That’s right, this week is America’s National Banned Books Week! One of my favorite of all holidays. This is the week where i finally get to take a break from my busy bonfire schedule and take a look at all those great pieces of filth that are corroding our moral landscape.
Since my mom is a librarian, i’ve always had an awareness of this particular week. As an artist, i long for the day when someone will ban one of MY works. Firstly, you’re not anybody until someone bans you, and secondly, it’s GREAT for sales! So many mediocre works no one would have paid attention to until someone banned them. (the movie Last Temptation of Christ for instance. Although the book was fantastic, the movie was nothing special and would have come and gone had not that hooplah been created.)
I thought that we could celebrate by looking at the American Library Association’s most banned books of the 21st century. Yes, we’re STILL banning them. Have i ever wanted to ban a book? Well, i DID actually put Naked Lunch down at one point and would shake and flinch every time i pictured picking it back up, but if my son wanted to read it, good luck. I’ll be downstairs preparing a cup of chamomile tea and putting some George Winston in the background for when he gets to the part with the sex involving the hanging, disemboweled guts, and poop. EWEWEWE. (shudder)
“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” -Mark Twain
10. ‘Forever; by Judy Blume
Wow. Are they STILL banning Judy Blume? Damn, they were doing that back when i was a teen. Back then it was “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” because she was, like, thinking about her adolescent breasts coming in.
‘Forever’ is the story of a girl in the summer between 11th grade and 12 grade. She gets a boyfriend, and after awhile they discuss having sex. (The horror…)
They agree to have it, (NNOOOOOO) believing it will seal their relationship “Forever.” Surprise! It doesn’t. Summer ends, she gets a crush on someone else and breaks up with the guy.
Because this in a nutshell resembles almost every pre-senior year relationship i’ve ever known, i cannot recommend it’s banning highly enough.
Why It’s Banned: Teenagers having sex. Disgusting.
People Who Ban It: Take a wild guess. Uptight religious prudes who have no concept of the presence of hormones or how they work. Or the fact that teenagers might appreciate someone discussing this issue in a way that resembles reality.
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
Two 4th graders accidentally hypnotize their mean principal, inadvertently turn him into Captain Underpants. From then on, whenever the principal hears finger snapping he turns into Captain Underpants and the two 4th graders must scramble to keep him out of trouble. When water is poured over his head he turns back into the mean principal.
I’ve actually read one of these books, and it’s FUNNY. I mean look at it. It’s ridiculous. It’s like South Park for little children.
Why It’s Banned: It’s like South Park for little children.
People Who Ban It: Uh…. i don’t know, more uptight douchebags with no sens of humor whatsoever? Some feel it models bad behavior. And underpants and Professor Poopypants and the Turbo Toilet are offensive. Even though it cracks me up just to type them out.
8. Scary Stories Series by Alvin Schwartz
Uh…. i don’t know what kind of description this one really needs. It’s uh…. scary stories, uh…. that you might, mm, i don’t know, tell in the dark.
Why It’s Banned: ‘Cause they’re, like, scary. I mean fer cryin’ out loud. Didn’t you ever go to summer camp? Scary stories were like the best thing EVER. I read a book of stories when i was really young that scared the POOP out of me, but made me a rockstar at summer camp
See, the problem was, most lame doofuses just tell the stupid old stories that end with them yelling RRRAAAAHHHH at the top of their lungs. I HATED this crap. It was SOOOOO predictable and cheap.
No, when the pros (and hence, little aspiring i) would tell ghost stories they might begin by promising, sincerely, that they will not use this cheap ploy. And they don’t.
Kids are constantly dealing with fear. They use scary stories to help them wrestle with it and they especially like to do this when they’re with friends and in groups. It really helps. It also helps when there is older person telling the scary story, who, while frightening them, is also a built in safety valve in case they need to come down. I not only liked scary children’s stories, but think they’re constructive in the right situations. You probably don’t want to read this to a group of 1st graders. Duh.
People Who Ban It: Overprotective mothers i must assume. Overly sensitive fathers?
7. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Frankly explains the physical, psychological, emotional and social changes that occur during puberty. And if that’s not a danger to the moral fiber of America i don’t know what is. Tells you basically everything.
Why It’s Banned: I thought i might as well just copy and paste some actual comments from Amazon.com:
“This book should definitely not be given to children or teens. In my opinion, it is pornographic and totally discussing. What happened to morality. This isn’t teaching anything. Shame on you PLANNED PARENTHOOD. What will they think of next. Don’t waste you time or money. Don’t give this to your kids.”
“This book is heavy on sexual “mechanics” and, in my opinion, crosses the line into child porn (see pages 23 and 37).
Who needs another book that treats sex as a “function,” rather than an act intended to bring children into the world and create a stronger bond between married couples?”
People Who Ban It: Your penis makes you a very, very bad boy. BAD! Bad penis. Girls, you don’t even THINK about this terrible stuff, so we don’t even need to worry about YOU. Here’s some needlepoint.
6. “Fallen Angels: by Walter Dean Myers
For young adults. In the 1960s a Harlem youth volunteers to go to Vietnam. Runs into… surprise! Violence and death. AND if that weren’t enough, wonders why black troops get the crappier and more dangerous missions. Hmmm…..
Why It’s Banned: Oh, let’s see. So many options on this one. There’s violence and death. Even though 18 year olds can go to Iraq, heaven forbid that actually get a dose of what that kind of thing is really about at age 16…
Profanity, ’cause let’s be honest, soldiers in the military swear up a storm. Unlike, you know, teenagers. And my favorite, RACISM. In in the whole “Why do black troops get the more suicidal assignments” there may be some explorations of racism. So what i don’t get is obviously in bringing up these issues, the book is clearly trying to FIGHT racism, so….
People Who Ban It: Not sure. I bet it IS in fact a tough book. I have no doubt the subject matter may be a little too heavy for junior high school students, although i would imagine it depends on the student. If this is the case, their parents or librarian should recommend something else, or i imagine the child will put it down themselves. I’m unclear as to why it should be out of the library altogether.
5. I Know Why The Baged Bird Sings by Maja Angelou
Maja Angelou RULES. Second to Toni Morrison, she is my favorite female black writer.”
“I Know Why…” is also autobiographical of all things. And it’s hard core. She and her brother are sent to live with her grandmother in Arkansas when she is 3. Lots of racism. Hell the Klu Klux Klan tries to kill them. she is raped at age 8. The perpetrator is caught, but escapes jail time. He is then murdered by her uncles. She has a lot of guilt over this and stops talking. An older woman draws her out by introducing her to books. She goes on to become pregnant at age 17 and accepts it. The end.
Why It’s Banned: Holy crap. it’s pretty much got everything. Other then gay people.
People Who Ban It: Douchebags who pathetically want to pretend the world is a safe place for everybody, especially children. You cannot wish away children being raped and terrible racism and peoples’ actual tragic realities, but you CAN insure that no one you know will ever run across it in printed form. Just down the street. Once again, this is almost certainly not a book for everybody, and the younger the more care parents and librarians should take. Sadly, children are abused and i don’t believe not discussing it is the answer.
4. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
Does anyone not know this?
Perhaps i should let Bugs Bunny give you the highlight:Vodpod videos no longer available.
This is one of the greatest books you’ll read as a teenager and John Steinbeck is awesome.
Why It’s Banned: Honestly, it’s 2008. Why IS this in the top ten of the 21st century?????
2008: “promoting euthanasia”, being “anti-business”,”because of concerns about profanity and the portrayal of Jesus Christ. Parents called the novel a “worthless, profanity-riddled book” which is “derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.”
Uh…… uh…….. okay, the anti-business thing just cracks me up. The derogatory thing…. how come whenever a book puts a bright, unflinching spotlight on how crappy people in the world are, it gets banned for accurately portraying it?!? In order to show you why people suck?
As for the portrayal of Jesus… uhm, i REALLY don’t know what to make about that one. Are we talking about the same book? Does this have to do with the bunny rabbits? Are they Christ figures? Is Lennie? If Lennie is metaphoric for a Christ figure there is NO WAY the kind of people who would ban the book would be smart enough to figure that out!
People Who Ban It: I REALLY don’t know. Apparently there’s some n word usage. Cause, you know, america wasn’t racist or anything back in the 1930s. Look, i just don’t know.
3. Alice Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A whole series following a likable girl named Alice as she hits adolescence in Silver Spring, Maryland. And i quote: “The Alice series broaches many topics, including relationships, dating, sex, friendship, life problems, families, God, and understanding.”
So you can see right off, these books cannot be allowed to live.
Why It’s Banned: It’s essentially the Judy Blume of the 21st century. The fact that it actually deals with things THAT REAL TEENAGERS DEAL WITH, like… well i quote again: “relationships, dating, sex, friendship, life problems, families, God, and understanding”. Teenagers. Thinkin’ ’bout sex again. We must stop this disease and never speak of it again.
People Who Ban It: If the prudish dipshits who ban this stuff ever knew what their kids were actually thinking they’re **** themselves. Do they NOT remember being a teenager?
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
I have a vague memory of reading this one back when i was a teenager. Basically a bunch of bullies who rule this boardking school demand that this poor kid first doesn’t sell, then later sell chocolates for the yearly chocolate selling fund raiser. He simply refuses to sell them. He’s all great when they bullies don’t want him to sell then, but then when the bullies want him to, he gets completely shafted. At the end of the book he gets the crap beaten out of him and tells his only friend in the world that he should do what the bullies say. The head bully’s friend takes him aside and tells him he can be real dick, and he’ll one day regret what he did to the poor kid, but the head bully has no remorse whatsoever. The end.
Why It’s Banned: Cause it’s a total bummer?
It IS a total bummer. And Kim Jong Il is President of North Korea, and that’s in real life, so it can’t be banned just be because dickheads sometimes totally win.
Apparently it’s because of Profanity. Lots of instances where it was banned for profanity. Jesus, hasn’t anyone been around teenagers? Oh, also the kid masturbates at one point in the novel. Wow, someone REALLY hasn’t been around teenage boys!!!! Damn, when i was a teenager the only reason i didn’t win an award doing the deed is because i wouldn’t confess and show up to collect it.
Violence is another. You get it. Just by the way, for the best “what it’s like to be teenager” book i’ve read in the past, i don’t know, 20 years, read David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green. It’s wonderful. And he’s one of my top 3 writers.
People Who Ban It: The same jackasses who have been banning all 8 other books.
1. Number one banned book in american local and school libraries today.
Do i really need to even bother saying it? Is there, like, ANY doubt at ALL????
I mean, it’s JUST TOO EASY.
But okay, we made it this far, might as well go on to the OH so predictable end.
Nothing like that damn Harry Potter.
Why it’s Banned: CAUSE HE’S PWNED BY SATAN! dUUUUUUUUUUUUH!
People Who Ban It: Sigh. Do we really not know the answer to this one?
Apparently, in America at least, there exists a group of people who believe certain things. They believe in Jesus, which i think is great. They dislike the larger world, and who can blame them? They are also really unsure of how to handle imagination. Use of imagination confuses and to some point frightens them a great deal, as the only way they are able to feel secure in the world is to narrow down everything to only one book, and a very (attempted) literal interpretation of that one book.
Imagination goes places far beyond this one Special book, and creates a lot of trouble and uncertainty.
So, to be safe, they ban it. That and witches are pawns of the devil.