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Sunday, October 23, 2016

As censorship has changed children’s books: “a kiss can be, but without details

In recent years we got used to the fact that restrictions on the Internet and media becoming more and more. They were originally introduced to protect children from harmful information, in this most strongly protects children law influenced invisible to the wider public sphere — children’s books. The emergence of the age marking— 6+, 12+, 16+ — radically changed the attitude of publishers to text. Now authors writing for Teens must be very careful: it almost fit into the requirements of the law, and the book will be sent to the adult shelves, where the young reader it just will not find, and the publisher will suffer a loss.

On condition of anonymity, we spoke to the editor of the children’s literature of one of the Russian publishers and learned much of the mystery novels for children disappeared butts and why heroines can’t walk home in wet t-shirts.

photo: Natalia Gubernatorova

Recently I wanted to buy as a gift “Carlson”, opened it and was surprised: Carlson no longer smokes, although I do remember that earlier in the text it was. It turned out that these amendments appeared in recent times in many texts. What is the reason?

— The case of the “Carlson” is more the exception to the rule: classical literature in translation usually do not touch. But in the domestic books of the last decades such changes have become the norm. Is it for children’s age limits — 6+ or 12+. Bad habits, fighting, swearing even hug now almost a taboo.

The most common example, at least for the genre of children’s detective — cigarette. Very often, the young detectives find a clue and trying to figure out the culprit. They are suitable to tobacco stalls, find out who bought cigarettes… it is Clear that most of these detectives was written in the 90s, and then it was nothing abnormal, but now with the reissue of the difficulty.

After all, if the butt of plot construction, it can not be replaced by the wrapper from the candy. In other cases, when the reissue of the old books we are taking action: replaceable champagne prom on mineral water and soda.

Are stories of the 90’s But what if we have a classic text — “Bronze bird” or “Dagger”, for example. It will need fixing, too?

— These two texts can already be considered a classic. They have not yet been reissued, but if I have to do without modifications. It is still books that are known to many. But of the things written recently, cigarettes and beer will now be mercilessly slaughtered.

— But how then to be with a stub on which to build the plot?

Most likely he will retain, but will try several times to insert the phrase, that Smoking is harmful, “I don’t smoke and not going to.” So, we add the judgment that, by law, for texts with an audience of 12+ is necessary. However, still good when Smoking and alcohol are associated with “bad” characters — it’s part of their negative image. It is much worse when…

— Sherlock Holmes?

— Yes, just about that speech. For example Holmes many positive characters, such as some dad of the main character, also smoke a pipe. And the kids in the book used to be able to play with the phone, like not Smoking it. Now — all: it can not play, to mention impossible, and would be better if dad didn’t even smoke or drink beer at the cottage.

— That is a hint?

— Of course. Not necessary, just not necessary. The more certainly all sorts of things like drugs, which cause the editor outright panic. Indeed, in many detective stories, written in the 90s, the plot is built around drugs, and this topic is taboo even more than cigarettes. It is clear that sometimes, it really can not get rid of, but in this case we do not remove that hint at any details, but the names of the drugs.

— Here is clear, but what about the obvious classics, where the “forbidden” even in the title — for example, “town in the snuffbox” Odoevsky?

It all depends on the fanaticism of the editor. As a whole, because it’s a classic-a classic for two centuries, the box is not subjected to censorship. But if today someone of the authors would send a text like that, here everything is clear: the woodwork will not be simple. Some snuff, some cigarettes, a beer, what kind of drugs? Only mineral water! All!

I once had a long discussion with the author of a very colorful character, an old actress. It is, of course, a positive character and also undoubtedly, smokes, it’s part of her image. The author did not come to meet us. Said that can take away from an old woman cigarette, what is the latest joy in her life. In General, it was.

In the end, the habit grandmother we left, but struck out the greater part of the scenes where she was Smoking. At the same time forced her to tell the grandchildren: “You are in no case so don’t do it. I’m old, I don’t care, but you never do”.

— Cigarettes all clear. And alcohol? I remember how in the 90s we left the English children’s detectives, where children were drinking cider.

— We will replace it with lemonade.

Even if it is a translated text?

Yes. I even fear that the replacement of the lemonade we can make without the consent of the author, if not the key detail. Or even lower: between one and the other the arbitrariness of the line is thin. Otherwise the book will not fit into the statutory age audience. There should be more to keep in mind how the text know well.

And going back to the classics, though, besides “Sherlock Holmes”. Is it possible its now “officially” to read to children?

— In the law, when talking about the age marking books, immediately specified that these rules do not apply to the classics. Question that it to admit. It is believed that a classic is everything that is included in the school curriculum, additional reading within that framework, as well as “presidential” one hundred books.

Here, of course, a separate story. I looked and was very surprised. One of the books in this list written during the Soviet era, begins with a little boy lead in the women’s bath, and he sees the naked female body. This topic is covered in paint. In principle, nothing inappropriate, but we can’t afford this, it’s just 18+.

So school classic rules do not apply. Otherwise, the same notorious “Crime and punishment”, where in detail is described the murder of the old woman, it’s 18+ at once.

— In addition to bad habits and violence sometimes even obscene language. In the media — clearly, there is forbidden five words that everyone knows, but in the books?

— The same thing. Mat — and the book immediately becomes 18+ and sold in the film.

— But there are borderline situations. I remember the translation of “the Brothers Lionheart” by Astrid Lindgren, where the hero said that we need to be brave, otherwise you’re a piece of shit.

But language also has limitations. By law, any profanity — but not the Mat — directly related book to 16+. And we find ourselves in a strange situation: it is necessary to understand what to do with the brand of children’s texts, where there are no drugs, no violence, but one girl calls another a fool. We believe that it’s not scary, set 12+, or play it safe and decide not to look for trouble — then 16+. There is another option: ask the author — if he is alive and available to one character called another a “fool” and “stupid bad girl.” Well, then, of course, begins a conversation with the writer about how to speak modern children, does the book the truth of life and why is it needed at all then.

In the end, we don’t re-release some things because of the reluctance of the authors to change anything. We have a law, we are obliged to follow it.

By the way, adult literature, with the exception of erotic like 50 shades of grey” and others like them, will have a age limit of 16+, even criminal militants.

They have no film, you can go to the store, view: mountains of corpses, executions, but without the Gory details. From the contemporary British writer Jacqueline Wilson is a very famous book “the Painted mother” – if it wanted to re-release, then immediately there would be a lot of questions, because mom is an alcoholic and leads a generally dissolute lifestyle. And the book moves to world classics.

However, there is a question about the social mission: the dysfunctional side of life we fail to reflect, to talk about what happens and how to live with it. More precisely, can’t tell without risking. Because there are publishers that still does not close social topics, and let them give 16+.

— And how, in your opinion, the buyers in the book actually focus on all these 6+, 12+, 18+?

— We have no way to understand it. If one book store that sold with age marks and the other without, we could compare, but it is introduced everywhere. Often the age limit turns into an unexpected side. Despite the fact that he only indicates the age at which the book is recommended reading by both children and parents think that 6+ means “for children six years”, although it really is six and even up to 156.

And Vice versa: if the book costs 16+, in groups of publishers, who we are in Vkontakte, Teens quite seriously ask the questions “can I read this book, if I’m only 15?”.

Children generally greatly changed mind: they are very different from us — those who we were in childhood. “VKontakte” is seriously asking if the book has a moral: it is important to have everything laid out on shelves.

— The kids are all right, but after writing and embody the laws of life in adults. What threatens the publisher not the age that is listed on the book?

— First, the Prosecutor should someone do a sternly-worded letter. Later, the court appointed independent expert, which analyzes the text and makes a decision. If it is recognized that we break the law, then fine. Then — the withdrawal of circulation, the destruction, and the stores that sold these books, can allow for 30 or 90 days. This is very serious.

— How destroyed — burned?

— No, just cut… complaints have been a variety of occasions. So, once — before the law on the age limit was a complaint for a manga (a Japanese comic book. — A. O.). One girl who read it committed suicide, but prosecutors have not found in the book of incitement to suicide. They are there, of course, there was no manga all about something else — about the ethics and choices with an absolute power. However, the book we no longer sell.

Then I got a call from the bookstore in Novosibirsk: “we came to the activists of “Ural parent Committee”, is there some official way for them to defend themselves?” Not to fear, that the store destroyed, but a little bit feared.

Fortunately, everything went well: no legal grounds for such a visit was not. In principle, citizens are in a legal state in General, there is no legitimate reason to run around grabbing books from the shelves and destroy them, because the middle Ages have passed.

However, you need to understand that the activists are complaining about the book, paying attention only to the major publishers: nothing to take. So, recently I got published in Yakutia thousand copies a book about the local Pantheon. No age markings on it, so technically it can read and children, taking something like “Myths of Ancient Greece” Coon. And inside there is incest, violence, drugs, how, in your opinion, the shaman goes to other worlds? The funny thing is that he published a book of the Orthodox publishing house. Im no parent committees are not interested.

“Come on back, if so, to possible breaches from major publishers. Where else could be a danger to them? For example, violence. From Krapivin’s novel “the night of the big tide” the main character, the teenager, killing the main villain: “the Chancellor has put on him — the rapier entered him in the ribs and jumped between his shoulder blades”. It is now taboo?

We have come to the perfect casuistic phrase of the law the detailed description of violence. It is clear that even the Gingerbread man is killed, and “red riding Hood” the wolf ripped open the stomach. In many fantasy books that we edit, we have to reduce the number of corpses to remove the blood, replacing them with intelligent puddles. By law we can describe the violence, if it is episodic, condemn and good wins. That is, should obviously be read morality.

Although — take the “Young guard”, where a detailed description of the torture the young. In a modern book, we can’t do. So, out the novel on girl fan, and all football-related fight, very hard, as in life, was removed: “clashed” and all, the heroine is already helping his injured friend.

— The following “dangerous moment” after a violence — probably incorrect behavior. Vagrancy and other Huckleberry Finn. As we now deal with that?

— Mark TWAIN or “Rasmus-bum” Astrid Lindgren’s problems will not be: still classic. But the book has a contemporary author who writes about the homelessness of the hero, and no matter what positions they occur, will have to mark a rating of 16+, although the book talks about the children and addressed to them. For example: “spent the Night tuchka gold” pristavkina now gone. With the reissue from the status of 18+ — that is unavailable, for example, for school libraries — it saved only the status of “classic.” Because the description of the torn body, vagrancy, torture of children is generally without variants. Although we still put on the book 16+.

— Then, obviously, the last and most interesting of the forbidden — love story. It is clear that sex is impossible in any form. But where is the fine boundary between what is in the description of the relations allowed and already banned?

— In General, to kiss you, but without details. “They kissed” — this is enough. If you have the details: how, how long, who felt it immediately shifts the border to 16+.

And hug I wouldn’t recommend it.

For example, in the book category of 12+ the author at the insistence of the publisher had removed the girls in wet t-shirts. He described how the heroines drenched head and they had to walk down the street. Any hints on anything in the scene, but to spare the imagination “Ural parent Committee”, it was necessary to be safe.

There was another example, is already a textbook: book 12+ is a girl of about 12 years. Her blouse a little small in the chest, buttons differ slightly. All this description was enough to we call the people — however, from the stores, and were indignant, what with the 12+.

— All amazing and surprising. But, in your opinion, why now, in the last probably five years, there were all these demands, both in law and in society?

Oh, a favorite topic. There is a theory in the 90’s we had a sexual and at the same time the information revolution. We began to talk about things that have long been taboo. And it just became too much. At some point society has had enough of freedom, and began a reaction, the result of which we observe.

If the movement for freedom was gradual, over hundreds of years, as in Europe, such a situation would not have arisen. She was eventually apprehended introduced, alien, and so I think not so much the inhabitants of the cities, as those who live in the rest of Russia. For them this was unnecessary and shocking. The idea that a child can receive any information, including from the book scary. Therefore, for the current restrictions is public fear. If they hadn’t relied on the support of society, they would not exist.

Instead of trying to teach children to navigate the information and make decisions, chosen the easiest way: just close them in a comfortable box out of which 18 years will be selected and it probably will be surprised: the world is not like this, as they thought, there are so many things that no one talked and no one warned.

— Do you think that all these restrictions will be increased or, on the contrary, the nut will weaken?

— There are two options, which depend on what happens to the country as a whole. If we continue to move in the direction of tightening of the Central government, we are, of course, waiting and censorship. If the motion goes in the opposite direction, then the restrictions may be less. Now many say that the age limit divided by 6+, 12+ and so on is redundant. Enough to leave 18+, that is, that for children is not intended, and all but the parents themselves can decide what to read to their children. But while the chances are 50 to 50.

In this part of the children and reads books now, let’s be honest, the minority still ignores all these limitations and calmly goes to the “adult shelf” with fantasy and romantic literature. After all, children’s books, which could answer important questions, perhaps, just yet, because due to restrictions we are unable to make them.

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