Governments once routinely banned controversial content in books and other media. They undertook this freedom restricting measure in order to protect people from immoral content. I recall the book Catcher in the Rye being banned from libraries in the 50s. By the time I read the book in the 80s, it had been upgraded to required reading. Big change. In class, we discussed why the book had been banned and the controversy surrounding the story.
Of course, by the 80s, the controversial subjects contained within Catcher in the Rye were considered tame. Now, governments in the free world no longer ban material. There are some exceptions including overtly slanderous material (the courts allow the affected parties to sue,) dangerous material like explosives manuals (this material is still protected under free speech,) and immoral content (which may be legally purchased over the age of 18.)
Authors, screenwriters and online personalities constantly push the controversial envelope. Their efforts allow them to gain attention, money, fame or interest. This drive to open new moral ground forces restrictions to be lifted and opens new story horizons. For example, alternative relationships are now an open topic. However, this revised boundary has resulted in deplorable content freely entering our lives. Is this a livable tradeoff? I suppose. However, I would like there to be some restrictions. For example, the “F word” is routinely used on broadcast television. As a parent, I would prefer this not to be the case.
My works do contain some controversy. This includes torture, murder, pain, revenge, and an underage relationship. In my mind, I proceeded with dignity balanced with a good story. Of course, some people would prefer my content to be restricted. My counter-argument is, “Geeze, my material is so tame compared to what else is out there. Get a life.”
I am about to start writing my next book, Cable Pairs the sequel to Cable Ties (which should be on Amazon in six months.) This book will contain a very controversial topic. It is so controversial that almost every nation including America has taken steps to ban it. Of course, free world governments have not officially banned this topic. However, many groups actively discourage every aspect.
What possible topic could be so horrific? Murdering babies? No, the media and books now routinely obliterate all forms of life in most despicable ways. My story will contain a far worse topic.
My protagonist will be directly controlled by the Chinese government. Umm. Wait a minute. This is America and we have freedom of speech. Not that big of a deal to make China the bad guy. How about the movie The Last Emperor? It took a stab at the early bad acts by the Chinese government. True, this movie did cast a negative tone. Of course, that movie could never be made today and I bet you have not recently seen that movie on television.
Why? It’s a tame historical movie. There must be other new movies that reveal the dark underbelly of the Chinese government. Actually, popular movies, books, and other media don’t often explore that topic. Over the last few years, a quiet change has occurred overall media. The Chinese Communist Party has actively been censoring this topic to promote a positive message.
In America, the two largest movie theaters chains are now owned by Chinese companies. These theaters refuse to show movies that cast a negative light on the Chinese government. For example, before allowing Red Dawn 2, the movie studio had to do several re-shoots, and digital edits to change the attacking nation from China to North Korea. Several newspapers, media outlets, publishing houses, websites, and magazines also are owned by Chinese companies.
Is this fair? After all, we often see movies and books that take a hard poke at our governments. For example, the recent movie W slammed George W Bush. While I did not care for that particular movie, it did successfully explore the topic. Before and after the movie, there were no discussions about banning/censoring/removing content from the movie.
In my opinion, every subject has positives and negatives. It is the job of consumers to probe these subjects. Discussion brings change, enlightenment, and good story. Of course, this can lead to unintended consequences and pain. However, a great man (the Dred Pirate Roberts) once said, “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” A lot of wisdom in those words.
Well then. Why am I taking this drastic step toward non-profit? Am I trying to create controversy to promote my work? Or expose the negative aspects of the Chinese government? While these are worthy goals, my reasons are humbler. I am only trying to create a good story. As a writer, I needed a strong adversary and the Chinese Communist Party has certainly created a great spy network. Since the dawn of storytelling, great plots require the hero to face a strong adversary. Plus, the realm of spy stories is limited.
In the past, many spy novels tapped into this good story vein. For example, Tom Clancy’s book “Bear and the Dragon.” All true. However, Tom wrote that book many years ago and he would have a difficult time publishing that story today. In my case, exploring this topic will be an uphill promotion battle.
Why not make the adversary some other country? Hmm. After writing this blog, I am now reconsidering the book structure. As an author who has yet to break the $100 royalty mark, perhaps it is not a good time to challenge the billion-dollar reach of the Chinese Communist Party. Something to think about.
You’re the best -Bill
September 11 2019
BUY MY BOOK
Read my next blog