On Friday, I stumbled across a thread on Absolute Write that was already three pages when I started reading. By the time I got to the end of page 1, the thread was five pages long, and still growing. As of this morning, it is 9 pages long, with more than 200 posts.
It wasn’t another “Authors Behaving Badly” thread, though those always draw the crowds. No, this was on cruelty to animals in fiction. “How do you feel,” asked the original poster, “about scenes or incidents where the antagonist harms an animal?”
|Photo by Steve-h|
I was surprised at the strength of the reaction. While some folks took the opportunity to complain about it as a cliche–“Look at me, I’m super evil, I’m going to harm this animal!”–others, many others, in fact, argued against it on a different level.
“I stop reading. And you go on my “never buy again” list.
Vivisection innocent girls. Decapitate babies. Blow up cities. Destroy civilizations. I’m OK. Hurt an animal, and I stop reading. It’s just a line that I can’t forgive being crossed by any storyteller (all media).”
The spirit of the above response (do anything you want to people, but don’t you dare kill an animal) was echoed by a surprising number of people. There was much talk of book hurling and blacklisting, but not as much talk about why. Fortunately, there was also talk about ways the action could be altered so that it wouldn’t be so…tropey, for lack of a better word. And, as often happens, the discussion veered off into discussions of culture and other things, though I’ve sort of lost track of it.
It reminded me more than a little of this post by E.L. Wagner, who also took the time to ponder the reasons for this reaction in a very rational way. I suggest you pop over there and take a read; it’s worth it.
I don’t have time to get into it today in any greater detail than this. I’m curious, however: how do you feel about animal deaths in fiction? Is it all a question of how it’s done, or does it trigger an immediate, “Stop reading now” reaction?
Have a great week, see you on Friday!