Friday, May 3, 2019

teachin younguns

At the recent Wild Wild West Con I had a few occasions to talk with school teachers and librarians.  They all said about the same thing, they thought their students would be interested in stuff like weird westerns, but they had qualms about recommending it for fear that it might carry too much in the way of excessive sex and violence for young people.  Have they seen what's on TV lately?  Anyway, I assured her that little of my products fall in that camp and also suggested a few other things they could feel good about recommending to young people.  

I was glad to talk to them about this. It's been obvious that librarians shy away from weird western type of material, at least I know some of their concerns.  And it got me to re-focus my radar a bit as well.  Two of the submissions for a weird western project I'm editing came in with references to visiting the whores at the saloon.  Well, I suggested visiting the saloon girls as an alternative.  Am I censoring?  I don't think so. It was a minor issue in both stories.  Still, some of these writers are so darned touchy. 

1 comment:

  1. I suspect the teachers' concerns have less to do with their specific perceptions of weird westerns and more to do with the fact that they have to be very careful with anything they pick for the classroom. The problem isn't the majority of the kids or their parents. It's those one or two very vocal parents they're worried about. These are the same folks who organize voting campaigns against school or library funding when they get it in their heads that Harry Potter is teaching their little darlings to worship Satan.

    This means teachers can probably only use something like 10% of all the books out there, not just weird westerns. It's not hard to find that 10% of fantasy because fantasy is well stocked on store shelves. It's a bit harder to find that 10% of science fiction. By the time you get to weird westerns, it's a real challenge because they see such a small sample of it on bookstore shelves.

    I don't have a problem with recommending "saloon girls" over "whores" but it has less to do with this issue. My impression is that there was a lot more effort among people in the old west to maintain a certain decorum of language than is popular to portray now in an era when we're free to say just about anything we please without social consequence. That doesn't mean people didn't use naughty words and writers should shy away from them, but I suspect a lonely cowpoke might expect better service from a saloon girl he was polite to than a whore he insulted.