Should Amazon Sell Super Filthy Filth Filth Filth?

October 19, 2013

Oh, my.

Let's take a look at three recent pieces that examine whether or not Amazon should allow self-published erotica writers to use the Amazon platform to sell works that depict incest or rape.

The first article, "How Amazon Cashes in on Kindle Filth," appeared on the Kernel and was written by one of their senior editors, Jeremy Wilson, whose biography reads:
Jeremy Wilson is a retired clarinettist and failed log merchant. If he fails as a journalist his mum will be disappointed but supportive.  
Cute.  Anyway, here's an excerpt from the article:
Amazon has strict guidelines for amateur authors who wish to self-publish with the Kindle Direct Publishing service. “We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts,” say the guidelines. “What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.”...[But] there is no evidence that Amazon is doing anything to police the smut being sold through its website, which in some cases appears perilously close to glorifying incest and child rape.
The Kernel goes on to provide a list of "of the most disgusting amateur sex fiction shorts available on Amazon," including titles like Don't Daddy, Daddy's Invisible Condom, and Daddy, No!  Though the titles come with disclaimers that the characters are all 18 and none of the characters are actually related by blood (stepfathers and such), this is not stuff the average reader would want to read.

What I think the Kernel would be shocked to learn, however, is that their list probably inadvertently lead to a surge in sales for these titles, introducing new readers to the wonderful world of Kindle porn.  Welcome, my friends.

The next article, "Why Amazon Should Keep Publishing Rape and Incest Porn," appears on On The Media.  It was written by producer PG Vogt, whose biography reads
iPhone or Android/Mac or PC? 
iPhone & Macbook. They were issued to me the day I became an insufferable Brooklyn cliché.
What word would the other producers use to describe you?
Chipotle-addicted.
What embarrasses you about your media diet?
I read too many advice columns.
Also cute.  Anyway, here's what Mr. Vogt has to say on this topic.
Since Kernel started writing about Amazon's back room, Amazon has deleted many of the offending titles without public comment. Which is too bad. I wish Amazon would say, aggressively, that they're for free speech, and that they won't ban a book just because it's a stomach-turning obscenity with no redeeming literary or cultural value....The best and worst thing you can say about Amazon is that they'll publish pretty much anything.
In the pre-Amazon Dark Ages, there were small towns where the only place to buy a book was Walmart. If you wanted a book that was too risque for America's most squeaky-clean retailer, you were in trouble....Amazon's role is to publish everything, even our culture's most irredeemable garbage.
In the Los Angeles Times, writer and journalist Hector Tobar wrote an article called "Self-published erotica writers strike back,"  Mr. Tobar's biography reads
I'm a novelist, journalist, and proud native of the city of Los Angeles.
Not as spicy as the other biographies, but it does inspire confidence in a fellow native Angeleno.  Anyhow, here goes:
What galls the self-published authors most is that their works take up themes that are commonly found in books published by serious literary authors, and in countless works of genre fiction produced by the nation's largest publishing houses and movie studios.
“Books and movies and shows about murder, incest and cannibalism will still be sold by these websites,” wrote the author Dalia Daudelin on her blog. “Dexter, Hannibal, Sleeping Beauty and Game of Thrones will not be removed, because it's a lot harder to bully people with the money for lawyers. This is censorship, and it's only being used against those who are self published.”
As someone who writes erotica (albeit not the kind of erotica cited in these articles) and uses Amazon to sell my stories, I have a vested interest in this question.

Although I couldn't find anything in the program guidelines for Kindle Direct Publishing regarding offensive content, I don't believe Amazon should have to define what is offensive.  What is offensive to me might not be offensive to you and vice versa.  I know there are court cases on this topic and I'm not pretending to be a lawyer.  But really.  Come on.  You can buy Human Centipede on Amazon and as far as I know, no one has claimed that by watching it, audience members will become German doctors who kidnap tourists and surgically attach their mouths to their anuses.

In short, this is America.  Land of the free.  Leave our smut alone, so that we can talk about how disgusting and horrible it is in public and jack off to it in private.