Fear, Loathing and Hallmark
Somebody, somewhere is going to loathe your work.
Make any kind of definite statement in your art, I guar-an-tee it.
Christian writer that I am, I’m not even talking about the Contentious Twins of Religion and Politics. Listen to the podcast from the other week and you’ll hear Robert Fanney mention an offended reader confronting him about…
(wait for it)
a vegetarian character in his novel.
Really? Offended at a vegetarian? (Musta been a butcher’s kid, or something)
Face it, writer, artist, you’re not going to duck out of this one.
I have seen great intolerance shown in support of tolerance.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I don’t know if the general market is hypersensitive, or if that despotic virtue Tolerance demands inanity and insipidness, but the notion that I can’t say anything for fear of offending someone turns sensitivity into straitjacket.
Now even though Mein Kampf was a best seller in its day, Socrates said that opinions divorced from knowledge were ugly things, so don’t think I’m licensing ignorant rants here.
I am wondering if the pendulum hasn’t swung the other way though.
Are writers gun-shy about holding definite values or having characters voice potentially controversial opinions? Perhaps it’s a fear of personal rejection, bad press, losing sales, the possibility of committing the modern unpardonable sin of giving offense… all I know is that a retreat into banality isn’t the answer. I realize the principle goal of Spec-Fiction is entertainment, but how exciting is safe, shapeless, and soggy?
For a writer to create fiction with any substance, it has to be populated by credible characters who are flawed, opinionated, un-homogenized beings. Like in Real Life. As writers we aren’t trying to force our convictions on our readers, but the ideals we cherish are both a spark and foundation to our creativity. Abandon them and you neuter your art. Aren’t there enough Hallmark cards yet?
The flip side is that while someone, somewhere will hit that One-Star Rating with smug, sadistic glee, someone else is going to soak it in and wonder when the next installment is.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Slam Poets.
P.S. – While I wasn’t offended per se, I did find this image mildly disturbing:
ADDENDUM: For another angle on this, see MIKE DURAN’S RECENT THREAD