Ink Spells talked about ratings before, and now I want to delve into some of the differences between visual and print media.
Parents are used to monitoring what movies their children see, with the MPAA ratings system helpful in a general way to scout out visual land mines that might be awaiting you at the theatre. Common Sense Media rates movies as they’re released and is a more comprehensive guide. And this is good, because watching disturbing violence on a thirty foot screen can be a visceral experience, strongly impacting young children.
But what if that same violence is in a book?
On the one hand, I believe that book violence is less graphic. Unless it is described in evocative sensory detail, book violence is often left to the imagination. When the reader is eight, the imagined scene is much different than the violence imagined by a 35 year old director as he is translating it to the big screen.
On the other hand, the pen is mightier than the, er, screen in some ways: while visual media can be an onslaught to the senses, the written word engages the entire imagination. The feelings evoked in the core of the imaginary world can be just as strong – frightening, joyful, painful – as real ones.
If you’ve read The Tell Tale Heart, you know what I mean.
The ratings here on Ink Spells are designed to give you a peek inside, without having to read the entire book. Disturbing themes or scenes, graphic violence or sexual situations, can all be yellow signs of caution for a book just as much as a movie. And in some cases, things that may go quickly over the heads of young moviegoers may sink in at a much deeper level when read.
What do you think, gentle readers, about the power of visual vs. print media?