Wednesday, September 7, 2016

So Apparently Audible Warns You About "Diverse Content"

I signed up for my free month with Audible.com, Amazon's audiobook company. I like being able to listen to a book while driving or doing chores.

Plus, there's been a book on my TBR pile for a while: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot. I got it and finished listening. I'll review it here in a bit, but for now I'll say it was one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.

The thing that annoyed me was that once I got to the download screen, I noticed that contained under the book information was a little warning box. A warning about "diverse content."

Eh?

A Wish After Midnight is the story of an African American girl from Brooklyn. One night, she makes a wish at a fountain and finds herself transported back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn. There, she has to survive and get back to her own time.


Image result for a wish after midnight
Also, hooray for introverted protagonists, ordinary people, and others who don't normally make it into fantasy novels. Because they're pretty much all in this book.

It's pretty clear from the synopsis that the book contains some heavy issues, such as, I don't know...the Civil War and how black Americans are treated by society then and now. And Jenna is an African American girl, but her dad is from Panama, and her family also has Native American heritage, so the character is "diverse" in that sense. She and her boyfriend are also members of a minority religion. 

But I don't really believe that the "diverse content" sticker is supposed to warn you about all that. Anyway, are all those things we really need to be warned about? For fuck's sake, A Game of Thrones has a character eat a horse heart and ride around on dragons in fantasy-Asia -- yet we need a "diverse content" warning about a normal kid from modern-day Brooklyn? I don't fucking think so. 

I suspect "diverse content" is in place just to make sure you don't buy a "black book" by mistake. 

But if you'd looked at the cover, you'd know that A Wish After Midnight is about African American characters. If you have a problem with that, you probably haven't gotten to the stage where Audible warns you about it. (Which appears to be only after you purchase the thing, which is also weird.)

Or maybe it's a coded warning that "this book contains the n-word." But again, if you'd read the synopsis, you'd know A Wish After Midnight is about the Civil War. So even if you were offended by it, you might not necessarily be surprised. And if that's what they meant, then why not use a language advisory? "This book contains adult language and racial slurs."

This weird little content warning just seems like another gate kept by Amazon's mysterious censorship gods. Like, watch out! You might end up reading "diverse content" in books about characters different from you!

Different from you. That's the implication here that really bugs me, I think. The assumption that their audience is all the other things the characters are not (namely, white) and might need a warning so as not to be shocked. 

I know I put "Diverse Reads" tags on some of my book reviews. But, hopefully, I seem as though I'm trying to promote diversity, rather than warn about it. Doing the Diverse Reads series is an attempt on my part to read more widely and to let others know about more of these books. Looking at Audible's content warning, I really, really hope it hasn't come across in the wrong way. :P

I tried to see whether Audible puts "diverse content" tags on books with themes other than race, but the warning doesn't seem to pop up before the final stage (and I'm too broke to try and find a pattern). If I purchase Mind Games, which has a blind protagonist, a depressed protagonist, and a graphic depiction of a suicide attempt, will I get a "diverse content" warning?

Or is it really a race thing?

*squints suspiciously at Audible*

I think I'm going to try Nook Audiobooks for the time being. 

2 comments:

  1. What the hell? Well I don't know what that 'diverse content warning' means exactly. But I'm already offended so Boooooo! Anyway thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      On all the things to put a content warning about, that seemed wrong to me.

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