Take modern music and literature, for example, both topics and industries of which I am intimately familiar. With modern popular music, whether it is rock, hip-hop or anything else, you can write songs all day long about every sin and vice under the sun and not be branded in a negative way. The industry loves to promote songs and artists that openly promote drug use, violence, profanity, and prejudice, not to mention the more fringe topics of Satan worship, witchcraft and sorcery – and how are these songs and acts categorized? As plain ol’ “Rock” or “Hip-Hop,” etc…, but let there be a song or act that promotes Christian values, even in the most subtle and unobtrusive ways and the music industry is fast and voracious to brand them “Christian” as in “Christian Rock” or the even more career-damaging and demeaning, “Christian Hip-Hop” (b/t/w have you heard any Christian Hip-Hop on the radio lately? Neither have I.)
I’m sure there are people with diverse views about this. Some Christians would say, “Its okay, we have “Christian” rock radio stations, so we can just tune into them – but my point is, so YOU might tune into a Christian rock station, but what about the rest of the world? Most people, me included, don’t consider “Christian” to be a type of music, let alone a type of rock music. One of the reasons why we all listen to radio stations at all is to hear a MIX of songs and acts, within a genre. If everyone else were treated like Christian artists were, then we should have “Druggie Rock” featuring such acts as Guns-n-Roses and the Grateful Dead and “Gay Rock” featuring Elton John and KT Lang, etc. Yeah, there was “gangsta rap” but that didn’t last very long, did it? The industry is well aware that it is much better NOT to label these artists by their messages, because who would listen to them then? The industry knows that if you want to give an artist or song the widest audience, you DON’T label them too specifically. So, Classic Rock is good enough for some of these acts and Hip-Hop is good enough for others, but NOT SO when it comes to any act that promotes Christian values or world view – then they are slapped with the Scarlet C.
I’m dealing with this now in my new career. Here I am, an aspiring author writing what I think are good works of entertaining fiction, but as soon as the “industry” saw that I had a positive-Christian world view and message, my works were branded with the Scarlet C and by branding my work as “Christian” they have marginalized it to the point that virtually no one would read it (if they got their way).
Do you want to know what is more insanely ridiculous? Even the so-called “Christian fiction” industry doesn’t want to promote my debut novel because it doesn’t fit with what I call their “dismal demographic” – that is – can you believe this – the average person that walks into a “Christian” bookstore and purchases Christian fiction is a middle-age+ mid-western lady who currently likes to read novels about the Amish!!! Now, if you are scratching your heads reading this and saying out loud, “WHAT?!” imagine how I feel?!
What really ticks me off is that nowadays, a person can write fiction novels about boys growing up to be sorcerers, we all know Harry P., but Ms. Rowling’s novels weren’t branded “Sorcerer Fiction;” and one can even write novels with OPENLY BLASPHEMOUS premises, like THE DAVINCI CODE, about the possibility of Jesus Christ of Nazareth having been married to and fathering a child with Mary Magdalene! (If that ain’t blasphemy, then I don’t know what is) and do you know what genre the industry labeled it, “mystery-detective fiction!” Hmm, you mean they DIDN’T label it “OPENLY BLASPHEMOUS FICTION?” lol…
Now, let me end this by making my feelings clear on all of the above. I am NOT saying we should brand Elton John “Gay Rock” or categorize The DaVinci Code “Blasphemous Fiction,” in fact quite the contrary! What I AM saying is that, MY WORK SHOULD NOT BE LABELED CHRISTIAN FICTION! I know, “g, you’re shouting at us” – no, I’m not …I’m shouting at these industries!
I AM going to release my novels – if I have to sell them directly to the world! I AM not satisfied with – the best I’m supposed to hope for is to get picked up by a “Christian” publisher, who probably won’t promote my novel because it wouldn’t appeal to the average middle-aged lady living in the mid-west who is looking for the next novel about an Amish girl’s sordid romance with the farmer’s daughter from the next town over! It’s true, my novel probably wouldn’t, but then again, it WOULD appeal to the hundreds of millions of other readers out there that just like to read great works of fiction… like me.
What do you think?