Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gratuitous Sex and Language

TallBrad sent me a chunk of text today from Christopher Moore's blog, the considerable remainder of which is possibly even funnier than the opening passage because it mentions The Buddah and pussy in the same sentence.
Okay, I understand that "foul language" bothers some people. In some contexts, it makes me uncomfortable as well, but for Christ's sake, people, if you pick up a book with a naked girl on the cover, with a title that includes the phrase Sequined Love Nun, and portrays cannibalism, prostitution, murder, child abuse, hijacking, pyramid make-up sales, sex slavery, organ smuggling, and gangsters, should you really be all that surprised to find the F-word in the text? What, exactly, did you think you were getting into when you picked up the book with the naked girl on the cover? The untold story of Jesus?

Moore's rant reminds me of a friend I used to have who would constantly complain that most fantasy and sci fi books weren't good because they didn't portray real human events very well, namely that everyone always wants to get into everyone else's pants. He thought all fantasy and sci fi should have three or four sex scenes where people were hell bent on hooking up and authors who didn't portray that weren't very good authors. Then he had me read this horrible David Drake book where everyone wanted to hook up/swing with everyone else and it was virtually unreadable and the far side of fairly offensive (potential rapist gets his menage in the end). I'm not a prude, but I don't need constant gettin' it on in my books if I'm reading sci fi or fantasy because I'm more interested in the sci fi/fantasy story, not something out of the real life encounters sections of a men's magazine. However, Drake's book was snoggin for the sake of snoggin, not for the sake of the story or characterization, whereas Moore's bad language helps define his characters. If Moore's detracting from the story for you, it's not because he's not speaking as his characters, it's because you have a problem with harsh language, whereas if there's a 35 page sex scene in the middle of a book, unless there's something meaningful being developed and the sex is possibly a big allegory or being humorously demonstrated at a British boys school, you're interrupting my story for the sake of selling a few more novels and coddling an attention span quite a bit shorter than my own. Mostly I find it amusing because while Moore notes that there are people for whom a story is ruined by bad language, there are also people for whom a story is no good unless it has gratuitous sex. Now...consider who you find to be the epitome of the former, and then consider who wrote The Apprentice, Sisters, and Those Who Trespass. I guess you can have gratuitous sex without the bad language.

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