Can Literature “Cross The Line?”
I hear this a lot: “I didn’t like [insert book] because it glorified [insert topic: extramarital sex, violence, drugs, etc].”
We all have different levels of comfort. That’s something we’ve talked about before. What happens, though, when we project our own discomfort about a certain topic onto the book we’re reading? So, when we read a novel that deals with a serious subject, we suddenly label said novel as “glorifying” that subject.
What does that even mean? And where’s the line? How does an author talk about a difficult topic, even in a graphic way, without being perceived as glorifying that subject?
I’m still not really sure what it means to “glorify” a topic, like violence. But, for what it’s worth, I would put movies more into the “glorifying” camp than literature. Some movies feel like they are violent just for the sake of being violent–and I guess that’s part of what people mean when they talk about this idea of glorifying. The rampant violence, in some cases, does nothing to advance the plot. It’s just kind of there–in order to get in the requisite number of decapitations and camera shots of splattering brains.
I can’t think of a book from this list that I would classify as one that glorifies a subject in a negative way. Don’t get me wrong–almost every book deals with depressing, and even graphic, subjects. But I don’t think they glorify it. They don’t make me prone to go out and do these things on my own. They don’t make me think these things are okay, or that the author is endorsing these things.
Even a book like Lolita, a book that, as you might know, I had an extremely difficult time getting past the subject matter–even with a book like that, I don’t think it was glorifying pedophilia. In the end, Humbert Humbert was pretty miserable from being such a pathetic, nasty man. The consequences are there, though they aren’t as satisfactory for a man as vile as Humbert Humbert, in my opinion.
But enough about what I think. What do you think?
If someone says, “that book glorifies violence (or any other topic),” what does that mean to you? Is there a line…and, if so, where is it?