Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do You Want to Know?

The final panel at Readercon addressed gender and sexuality in speculative fiction (aka, fantasy and sci-fi). The discussion became intense when it came to letting the reader know in advance that a story contained "controversial" material. For example, many romance novels now carry "warning labels" if they contain explicit sex scenes.

What do you think? Should books have some kind of warning labels, much like TV shows now rate themselves and warn of issues with sex, violence, and/or language?

6 comments:

Disgruntled Bear said...

I believe everyone should write what they want, and everyone should read what they want.

That being said, *I* don't want to read about certain things--like child sexual abuse and murder (looking at you, LOVELY BONES!). I'd be happy with a code on the back of novels that rated the content, much like the TV ratings. I'd be willing to put such warnings on my own work, as well.

MINDER contains mild language, innuendo, sensuality, attempted sexual assault, graphic depiction of injuries, and action-violence.

Sometimes the warning makes me want to read the story MORE--it's like a teaser.

"Really? One story depicts graphic violence against clowns AND suggestive werewolf-related language? How are THOSE related?"

Vicki Rocho said...

Maybe it should just have stats:

Dead bodies: 4
Sexual encounters: 2
Fights: 6
Swear words: 43

But I'm not going back through my book to count these up!

Readerly Person said...

I would say... No. Why? That's a little hard to call... I guess because it would take some of the excitement out of it for me. I'm not generally bothered by a lot of things that tend to bother other people, though, so my perspective is probably colored by the fact that I don't mind a lot of the stuff that people would be coding for.

Soo... I don't want to know. I can see the appeal for a lot of people though... On the other hand, this brings to mind such websites that rate YA books in terms of nudity, etc. etc., without providing context with which to judge the appropriateness of any given book.

That was convoluted, but my thoughts, anyway.

- Rebecca

Disgruntled Bear said...

Hi Rebecca,
I had my very first review of MINDER with a site that did the stats, and it kinda threw me since I hadn't counted the "Oh my God"s before. However, especially with YA, I think it's a good idea. as for adult books, well, *I* like to know (I had horrible nightmares after reading LOVELY BONES), but I can respect that many people wouldn't want to know. How about putting the info in really small print, so you wouldn't have to read it if you didn't want the spoilers, but I'd have the heads-up? :)

Vicki, I can recommend a great site that will do it for you when they review your book (see above). :)

shariwrites said...

I would like warnings on certain books. I don't think it's necessary in the adult market. I personally don't like to read things that are sexually explicit or have really strong language. But I'm an adult. However, in the YA market, I see some merit. As a mother, I wouldn't want my kids to read certain things. I don't think some subjects are appropriate for all kids. Something that would clue me in to what's in a particular book would be appreciated.

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