The Double Standard of Art

 

I recently got into a discussion with someone over the rules of writing and grammar. He suggested that the rules of grammar and writing were too rigid and should be subject to change based majorly on what is/is not politically correct at the time.

While I agree that the rules can be very rigid and should be subject to change. Slang changes, words change meaning, period pieces really should be written in the vernacular of the time, and there are as many writing methodologies as there are words in any give language.

My issue comes with how/when the rules need to be changed and how much they should really be followed. As a writer, I don’t always follow the rules of grammar because when writing characters and having them speak with slang terms is often a nightmare to try to sort out. Thus I usually rely on my own personal style to fill in the blanks of how that is supposed to go. Not only that, there is no rule about how to write in a foreign language and then translate it should you want to, no rule about writing thought vs. speech, etc.

Thus in many cases the rules are more like guidelines and really should be references more than followed to the letter.

Now here’s where I don’t think the rules should be changed… they should not be changed to follow the passions/prejudices/social political issues of a time. What I mean by that is that a writer shouldn’t feel constrained to write within what is considered socially acceptable at the time. If you want to write something that may trigger someone, go for it. If you’re worried that someone will get offended or upset, that’s they’re problem, not yours.

Don’t get wrong, I don’t like the idea of someone writing something for the express purpose of pissing people off. That’s unprofessional and bad form, but if you’re trying to write something provocative and want people to think, I have no problem with that. As long as its not incitement, slander, or written for the express purpose of causing harm, I don’t have an issue with it.

I call bull! You’re constantly calling people out for what you consider bigotry and bad writing.

That is true, but have you ever seen me demand that they take down what they wrote? I call out the logic, hypocrisy, or negative stigma that comes with what they write. I do NOT report them or demand that any of it be taken down. They have a right to say what they say and they have a right to be heard. I have a right to disagree with what they say, voice my concern, and have an equal right to be heard. If someone doesn’t like what I have to say, they can unfollow me, block me, or call me out on it. I have no issue with it nor do I hold it against them. I welcome a little discourse and discussion because that’s how you get things done. The ONLY time I shut someone down is when the discussion turns into childish name-calling and insults. That is personally attacking someone and it is uncalled for and unprofessional.

Anyway back on topic. Why do people feel that writing needs to be censored and needs to cater to the passions, prejudices, and hurt feelings? History books omit certain triggering issues in classrooms, writers are hiring sensitivity editors, and even pieces like Mark Twain’s writing is being censored!

Why is this allowed to happen, when in most cases these are the same people who think that works of art like this should not be censored despite how offense it can be to christians:

Piss_Christ_by_Serrano_Andres_(1987)

They’re the same people admire Carroll Dunham’s work… despite how visually displeasing others (myself included) find it… They’re the same people who say that nudity in any medium, including movies shouldn’t be censored.

So why then is it okay to say that writing should cater to political correctness with literally no other art form does?

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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4 thoughts on “The Double Standard of Art

  1. LJ says:

    Just further proof traditional publishing houses will probably die out in the next decade or so, as they seem to br embracing the view of no controversy at any cost.

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  2. When a self-publisher is making 35%-70% royalty and the governing body enforcing the traditional way is offering under 10%, there is no more power for them left to exercise, other than in advertising and that, advertising, is the last vestige left of this archaic system that we are going to have to pull from their cold, dead hands.

    The age of the publisher is over. The age of the educated writer is coming to an end and with it, the age of the artist begins anew.

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  3. This is very interesting. Makes me think of that scene in Star Trek Beyond where Kirk and Bones are having a drink, and their conversation sounds like two guys in a bar in Brooklyn in 2017. I was turned off by that, esp. because the TV series was always so careful to keep language neutral and relatively slang-free. It’s also so true that writing is censored in a different way. Maybe because writers deal with statements rather than impressions? I’m not sure. As I writer I fear being asked questions like “why didn’t you address [insert political issue of the time] in your books?” and I guess I’d have to say it’s because I am ultimately committed to the story I am telling and I want my stories to ring true, even if that means omitting things that a “responsible” writer should include (or, conversely, including things that my genre usually omits). I do admire a writer who can make me think differently about an issue by putting it into a foreign time frame / alien world. But it’s tricky to do this successfully without totally showing your hand and destroying the effect. I actually think Star Trek DS9 successfully addresses the issues surrounding terrorism with the Bajoran / Cardassian conflict. It’s a recognizable issue, but they don’t get so specific as to make it a commentary on this or that human culture. It seems like the terrorism we are seeing is unique to Bajor, which is I think what makes it successful. We can get out of ourselves, away from our prejudices and knowledge of our world, and see the whole topic stripped of familiar elements, and in a completely new light. Other Star Trek episodes get too heavy handed and make it impossible to see the story for its own sake (i.e. The Outcast). I actually really like that episode, but my point is that we all know what the writers are doing there, which pulls back the curtain and yanks the viewer away from the narrative. Like I said, it’s tricky. But if you avoid addressing the topics of your time, will critics call you a coward? Hm. Off-hand, I’d conclude that the most important thing for a writer is to focus on telling a great story, and try not to get too involved in the perceptions of the time.

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    • StCyril says:

      My perspective on the issue has always been this; Let the critics say what they want, because there will always be something for them to say whether you like it or not.
      I don’t write for them. Sorry to say, I don’t even write for my readers. I write what I like. I write what I find interesting and what entertains me. It just happens that along the way a few people enjoyed what I wrote and told me to peruse publishing.
      So my attitude has always been that I write what I like and if people like it, wonderful. If not, I don’t make apologies. Honestly if writers write to cater to a specific group or what they think people will like, despite their own preference, the story suffers as a result. There are literally too many examples to count (Marvel Universe much?)
      To your point about DS9… yes they did a good job with terrorism, but then threw the whole thing out the window where the show went completely out of context and put Benjamin Sisco back in the late 40s to deal with racism. The whole thing wreaked of a Brian Fuller identity politics episode and really brought the flow of the series to a screeching halt.
      That’s my opinion anyway. It was a poorly placed, poorly timed, poorly written, and way out of context episode.

      Liked by 1 person

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