Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Now, I have seen both movies and read all four books, and I've ranted about this series on my personal blog as well, but I figured I might as well make this somewhat legitimate. I first picked up Twilight during my junior year of high school because a bunch of my friends had read it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. After two books, I kind of liked the series (or at least the character of Jacob Black). After four, I was left... underwhelmed.
Before I lash into it, however, let's break down the censoring part. In the Capistrano, Calif. Unified School district, an instructional materials specialist ordered that the books be moved from middle-school to high school libraries. (We presume this is because of "material unsuited to age group."). The specialist then ordered the books to be removed. The order was later rescinded. The series was also challenged in Brockbank Junior High School in Magna, Utah, because of concerns from a parent over "sexual content" in the final installment, Breaking Dawn.
With all of that said, let me just tell you right now: It is not worth the time. First of all, Stephenie Meyer writes like a five-year-old. Barring all of that purple prose she uses to make Bella swoon all over Edward's hard, cold marble body and perfect face, she just doesn't have the chops a truly good writer needs. Her characters are also irritating- the round-character-slash-narrator-written-like-a-flat-character-so-girls-can-imagine-they're-her Bella Swan, coupled with the brooding, stalkeresque, borderline abusive and control freak vampire Edward Cullen make for a pathetically whiny, self-involved and tiresome literary couple. Like I mentioned before, Jacob Black is the only character worth any shred of sympathy- until he undergoes a massive character assassination in Eclipse to make Edward seem more appealing. Everyone else (save for cutesy vamp sis Alice Cullen, and later in Breaking Dawn, conniving vamp sis Rosalie Hale) is pretty much white noise.
Then there is the plot- or lack thereof. Girl moves to small town, hates life, meets boy, finds out boy is vampire, falls in love with him anyway, does stupid crap to get herself in trouble, vampire boy rescues her time and time again, other boy who falls in love with girl is werewolf, wolf boy takes off shirt a lot, wolf boy and vamp boy flex muscles and threaten one another, girl and vamp boy get married after she graduates, girl has sex with vamp boy (necro), girl gets pregnant (impossible), vamp boy's vamp "sister" wants to take baby, girl has vamp baby and becomes vampire, voila, happy ending. Ya-freaking-awn. I mean, when conflict even comes close to happening in Breaking Dawn, Stephenie just shies away. And all of this when Bella can actually fight for herself now. Lame. Not to mention the fact that she breaks all of the rules she herself sets in the first three books, in the final book. Um, what ever happened to consistency?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Many of the books I have read and researched have been written off by parents and advocacy groups as being "obscene," but how do we even come close to explaining that? Obscenity is an opinion at most; everyone has a different perception of what strikes them as "offensive to morality or decency; depraved; indecent; abominable; disgusting and repulsive" (combined definition courtesy of Dictionary.com). Take the issue of pornography, for instance. Some find it "obscene"because of some sexual acts depicted; some think it objectifies women (myself included); others believe it is a symbol of artistic expression and therefore should not be censored.
The same is true for literature. A book like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou chronicles the author's life, which was rife with abuse and other unspeakable things. However, this book has been censored on charges of obscenity. So life is obscene? The fact that a woman had to live through this kind of horror is very offensive to morality, yes, but not the writing itself. And furthermore, how can you even censor a person's thoughts and try to persecute them? That would be akin to the Thought Police of George Orwell's 1984 punishing someone for thinking against the system. It's against everything this country stands for, and everything put into the Constitution. At the same time, you don't want to horrify people and expose young children to some themes before they're ready; still, this is why we have regulations to restrict certain media to certain age groups. Why is there a need to censor further?
So you see, the idea of obscenity is a hard one to really streamline. But people want to create court cases and charge authors and artists for it, and that is what I am against. If you don't like something, don't read or look at it; however, don't seek to punish those who have created it. If the rumors are true, it is a free country, after all.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
I've gone as far as to separate these parents into groups, which I'll reference in many of my posts. There's the "If you ignore it, it isn't real" group, which tries to shield their children from some of the many horrors of the real world depicted in books including but not limited to rape, incest, drug abuse, violence and poverty. We'll call this group, Group A. It's tried to censor books such as The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, The Color Purple by Alice Walker and so on. (This group is a close relation to Group D, which I'll get to in a moment.)
Then there's Group B, the "If you read about it, you'll go out and do it" group, which has censored Go Ask Alice, Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, etc. This group believes that the simple act of reading the books is going to incite teens to go out and do drugs or have raucous unprotected sex or become gay (which we all know is not something you randomly choose to be... or do we?). I guess they believe their own parenting is so faulty that a book is going to make their child do all these things, but I would never want to make that assumption.
Group C is the "This book offends people" group. Yes, there are some people who get offended by words and ideas, and that's completely understandable- I myself hate using those words. But these people don't get why the words are used in literature, and thus they move to censor the books that offend.
Group D, the "Only Write Happy Things" group (and a small one), is probably my favorite. See, they're under the delusion that life is just chock-full of daisies and sunshine and rainbows and all good things. Um, wrong. I separated this group from Group A because I felt that this one refuses to even acknowledge reality, whereas Group A at least admits it's somewhat present (though they still can't bear to let their children read about it).
Finally, Group E is the "We can't dare let our children read this book, even if they're 18 years old" group. They think that their kids aren't old enough/mature enough to handle explicit or offensive content. These are the people banning books I read in middle school from high school libraries. Again, well-meaning, but come on- I'm sure highschoolers are mature enough to handle the content in books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Especially if they're off watching the crap on television that they love so much.)
So those are the groups of people I have found who tend to ban and challenge books the most, because of what they find to be offensive language, racial slurs, promotion of certain behaviors such as homosexuality and drug use, and violence, among other things. Have they read the books? I doubt it. But they still wield considerable power as the parents of impressionable young children, and without them I wouldn't have this blog to write. So thank you, all you people out there who have ever moved to ban a book. You make this a very interesting endeavor for me.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The notion of "banned books" fell into my lap in Jeffrey Perchuk's Literature of Censorship class, my final semester of high school. I had wanted a different elective for English and thus wasn't expecting much of anything when he passed out a list of the top banned books in the United States. As I looked over the list, my jaw dropped at just how many of them I had read as a youngster. Though the rest of the class wasn't quite as exciting, the idea of a book being so controversial that people could want it not read at all appealed to me long after I had graduated.
In my semester at the University of New Haven, I looked up lists of banned books, marking down those I'd read and making a note to buy or borrow and read those I hadn't yet. I did this while my roommates slept at night or while I had spare time between classes. Somehow the idea snowballed into creating a space to write about the books I had read and discovered, trying to find out just why they were challenged or banned. The result is this blog, which will be a record of challenged and banned books as I read and interpret them. As a bookworm and aspiring writer/journalist myself, I find that there's not much more offensive than the oppression of words and ideas. Everyone should have a chance to tell their story, whether it may offend or not, or whether it may or may not be a happy tale. Above all, no one has the right to withhold the truth, because after all... beautiful lies are still lies. Besides, ignoring the facts doesn't erase them.