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Friday, January 07, 2011

Mark Twain Re-mixed

In popular music lingo, a remix is an alternative version of a song, made from an original version. With the sterilization of Mark Twain's books the term remix is clearly spilling over into the world of literature.

If you follow my blog, you may have noticed
that I am pretty slow to comment on social issues such as this.  The reason I don't jump on hot topics and give my opinion right away, is that it takes me time to come to a personal conclusion.  I really stop and think about these things.

Here's what I think about this censorship issue.

If you were to define me... who Andrea is, the word Artist, would be somewhere in that sentence.  I am an artist by nature and by training.  For that reason, censorship has never sat well with me.  Whether it comes from heart-led inspiration or a calculated desire to be provocative, no artist, whether visual or literal wants someone to tie their hands, thus stifling their creativity.  On those grounds I have an issue with the changes in Huckleberry Finn.

With that said, just because I have the right to create, does not mean I have the right to force what I have created onto others.  If I draw a nude image, do I really have a right to hang it in a preschool? I do not.  Likewise, just like Mark Twain had the right to use language with the calculated effect of making people think, does he have a right to decide that 5th graders should be the ones thinking about the effects of slavery if it means reading such a provocative word hundreds of times? No. 

Now, does that mean I think that the book should have been changed, altered, remixed.  NO.  What I think is that it should not be required reading in elementary schools.  It should probably be suggested reading, and for parents to decide if the child should read it or not.  Instead of changing it, an prefix should have been added explaining the provocative nature of the words in the book and the suspected meaning behind it. 

I pains me that I had my child read the entire Mark Twain catalog in middle school without first re-reviewing the content.  I remembered reading it fondly, and don't remember being stirred by it in any way.  I accepted it as a story in it's place and time, so my prayer is that my son took it the same way.  I also remember being drawn to read Roots, soon afterwards.  So maybe it affected me and I didn't realize it.



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1 comment:

Self-service BI Pro said...

The idea of re-writing literature really bothers me. It's defacing art, plain and simple, just like airbrushing a nude Giovanni. And the idea that people have about "protecting" young people from being exposed to words such as this is one of many examples of where people think they should control what others think, learn, see, and eat. It's unbelievably condescending and anti-libertarian.