The Kobogate debacle…really?

Courtesy Wiki

Courtesy Wiki

When my Daughter and Nephew were eight, I rented what I thought was a kid’s video from the video shop [yes, it was that long ago]. The cover of the video featured creatures similar in style to the Dark Crystal type puppets. My eye caught on the puppets and didn’t even register the R classification [adults only content here in Australia].

I put the video on for the two kids and went off to cook dinner in peace. Eventually the kids came out to the kitchen with…questions. That was when I discovered they’d been watching puppets have sex.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I’m no prude, but I don’t consider a kinky puppet-sex video to be appropriate sex-ed. material. I explained to the kids that I’d made a mistake, and we talked about the content. Then they wandered off to play, leaving me bright red, and cursing my inattention.

Were those two kids horribly scarred for life? Nope. The only one who ended up scarred was me – because they’ve never let me live down that mistake.

Which brings me to the Kobogate debacle. Apparently some kids in the UK got their hands on erotic material at a well known bookshop known as ‘Smiths’. The Daily Mail got wind of this, and ran a sensational campaign about it. Kobo, which partners with W.H.Smith in the UK, caved to pressure from its partner and apparently yanked all self-published ebooks from the UK site.

I believe the correct term here is ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’.

If you are like me, and have only just heard about Kobogate, you can read all about it in an excellent article by David Gaughran – here.

I don’t have an axe to grind on this Kobogate debacle because my ebook wasn’t affected, however I do think the whole thing has been handled badly. A simple declaration of content at the time of uploading an ebook could have saved Kobo, and thousands of self-published authors, a lot of grief. After that, I believe it’s up to parents to monitor what their kids watch or read, not some corporation.

I don’t read, or write, erotica. Nonetheless, I believe erotica has a place in the world of books, just like any other genre.

What do you think? Yes? No? Maybe?

cheers

Meeks

p.s. I apologise for the scrappy nature of my posts lately. I’ve been working hard on my assignments, and haven’t had the time, or the creative energy to come up with interesting things to write about. Still 6 weeks to go so please bear with me.

Advertisements

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

37 responses to “The Kobogate debacle…really?

  • Stephanie Allen Crist

    I don’t read erotica and what little I’ve accidentally read has never had a quality storyline to it, which is what I look for in a, um, story. On the other hand, I have read books with sex scenes and some have been a bit on the graphic side that I wouldn’t want my young adults to read.

    It’s parents’ responsibility to address such issues. Mistakes happen. Talk is good. Censorship is not.

    Like

    • acflory

      Yeah, I recently read a sci-fi/fantasy by one of my favourite authors and was a little? shocked that there were some very graphic sex scenes in it. This, from an author who’s never written anything like this before. 😦

      I guess erotica has become a way of selling books. Okay if you know that’s what you’re getting. Not so okay when it takes you by surprise.

      As for teens… I suspect most of them already know more than we do. Would be far more concerned for younger children though. Still, censorship is not the way to go.

      Like

      • Stephanie Allen Crist

        Some teens do, others don’t. So, yeah, censorship really doesn’t help.

        In the blogosphere, one thing that is common is the use of *TRIGGER WARNING*, which is similar to *SPOILER* in that it gives some warning as to what is about to be read. I’ve read a few books, particularly indie books, which could have used a trigger warning. A graphic rape scene is a good example.

        Like

        • Tasha Turner Lennhoff

          Trigger warnings – yes I wish authors would use them for rape & abuse – I put them on my reviews. Not just indie books Karen Marie Monings series fever needed rape warning on all the books. As did Pamela Palmers Blood Seduction and I’ve been told the 2nd book in the series but haven’t read it yet. Many historical romances by trad publishers could use the rape trigger warning also.

          Even if the rape scene is not graphic it can trigger someone whose been raped. I’m getting tired of reading for pleasure and being triggered because authors can’t find a better way to create conflict & think that its normal for rape victims to fall in love with their rapist.

          Like

          • acflory

            Gah 😦 That’s pretty grim. I believe rape has to be talked about instead of swept under the carpet as if it doesn’t exist, but that just seems like exploitation. 😦

            Like

          • Tasha Turner Lennhoff

            Rape needs to be talked about yes. Not be an overused trope in fiction. It’s not exploitation it’s author laziness IMHO.

            Like

          • acflory

            I agree. I suspect rape is like murder – an ‘event’ that generates high emotion so it becomes a convenient tool. I can understand that but I believe this particular tool has to be used with care and for better reason than to just create an emotional spike.

            Like

          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            Yes, I don’t get that “trend” either. Falling in love with the rapist is about as self-destructive as it gets. And I agree that a rape scene doesn’t need to be graphic to be a trigger.

            The one rape scene I appreciated (and maybe it’s my vindictive side showing through) is the one in Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marrillier. It is graphic ad it is a trigger; but the story also shows realistic long-term consequences and immediate justice.

            In my opinion, if you can’t get the realistic long-term consequences right, then you shouldn’t be doing a rape scene.

            Like

          • acflory

            Absolutely agree re the consequences! There is historical precedent for the falling in love with rapist theme though. Back in the old silent movie days, one of the biggest movies ever was something called The Sheik. Basically it was about this devastatingly handsome Arabian Sheik who kidnaps an American? girl and whisks her away to the land of Ali Baba and rapes her in seductive ways until her inhibitions are broken down and she ends up returning his ‘love’.

            I don’t think I need to explain how women of that era viewed their own inhibitions and the behaviour society expected of them – good girls submitted to sex, they didn’t enjoy it!

            To find that same trope these days is just plain weird, and I can’t for the life of me see why any segment of the readership would find it interesting, or worse, compelling. 😦

            Like

          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            I think it has something to do with the “lust” for danger and how it can trigger sexual lust. All I know for sure is that it’s highly pathological.

            Like

          • acflory

            I’d have to agree. 😦

            Like

        • acflory

          I haven’t come across the term ‘trigger warning’ before. Does it actually appear /in the book itself/? Or in the blurb??

          Like

  • Colin

    I think the Daily Fail, a horrible newspaper to begin with, proves Lord Tomas Babington’s saying on a regular basis. “We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.”

    Like

    • acflory

      lmao – I haven’t heard that one but it made me laugh. I think every country on earth must have some saying about their national identity.

      Here in Australia we talk about our ‘cultural cringe’ or ‘the tall poppy syndrome’.

      I guess they’re all facets of what makes us human – bad as well as good. πŸ™‚

      Like

  • josh

    Well that sounds like an American-grade puritanical over-reaction for sure!

    I’m not going to knowingly give erotic material to a youngster, but if they happen to get a hold of some by accident, they will live and probably be just fine. I think the violence broadcast on TV every night is way worse for kids than most erotica ever could be.

    Like

  • Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    Labeling books for appropriateness opens up an entire can of worms, which is why organizations like the American Library Association are against it and fight to protect intellectual freedom. Who would be doing the labeling? Plus, sex always gets such a bad wrap, but violence in many forms barely tends to raise an eyebrow most days.

    Like

    • acflory

      But surely libraries must have some way of knowing whether books are to be classified as chidren’s or adults? I don’t see how making a statement about content on the ‘package’ infringes on freedom of expression or anything else. That seems very curious to me.

      I think Kobogate is restricted to the UK only though so have no idea what the legal requirements are over there.

      Totally agree on the issue of violence. Why should sex, even kinky sex be worse than killing, maiming or torturing people??

      Like

  • acflory

    I actually received a general purpose email from Kobo that didn’t really explain anything, plus I saw a couple of references to it in blogs I follow otherwise I wouldn’t know about it either. And I agree – massive over reaction. Ah well, I guess it will blow over eventually, as all things do. πŸ™‚

    Like

  • davidprosser

    I haven’t even hear of this debacle and I live here. I have a vague recollection that Smiths own their own reader so I imagine it could be Kobo or I don’t see how these books can ave been pulled. but , what an over-reaction.Carrie is right that a good ratins system for books would help. Since it’s aduts who buy the reader, surely they could be password protected so that when signed in they could be set each time to allow download of up to a certain rating so kids using it can’t download the wrong ratings.
    I personally don’t enjoy erotica or heavy violence but I suppose it has it’s audience. Children aren’t that audience.
    I love the fact that Katie and her cousin got to see the sex scenes compliments of YOU rather than through a sneaky act of their own. That face must still be glowing at the thought.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Like

  • Candy Korman

    It’s always struck me as odd that sex gets R ratings and yet violence hardly registers in the ratings meant to protect children in the US. That being said, SEX is everywhere in ads for cars, fashion magazines and all over television.

    Erotica, sex as a genre, isn’t appropriate for children, but I doubt that anything short of an Amish enclave offers full protection. That’s why it’s crazy when the calls to “protect our children” periodically takes the lead. Shutting down one stream of “sexual content” hardly makes a difference in the bigger picture. And it’s always up to the parents. Kobogate sounds like a fiasco of over reaction.

    Like

    • acflory

      Agree completely. In one of the articles I read about Kobogate, the writer made the point that books by self-publishers had been pulled but traditionally published books like Justine and Lolita etc were still out there. Selective hysteria apparently.

      Like

  • EllaDee

    I’m confused… I’ve read your post and the article several times and I can’t make sense of this… it doesn’t make sense. If someone who shouldn’t accidently sees something they shouldn’t then everything else is yanked because… Censorship gone mad, just ask Enid Blyton…
    On the other hand, I had tears running down my face, laughing at your experiences with the kinky puppet-sex video – too too too funny πŸ˜€ The world of creativity never ceases to amaze me and never disappoints.

    Like

  • Tasha Turner Lennhoff

    I’m all for book labeling. Not a rating system but “explicit sex, violence, profanity”. The problem is cartoons fall under “lots of violence” by my definition. Rating systems don’t work in my opinion because they are based on what people at a specific time think people in certain age groups should or shouldn’t see which I don’t find all that useful. What was PG 25 years ago is now G so I’d rather see it spelled out & maybe using things like heat ratings, something similar for violence, and some kind of warning if rape or abuse tropes are being used… Hmm I begin to see why ratings aren’t happening. LOL

    Like

    • acflory

      I agree, it’s a tricky situation; where do you draw each line? These days I’d just two categories Under 15 and Over 15. As Candy said, you’d have to be in an Amish enclave to keep the 12 -15year olds from knowing the basics. For the fine details they can wait until they’re 15 and above.

      Like

  • Carrie Rubin

    I was surprised to hear about that, too. Seemed a bit excessive. I wonder if books shouldn’t come with rating systems, not as a form of censorship, but as a means of letting the reader know what they–or their child–is getting. If I knew a book depicted multiple episodes of rape, for example, I wouldn’t buy it. Or, someone who has a problem with profanity (I don’t) might not want to buy a book with that warning. We do it with movies and TV; maybe we should with books, too. But pulling the erotica completely seems too much. I agree with you: parents need to pay attention to what their kids are doing. We won’t catch everything–kids are crafty–but at least they’ll know we’re vested in them.

    Like

    • acflory

      I’m not totally sure of my facts here but I got the impression that ALL self-pubbed books on Kobo, in the UK, were pulled. I guess the rest of the world was left untouched… or something.

      And yes, I have no problem with labelling – that’s about choice. This is all about hysteria and some kind of Big Daddy complex. 😦

      lol – I also agree about kids being crafty. Luckily parents are craftier. Did I ever mention that’s sort of how I got into gaming?

      Like

Don't be shy!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: