[This is for my cousin Victoria to whom I gave a completely facetious answer to this question and to whom I owe a better one.]
Making the World Safe for Puberty
I’ve seen an article making the Facelink rounds among a few of my friends recently. Meghan Cox Gurdon’s “Darkness Too Visible” bemoans the fact that fiction for young adults is a cesspit filled with all manner of luridly described unpleasantness:
Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.
If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.
You can go on and read the rest yourself if you want but you really don’t have to. Because if you have been at all sentient during the last, oh, four centuries, you’ve already read this argument many, many times. Often it is directed at specific titles or series (“Harry Potter is turning our kids into Satan-worshippers!); more often it is directed against entire genres (slasher films, sci-fi) or even wholesale forms of media (books, films, television, and video games in toto have all at one time or another been accused of corrupting the pure moral heart of our precious youth).