Saturday, December 10, 2016

The "Don't Like, Don't Read" Argument

Honestly, TV Tropes puts it better than I could ever, but here's my take on this.

When people use the "Well, if you don't like it, don't read it!" argument, a kitten dies somewhere. Only in a couple of cases is it ever valid. The vast majority of the time, the "don't like, don't read" argument is used when someone criticizes something a fan adores (or the author goes to defend, usually in fan fiction. I'd hope professional writers have more tact than to try to address criticism in any way other than merely to say "thank you for reading" and move on) because the person is expressing a differing, albeit oftentimes harsh, opinion.

Criticism is good. Being critical is good. Being able to graciously accept different opinions is good. I think people sometimes forget that in order to grow, we have to make mistakes, and everyone makes them. I also think people forget that art is subjective, and, while someone might not like what you create, getting different opinions on anything you create will help you to expand and grow. Even if a piece is technically perfect, people may dislike the content. None of that is bad.

However, this argument comes around from time to time. The first and often best way to refute it is, of course, "Well, how was I going to KNOW I wouldn't like it until I read it?" And, as TV Tropes points out, even if you only partially read something and then stop, it's still perfectly valid to give your opinion on it. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

I just really hate that particular argument because it strives to not discuss why the person didn't like it, but just shut down the criticism altogether. It's as if that piece of art is so damn precious, the fans (or author) just can't stand to hear a single negative word. That doesn't help anyone, and it's oftentimes insulting.

This is, of course, all in relation to the latest controversy in some circles I run in, and this argument came up. In this particular case, there really wasn't any warnings about the content. If there were, and people still chose to read it, then that's one thing. Without the warnings of graphic content, that's quite another.

Sigh. One thing I'm learning about the indy publishing circles is that there's a new drama every few weeks.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Non-con in Erotica

This is a SRS BSNS blog post, and may trigger some people as it concerns rape and the non-consent kink. Read at your own peril

There's evidently a big controversy going on right now about an indy book which was published a couple days ago which involved a woman being stalked, kidnapped, raped, and then falling in love with her rapist. I went and looked at it myself, and found the preview and categorization offensive. (The writing wasn't that good--it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good as there were a couple typos in the preview.) The preview illustrated a man who was taken out of school at a young age to help on his dad's farm after his mother died, who grew up fairly isolated (but likes it), and who committed a double homicide when he found his wife cheating on him. Just blew them away, fed them to his hogs, then called the sheriff saying he'd killed a couple of rabid raccoons HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK. The "hyucks" are mine. I dunno My mind just added them in.

That's all I've read in this book, cause I didn't want to bother with more than the preview. I think it still says something that this dude committed a double homicide within the first few pages of prose and was casual about it. But Alana, you might say, you write about your protagonists committing murder ALL THE TIME! This is true. Hence, for me to criticize this is hypocritical, yes? Not necessarily. The books where I have violence in them are first categorized as sci-fi/dark fantasy... ie supervillains. The other series where violence is going to happen is going to be categorized when necessary as "erotic horror", because that would be Delilah, and she'll go through some horrific things. Caprice, the protagonist in Villainess, is NOT put up as someone to like or admire. She admits to manipulating people, using them, and all sorts of other nasty things. Delilah is more sympathetic, but she's just begun her fall.

I had actually just observed that my two main series are complete opposites of each other. One is about someone losing her soul, and the other is about someone finding it. *shrug*

So what's the difference? The difference comes in expectation. The first book I described above? It was put under "erotic romance". Kidnapping and rape is not what I expect when I look in "erotic romance". "Erotic horror"? Sure! That sounds like it could be erotic and horrific, bring it on! Dark fantasy? Sure! Straight up horror? Sure! There are places for desires which run on the darker side, absolutely. But if someone were to pick it up thinking it wasn't so bad because it was in the erotic romance section, they're going to be very surprised.

As much as some people don't like it, rape fantasies do have a place in erotica. Many people, men and women alike, have fantasies about non-con (non-consensual), being on both ends as the aggressor or the victim. Many retailers choose not to carry non-con books (as well as books containing incest or sex with animals or sex with children, rightfully so in my opinion as all of that is gross and wrong no matter what, totally not sorry for my opinion there). Because they choose not to carry them doesn't mean those books are being "censored", which some people get worked up into a tizzy about. As a retailer, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and whoever else get to choose what they want to sell. You can still sell it. It's not censored. But what some edgy erotica writers seem to forget is that retailers are under NO obligation to sell your books. None whatsoever. That's why you gotta play in the rules they set up if you want to sell books on that site.

All that being said, I don't have anything against noncon in erotica. It does have its place. However, it does need to be labeled correctly. If anything, it should be under "erotic horror", not "erotic romance". Rape is a horrific thing. There's no sugar coating it. And yes, many people get aroused by reading about it, but it doesn't make it less horrific. There are people who get aroused by blood, by violence, by corpses... there's literally a fetish for everything under the sun, and thus, there's a niche for everything under the sun. In my opinion, to label it anything but erotic horror is mislabeling it... and a black hat tactic. Frankly, the way the protagonist was portrayed in the first chapter of this "controversial" book sort of horrified me. I... I can't see him as a romantic protagonist. Maybe it's personal opinion? Yet the beginning didn't scream romance to me at all, and I think that's why I found it kind of offensive. I'm expecting romance. The writing read "serial killer". That sort of discordance in what you expect versus what is there is why I think a lot of people found it offensive.

EDIT: I wanted to add, and I'm going to bold this, I do NOT in ANY way condone or approve of people taking advantage of other people, ESPECIALLY when it comes to violating their bodies. The opinion above is ONLY about fiction. People who violate others are vile and horrible, whether it's via rape, assault, murder, torture, or abuse in any way, shape, or form.