I’m a bit peeved with Time Magazine right now. I was browsing through their website when I came across the article “Profanity In Teen Novels: Characters With Foul Language Are Often The Most Desirable.”
I’m a librarian-in-training, so I clicked on the article, only to find (and I quote):
As with so many things, surmise the researchers, parents are probably in the dark about the trash their kids are reading.
I did a double take. Trash?! Did the author really just lump all teen novels together and call them ‘trash‘? Yes. Yes she did.
One of the most important things that I took away from the whole Megan Cox Gurdon “Darkness Too Visible” controversy last year is the importance of context when evaluating teen novels. The same idea is applicable here. Just because a book has dark themes or strong language doesn’t mean that the book endorses those ideas.
For example, one of the novels cited in the Time article was Nic Scheff’s “Tweak,” which is about the consequences of a methamphetamine addiction. I don’t think that it would be reasonable to expect a character who’s a meth addict to always use clean language. Life just doesn’t work that way.
I think perhaps what I found most interesting is that the author of the Time article seemed to be far harsher in her conclusions than the authors of the actual study, who concluded that parents should talk with their kids about what they’re reading (a very sensible position, in my own humble opinion). I understand that profanity in YA literature may come as a surprise to many people who don’t read that genre, but calling books you don’t like ‘trash’ seems a wee bit excessive.