What? You wanted to hear about the cruise? Next post. On catching up with LJ today, I discovered there's this kerfluffle about authors who 'overrate' their fics and are paranoid, and by extension, sites that are overprotective of minors reading fics that are rated NC17. You can read about it in harmonyfb's journal and luna_k's journal if you're so inclined. Here's my minor rant on the topic...
As a writer, I *do* overrate my fics. Excessively. I realize that, really I do. It makes me feel flat-out silly to have put an NC-17 rating on some of the schmoop I've written. I know what NC-17 is, and that ain't it. Among adults, it makes me look ridiculous. Except I presume most of them know exactly why I do it. As usual, when I assume, I do that thing. ass-u-me. So here's me, pontificating again.
I read a bunch of steamy romances when I was a teen, as well as Heinlein and a lot of other SF/F that might have actually qualified as NC17. If I'd read them online in 2003 at the age of 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 or 16, it would have been considered illegal, too.
And also as it stands today, I'm pretty sure nothing I've written qualifies as NC-17 by motion picture rating standards. But I've NC-17'd any of them that mention body parts or describe sexual acts explicitly, mainly because I want to be sure I've made the point *clearly* that I'm not targeting a child audience with my writing. NC-17 ratings protect me clearly as a writer. They won't stop a parent from coming after me when Johnny gets caught reading my ridiculously vanilla-scented, purple-tinted smutfic, but they make my intended *adult and legal* audience clear as a bell. That's important in a world where the PTC (of which, btw, my mother is a member, which gives me no *end* of headaches) works every day to punish creativity and originality when anything that remotely smacks of sexuality is concerned. I'd be even more paranoid if I had the ability to write that delicious darkfic that so many authors of legitimately NC-17-rated fics write.
I am also the owner of an archive that has what's probably one of *the* most obnoxious NC-17 warnings out there. I even use it on R fics. And there's one fic that has an "I'm 18" warning on it. I'd say that one crosses more than the usual number of lines, and it is absolutely, positively not suitable for any underage readers or many adult readers, frankly.
The age warning on the Sandlot will pop up on every single chapter of an adult targeted fic, and it will remove the page with fic on it if a person doesn't click "Yes" on the "Are you 17 or older" question. I find it annoying myself. I also find it annoyance worth bearing for the sake of having the right to read so much wonderful adult writing online. There's so little decent erotica in the soft-shelled world that I treasure what I find that's good here in cyberspace. And this little warning mechanism can be lied to just as easily as Yahoo's or many others. But you know what it does in that case? It turns responsibility for breaking the law away from my site and onto the person who lied. As long as I can prove in court (log files are great) that Little Janie told me explicitly that she was of age, her parents accusations that I'm an evil corrupter of children deliberately holds less than zero water. It's not all *that* different from the legal disclaimer on the bottom of every single page of the site that gives proper credit for the shows referred to by the content of the site. It shows I'm doing my damnedest to be a law abiding citizen while supporting the massive creative energy of this fabulous fan community.
Got a little off the point there, didn't I? But you know what? I like the archive, the germ of its creation came from ff.net's ridiculous choice to delete all adult fiction from its site rather than go to the trouble of setting up good protections (they exist -- see Yahoo's methods, or any of several other examples that have held up in court). That said, I don't want the site at risk for being deleted by my ISP or having myself become the target of some kind of predator lawsuit. I consider it my *job* to be sure that I've done what's necessary to ensure that we're not breaking any laws with the site, and if it annoys you, well, most of the fic that's there is archived elsewhere, too. Or you could sign up at the yahoo groups it's archived from (where you'll have to tell your age to gain admittance to the smut). But you won't read it at my site if you tell me you're not 17. It's not about right or wrong, it's about the *law*.
As for the parts of the kerfluffle that concern parenting... Well, let's just say I've more blunt in public on LJ than questioning the methods by which another user was parented. Basically, I don't know that I believe there is a *single* "right" method of parenting, but I do believe that there are better and worse ways, and I think that all of the better ways teach respect for other folks' rights. On the count of obnoxious, overbearing, overrated fics/warnings, it's both a legal issue and a respect issue. The law makes it clear that it is illegal to provide sexually explicit materials to a minor over the internet. Whether or not you believe the laws are right/proper/good, they are, in fact, the laws, and anyone who publicly encourages violating those laws or who openly admits lying to/ignoring warnings shows a lack of respect (intended or not) for the fic writers and archive owners whose creative endeavors are put at risk by that behavior.
As for the question of whether I think it's *right* for there to be laws that create this situation in an online environment that doesn't exist in the same way in the offline world, it's a whole other debate. Hopefully, luna will give that question another stab without the jabs at folks who are simply acting in defense of their fics and sites, because I do think it's an interesting question.