Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Textbook Example of Censorship by Mob - Tournament of Rapists

I read this:

and, ugh.

The tl;dr version.  Somebody put out a (tabletop) role-playing game book with the title of Tournament of Rapists.  From the synopsis it sounds like a Mortal Kombat/Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon type scenario where the players infiltrate a tournament of death to bring down the corrupt ringleader.  The Perpetually Offended Of Social Media caught wind of it and deployed their usual strategy of Point and Shriek and Dogpile until the retailer made it unavailable.

I've been trying to avoid harping on about SJW nonsense, but this is encroaching on my own artistic freedom.  It's close to an idea I've been meaning to work on (monster girls fighting with exotic sex moves similar to the arena section of Monster Girl Quest) as a book or maybe even a game.  I'd like to be able to do this without worrying about a pack of screaming monkeys throwing faeces at me.

Healthy criticism and not liking something is fine.  Gathering together a mob to pressure retailers into not selling certain items because you don't like them is not.  Stories like this need to widely circulated so that people are aware of what's going on.  At this point we need to shout back and let these online thugs know in no uncertain terms that this type of shit is no longer acceptable.

If you're one of the people that threatened to remove your own products unless this book was banned, you are a cunticle of the highest order and I sincerely hope you look on your business in a year's time and see nothing but ash.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Uh oh. Blogger have dropped the Prudehammer

Blogger have changed their Adult Content policy.  I (and many like me judging from the displeased mutterings on Twitter) received an email last night informing me of the changes.  Here they are . . .

. . . and yeah, they're not good, not good at all.  It looks like I'll have to pack my bags and find a new (online) home come March 23rd.

In theory I could comply, but it would mean deleting nearly every screenshot of every game I've written about and as I know a lot of you out there enjoy those posts, that's unacceptable to me.  Also in theory I could mark this blog as private going forward, but as the primary purpose of this blog is to publicise my books, it wouldn't be doing a good job of that if no bugger can find it.

With discussions like these it's impossible not to invoke the dreaded 'C' word.  Personally I think anyone using the hur derp, "It's only censorship if the government is involved," argument is a moron that isn't aware the world has moved on in the last century and a half.  I've argued before that if the end result is the same, people are going to use the closest word that fits.

Of course, against that we have to weigh up that Blogger is Google's platform and they are fully entitled to decide who or what goes on it.  It's disappointing that Google have taken this line, but it would also be churlish of me not to be grateful to them for giving me a nice set of tools to get my voice online essentially for free for the past five years.

I'd put this in the mild censorshit bracket - a damn nuisance, but not an oppressive gag as there are plenty of other alternatives.

Last night I purchased the domain.  It's about time.  I have a nice author page on Amazon, I might as well get a proper web address.  Currently it should redirect to this blog.  Next month I'll look at migrating to a new, more tolerant, online home.

I'd like to think we're moving to a future where companies will stop doing this as it will generate more bad publicity than good.  Sadly, until then, those of us working with adult material are a soft target and will have to continue to expect and work around arbitrary chilling effects.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Enough moping, it's time to get back to writing

Okay, that’s enough moping around.  Time to bash the black dog’s head in with a shovel.  Who am I kidding, I doubt I could stop writing even if I had to.  I enjoy it too much and I’m not going to allow a spot of holier-than-thou bullying poison the satisfaction I get from writing these stories.  I’m probably worrying about nothing anyway.  One of the problems with writing horror is that the mind gets very good at spinning out a scenario and stringing together the worst combination of outcomes.  I doubt the person was credible and even if they were the most it would likely amount to is some awkward conversations with my workmates.

(Note: this is my situation.  For other writers of erotica the circumstances might be very different, which is why an attitude of “They should write under their own name so we know who they are” is the mark of an ignorant asshole.)

I’ve had a week to think things over and I’m going to make a few minor changes.  I let myself drift a little too close to the world of “serious” writing.  My personal opinion is those online communities are toxic.  They’re highly politicized and if – like me – you don’t fit rigidly within a political ideology you get a clubbing from whichever side you get too close to.  I don’t think they’re healthy for budding writers either as they’re stultifying environments detrimental to creativity.

(Some might be reading this and thinking:  Hey, that doesn’t sound like the warm and friendly community I know.

Well bully for you.  Your face fit, someone taught you the secret handshake, or you found an entry point manned by the many decent people I hope don’t feel as if I’m tarring them with the same brush.

Unfortunately I saw a lot of unpleasant sneering assholes, took one too many brickbats to the face and decided I was better off staying right the fuck out of it all.)

“Serious” writing appears to have forgotten the contract between writer and reader and become obsessed on the things that are only ever proxies to this contract between writer and reader.  If you write something and even if only ten people read it and enjoy it, congratulations, you have still increased the overall happiness of the world.  Do not let anyone else try to tell you otherwise.  Only the worst kind of person tries to dictate to everyone else what their fantasies should be.

And hrarghhullll.

That’s another sticky black hateball I had to get off my chest.  I hope I’m not going to make a habit of this, otherwise I’ll have to stick a note on the blog – “It has been 7 days since Many-Eyed Hydra’s last online meltdown.”

Plus I assume you’re all here for the sexy succubus action, not a bunch of whiny ranting from someone who should be old enough and wise enough to know better.

The tl;dr version – Fuck the snobs and holier-than-thou bullies, I’m not going to stop writing the stories I enjoy writing.

To show I am most emphatically not done with this writing lark and as a thank you I’ll post one of the stories I have saved for the next collection.  There’s even going to be a choice:

Busted Bankster: A city trader is drawn into a deadly cage fight with a succubus and is smothered by her large breasts.

A Special Tube of Lube: A work-at-home software developer is given a sensual ‘4 hands’ massage by two busty students that ends up with them demonstrating a very special tube of lube.

A Real Life Goo Girl: A researcher studying an unusual slime girl brought back from H-space is trapped in the lab with her when she escapes.

Pick the one that most takes your fancy and let me know in the comments.  I’ll post the one with the most votes tomorrow.

(don’t pick the one I haven’t finished editing yet . . . don’t pick the one I haven’t finished editing yet . . .)

Thank you all for your messages of support and I'm sorry for being stupid enough to allow myself to get distracted from what's important - supplying the world with sexy succubus smut.  Next week normal service should be resumed.  I’ll wrap up the walkthrough of Violated Hero 4 and after that I have some reviews of some other monster girl hentai games I’ve played recently.

And of course I'll keep scribbling away on new stories/chapters, it's what I enjoy doing.

Monday, February 03, 2014

So a writer at The Guardian threatened to dox me today...

Doxing, if you're unaware, is the process of posting personal information about someone, effectively revealing the real life person behind the online pseudonym.

This is a fairly nasty threat against anyone who writes explicitly about sex.  By and large we live in more enlightened times, but they're not that much more enlightened.  People are still highly judgmental about matters of sex.  Writers of erotica write under pseudonyms with good reason!  They don't want their enjoyable and harmless online hobby causing potential problems in their real lives.  There are school teachers and other similar professions that use writing on places like Literotica as an escape valve.  If the nature of their hobby became exposed it could cause them considerable difficulties in their careers.  For people with the misfortune of living in more repressive regimes, being unmasked could have far more serious repercussions.

I'm fortunate that I'm not in that situation, at least I think so.  Which is the problem.  Maybe my employers would be cool with what I write, maybe they wouldn't.  Maybe my friends would mostly remain my friends, or maybe they'd spend all day squinting at me sideways as if I was an alien.  That's the problem with these things, no one can really tell.  Which is why the majority of erotica writers choose to use pseudonyms.  It's safer that way.

I don't know if the threat was serious.  It was a heated discussion.  I and others were hurt and offended by the article and let the author know.  When the red mist rises cross words are typed.  The threat might not have been any more credible than the average twitter death threat.


As much as I dislike bowing down to holier-than-thou thuggery, there are real life risks and consequences.  I have a family and a career.  The fear of a threat like that starts to eat away.  Was it serious?  Were they bluffing?  If they weren't and my real name leaked into the public domain what then?  Will I lose my job and then have difficulty finding future employment?  It's easy for the mind to prey on worse case scenarios.  This is a fun hobby I enjoy a great deal, but it is a hobby and I have to weigh it up against a career that puts food on the table and pays the bills.

I'm sorry to the people coming here in expectation of fun fantasy stuff.  I'm going to have to take a pause and think on this.  I love what I do, but I also love my real life job and I can't take a chance on jeopardising that.

I really loathe bullies, always have.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Now Exiting the Holier-Than-Thou Wars...

Anyone following my twitter feed might have noticed an increase in the rant-quotient of late.  Yeah, getting involved with the latest SFWA kerfuffle over sexism in their Bulletin magazine...probably not the wisest of moves.

The teeth-grindingly annoying part is I'd like to think I'm on the side of 'good'.  Greater diversity of voices and perspectives leads to a greater number of interesting and imaginative stories, which can only be a good thing.  And frankly, some of the shit women writers had to put up with in the past was abominable.

But I also subscribe fully to freedom of expression, and the chilling effect of censorship, whether it be the dictionary definition of the word or the quasi-censorship by mob that essentially results in the same outcome, scares me greatly.  My publisher, eXcessica, was nearly shut down when our payment processor, an organisation with an effective monopoly, had a sudden attack of morality.  So yep, censorship, or rather the not-quite-censorship we don't have a proper word for, concerns me a lot.

The problem is whenever someone tries to voice these concerns they usually get a battering.  Some of the people reading this (who am I kidding, I'm a grotty horror/porn writer, no one is reading this) are probably already rolling their eyes and thinking:

"Here we go again, another stupid SWM that completely doesn't get it.  All 'Blah blah Art! blah blah Fantasy! blah blah Censorship!'  Thinking it's all about him, him, him.  People are offended!  Our souls are hurting!"

I'm just a little concerned about the whole burning of stuff.  Can we not just create more cool, imaginative stuff to please a bigger, more diverse audience?  That seems better to me than taking stuff away from the audience that's already there.  Is a picture of a warrior woman in a bikini really that--

"Sexist!  Disrespectful to woman!  And totally unrealistic.  She's a fighter, not a glamour-puss sex symbol."

Um, isn't unreality sort of the whole point of fantasy, a precious little glimmer of escapism from humdrum lives.  It might not be your fantasy, but the imagination is a really big thing.  When you can create anything, it seems a bit mean to stomp all over someone else's fant--

"It's wank fodder for sad inadequates who don't know how to deal with a real woman!"

That's a little harsh, but so what if it is.  It's their fantasy, their little glimmer of escapism. Can they not--

"Oh shut up!  You're just another spoilt geek.  Go back down to your basement and take your neckbeard and bad hygiene with you!"

Ironically, despite my earlier posts expressing 'silly' concerns about censorship, I was Jim Hines'ing one of many comments like the one above to show how offensive it would look if you gender-flipped the terms, when The Guardian censored me.

Yep, that fluffy bastion of liberalism, The Guardian.  Achievement unlocked: Censored by The Guardian.

They didn't need to shout "Shut up!" at me.  You don't need to tell people to "Shut up!" when you can press a button and, poof, they are shut up.  Funnily enough the original comment is still there.  Yep, a quote of it with "men" switched to "women" was deemed to offensive to exist, but the original is fine.  I guess it's perfectly okay to describe the gaming/sci-fi/fantasy community as having a high number of "unattractive, unhygenic, neckbeard types", with a "complete lack of ability in finding a partner".

Gee whiz, why is there this backlash from the gaming community, I wonder?

I did point out the double standards.  That comment did well.  It nearly lasted a full half hour.

shut up

They don't need to froth and rave, "Shut up!"  They press a button and you are

shut up

But it's not censorship.  It's their paper.  It's their choice over what comments appear in the discussion.  They have that right.  It's fine.  I won't be reading it in future.

This was not a debate or discussion.  It's diktat.  "You will think and say what we think you should think and say, otherwise you can go and stand in the shit with the other bigots and misogynists."

No.  I'll take a third option.  I'm out.  I'm exiting the Holier-Than-Thou wars.  I'm disengaging.  It's that or let the radioactivity build up until one morning I wake up and find I'm standing in the shit with all the other frothing loonies.

Tell the truth, I'm a little concerned I might be standing in it already.

I hope not.  I quite like that whole diversity thing of people of all stripes letting their imaginations spill out without some mean fucker standing in the way and telling them they can't.

Not that what I think matters a damn jot.  After all, I'm

shut up

Well not entirely.  I'm not truly censored.  I can write this and post it to the great dark outerness of the internet.  It might not be lost forever.  It might even bubble up to the heady circles of the twitterati, where the fully evolved elite can point and laugh at another frothing neckbeard ape.  Ooo, if I'm really lucky I might even get to be described as very special.

Then again, it might be best to not hit that post button.  Not good to speak out of line.  Might jeopardize the...actually it's really more of hobby than a career.  Still, there's always the worry of my writing being

shut up

Urp.  Sorry about that.  You know how it is, sometimes you have something you really need to cough up off your chest.  In this case it's black, sludgy and I think those are eyes.  I'll kill it with fire later just to make sure.

Don't worry, I'm not going to make a habit of this.  I'm out.  Weight lifted.  Shits no longer to be given.

Time to get my head down and back to the stories.  That's what it's all about.  Create fantasies...provide escapism...entertain...delight.  Fuck the other shit.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Some game succubi require little pornification...

The Jackson in HRPG-World series is my affectionate little poke at some of the more risque inclusions in some computer games. Most of those games (not including the outright hentai games like Monster Girl Quest and Violated Hero) are harmless enough and require a truly filthy imagination to push their naughtier elements to their salacious extremes.

And then there are others...

(full link here. jump to 8:30 or so if you're bored of the fighting)

Am I even needed here? :)

The game is Vindictus or Maginobi Heroes and produced by Korean studio, Nexon. I don't know much about it other than it's an MMO based upon the Mabinogion, a collection of very old Welsh stories/myths.

It's a lovely interpretation of a succubus battle.

Given the sexism landmines that keep going off in the games industry after the Lara Croft rape thing, the Hitman sexy nuns thing, the Anita Sarkeesian thing, I wonder how long we'll get to enjoy little bits of offbeat titillation like this in computer games before the PC (political correctness, not personal computer) mafia shuts it down completely. I would be sad to see this happen. Games are fantasy. That fantasy can be ultra-violent and even include comicbook-representations of anatomy for titillating purposes, but it's still fantasy - a confection whipped up for pure entertainment. It might not appeal to everyone, but to stomp on something someone else derives innocent (largely!) pleasure from because it disagrees with your worldview is a particularly mean-minded attitude in my opinion.

There should always be a place for sexy succubi in games. And ludicrously over the top execution scenes a la Manhunt. It's. Not. Real.

The real world is grey enough without shoving that greyness into fantasy as well.

Enough ranting from me anyway. Will Jackson be paying a visit to a Vindictusian "Naughty Room" at some point in his future? Possibly. ;)

Edit: Here's the full intro as it's cut off on the first vid (yes, she doesn't care whether her visitors are male or female):

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The difference between censorship and censorship

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is running at the moment and has thrown up some interesting articles. Patrick Ness put out this brilliant polemic on censorship and in particular how social media can cause problems of self-censorship for writers worried about their words being taken out of context and misunderstood. In the latter article China Miéville made the point it's only really censorship when the police show up.

This is a familiar argument and a problem with how censorship is defined. Selena Kitt brought it up here after the problems with paypal and online retailers banning some of eXcessica’s books. The articles around the time generated some debate with other people making the point that it wasn’t true censorship—no government body was actively banning the books; the booksellers were simply refusing to stock the books, which they had every right to do. I argued back then that the semantics of whether or not it was technically censorship were moot if they resulted in the same outcome. It might not be censorship in the pedantic sense, but the end result is still a writer being unable to get their work out for readers to read. There isn’t really a word to fit this ‘soft’ form of censorship, so we tend to use censorship even though it’s not strictly accurate.

This ‘soft’ censorship is especially appropriate to social media and I think Ness has it spot on. A writer either has to censor themselves and avoid trigger topics completely, or risk something being interpreted the wrong way and then have a baying online mob (most of whom probably didn’t even read the original work in the first place) stomp all over their reputation and career.

Ness raised the example of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was not banned or censored by Western governments to my knowledge, but after seeing what happened to Rushdie, only an incredibly brave or reckless writer would attempt to tackle the same topics now. Again, this isn’t censorship in the pedantic sense, but the end result is the same—certain work will not be available for the public to read. It’s a kind of censorship by the mob.

And irony of ironies, this is the week when the Save the Pearls and Weird Tales controversy erupted on the internet, a situation that exemplifies Ness’s argument (although I don’t think he’d thank me for drawing the line from A to B).

I don’t want to talk about Victoria Foyt's book too much. I’ll be charitable and assume Foyt was aiming for an anti-racist message, but rather than hit the target, managed to spin around 180° and fire the arrow right through her foot. As a result plenty of people found it racist and were offended by it. They were also offended that Weird Tales (a fiction magazine with a long history) planned to run an extract. Further exacerbating the situation, Weird Tales had recently undergone some kind of editorial coup, with the popular Ann VanderMeer turfed out by the new owners.

This is where being one of those staunch Free Speech Warriors sucks. I fear and loathe all forms of censorship, which by extension means I also fear and loathe Political Correctness, as it’s another form of censorship, albeit by people with more honourable intentions. The moment you start to think certain things should be banned, for the “good”, is the moment you start opening the door to allow other people to ban other things, for their “good”, which might be vastly different and far more narrow-minded than your own “good”. That door should be kept shut and firmly locked. Unfortunately that sometimes means ending up on the side of the river you’d rather not be. As the famous quote goes: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Of course, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism. If someone writes something bone-headed and stupid, someone else has the right to call them out for writing something bone-headed and stupid. There is, however, a fine line between honest and deserved criticism, and hounding a writer off the internet and leaving a smouldering crater where a magazine once stood.

I fear the chilling effects Ness talked about in his polemic. Culture is poorly served if writers are grinding their work down to tasteless gruel for fear of the PC police lurking at their shoulder. Free speech should mean exactly that, not “You can write what you like, but if you write things we don’t like it’s back to rounding up trolleys at Tesco for you.” Our culture shouldn’t be ruled by fear.

Given a choice between a world where people have the freedom to write what they want and occasionally fuck it up completely, and a world where people don't write because they're scared of an online lynch mob coming after them if they do fuck it up, I'll take the former. If that means the existence of the occasional disagreeable—even bigoted—book, it’s a price worth paying.

During the rather lively discussion beneath The Guardian article someone made the point freedom to be published is not the same as the right to be published. Ultimately that decision lies with the publisher or magazine. They’re not obligated to provide a platform to writers whose work they find disagreeable, same as readers are not obligated to support businesses they find disagreeable.

I agree with that, but this is not what happened in this case. Rightly or wrongly, Weird Tales had already taken the decision to publish an extract of Foyt’s work. Then—rightly or wrongly—a pitchfork-wielding mob turned up at the gates and forced the publisher into a U-turn. In doing so they denied other readers the chance to make up their own minds on whether or not to support the magazine’s decision. That choice was taken away.

This is censorship by the mob.

No matter the provocation, we should aspire to be better than this.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Pastor and the Smut Writers

“First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

I’ve seen a few blog posts using Martin Niemöller’s famous quote in different variations. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big chilling effect hitting erotica writing right now. PayPal, a payment processor with a highly dominant, almost monopolistic market position, has begun a crackdown on what type of books online retailers can sell. Bookstrand and All Romance went first as mentioned in Selena Kitt’s blog, and now Smashwords has also succumbed to the same pressure.

I’ve also seen some comments expressing outrage over mucky erotica writers using Niemöller’s warning. How dare they compare their inability to foist degenerate smut on the world with the murder of six million people. They’re not. No one’s seriously expecting erotica writers to be dragged out of their homes at midnight. Some are going to have to find another source of income, some hobbyists will lose an outlet for creative expression, and some readers will miss out on works they might enjoy. Small beans compared to one of the worst atrocities in human history, but those small beans still mean something to the people involved.

Niemöller’s “First they came…” refers to a regrettable tendency of people to stick their heads, ostrich-like, into the sand and stand by and let things happen because it’s “Not My Business”. I’ve read lots of head-in-the-sand rationalising over the past few days ranging from the classic “I don’t write that filth so it won’t affect me” to “It’s not censorship; PayPal have the freedom to choose who they do business with.”

The censorship argument is a tricky one. I’ve seen that bend back and forth. Eve McFadden provides a very good counterpoint here. A retailer is not obligated to stock items they don’t wish to sell. While I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of a financial service company determining what their clients can sell, PayPal is also not obligated to provide services to a retailer selling items PayPal doesn’t wish to be associated with. Unfortunately, when a company has the reach and market dominance PayPal has, decisions of this nature can have a stifling effect on what items can be sold.

These books are not illegal. People are happy to write them, people are happy to sell them, and people are happy to buy them. If this is not happening then there are grounds for concern. It might not be censorship according to the classic definition of the word, but when the outcomes start to look the same we should start to get nervous.

I think it’s important to stress again these books are not illegal. While some might find themes of incest (including “pseudo-incest”), rape, barely-legal and bestiality in erotica objectionable, it’s only fiction. Contrary to what some people might think, Erotica writers don’t actually have to carry out these acts in order to write about them. We do have imaginations. And, at the end of the day, no one’s forcing anyone to read these books.

Although I write fairly explicit horror/erotica hybrids, I don’t think I’m affected by this unless PayPal shuts eXcessica down completely. Technically I could fall foul of restrictions on “Rape” and “Snuff”, but part of the nervousness about PayPal’s recent strong-arming is whole swathes of books could be taken off the shelves depending on how those are interpreted. Writing a thriller about a serial killer? No sir, someone could find that chapter where the killer strangles a prostitute during sexual intercourse titillating. This is the slippery slope Selena Kitt referred to. Is it just the nasty gang-bang stuff that’s off limits, or will someone use that as a foothold to start removing chunks of BDSM literature they don’t like?

When that paedophile manual surfaced on Amazon a while back I found myself in a conflicted position. Obviously I found the book repulsive, but I also knew it could be used as a lever to justify taking down other work. Sure enough, some of Selena’s titles featuring incest were taken down next. Now the category of objectionable material has widened to include sex between non-blood relatives and depictions of rape and violence. While the tide hasn’t reached me yet, it’s certainly lapping at my toes. I’m thinking maybe I should have spoke out sooner, even if it meant defending something I found personally objectionable.

Further behind me are the paranormal erotica writers. They don’t have anything to worry about now. It’s not bestiality if the were is in human form. It’s not necrophilia if the vampire is walking around. Then the tide moves further up until it starts lapping at their toes. New emails go around. No more of this yucky non-human erotica. All participants must be 100% human. Then the paranormal writer starts to think, Maybe I should have said something when they were banning all that icky incest and rape stuff.

Behind them is an erotic romance writer. They don’t have anything to worry about. Their stuff is strictly vanilla. Then the next round of emails arrive. There’s too much sex. Tone it down or it gets pulled. And the erotic romance writer starts to think maybe they should have said something.

And beyond them is the edgy thriller writer…

And it’s exactly what Niemöller was warning about, albeit on a considerably smaller scale. Freedoms do get eroded if people don’t speak out, even if speaking out means defending subject matter they might not agree with. Which segues nicely into the other classic quote I used in the last blog post:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Don’t give them an inch and don’t let them get a foothold.

PayPal is a business and is perfectly entitled to choose who they do business with and how…just as we’re perfectly entitled to choose whether or not we do business with them based on their decisions. If you don’t like the idea of PayPal policing what you can or can’t read, now would be a good time to let them know.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Big Erotica Freeze Is A-Coming...

This isn't the best of news.

In a nutshell, the morality police have deployed the banhammers and no one has the slightest idea where the line of acceptability is anymore. I don’t know where this leaves my publisher, eXcessica, or the status of my own titles. Without Paypal (someone—Google, Bitcoin, anyone not Apple—please put these jokers out of business) I’m probably not going to be able to sell directly through the store, as it won’t exist unless Selena Kitt can find another payment processor. On top of that there’s the uncertainty of not knowing what the other book retailers will accept.

Bestiality, Necrophilia and Paedophilia have always been big no-no’s for erotica. Incest was heading there, and now it looks like Pseudo-Incest (where the participants are not blood relations) and Rape are about to join them.

Personally, Incest isn’t something that appeals to me. It’s an enormously popular category on Literotica, but I’ve never felt the desire to write about or read it. Doesn’t matter. If other people want to read or write about it, that’s their business and fine by me.

As for Rape, what the hell does that cover? That can range from ugly stuff where dudes fantasize about gang-banging the uppity cheerleader with their homies, to non-consent fantasies written and enjoyed by women about pure and sexually-frustrated maidens being ravished by hunks of studliness. Where does that leave my stories? Does it count if it’s female-on-male? I have no fucking clue. Selena tried to clarify with Paypal on BDSM—a category with sometimes dubious consent—and was told to yank the lot. Last I heard, BDSM is a hefty chunk of erotica and mostly features consenting adults. How do you stay within a line when there is no fucking line?

You might think this doesn’t matter to you, that it’s only the muckiest of mucky stuff that’s affected. It does. Same for all the paranormal erotica writers that let out a sigh of relief when bestiality was clarified to not include werewolves and other shape-shifters. Don’t get too comfortable. They WILL come for you next. It’s what they do.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" – Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often misattributed to Voltaire)

Maybe we should just ban the people that try to ban things.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Won't someone think of the children . . .

I’m normally against all forms of censorship, but the recent overturning of a proposed California law to ban the sale of violent video games leaves me perched rather precariously on the fence. Don’t get me wrong, I love violent video games. Whatever games console I have lying around usually gets updated around the same time the next Silent Hill or Resident Evil instalment comes along. I also thoroughly enjoyed playing the notorious Manhunt. However, I’m not sure twelve-year-old kids should be playing these games.

Attitudes are changing now that the Nintendo and PlayStation generation have grown up and are old enough to have children of their own. Video games have grown up too and are no longer seen as solely for children’s entertainment.

Not everybody appears to have caught on

It always reminds me of a (possibly) apocryphal story about a video/DVD rental store clerk and a certain, highly notorious, Japanese animated film.

Dad walks up with two young sons in tow and puts a copy of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend on the counter.

I’d like to rent this film.

Clerk looks down at fresh-faced young boys.

Um, I’m not sure it would be suitable for them.

Whaddya mean. It’s a cartoon. Action, explosions, giant robots, that kind of thing.

Um, it’s quite . . . extreme.

Don’t be silly. It’s a cartoon. Rent me the goddamn film or I’ll call your manager.

Clerk (hands up):
Okay. Whatever you say.

The next day.

Dad storms back into store and slams video down on the counter.

You sick fuck! What are you doing renting me this sick filth! Fucking pedo! I’ll call the police on you.

Um, I did say it wasn’t suitable for minors.

I don’t mind age restrictions. They’re good defence when the moral meddlebutts try to use the Think-of-the-children! card when they want to ban something. Britain, I think, uses a similar ratings system to the one used for movies, which seems sensible to me. When the moral meddlebutts next get in an indignant froth about the latest GTA or Manhunt and how children shouldn’t be playing such sick filth, it’s easy to counter by pointing at the 18 certificate and asking how children are playing the game in the first place. Think-of-the-children! becomes Where-are-the-parents? and draws a lot of venom out of the meddlebutt’s attack. I’d rather developers had the freedom to create games for adults covering adult themes, without worrying about a latter-day Mary Whitehouse whipping up a moral panic and shutting them down.

Like the original blogger, I’m not sure if this is a victory to be celebrated. It’s always hard to know with these things. The moral meddlebutts are getting sneakier at depriving the public of things the meddlebutts disapprove of. There are ways to ban things without explicitly banning them, in the same way a NC-17 rating will financially destroy a film in the US. Maybe this was a battle that needed to be fought and won.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Censorshit in Japan?

I was sad to read this article on Japan passing restrictions on the sale of manga and anime. I've been a fan of both for some time. I love them for their 'anything goes' ethos. The stories always felt more vibrant and alive because nothing was ever out of bounds. The plots are weird, often incomprehensible, but this makes them a better reflection of the often chaotic real world we live in.

To see what I mean, ditch the Disney (okay, you can keep the Pixar) this Christmas and show the kids Princess Mononoke instead. 'Goodies' and 'Baddies'? Um, it's a little more complex than that.

Okay, something like Princess Mononoke is hardly going to fall foul of the new restrictions, but they're still blocking off potential avenues and roads a story can run down. Block enough of them and all you're left with is following that same dull highway every damn time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Amazon Censorshit

Amazon is at it again.

Selena Kitt and other writers have reported some of their titles have been pulled from Amazon's store with little warning or explanation. You can follow the discussion here.

This time the offending subject matter appears to be incest. I'll be honest and admit incest isn't really my cup of tea. I don't read stories featuring it and I won't write stories about it. That's my decision and my choice. What I don't agree with is when that choice is taken away from someone who wants to read this material, especially when it's fiction and nothing more than harmless fantasy.

I wish Amazon would grow a spine or draw a line in the sand here. They're either selling erotica or they're not. Currently, they're constantly tying themselves in knots trying to second guess public opinion. Some people complain about a book, so they remove it. More people complain about censorship, so they quickly reverse the decision in order to save face. It's all very wishy washy.

They're a bookseller; they don't have to be the public's moral compass. They sell books. Some of those books are going to be offensive to some people. Sorry, but those people are going to have to accept being offended. After all, they can always make the choice not to read the book in the first place.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Bad Nanny Apple

This sucks. They censored the erotica from their bestsellers list. It’s Apple’s toy and they can do what they like with it, but I think this kind of control freakery will only end up biting them in the ass. Amazon didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory when all the gay books ‘vanished’ or when the big grab fairy came and took back George Orwell’s ‘1984’ from people’s ebook readers, but at least they had the decency to mumble something about a ‘glitch’ in the first place and a rights fuck up in the other.

Apple, nope. They swept them away and tried to tell us reality was something else, which is never going to work as somebody is going to spot it, and then everybody else will know about it and pretty soon everyone will be looking at their bestsellers list and singing: “We know you’re lying...”

It’s silly. They could have handled it sensibly in any number of ways. Don’t sell the smut in the first place (although that’s bound to result in endless hilarity when someone gets over-zealous and blacklists “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” or “Lolita”). Filter your bestsellers list by price to remove the cheap little novellas. Filter your bestsellers list by genre (Both fine as long as the filtering is stated).

Or suck it up and show a sense of humour in the “Gosh, who’d have thought adults would buy ‘adult’ titles” vein.

Instead they tried to pretend the world is basically flat.

I don’t hate Apple. They make a lot of cool stuff and I love my iPod to bits. But they also have a habit of building nice walled gardens and putting machinegun nests on the walls. And then wondering why the masses deserted them in droves for a competitor’s knock off that doesn’t come with a built-in nanny.

Nice to see erotica ebooks doing well against the big boys anyway.

Here’s hoping to hit the #1 spot in the invisible ‘real’ bestsellers list sometime soon ;).