' is necessary, but I don't think we're doing kids any favors by getting too graphic etc. They get enough of this.
    On the parenting end of things, I agree that parents should be monitoring what their kids read, watch, listen to BUT the truth of the matter is, if kids want to venture into forbidden territory, they will. It would be unfortunate if that 'forbidden' territory came from a Christian source...

  4. Thanks for your comment Tracy. I agree that teens are being bombarded today. There is no limit to what they can see on the Internet. In my post, I was especially speaking out against how some people defend and justify some of the extreme vulgar material being promoted in YA books.
    I'm generally not in favor of banning books, but some of these books today are going too far.