Last week was Banned Book week, so there were plenty of buzz around the blogsphere around it, and it got me thinking about the content in books compared to movies. There are several YA books out there with sex, language, and violence (hence why some of these books get “banned”). Some could be equated to a PG-13 rated movie, but some start getting into R rated movie territory, and I cannot help but wonder though, why it seems more socially acceptable for such content to be present in a YA book versus a movie, which will get rated R if there is too much of said content. Note before we go any further: this isn’t about banning books with “harsher” content, just about the content in books versus movies, and how available they are.
I watched Up in the Air recently, but on TV, so it was edited. And it was very clear just how many words they took out. I looked up the content advisory on my IMDB, which says it has, “Close to 25 f-words and about 10 s-words,” and then proceeds to describe some of the other language in the movie. It also has some brief nudity (which was also edited out). I have not read Looking for Alaska, but according to Rated Reads, it has “well over 50 swear words. (At least 17 of which are the f-word.) There also are two detailed sex scenes…” I list these stats to make a point. You see, Up In the Air is clearly marked as rated R if you see the DVD case or on a theater marquee. I realize the movie is not targeted towards teens, but it can’t be even if it wanted to be due to the content which lead to the rating. Looking for Alaska, on the other hand, sits on a bookshelf next to the tamer The Fault in our Stars in the YA section without any sort of labeling. A parent or a teacher would have no way to know what the difference between these books by the same author is without reading the books themselves or doing the research. I am not trying to excuse laziness on the part of a parent or teacher, but I just wonder about the double standard. Why does it seem important to keep kids under 18 out of the movie theater that is showing Up in the Air but they can buy Looking for Alaska without any parental consent?
I’m not really offering any solutions in this post, just questions and thoughts I have, and I am curious if anyone has insight on the matter. Do people think it’s different because books are “cranial”? Do they think reading is different than seeing (personally I don’t think there’s much difference). What do you think of this matter? Do you see a difference between book content and movie content?