The topic of artists being political is an interesting one, but it’s not a new one. I promise you, there’s not a single author, musician, or actor who hasn’t spent many hours pondering the question of how much to say in the public eye, especially in the age of Twitter and Facebook, when your words are very quickly and efficiently dispersed. This is a new topic for the YA community however and so it’s worth paying attention to how it’s being discussed.
I think it’s particularly interesting that this question surfaced in the weeks following an example of OSC’s vicious homophobia and also in the weeks after Jackson Pearce’s vlog criticizing Chick-fil-a President Dan Cathy for his opinions of gay marriage.
This is incredibly troubling to me, because it looks an awful lot like the question isn’t whether or not authors should be political outside of their books, but whether or not YA authors should be political about Certain Things.
There are many topics about which authors get their politics on without this question rearing its ugly head: the whitewashing of covers, the presence of LGBT characters, the insidious nature of the “pink cover” on novels written by women…. There are tons of examples. The most recent that comes to mind is Cassie Clare’s discussion of the response to the casting of Magnus, a topic that (disturbingly) echoed earlier discussion of Rue and the Hunger Games.
YA authors are frequently political, some even about gay marriage, but I can’t think of other examples as pointed and as widely-viewed as OSC’s opinions or Pearce’s vlog. I think the fact that the question of whether or not authors should be political has surfaced around each of these occurrences is significant.
I don’t think this is a coincidence and I’m uncomfortable that this is starting to look like a pattern.
I’m uncomfortable with the fact that this puts authors in the difficult position of having to weigh their beliefs against their pocketbooks.
I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that this points to a very specific idea of censorship.