Monday, March 5, 2012

Should "Daddy-Daughter" Date Night at Chick-fil-a be Censored?


Even though Chick-fil-a has been involved in controversy regarding allegations involving opposition to LGBT rights, I can't think of anything more wonderful than what they are doing with "Daddy-Daughter Date Night." I have a recently divorced younger brother who has 50% custody of his three kids...two boys, one girl...and I'm always telling him to make just as much time for his daughter as he does for his sons.

But I have to wonder whether or not Chick-fil-a would be allowed to advertise something like "Daddy-Daughter Date Night," if they were in e-publishing these days. Of course when normal, rational people read about "Daddy-Daughter Date Night" they immediately assume it's a nice time for fathers and daughters to bond together. That's how I took it this morning when I heard about it on the news.

Unfortunately, in digital publishing these days a simple harmless phrase like "Daddy-Daughter" has been taken out of context and turned into something taboo and obscene. This past weekend I spent hours working on a blurb, tag line, and tags for a new release with loveyoudivine.com titled, "Cowboy Howdy." The book is erotic romance, it is for adults only, but there are no underage characters or anything on this list of "taboo" topics that are being banned these days. (For those who don't know, this list of taboo topics is basically the same list I've seen for the past 20 years in all submission guidelines from publishers.) I've never written about underage characters and never will, and yet I spent hours searching for certain words in "Cowboy Howdy" to make sure this book wouldn't be banned and censored. Frankly, I'm a little concerned about "cowboy," because "boy" is part of it.

Words like "Daddy, Dad, boy, student, college, etc..." have now become target words used in order to ban books. Here's an example of two different blurbs from "Cowboy Howdy."

Example One, which is perfectly harmless:

Payne is a typical young gay man from New York City, with the right haircut, clothes, and attitude. He spends a great deal of time keeping his slim body smooth and well-toned for strong, dominant men. Although he’s not looking forward to his new college roommate at first, he soon discovers things could have been much worse. The minute Payne meets Howdy he can’t take his eyes off his huge shoulders, long legs, and the bulge in his jeans. Howdy’s thick Texas accent and his authentic cowboy hat make Payne cover his crotch with a sweatshirt. When he finds out Howdy is there on a football player scholarship, Payne wants to bury his face in Howdy’s jock strap. In fact, Howdy is the man of Payne’s dreams and he considers seducing him the first day they meet. This leads to an interesting experience that may wind up changing the rest of their first semester. Will Howdy accept Payne’s romantic, subtle advances? Or will he find them repulsive and move out of the dorm room that night?

Here's the revision, which had to be changed in order to pass through the search engines that are picking up words that target authors and books:

Payne is a typical gay guy from New York City, with the right haircut, clothes, and attitude. He spends a great deal of time keeping his slim body smooth and well-toned for strong, dominant men. Although he’s not looking forward to his new roommate at first, he soon discovers things could have been much worse. The minute Payne meets Howdy he can’t take his eyes off his huge shoulders, long legs, and the bulge in his jeans. Howdy’s thick Texas accent and his authentic cowboy hat make Payne cover his crotch with a sweatshirt. When he finds out Howdy is there to play football, Payne wants to bury his face in Howdy’s jock strap. In fact, Howdy is the full grown man of Payne’s dreams and he considers seducing him the first day they meet. This leads to an interesting experience that may wind up changing the rest of their lives. Will these two full grown consenting adults fall in love and will Howdy accept Payne’s romantic, subtle advances? Or will he find them repulsive and move out that night?

If you notice, words like "young, college, semester," have been removed from the original. I had to be sure no one would think I wrote something with minors. Even though we assume that everyone in college is over the age of eighteen years old, I even added words like "two full grown consenting adults," to the revision so I wouldn't have to deal with the issue of being banned again. When a book is banned, even without cause, the publisher has to go back and search for the words that caused the book to be banned, and then the retail web site has to go through a review process to see if there's anything in the book that was reason enough to ban it.

These are all harmless words that we use every day in our normal lives. (I removed "scholarship" because I didn't want the book associated with schools.) There's nothing obscene or pornographic about them, and yet now authors will have to be on guard to make sure their books don't get banned. There's something seriously wrong with this. And I hope it never crosses over into the mainstream, because it would be a shame to have to change "Daddy-Daughter Date Night" to something like "Guy-Parent-Female-Offspring Greasy Fast Food Night."

2 comments:

Kathy H said...

Ryan,
I agree. This is out of hand if those simple words had to be remove to prevent your book from being banned. I understand consern over child porn and other illegal material, but when a writer has to jump through this many hoops to sell their books; I wonder how far we are from the days that Grapes of Wrath was taken off the selves of schools all over the country. If this type of behavior was connected to great litary works there would be public out cry of censorship. I feel because the target is erotic romance the literary world could careless. Like the days of Hitler they sit and watch because they did not come for them and when the censors come for them who will be left to help those in mainstream romance? I realize that Paypal is allowed to do business with who ever they choose, but you must admit they are strong arming many publishers and most of them are caving because. The commits about setting up store fronts to sell you books are great advise, but most don't comprehend the fees charged by companies who will support the sale of erotic materials.Most authors could not subsidize these storefronts and self published authors would be put out of business.

ryan field said...

I agree. It reminds me of McCarthyism...a witch hunt.