Nightwing17 recently reviewed the amazingly historical, tangentially superhero-related X-Men graphic novel Magneto: Testament. I absolutely loved this book and think it should required reading in schools as it is both incredibly powerful and surprisingly educational. Despite taking numerous history classes, elective and otherwise, this was the first time I ever heard that 10 million people died in the Holocaust, not 6 million, as every teacher I’ve ever had has mistakenly taught me. Anyway, check out the review and consider giving the book a read (although be prepared for crippling feels).
Our culture fetishizes moral ambiguity.
As much as it’s become a dead horse trope, our storytelling conventions still rely on a black and white framework. Too often, like adolescents testing limits, we obsess over the ways we can complicate this simple dichotomy of good and evil. An entire age of comics was defined by our love affair with violent anti-heroes, ‘good’ characters who engage in ‘evil’ behavior.
Nonetheless, it’s rare that we latch on to a character who truly inhabits a moral shade of gray, rather than some attractive paradoxical commingling of good and evil. Magneto is one of these characters.
Part of what makes Magneto special is the inherent presence of a greater evil in his story. As limitedly as it factors in to some stories, Magneto inherently allows us to grapple with the problem of evil and to sort out our feelings about hatred, intolerance, and genocide.
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Merry met, my dear readers. It seems my blog has been around for another year. And it has been quite the year here at the Bound and Gagged Banned Books Blog. One of my posts was Freshly Pressed, another was quoted in The Huffington Post, and we went from about 50 followers to over 2,000. So whether you’re new to the blog or have stuck by us since the beginning, thank you. Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting, and taking the time to come to our little corner of the internet.
This year we also gained two excellent writers. Hannah and Victoria Lepore were both kind enough to grace the blog with their thoughts, rants, and insights, joining me and Elliot Oberholtzer on our banned book crusade. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all three of them for contributing to the blog, for taking the time to write such thoughtful reviews, and for being generally awesome human beings.
I hope you’ll all stick with us for yet another year of banned book reviews, censorship news, and the occasional nerdrage. Banned Books Week is fast approaching, so check back for more Bound and Gagged goodness (not nearly as kinky as it sounds). In the meantime, enjoy this look back at the last year of banned book reviews. Read More…
Phew. I just got back from seeing the film adaptation of The Giver, and I am pleased to report that the terrible, sinking feeling I have had ever since they started releasing trailers for it (actually, ever since they announced Taylor Swift was in the cast) was unwarranted. Obviously no film adaptation is ever actually going to do everything right, but I do feel that this one did enough right that I am glad to have seen it, and feel comfortable recommending it to others. I have done my best to leave spoilers out of this review, but the few parts where spoilers were necessary I have put in white text. If you are okay with spoilers, highlight the blank spots in between plus signs to reveal. Read More…
THE VERDICT: Pullman himself has no idea why Harry Potter gets in trouble while his own books fly under the radar. As he says, “The people who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”
THE CHARGES: “political and religious viewpoints,” violence, sexuality, and an overall attitude that morality is relative. By my count this book includes killing God, destroying hell, insinuating that heaven cannot exist, and touches on topics like cannibalism, euthanasia, intelligent design, evolution, child sexuality, and then there are some gay angels thrown in there just in case the rest wasn’t enough. In some publications a paragraph describing Lyra’s sexual awakening was removed.
The Subtle Knife is the second installment in the His Dark Materials series and the sequel to The Golden Compass (better known outside of the US as Northern Lights). You can read my review of the first book here. The controversy surrounding the books are similar, so I shall try not to repeat myself. Stay tuned for the conclusion of our banned books coverage of His Dark Materials next week as Hannah takes on The Amber Spyglass.
THE DEFENDANT: The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman Read More…
THE DEFENDANT: Captain Underpants (series), Dav Pilkey
THE VERDICT: Captain Underpants topped the ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books List for two years running, claiming the title in 2012 and 2013. The series also came in at #8 in 2005, #4 in 2004, and #6 in 2002.
THE CHARGES: According to the ALA, Captain Underpants has been challenged for “offensive language”, “violence”, and being “unsuited to age group“, as well as “sexually explicit” and “anti-family content”.
THE DEFENDANT: The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights), Philip Pullman
THE VERDICT: The His Dark Materials series as a whole was the second most frequently challenged book of 2008, with The Golden Compass itself coming in at #4 on the list in 2007, according to the ALA. In addition, Philip Pullman was the second most challenged author in 2008 and the fifth most challenged in 2007. He has also been called the most dangerous author in Britain. So, why the sudden interest in the books in the late 2000s when they were published in the mid-90s? Much like The Hunger Games, ire against the books reached fever pitch when the movie adaptation thrust it (back) into the public eye. It also became the target of Catholic groups going on the offensive against the movie, which, given the plot of the book, may have only proven its point.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled banned book programming to bring you this special non-banned-book review. Some of you may remember fellow Hampshire alum Pam Jones from my post back in October of 2012. Her book, formerly self-published as Every Good Boy Deserves a Favor under the name Pam Hopkins, has since been picked up by Black Hill Press.
The new Black Hill edition, now titled The Biggest Little Bird, was published December 2013. I sat down with it last week and was swept up in a whirlwind of nostalgically seedy surrealism with a dash of the bizarre and a scoop of astute glimpses into the nature of ambition, guilt, and the so-called-innocence of childhood. Pam Jones was kind enough to let me interview her about the book, so be sure to check that out after.
The Biggest Little Bird is a magical realism novella set in the early 60s, as a new theme park, built upon a veritable Space Mountain of lies, is unveiled to an eager public. The book is shorter than the average novel, but the length alone is not what makes this a quick read. Read More…
THE DEFENDANT: The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. 25 years ago today all hell broke loose over this book. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (holy decree) stating that God wanted anyone associated with publishing this book assassinated.
THE VERDICT: No less than 58 dead, 242 wounded, banned in 21 countries, 6 bombings, and millions of people all over the world told to murder for their faith. Mass book-burnings were held, many major book retailers took it off the shelves, and many stores that did agree to sell it kept it behind the counter. The United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the affair. Rushdie had to live in hiding for nearly a decade.