When we discussed the awards given to When Everything Feels Like the Movies, as well as the petition attempting to have the book removed from the Canada Reads list in class, I was intrigued to say the least. After finishing the book, I was mortified (both by the tragic ending and the sad statement the book made about society), but honestly not shocked to discover that this text was based on the true story of an openly gay 15-year-old California boy who was murdered in 2008 by a fellow student he’d asked to be his Valentine.
In my opinion, the people trying to censor this book are missing what this book is about. Despite the book containing explicit language, sex, self-mutilation, & death – this book is really not about any of those things. Emily M. Keeler says it best in her article in the National Post
“It’s sickening to me that the moral panic surrounding the book regards teens reading about blow jobs and not its painfully, stylishly wrought portrayal of kids being bullied to death, or growing up with fear because it’s not safe for them to be who they are.”
Censoring young adults from books like When Everything Feels Like the Movies, is really censoring young adults from reading books about the real world.
While people complained that Raziel Reid could have written the book in “a more appropriate way, with less vulgar language”, I disagree. This book was about the everyday life of Jude, and whether adults want to admit it or not, for some young adults, their everyday looks a lot like Jude’s. Raziel Reid responded to comments about censorship and the appropriateness of his novel with the following statement:
“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one – and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies.”
In Keeler’s article, she discusses the author Kathy Clark, who writes children’s books about real historical events and also signed the petition against Raziel Reid’s novel being on Canada Reads list; suggesting that Clark’s purpose parallels Reid’s. What is so different about talking to youth about the horrible events of the holocaust and the horrible events of bullying an individual to the point of killing him? What is so different about the discrimination homosexuals suffer through, in comparison to anti-Semitism? The difference is 6 million Jews died in the holocaust, and there is nothing we can do to change that. Which in my opinion only increases the need for books like When Everything Feels Like the Movies to be written, to bring awareness to the discrimination occurring in our society, and stop it before it is comparable with the holocaust. Realistically the issue of discrimination due to sexuality is one we are not only dealing with currently, but also one our children will be faced with in the near future, they should probably be aware of the problem… no?
I would love to know you opinion on the “graphic” nature of When Everything Feels Like the Movies. Do you think Raziel Reid took it to far for a young adult text? Or do you feel the text was an accurate portrayal of society and youth culture today?
– Miranda MacKenzie
Keeler, M. Kelly “On Raziel Reid, and when everything feels like controversy.” Rev. of When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid. National Post 27 01 2015. Online.
Reid, Raziel. When Everything Feels Like The Movies. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014. Print.