If you had told me that the month of May on bookish Twitter was going to end like this, I wouldn’t have believed you. I mean, sometimes I think the bar for authors to behave is literally on the fucking ground, but hoo boy, some of these people have got industrial shovels.
Let me preface this entry in the Galit Na Naman Si Tita series with the following premises:
- Unlike my previous entries where I was more disappointed or frustrated, this time, I actually am mad. I am steaming, boiling mad.
- ALL OF THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF PEOPLE LEARNED HOW TO MAKE PRIVATE LOCKED ACCOUNTS, IT IS NOT THAT HARD.
All right, let’s get started.
I don’t particularly care to Sherlock Holmes this situation in as in-depth a manner as I possibly can (and honestly if you’ve been around Twitter in the past 72 hours, you probably have a vague idea of what went down), so here’s a quick summary. A bunch of YA authors started talking about how they shipped Jon Snow and Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones (who for those not in the know, they were raised as brother and sister and later on in the show discover they are actually cousins). This shipping included notable phrases like, “I DON’T CARE IF THEY’RE RELATED, THEY BELONG TOGETHER.” (Yes, really.) Naturally, these authors got called out. This somehow led to a whole bunch of YA authors defending their right to ship incest (which…uh…weird hill to die on, but okay) and also basically saying that there are no teenagers on Goodreads or Twitter, and even if they were, they wouldn’t care about authors shipping incest.
The morality and ethics of shipping incest (and wow, there’s a phrase I never thought I’d ever type) aside, there’s something about the all-around attitude of the YA authors involved in this brouhaha that immensely bothers me. A shit ton of them don’t actually care about their audience. After all, if they did, they wouldn’t be defending their right to post questionable content by saying patently untrue things like “there are no teens on Goodreads or Twitter” (which, what the fuck, a cursory search would have proven this false).
I’m not a YA book blogger. The books I read and feature on my blog run the gamut from adult to middle grade. Technically speaking, my target audience is not strictly teenagers. And yet, here’s the thing: I’m very careful about what I say and present as normal and acceptable anyway. Why? Because the sheer fact that I read and feature YA and MG books on my blog automatically means that I am going to have a YA and MG audience, and with that comes the innate responsibility of making sure that the content I provide is not harmful or toxic.
Yes, I said innate. Because producing content for the world to consume puts the onus on you, the creator, to make sure that content is safe for consumption. And that, Jesus good God almighty, includes the tweets you spew out onto that hellish website.
I talked about this a little bit in my post On Being a Critical Reader and Book Blogger. In that essay, I wrote how, the minute we position ourselves as book bloggers, whose opinions will be read by an audience that could possibly be influenced by them, we have a responsibility to be as informed and as aware as we possibly can, and to keep on learning and bettering ourselves. The same goes for authors – in particular YA and MG authors, precisely because their target audience is much, much younger.
I’ll repeat what I said in my post on responsible book blogging. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to become a YA author. You did that all on your own, and the minute that your book went out into a world where it would be read by teenagers and children, the minute you market yourself as a professional selling a product, you owe it to the audience who will consume your content to make sure that that content isn’t toxic or harmful or just plain gross.
In short? If you’re going to ship incest, at least make it clear that its an unacceptable thing IRL and admit that your ship is toxic and problematic and not the “oh, they’re so cute together, they have such good chemistry” bullshit y’all have been shoving in Twitter’s face.
Does that mean that you, as a person, are responsible for the value formation and role modeling of teenagers and of children? Of course not. You’re not their parents, after all. But I firmly believe that marketing yourself as a content provider for that particular age range demands a certain standard of behavior in public spaces. Twitter is one such public space; and not promoting and defending incest is one such standard of behavior.
This is why God invented incognito mode, DMs, and locked private accounts, praise His name. 🙄
Oh, and it goes without saying, but when literal goddamn minors publicly state that your behavior is making them uncomfortable? YOU CUT THAT SHIT OUT. NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS.
There are a ton of teen book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers who make this community a more enriching and rewarding place. They are not dumb. They are not ignorant. But at the same time, there are also things that they aren’t comfortable or ready to see or discuss. There are definitely things that shouldn’t be normalized or made to seem okay around them – or anyone, for that matter.
Here’s the best advice I can give to anyone producing content for a teen audience. LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.
Because I guarantee, they’re listening to you as well.
Ya tita, out.