Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate knds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?
(Man, I’m flashing back to when I was a young teenager, without any means of personal transport, when I would check Kids-in-Mind to make absolutely sure that some movies weren’t queerbaiting me and were definitely worth my time. Bless.)
On the one hand, I see the value. Cass has been recently talking about the immense frustration of trying to discern whether or not a book is about queer characters when the copy is so cagey. (And films, as well, hence my teenage days.) A rating system—especially coupled with something like Kids-in-Mind—could be used to identify things I want (respectful representations of the queer community!) and identify things I don’t want (wanton sexual violence, for example!). In fact, there’s already an MPAA-esque system for manga published in the US, which you can see here.
But, on the other hand… well, This Film Is Not Yet Rated is available on Netflix Instant at the moment, and the MPAA is well corrupt. It really shows you how the system is used to suppress things it simply doesn’t agree with, like women enjoying sex (thus Where the Truth Lies‘ NC-17 rating). I read American Gods at the tender age of thirteen—by the MPAA’s standards, the first fifty pages would merit it an NC-17. But that was a transformative and important book for me. In Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt details all the books he read as a kid that would be deemed “inappropriate” for him, but were integral for his development. If such a rating system would be implemented, where would David Levithan’s impending Two Boys Kissing fall? Would it fall out of the reach of young adults who want and may need to read it? (Put your hand down, teenage Clare.)
So no. I don’t think there should be a ratings system for books at all. Books were the only places as a kid that I felt I was being treated as an adult—as an individual capable of making her own choices. I don’t want to take that away from anyone.