That line has to do with our responsibility as writers as to what we are contributing to society by what we write.
What prompted this post is the lively discussion online about Fifty Shades of Grey ,and the messages that story gives to young people. I tried to read the book, but I couldn't get past the fact that Grey was an abuser and took advantage of Ana, a vulnerable insecure woman. Instead of empowering her, he overpowers her. Is that the kind of man we want our sons to emulate? I'd rather they become the kind of men that Terry Odell featured here in her post about heroes on Thursday.
Some people are dismissing the social impact of Fifty Shades of Grey by saying it is just fantasy, fiction, not to be taken seriously. Actually, folks, fiction is taken seriously and does have more impact than we might think. Here is what Kristen Lamb had to say in her post Does Fiction Matter? Fiction, Fantasy and Social Change :
To assert that any book that’s sold that many copies is just a story, in my POV, is naive and ignores almost all of human history. Societies have always been defined and redefined by its stories. Fiction IS NOT INERT. Why do you think dictators shoot the writers and burn the books first?
To claim that fiction is mere fantasy is to ignore the impact of every transformative work ever written. “A Christmas Carol” was not merely a sweet tale of a redeemed miser at Christmas.
It was a scathing piece of literature that eventually led to the establishment of children’s rights advocacy organizations and protection for children in the legal system (and also impacted the treatment of the poor and infirm).
During the time Dickens wrote this, children were considered property. The government regularly imprisoned and hanged small children, many of whom were orphans, for relatively small offenses from vagrancy to begging to petty theft.In the early 90s I wrote a book about violence for a series Rosen Publishing was doing called “Coping With”. The books are aimed for teens to help them deal with social issues they face, and one of my books is Coping With Weapons and Violence in School and on Your Streets. The first edition came out before Columbine, and the book has been revised twice since, as school violence and mass shootings continue to escalate.
During my initial research, I interviewed a criminology professor, and he pointed out the influence of all the violence kids are exposed to through film and television. As an example, he said there was a real danger of kids being desensitized to death and murder and violence after watching slasher film after slasher film. He believed that a young person who was immersed in violent games and movies could too easily begin to see that violence as normal.
To me, what that professor said back then is no different from the cautions being spoken today by people who are concerned about the messages in stories like Fifty Shades.
I am certainly not calling for censorship. We do have the right to free speech and free expression, and if you want to read, and write, erotica, that is your choice. What I am suggesting is that you consider that with the right to free speech, comes an ethical responsibility. I join Kristen Lamb in encouraging writers to "Appreciate and RESPECT the power of art. Handle with care."
|Posted by Maryann Miller - novelist, screenwriter, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent mystery, Doubletake, was chosen as the Best Mystery for 2015 by the Texas Association of Authors. She also writes the critically acclaimed Seasons Mystery Series. All of her books are available as e-books and as paperbacks, and a complete listing can be found on the books page of her website. For information about her editing services, visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas.|