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Book ratings?

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Arabwel, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. Arabwel

    Arabwel Screaming towards Apotheosis Veteran

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    This is something that came up when I was talking with both my dad and nmy therapist,and so I began to think about it a bit more:

    Should books, like movies and games and tv and such, have ratings? I have seen ratings often employed in fiction available online, but no one pays any attention to what is sitting on the shelves of the local library.

    From the length and variety off the "What booka re you reading now" topic at Booktalk, I think it is safe to assume that we here in SP are a well-read lot, and thus know that there are lots of books out there that could give the average ten-year-old nightmares if left lying around, not to mention´bad influences.

    I am not saying there should be an enforced system of this, but that it would, in my opinion, be a good thing if there were some sort of a general guideline for comparasion or words to that effect anyway.
     
  2. Apeman Gems: 25/31
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    I agree, the mind is more influential than the eyes. When reading a book I always picture it in my mind how a scene plays out. I think it is comparable to the movies but how do you implement such thing on every book?

    There are probably more books hitting the shelves than movies.
     
  3. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    I don't think too highly of rating systems. That goes especially for one related to books.

    Where do 10-years-olds in general get their books? Buying them for themselves is hardly their top priority when there are so many things like clothes, video games and music around that all cost precious money. Then there are libraries, of course. I don't know too many kids that are relying on them, though. Heck, they are visited by far too few adults as a matter of fact.

    Accordingly, most of the books kids read are bought for them by parents, grandparents and other relatives. I think, we may expect parents to look into the hobbies and reading habits (and gaming habits and...) of their young ones.

    And besides, where to draw the line when we talk about violence, blood, gore? Or sex? Lord of the Rings is a fairly violent book, nevertheless I cherished it when I was 12 years old. On the other hand, I doubt there's a child or teen who really understands and is interested in a book like Nabokov's "Lolita". Although it may be considered scandalous by some.

    Last, not least: books differ from films. You have to use your imagination with books - and the pictures of violence and nudity in your mind comply mainly with what has been put in there before. Films however address a whole new level as imagination is replaced with concreteness. Something from the outside is placed inside the head. Books begin to work from the within.
     
  4. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    It would be good to have warnings saying if the book is intense on violence, sex, or whatever. It's true that teenagers craving violent or sexual content won't be made read books, but there are certain books that shouldn't really appear in school libraries. Still, books are a delicate concern and a strict rating system might become close to censorship and that isn't what we like...

    On the other hand, plaques warning against violence and sex would only encourage those minors who seek it. And they will make sure, anyway, that parents never see the cover with plaques. With movies, it's a lot easier.

    Still, there are some books that are pornographic in nature and intended as such. Those should be treated accordingly and put outside minors' reach. Same for those books of which violence is the theme, although with violence one needs to be even more careful.
     
  5. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    I've just finished the 'Dune' series of books - something considered a 'must read' - and the amount of sexual content within could make a harlot blush.

    Rating a book would take a long time. Most people would have to watch a movie at least twice before submitting a reliable review. There's alot of information in a book, someone would have to read it at least twice also. Not exactly a dream job if the book suckled testicles the first time around.
     
  6. JSBB Gems: 31/31
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    I suppose a system of ratings for parental guidelines might be possible (although I seriously doubt that the majority of parents would even bother checking it) but trying to set up an enforceable system would be silly. If the child's parent(s) are willing to let him/her read something then he/she will probably be able to gain access to the book. Heck, if you try to control access to the book itself the kid will probably just find it on the internet anyway.

    The existing ratings systems on movies, t.v shows and video games in Canada are currently a joke. It doesn't seem that anyone takes them seriously as anyone who walks into an R rated film can tell. I constantly see/hear about children watching t.v. shows and playing video games that are rated well above the childrens' ages.

    For the most part these childrens' parents are well aware of what the children are watching/playing and they find it acceptable. As far as books go I can't imagine there being any real difference.

    In fact, I would argue that a ratings system would probably only encourage children to read more inappropriate material. Children will invariably try to look more mature by trying to see/read materials that they are supposed to be denied access to due to their age.

    As far as the need for such a ratings system for parental guidelines I seriously have my doubts. I know the old saying about not judging a book by its cover but quite frankly after looking at the books' title, cover art and scanning the brief description on/in most books' covers I can honestly say that I am almost never surprised by the level of violence/sex/profanity etc. found within it.

    If a parent is really worried about the content of a book they can always look up a review or god forbid actually pick the book up and quickly skim it. This would be a lot more reliable than looking at a rating printed on the spine - after all we all know how inappropriate most of the film ratings are due to studio lobbying atc.

    From a personal point of view, I would disagree completely with Darkthrone in terms of the impact of books vs films on the mind although I have long ago conceded that I am somewhat weird in this regard. To me words are a very concrete thing that stay in the mind while pictures/visual images are basically gone as soon as I stop looking at them. Sure I remember that I saw X and that I thought Y about it but that is about as far as it goes. Thus to someone like me a vivid description in a book has far greater impact than seeing something in a film ever could.
     
  7. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    I don't think too highly of ratings either. My 12 year old cousin has seen the likes of Scary Movie, 8 Mile, and other rated R movies, and they haven't much of an effect on her. Really, I think ratings are far too subjective, even more so when it comes to books. When I become a parent, the last thing I'll look at before deciding if I should get my child this or that book (or movie, or game...) is the rating. I'd much rather see the thing for myself.

    As for there being a difference between violence in books and movies, I don't find the "suggested" violence in books to be any easier to take than the visual violence in movies. In fact, I have less trouble with movies because it's usually easy to figure out a moviemaking trick is being used. In a book, there are no "tricks", and the violence (or whatever) thus feels worse.
     
  8. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    Ratings are no substitute for parental supervision. We have allowed little snook (who is 8) to see quite a few PG-13 movies and even a couple of R movies. However, in every case we either saw the movie first or did research to make sure it was appropriate for him.

    With that being said, I think books are a much harder thing to rate, but it may make sense. What frazzled parent has time to read a book that their kid wants to read. It is sometimes difficult to find time to read things that the parent wants, nevermind the kid.
     
  9. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    @Ziad & JSBB: Your points are valid and have to be taken into consideration, but they do not address what I was talking about. Without question, the emotional and intellectual impact of books exceeds that of films by far. Nevertheless I deem it less dangerous exposing a minor to the impact of a book than to that of a film. How is that?

    1. A picture in a movie is an absolute and tangible entity. It looks the same to each beholder. It will be processed further which leads to different perceptions in different minds, granted; but the first and vivid impact is still the same to everyone. Now written text: It has to be pre-processed by the reader’s mind to form a picture – which only thereafter can be further pondered and processed by one’s mind. This pre-procession makes the big difference. During the translation from text to picture the reader often relies on his experience. And on pictures he has actually seen previously. Thus, the bigger the repertoire on violent pictures, the more violent the picture that forms in the mind. For it is hard to imagine something like bursting rib-cages and regurgitated guts (hell, yeah!) if you’ve never laid your eyes on something depicting them.

    2. A movie is faster paced than a book. Which means that when watching a movie you’ll seldom have the time to relax, let out your breath, come to rest, etc. (Unless it’s a love movie – then you won’t let out your breath anyway, in hope of dying to end the torture that is watching it ;) ). With a book it is easy to skip scary parts or read some superficially. You can deepen your entanglement when convenient and keep it shallow when necessary. At will.

    3. You won’t read books in one go very often – there’s plenty of time to resurface and keep in touch with the real world. Simply because of the big amount of time a book claims. A movie lets you ride the roller coaster until the very end. Everything is squeezed into those 90 minutes.

    4. I don’t know if anything I say is true. It certainly is not very scientific, because I just make it up as I go along. Don’t expect me to produce silly statistics or stuff. I just feel that it’s true.

    5. Books have a much, much wider range of stylistic devices than films. Subtlety is the domain of books, not films. Subtlety opposes brutality – which is the domain of films, by the way. (Don't go on nit-picking. Subtlety. Brutality. You know what I mean.)

    6. There’s a good reason why there is a genre called “splatter movies” but nothing that could be called “splatter books”. Guess why. It’s all about visuals.

    7. There is a certain kind of tension that is exclusively created by movies. Recall the scene from Silence of the Lambs where Jodie Foster confronts the insane psychopath inside his home and the police are struggling to break into the house at the same time. And when they succeed breaking in, the watcher realizes that it wasn’t even the same house and Jodie is still endangered, watch out, Jodie, run, he’s right behind you with his night goggles on, WATCH OUT AAAIIIIEEEHHHHHHH . Do you think this would have worked in a text version? (Don’t dare saying it just doesn’t work because of my lack of writing skills.)

    8. This here point is just for those of you faithful enough to actually read all of the above. Good on yer!

    Books are deeper, true. However, emotional deepness is not all when it comes to being dangerous to one’s soul. Quite the contrary. In most cases books are more healthful than films (I’d say) – maybe just because the involvement with books can be deeper. Now stop defying my position or it will be 10 hours of “The Bridges of Madison County” for you. Non-stop, I might add!
     
  10. JSBB Gems: 31/31
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    Well, my comments to the above would be that for

    1. I don't convert words into pictures instead when I see pictures I convert those pictures into words - words stay in my mind, pictures are gone as soon as I stop seeing them.

    Thus the words that I read are the same as those anyone else does - perhaps we interpret them differently but they are the same for everyone. The words that I use to describe the things that I have seen on the other hand will always be different from what someone else uses and typically be a brief undetailed account compared to if I had read about it.

    Thus if I see a movie with rib cages bursting I will remember that in the film rib cages burst and that is all. If it is in a book I will recall the drawn out gory description that the author has written.

    2. A book can be as fast pace or as slow pace as the author wants it to be. True on avergae films are more fast pace but you can pretty well find whatever you want in terms of pace. With films you can also skip some parts, rewind and review parts etc. just the same as a book - at least if you are watching them outside of the theatre.

    3. I read books in one go quite frequently. I read between 50-100 pages an hour and will quite frequently sit down in an evening or on a week-end and read a book. Even when I don't read a book in one sitting I will usually finish it within 24 hours of starting it.

    6. Actually there are such things as splatter books. I personally find the gore in them much more disturbing than the gore splatter films but I touched upon that earlier so I wont beat a dead horse.

    7. Actually yes I think it could work just as well if not better in text. I strongly believe that there is no mood in movies that can not be duplicated if not exceeded upon by well written prose.
     
  11. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    Yes, it would be reasonable to expect that. Oddly enough, though, many parents seem to want the government to take responsibility for their children's behavior.
     
  12. Equester Gems: 18/31
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    I don't really think books need a rating system, because they have a sort of natural rating. most books containing violence and/or sex aren't exactly wrote fore 7th years. and most people that actually read books are normally able to see the difference between reality and fiction. ratings of books sounds a little silly in my ears and also like a waste of time. Books that contains Violence and/or sex are most often to hard to read for minors, so why should they?. Well I just cant' see the point of it anyway.
     
  13. Takara

    Takara My goodness! I see turnips everywhere

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    As a kid growing up, I liked the way my library was set up. When I read most, it was between the ages of 12-16. The library had different sections. The kids section, the teen read, and the adult section. Most of the time, books I wanted to read were in the teen read, and I liked them because they werent too hard, whist being fun. Good examples are terry Pratchett, and Point Horror books. The few times I went into the adult section, was when I wanted to try a better horror, and I found Stephen King far too wordy, so didnt bother.

    I'm not saying it is like this for all kids, but many will read what they find easy. Some of these *should be rated* books, are too wordy for younger readers, so they dont read them. People are assuming kids will read anything because it might be a bit naughty. I dont think so, they might skim the odd book, looking for sex related passages, but no kid is going to work their way through pages and pages of wordy stuff, just for a short bit of sex. Most kids will read something they enjoy. As such, I feel rating books will just amplify any problem, and not help at all.
     
  14. Benan Gems: 20/31
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    No, no way.

    I'm totally against censorship of any kind and thats what this comes down. There shouldn't have to guidlines for anything like books, movies, whatever.

    It's the parents jobs to raise a child, not society. If you don't want your 14 year old reading Silence of the Lambs don't let them.
     
  15. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    @Darkthrone: Interesing points, and since my responses are different from JSSB's I'll post them.

    1. While I usually process fiction prose the way you describe it, you're implying that the only way to process into images is based on already-seen images. Never forget the power of imagination. Especially in children's minds. I remember having exteremly gory nightmares as a child, and most were not inspired by previous images. In fact, the first time I "saw" a beheading was in a nightmare I had when I was 4 or 5 years old (probably THE most distubing dream I ever had)

    2. Fully agreed on romances! :)
    Seriously, there's no difference in pacing in books and movies. Books can be very fast-paced, and movies can be slow-paced. Ever picked a book you just couldn't put down? Ever sat through a movie you had such a hard time getting into? I think the potential for either extreme exists equally in both media, which means this can only be resolved on a case by case basis (not practical)

    3. You're right on the length issue. However, lenghth is meaningless, because it's the pacing (See above) that will determine whether you resurface or not.

    4. Nah, none of it is true.
    (just kidding, obviously)

    5. I'm not trying to nit-pick, but I don't see what you mean :)
    As in #2, I've read brutal books and I've seen subtle movies (Tarkovsky jumps to mind)

    6. Never heard of either, so I'll trust JSSB on this one.

    7. This is a tough one. While I agree that the mood couldn't be "duplicated" from one medium to the other, I don't see this as meaning that movie are more moody than books. It's just that each medium uses different techniques to establish different moods, so that a mood that works in a book won't work in a movie, or vice versa. However, you can have a different mood that is just as intense, and therefore the impact factor would be the same.

    8. No comment :)

    I don't really feel books are deeper. I just don't like rating systems. Not having them on books is fine. Having them removed off movies and games would be even better.

    I once saw a site called "parental reviews" or something like that. It was very nice, because you had a regular review, followed by a "parental" paragraph describing the kind of language, violence, sexual content, etc that you'd find in the movie, going as far as including examples. This is really what I would look for when deciding what to show to my kids, regardless of any rating.

    :yot: This is really funky. Here we are having a relaxed and humorous discussion about books and movies, while in the board next door we're agressively (well, hopefully not too agressive) throwing around religious and political statements at each other. These forums are simply amazing.
     
  16. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I don't think a rating system for books is entirely necessary either. As Takara mentioned above, unlike movies, books assume an audience of their reader. Any child can look at a gory film or sex in a film and see the images. However, in written text, a child's reading level in many cases will not allow him/her to successfully process the book. They won't understand fully what's going on. Take a movie like Aliens versus Predator. A 6-year old can readily watch the film and understand these wierd creatures are killing each other and humans. I doubt a six year old could pick up a written book on Aliens versus Predator and understand what they are reading.

    I also agree that a child isn't going to read a 400-page book to read about 20 pages of sexually explicit material. Now of course, once you hit the level of teenagers, many of them have reading levels as advanced as adults. However, I think once you are in your teens you can handle reading about sex and gore, and similarly see movies containing sex and gore, and not really need to have an advisory regarding such.

    So I guess my point is that a rating system in books isn't all that useful. Young children lack the vocabulary and mental capabilities to process most unsuitable written material, while older children (like teenagers) probably don't need to be censored from reading the material. If anything, I would see a rating system on books more useful to adults, who do not wish to read books containing (fopr example) written violence than I see an advantage of a system being used to limit what children read.
     
  17. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Talking of how people visualise books - when I read a book, I try and give each character a distinctive voice so I can hear the differences between them. For example, in the Song of Ice and Fire Books, The Hound was voiced by Harrison Ford, Catelyn Stark by Julia Roberts, and Joffrey by that kid who plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter Films.
     
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