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30 Days Of Fan Fiction, Day 14 
14th-Jul-2011 12:25 pm
14 – Ratings – how high are you comfortable with going? Have you ever written higher? If you're comfortable with NC-17, have you ever been shocked by finding that the story you're writing is G-rated instead?

I have done up to PG-13. I've never been surprised that a story I'm writing is G-rated, but I have been surprised that some people considered one scene to rate higher than I thought. I wrote it as a very suggestive scene without going into any explicit details, a la Psycho.
Grem_Come out
Comments 
14th-Jul-2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
You haven't considered rating higher for violence or torture? I find that a lot more disturbing than sex (unless someone combines the two) and pretty much go by what I could have handled at 13.
15th-Jul-2011 01:52 am (UTC)
Now, that's an interesting thought. I wasn't sure, because while I do have torture and violence in my stories, I never actually describe it graphically. It's all suggestive. I have read stories where they have blood and guts and people chopping limbs off and for me, that needs a higher rating. Does suggestive require more than a PG-13 rating?
15th-Jul-2011 04:39 am (UTC)
Would it upset a teenager who read it? That's pretty much what I go by: whether it's too much for a mid-teen to handle. People do seem to think high ratings are only for sex but I find violence a lot more disturbing. I like the AO3 system where one can warn for different things like sex, violence, character death. It's a lot more informative than a plain rating.
15th-Jul-2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'd agree with you 100%, and I've never understood how anyone can think anything else given how the film and game classifications work. Why should fandom operate to a different one? In most cases violence is of more concern when classifying a piece than sex.

While one has to bear in mind that the Internet at least is world wide, and so there may be readers who might find consensual sex shocking and disturbing, I think it would be hard to find a teen today who didn't have at least some biological understanding of what sex involved and why. So the level of 'shock' would be low and the disturbance is more likely to be distaste or embarrassment.

Violence is far more disturbing for most people, children in particular hate seeing things hurt (if they don't then worry about their mental health) and particularly if they feel some connection to the character. As the BBC found out when Blake was broadcast. Violence is the thing I would always consider to raise the rating of a piece, if it involves rape or any description of the acts of torture then I personally would see Adult as the obvious classification.
15th-Jul-2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! There are violent images I've come across in reading that I would pay to have removed from my memory, and I consider rape to be violence rather than sex.

I do like the AO3 ratings for that reason. I was able to warn for violence in the few stories I've used it in whereas a plain NC-17 rating would probably imply sex to most readers.

[Edit] BTW have you considered putting your stories on AO3? If you haven't used it, it's very easy to upload and maintain.

Edited at 2011-07-15 11:18 pm (UTC)
16th-Jul-2011 04:38 am (UTC)
This is a very interesting discussion. One of the reasons I've come to like B7 less and less as a show is because of it's irresponsibility and immorality in the portrayal of heroes to an audience that comprised of a lot of children. If I were a parent, I would never let my kids watch this show today.

That being said it's an interesting show precisely because there does seem to be a blurry line between good and evil, and heroes and villains can almost be interchanged without much difference, and yes, for me that includes Blake, Vila and Avon.

In terms of ratings, that does appear to be a sticky issue. For my own stories, I'm not sure if it's that cut and dried and therein lies my problem.

Does it have violence and torture? Yes. Do I describe the torture? That depends on what you mean by describe.

I don't like horror. It disturbs me. I don't like reading it or watching it and I certainly don't like writing it. I have read stories where violence is described in graphic detail and for me that deserves a high rating.

So I had a dilemma. I had stories which necessitated the character endure torture, but I didn't want to actually describe what was happening. I got around this by describing the reactions and feelings of the character to what was happening, essentially putting the reader inside his head while itnwas occurring without being graphic about the actions that were occurring. Perhaps doing it this way made it so immediate and close that it felt like I was describing in graphic detail what was happening, even though I wasn't. I found that for some, it worked very much like that shower scene in psycho where Hitchcock showed everything around what happening but he never once showed the actual violence, but people would swear later that they saw the knife being plunged into her body. But it never did, it was all suggestive, but their imaginations filled in the details making it more horrible than if he had shown what happened.

In that way, if my scenes really worked that well, or badly depending on how it is seen, then in hindsight, perhaps it should have had a higher rating. I think they are all rated at least PG now and some PG-13. But it is funny that I originally wrote it that way because I wanted to avoid writing the violence :)



16th-Jul-2011 04:50 am (UTC)
I know they intended to do another season but regardless of that, they should never have had all the heroes / children's friends (as one upset child called them) gunned down like that.

I wrote a torture scene but there wasn't anything graphic anyway because it was all nerve and brain stimulation. I still warned for it though as I know others might find it upsetting. I don't find my own stories disturbing because I create them but I know one reader at least wouldn't read one of my stories any further when she encountered a reference to past violence. I've put a trigger warning for domestic violence on that one.
16th-Jul-2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
No, and they shouldn't have let GT have his way about Blake either, if he wanted out then all he had to say was 'I'm busy'.

Torture is about pain, humiliation and helplessness so I'm not sure that the techniques matter if the 'pictures' of those are clear enough. I'd agree with you earlier comment btw, rape has nothing to do with sex and a lot to do with power and hate. It's often a form of torture.

References to past violence seem a bit of a stretch in the disturbing stakes, unless you described it I suppose. There is always the probelm that you can never know the reader's psychological and emotional baggage and that can be wide ranging,so almost anything can offend in the right (or wrong) circumstances. Nor can the reader know the authors unless they are very familiar with their work, so a combination of age and warnings is probably the best protection. But even then you can get caught out, as I once found to my cost.....
16th-Jul-2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
I did describe the past violence, in flashback. It was to Vila as a child and his mother, but only one bit was graphic. That can be a powerful trigger to people who've experienced it even if I'd just referred to it so I think the story deserves the warning. And it's not a plot spoiler as character death can often be.

What happened with you?
16th-Jul-2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
"One of the reasons I've come to like B7 less and less as a show is because of it's irresponsibility and immorality in the portrayal of heroes to an audience that comprised of a lot of children. If I were a parent, I would never let my kids watch this show today.
"

Whoa, there. You can't make an accusation like that in so blasé a manner and without very good reason! That sounds like you are saying that a national, public funded, broadcaster of good reputation allowed an immoral portrayal of a 'white’ character/s knowing it was being watched by those whose moral structure was still developing. You would need very strong evidence to back up such a claim. There were instances that might better have been edited out, but in general TPTB were careful to make sure that you couldn't. I gather there were some heavy hands laid on the producers on just this count.

Surely what you are saying is that you, personally, feel that you would like the characters to be more obviously delineated, more clearly 'black' and 'white'. You say you like it 'less and less' but the material in the show hasn't changed, which leads me to suspect that you haven’t always perceived it this way.

It wouldn't get shown in prime time on the main channel these I'm sorry to say, but things like that should be shown to help explain the complexities of the world. A lot of parents are way too protective of their children now, particularly with regards to the good v evil stuff. So how do those children learn to recognise when it’s not that simple? Not having the discussions makes their children vulnerable to exploitation, if you don't encounter ambiguity then how do you learn to recognise it and deal with it?

"a blurry line between good and evil, and heroes and villains can almost be interchanged without much difference, and yes, for me that includes Blake, Vila and Avon."

Hmmm, don't think you could make the case for that either.

With respect to your own stories, I recall being moved to ask for warnings from you when I first encountered your series on Hip Deep, so obviously it was sufficiently detailed for me to have reacted to it. I'm not overly squeamish, though I find little value in descriptions of violence, so I think you'd probably be safer going higher.Personally I always take a minimalist approach to violence,sex and torture, partly but not entirely, on that count

16th-Jul-2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
[stepping in, sorry] I do think that viewers (of all ages) were left with the message that standing up for freedom and right is useless, and that's a nasty one.
17th-Jul-2011 04:12 am (UTC)
In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes. I'm not just going from my own reactions. I think it was extremely irresponsible of the show to do some of the things they did knowing full well young kids were being troubled by it. I don't know in what time slot they aired the original show, but it was obviously early enough that parents would object to some of the things their kids were being subjected to. Of course I am taking this information from what I have read about reactions at the time since I am a latecomer to the show. Maybe some of what I have read could be wrong.

In terms of the blurry lines comment, you might say that you don't personally agree with my views of the characters but to say that I can't make a case for my statement, well that's where people would be mistaken. In fact, I believe I can make a very strong case, supported by numerous instances from canon. Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

For me, one of the very few interesting things about Blake is that he appears, at least to me, to be the mirrror image of Servalan in many things. Now you've inspired me to add another article to my Trial of Blake series, listing all the ways Servalan and Blake are very similar, but from opposite sides of the fence.

Those who are familiar with my debates on issues, know that I never say anything unless I can support it with reams of canon. Now, whether my interpretation agrees with someone else's, well that's open to interpretation, like most of B7. I would gladly stand toe-to-toe with anyone and debate personal viewpoints as long as there is respect of each other's views and we are debating canon and differing interpretations and not subjective fanon based on how people feel about a character.

17th-Jul-2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
No need to apologise on my count.

I agree with you, and that was certainly my own perception. I also agree that that's a very nasty idea and I have speculated in darker moments whether there was some form of pressure given what was happening in the UK at the time.

But looking back on it that all stems from S4, with a lot coming from 'Blake'. I spent many months looking at this angle for I&R prep and as a result my take would be that much of it comes from undisciplined writers and weak editorial control at the story line/context level. So a writer commissioned for a script wrote something they wanted to write, rather than a story for B7 characters and universe, then shoe horned it to sort of fit. From what I've read from the time I gather the cast thought something similar and that TN hated the way his world and characters were misused.

Though, being fair to the series writers, the fannon that's grown up a round it tends to enhance that aspect too, and probably for similar reasons.

17th-Jul-2011 04:27 am (UTC)
In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes. I'm not just going from my own reactions. I think it was extremely irresponsible of the show to do some of the things they did knowing full well young kids were being troubled by it. I don't know in what time slot they aired the original show, but it was obviously early enough that parents would object to some of the things their kids were being subjected to. Of course I am taking this information from what I have read about reactions at the time since I am a latecomer to the show. Maybe some of what I have read could be wrong.

In terms of the blurry lines comment, you might say that you don't personally agree with my views of the characters but to say that I can't make a case for my statement, well that's where people would be mistaken. In fact, I believe I can make a very strong case, supported by numerous instances from canon. Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

For me, one of the very few interesting things about Blake is that he appears, at least to me, to be the mirrror image of Servalan in many things. Now you've inspired me to add another article to my Trial of Blake series, listing all the ways Servalan and Blake are very similar, but from opposite sides of the fence.

Those who are familiar with my debates on issues, know that I never say anything unless I can support it with reams of canon. Now, whether my interpretation agrees with someone else's, well that's open to interpretation, like most of B7. I would gladly stand toe-to-toe with anyone and debate personal viewpoints as long as there is respect of each other's views and we are debating canon and differing interpretations and not subjective fanon based on how people feel about a character.

Oh about dilineation, actually, one of the things Imdo love about the show is that it is not cut and dried. I love the fallibility of the characters, but I object to this show being subjected to kids young enough that parents would call in because their kids were disturbed by what they saw. I don't think it's about coddling or not coddling if you knowingly traumatized young kids, which is what I heard did happen duringnthe run of the show. I have a real problem with that. Now if it were a strictly adult show, then I would say brilliant. It was ahead it's time in terms of dark sf.

I am more and more disaffected with this show now, not because I didn't think it had immoral and disturbing messages before, but because as an author now, I am very aware of my responsibility as a writer to specific audiences.
17th-Jul-2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
Not sure this is right place to have this discussion, but it's your journal and if you are game, well I'm fine with it as I actually have some time at the moment - rare treat.

In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes.

What constitutes 'a lot', 'a couple' and 'disturbing'? I don't recall seeing any record of significant 'outrage' until Blake was aired. Which episodes do you have in mind? When I first started writing I looked at what was available from 'Points of View' at the time and scanned a few newspaper entries, and bought some copies of the Marvel publication, and I didn't see anything there that indicated real alarm at the series prior to S4. That doesn't rule out the possibility that I missed the important ones or that there weren't complaints of course, only that I can't quantify them in 'few, 'some', 'lots' 'many' or 'a great deal'. A few were to be expected because that always happens. As for the number of episodes you quote, a couple out of 52 doesn't seem to indicate a whole scale revulsion at the series even by a few people. Which in the sequence of series did they arise from?

Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

I'm not shooting anyone. TN pitched B7 as Dirty dozen in space, so the whole idea was less than perfect people going up against something even worse and doing things that others might expect them not to do. I have no problem with that, I merely pointed out that you couldn't state that the BBC were irresponsible or immoral with regards to this as if it were demonstrable fact, and certainly not without citing a raft of universally accepted evidence. That the most you could assert was that you would have preferred it if the heroes had been more obviously heroic relative to the villians.

My personal take is that they are people, and like all people they reflect varing levels of virtue at different times, and in different circumstances, and, equally important, that what they see as virtue varies with their other beliefs.

Have vistors, will be back later. Unless you call halt.
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