Veronica Gets a Gaydar, and Comic Books Get a Warning Label?KJ Dell'Antonia
The newest addition to the Archie comics’ cast is a major diversity plus: Kevin, gay, presumably proud, and totally immune to Veronica’s charms (now she and Betty can compete to see who’ll get the gay best friend). But I’m going out on a limb and predicting that one Dixie Fechtel of Leesburg, FL might think the whole “Isn’t it Bromantic?” issue merited a big fat “Mature Audiences” label–and she’s far from the only one who’d like to attack the library’s YA shelves with some warning labels and some paste.
Ms. Fechtel has been fighting to have the Lake County Library System label and segregate books like the Gossip Girl series ever since her fifteen-year-old brought one on a family vacation in 2008. Librarians have so far resisted: “Our policy clearly states that it’s a parent’s responsibility to review what their child is checking out,” says Tom Merchant. “It’s not our role to impose one group of parents’ idea on all children in the library.” Other Florida libraries have gone a small distance in this direction: in the Orange County library system, no one younger than 13 or older than 18 can enter the “Club Central” area which houses the YA novels without an escort, although there’s no suggestion that the escort would censor a kids’ book selections if he or she were brave enough to run the gamut of possible adult or teen disapproval.
Earlier this year, novelist Tony Buchsbaum, writing for January Magazine, also proposed warning labels for books after he read a choice snippit from the YA novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson that included the line “cock + pussy = a happy rooster-kitten couple” (this and other colorful language was a part of instant message repartee among the male teen protagonists). Grayson believed that the book was the first time his son had encountered such phrases (which also included a reference to a “fierce quivering manpole”) and this may be true. His response was to ask why the publisher didn’t find a way to warn parents about the content of the book (to offer parents an opportunity to talk about it), which sounds innocuous enough–until you consider the many, many other possible uses for such a label, and what it might be applied to.
Would “Isn’t it Brolicious?” merit a sticker? Probably not–but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want that to be Ms. Fechtel’s call.
Images courtesy of Archie Comics