Saturday, July 28, 2012

50 Shades of Malibu Barbie.

A friend and I were recently discussing reading and how we've long since believed books should have a rating system. She was telling me about a group of preteens who were giggling and pointing at a fresh shipment of erotica novels that had just made it into the bookstore, before one girl finally bought a copy. Say what now?

Movies, video games, even adult magazines have age requirements. Where is that rule for literature? Why isn't there a difference between Harry Potter, a relatively innocent story about a kid in wizard school and Crank, a hard-hitting, in depth novel about substance abuse? Those novels really shouldn't be in the same section, but unfortunately, the problem has gone from watching the train wreck to being in it.

Erotica has always been around, but I'm sure most kids would sooner read their comic books than deliberately seek out a sexually explicit novel. But with the recent explosion of the world-renowned 50 Shades of Grey, finding an over-the-top book isn't a problem. And really, with the epic coverage this very adult novel has received, why wouldn't a barely-teen be curious about the subject of her mom's wildly successful book club? I'll bet the money-makers in this situation didn't consider that.

But it brings us back to the original subject. Why can a thirteen year-old child walk into a bookstore and openly purchase an erotica novel? Who gets to say this is okay? I have two young daughters, and I realize I'm responsible for what they read, but that doesn't assure they can't get a hold of something they shouldn't, even accidentally. If they wouldn't be allowed to walk into a movie theater and watch Pretty Woman, they shouldn't be allowed to walk into a bookstore and buy it off the shelves.

What do you think? Do you think literature should be more carefully monitored?


  1. I think it should be up to the parents to watch what their kids do/monitor what they read and watch. Personally the rating system for movies is actually pretty corrupt as it is (see the documentary "This Film Has Not Been Rated). As far as erotica being more widely available, well maybe they should have some restrictions as those authors are only intending for an adult audience to read it. The only problem there is, put restrictions on one genre, then where does it stop?

  2. I'm with Jenn. I think that there are too many ratings and restrictions as is. Why would we want the government involved in yet another thing that determines what is best for us based on age. Age ain't nothin' but a number, baaaybbaa :)

  3. As far as erotica goes, I think there should be a warning label somewhere on the cover. I'm not saying it should be "restricted" necessarily(and def not by the government!), but a heads up would be nice. To look at 50 Shades and not know what it's about, one wouldn't expect erotica.

    Video game makers choose what to rate their games. Even I have a 15+ note on my book. That isn't to say a 14 year-old shouldn't be allowed to pick it up, but it's intended for a slightly more mature audience. I'm trying to give people something to go on as a courtesy to them. They know what they're getting into in advance :)

  4. I put a self rating on my own work. I know what is inside and I don't believe anyone younger than 18 should be reading it. That said however, anyone can still pick it up. I can only hope that if someone younger than that finds it, they understand what is inside was written with an adult in mind.

  5. I live in a small town with a locally owned bookstore. Though I can't say this WOULD happen, I could imagine the staff might actually refuse to sell "50 Shades" to a young teen. Of course, there are always the "big box" stores, as well as Amazon.

    And, sure, the "adult content" label can't hurt. But in most cases, I think the cover gives it away.

  6. I don't think there needs to be a rating system for books; growing up, I read pretty much everything. I never really wanted to read erotica, so never ran into any "You can't read that" arguments with my mom, but she did for the most part pay some attention to what I was reading (though usually in the sense that we passed books back and forth).

    I think it should be up to parents to decide. I would have felt oppressed as a kid if some book store clerk told me I wasn't old enough to read Stephen King.