Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Which I Say a Naughty Word

In my morning ramble through the minefield that is the internet I noticed there was a little bit of excitement about some new app that cleans up eBooks. Cleans up as in removes naughty words.

My initial response was a hearty, "meh." Some people just have no tolerance for anything outside their comfort zone. And while that's incredibly sad, it's not really worth burning anything over.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it actually is kind of a big deal. It's at least worth a few words on my part.

There are, of course, different sides to the argument. Both of which make great points.(I should point out that the majority of authors seem to think it's an incredibly stupid idea.)

The first post I read concerning this app today was very obviously against it. And I agree with almost everything that was said. (Link if you're curious: It contains NSFW Language, if you're the type to use that app, maybe don't click that link. This is my go to blog for writing advice. The entertaining use of the aforementioned naughty words inspires me.)

A writer, a good writer at least, carefully selects every word of their story. It can be a painstaking process to make sure every paragraph, every line is perfect, that it reads in the best way possible. And sometimes, the most graceful way to portray a character's dismay is a well placed "fuck!" You don't need to waste words describing the anger flashing in his eyes, or the way she furrows her brow. One word can say it all.

But on the other side of the argument, and I agree with these points as well, (But, James, how is that possible? I'll get to that in a second.) The reader should be allowed to determine how they consume their purchase. Some readers jump to the end and read the last line first. I have friends that skip chapters if they don't like the POV character. Weird, but there it is.

The writer never intended for that, They want you to see their words the way they put them down, beginning to end, in that carefully crafted pattern they pulled out of nowhere. That's hard to do, guys. Pulling something out of nothing is basically magic. Of course someone might be upset if you don't read it properly.

People do it anyway. Everyone reads differently. We might just have to get over that. (Cory Doctorow probably said it best in his post concerning the app, read it here.)

I know some people don't like to be exposed to bad language. I get it. I really do. That's a personal preference. We're allowed to have those. The fact we're allowed to have those is, in itself, an amazing thing. A privilege I would mourn greatly if it ever went away. And one I would fight for if anyone threatened to take it. (That old saying about disagreeing but dying for your right to say it anyway. I'd do that.)

So, use that app if swears scare you. If you paid for that book, enjoy it however you want. But don't let that fear make you soft.

We live in a hard, cruel world. We also live in a diverse, amazing world. It's incredibly foolish to force your own world view into a narrow, neat, little box.

If you insist on removing all the questionable content from your entertainment, at least look up every once in a while and acknowledge that it exists. That's why the author put it there in the first place. Because it's real and we can't pretend it's not.

And if a few unsavory words threaten to destroy your world, I'd really hate to see what happens when you're confronted with an actual issue.

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