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Friday, December 06, 2013

:-( I've Had A Column Censored...

cen·sor  (snsr)
1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.

This is a first for me.

As a former weekly newspaper humour columnist, it wasn't unusual to have readers grumbling about the subjectivity of humour. As Dave Barry has reminded us over the years, there are people that are just humour-impaired.

However, I received an email from my current editor, regarding a letter and some calls he was getting regarding my recent entertainment review. It was with respect to a tongue-in-cheek reference to choosing the best song in the show, and in that I compared that process to Sophie's Choice - which was the ignition point for some readers.

The Urban Dictionary currently describes the definition of Sophie's choice as: 

"From the novel and film of the same name, an impossibly difficult choice, especially when forced onto someone. The choice is between two unbearable options, and it's essentially a no-win situation.""

That is the point I approached my comments from - however I did acknowledge to my editor that there is a delicate balance, and agreed that I could have made a better choice.

However, the online version of the column has now been pulled, which is unfortunate for the venue that relies on those reviews, so I regret that unfortunate collateral damage.

The ironic part is that as I was talking with my wife about it last night, the TV was on in the background, and as it happened, we were both jolted from our conversation by the latest episode of CBS's The Millers, using Sophie's Choice in the same general vein of comedy, for laughs. Have to admit, I'm not a fan, we don't watch the show, but it was a funny scene.

I track my online rankings religiously, and the column had the highest number of "Likes" I have ever had for a review (they now shift feedback to a Facebook page), and was continuing to grow almost a week after appearing in the paper.

As a Google Search result, it was also ranked highly, alternating with competing reviews for first place.

Not much I can do except try to learn from the experience.

The real world being what it is, if I had made a comment about Garfield struggling to decide between two lasagnas, the paper could have received comments from upset cat lovers. That is the fine line that separates humour writers from other opinion columnists.



Mrs That Dan Guy said...

I have to say Sophie's choice is used often and the editor, since he saw fit to censor "after the fact", should have actually "edited" in the first place. Bowing to one or 2 readers instead of demonstrating how commonplace this phrase is, is, in my mind, ridiculous. Too bad, it was an excellent review. (Hence the many "likes" you were receiving.

ThatDanGuy said...

Well, it was never my intention to throw my wonderful editor under the bus, but to illustrate how difficult it is to please everyone - I was just surprised to see the online version yanked, based on that....