Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Writing REALLY Offensive things...

I'm not talking about writing sex that might make Grandmother Lulu blush...I'm talking REALLY offensive, politically incorrect things. At some point, the question arises over whether or not it's irresponsible to write fiction that might cause a group of people to look bad.

For example...

Let's say you write about a priest that's a pedophile. This has become a pretty stereotypical example, and yet it happens. Does writing about a pedophile priest make the entire Catholic church look bad? Does it cast a negative light on ALL priests? Religion in general? God? It's a slippery slope.

Another example...

The Neo-pagan community has at various points gotten in an uproar over the fictional depiction of witches because supposedly it makes them "look bad." Despite the fact that I don't really think anyone confuses a "hollywood witch" with a "Wiccan." I mean really, I don't know anyone who shoots lightening bolts out of their fingertips, do you?

What about kinky erotica which explores various sexual fantasies like the "rape fantasy?" By writing the fantasy itself instead of a "real life" BDSM treatment with safewords, are you making an entire community of kinky people look like rapists and abusers? Do people understand that nonconsensual kinky stories explore a fantasy and don't condone a reality? (i.e. Can it really be argued that the world of Erotica would be better off without classics like "Story of O")?

One might be deeply disturbed by the writings of the Marquis de Sade, and yet we wouldn't even have the word "sado-masochism" if not for his literary contribution.

Anything you write is going to piss someone off. Forget Grandmother Lulu. We live in a "Politically Correct" climate where many people feel they have the inalienable right not to be offended. Rather than just choosing not to read certain types of books, there are those who will insist you are doing something "wrong" by even writing them. They might not out and out condone censorship but they'd be thrilled if you quietly sat in your corner and stopped writing things that upset their sensibilities.

No group's PR image should override the free expression of ideas. Nor should it, IMO make a writer hesitate to write about things which might create controversy.

Writing requires courage on many levels. If you only write about things that don't upset anyone, are you really writing anything worth reading? I don't want to be controversial for the sake of it, but I'll be damned if I only write what's "PC."

Fiction is a safe space in which darker things can be explored. Concepts and ideas too dangerous to explore in any other way. What happens when people decide the fictional expression is too dangerous as well?

Is the problem that fiction makes certain groups of people "look bad" or is the problem that the general population seems to have increasing difficulty separating fiction from reality?


Liz said...

Just couldn't resist, could you? LOLOLOL. I was wondering if you were going to write on this subject, Zoe.

However, I do agree with you. We've had so much Political Correctness crammed down our throats that I want to puke. Makes you wonder how we managed to reach adulthood before PC was considered necessary.

We all have a preference for what we write and technically speaking, there is no right or wrong way. I may not agree with your version of a given subject, but that's my right, just as its your right to disagree with me.

Good post, Zoe.

Zoe Winters said...

hehe Thanks Liz! And honestly, while recent things 'influenced' this post, the issue itself is all about this attitude. (I've discussed off list about the original issue on the group and I think I assumed things that were wrong. However it doesn't make the point of this blogpost invalid as a general point.) :)