The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

How Far Is Going Too Far Anyway?

Posted by BigWords on July 26, 2009

There is a lot of chatter about “unsuitable topics” for novels, short stories, films, television scripts and computer games, though I don’t see how a person can get upset about fiction. What is more important, the story or the writer? You can’t divide the two if there are boundaries caused by the misconception of ‘good taste’, which is a chickenshit way of saying “I’m scared of touching this subject.” Good taste has ruined more books than any other fallacy save for ‘morality’. There are no guidelines, and everyone sits somewhere different on the sliding scale.

In fiction (remember: FICTION) there are no boundaries. Everything, if there is sufficient reason and rationale, should be included in the writer’s arsenal. By shying away from something we give in to the censors, and the religious extremists, and the bigots, and the morons who don’t understand that fiction is make-believe. If I want a talking gorilla to take a chainsaw to a mafia boss in a homage to Scarface, then I’m gonna write the scene. Try and stop me.

But it’s still make-believe. There’s no way a talking gorilla would use a chainsaw in real life, ’cause they prefer katanas.

The subjects which seem to crop up time and time again normally involve cruelty to animals, ‘bad language’ (which doesn’t really exist, but I digress…), murder, rape and racism. Which goes some way to stripping novels of any suspense, drama or intrigue. There are few subjects I would willingly run away from, mainly for one reason-

If a story doesn’t make you think, then it isn’t worth considering.

I’ll go one step further, and state that the hardest subjects to write are often the most involving. Don’t confuse the actual circumstances with the fictions about them, because that way leads to confusion.

Arguments may now begin…

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2 Responses to “How Far Is Going Too Far Anyway?”

  1. uninvoked said

    Perhaps books should have ratings, just like movies and games do. I know there are a few books I’ve read that I really wished someone had warned me about beforehand. Books by Stephen King being top of the list. It’s not that I don’t like them or think they should be banned, its just that I don’t want to spend all night not sleeping with every light in the house on praying there are no clowns, cats, or evil infected people in my house.

  2. bigwords88 said

    This brings up two very good points.

    1 Who decides how ‘scary’ or ‘challenging’ a book is? Will we go for a sliding scale with, say, Clive Barker or Shaun Hutson at one end, King slightly below them, then Dean Koontz et al? Something that freaks you out will probably be ‘Meh’ to me, and I’m sure I would find issues with books that others completely agree with.

    2 Should ratings be implemented from outside of the industry (as with films) or from the folks making the product, as with the Comics Code Authority?

    There will never be a complete consencus, as the occasional tirade from Frank Miller will attest to. Creators generally don’t like to be told that their work should have ratings, and you just have to spend three minutes looking at the anger levelled at certain ratings decisions to see how divisive the topic is.

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