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August 22, 2008 9:50 AM   Subscribe

A book by children's author Jacqueline Wilson is to be removed from the shelves of British supermarket chain Asda and re-edited due to the inclusion of one 'rude' word. Is this an over-reaction?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (74 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is probably the wrong crowd to ask.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


I once saw a children's movie wherein an adult woman called a 10-year-old girl a "pissworm".

And yes, this is an over-reaction.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:57 AM on August 22, 2008


ASDA, BTW is the UK incarnation of WAL-MART.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on August 22, 2008


It's for 10 and over. I think they can take it.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 9:59 AM on August 22, 2008


Christ, what twats.
posted by GuyZero at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2008


What twats.
posted by pieoverdone at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2008


For the sake of argument, twat is sort of a you-know-what-hair away from a C-Bomb.
posted by The Straightener at 10:11 AM on August 22, 2008


The Guardian actually prints the word, I don't think that any US newspaper would.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2008


Twat's the big deal?
posted by naju at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was really hoping for the See You Next Tuesday.
posted by emd3737 at 10:17 AM on August 22, 2008


I find the whole concept that some words can be inherently bad to be amusing and sad, and the outrage entirely misplaced. Worry about real problems, like people being killed or dying from your country's various laws and customs, not which words people say.

Showing people being violently shot to death is okay for primetime TV, but we can't even SAY 'tit'. That's appalling.
posted by Malor at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


After reading the synopsis of the book, it is clear the book is aimed at a teen-aged audience. Taking the audience into consideration, I feel pulling the book is certainly an over reaction--or as the Brits would say: the move is "over-the-top". Twat is very commonly used in Britain. It would be equivalent to pulling a book, aimed at a teen-aged audience, in the US because someone was called "stupid".

It is sad to see this happening in Britain. I lived there for a year, and I loved the country's respect for diversity in thought. It's sad to see Brits making this decision, I pray this does not indicate, the far-right thinkers in Britain are getting a stronghold. If they do, the citizens will find themselves battling to hold onto the freedoms they hold so dear.
posted by teej at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Using the word in any context in a book written for children under ten - not good.

Using the word in a flippant or conversational context in a book written for children 10 and over - probably not good.

Using the word in a book written for children 10 and over, and having it said by a character who is clearly presented as coarse and rude in a context intended to establish that character - well, if that offends you, you probably won't like Huckleberry Finn, either.
posted by yhbc at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


um, do you think its an overreaction, sir?
posted by yonation at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2008


Possibly it's worth pointing out that for most people twat in the UK is a pretty mild swear word not having the sexual associations it has in the US. Well it did...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2008


Showing people being violently shot to death is okay for primetime TV, but we can't even SAY 'tit'. That's appalling.

I'd hate to suggest the duality of man, but would you feel better if I wrote 'Twat' on my helmet prior to capping off some rounds?
posted by jsavimbi at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2008


It's sad to see Brits making this decision

I wonder if, like the Mr. T thing, it wasn't actually Brits making the decision at ASDA.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


If those motherfuckers thing for a goddamned second I'll read shit like that to my kids they better get their fucking heads examined.
posted by docpops at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2008


Possibly it's worth pointing out that for most people twat in the UK is a pretty mild swear word not having the sexual associations it has in the US.

Also we can actually pronounce it.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Third link claims the word was used by a really bad character to show he's a really bad character. Now, the ending will need to be rewritten too so the boy (who uses the word "twit" instead) gets to go home with the girl.

It will then make a great movie with this Hollywood ending. Of course, with lots of premarital sex for them to object to at Wal-Mart Asda when it's released on DVD.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:26 AM on August 22, 2008


Don't let the kids read Goldfinger.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2008


A Metafilter post about some kids' book being removed from the shelves of a British supermarket generates serious discussion and overall bean-plating.
Is this an overreaction?
posted by rocket88 at 10:30 AM on August 22, 2008


A Metafilter post about some kids' book being removed from the shelves of a British supermarket generates serious discussion and overall bean-plating.
Is this an overreaction?


er... no? And why the fuck shouldn't it?
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on August 22, 2008


I always thought that 'twat' in the UK context was like the generic version of 'wanker' or even as mild as 'jerk.' It's like how 'fanny' in the US does not have the anatomical implications that it does in the UK.
posted by troybob at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2008


Weirdly* "fanny" on it's own isn't super-rude in the UK, though it makes for some great combinations.

* well, maybe not all that weird if you're not some kind of weirdo puritan who thinks any and all terms for female genitalia are grounds for a total freakout.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on August 22, 2008


So much of childhood has been stolen or corrupted over the last couple of decades. So I fully support removing this word from the book. Honestly, do you people want to rob children of the joy of discovering these words for themselves? Is a world where children no longer pore through a dictionary looking hopefully for usages marked vulgar one that we want to live in?

Should children be robbed of moments like this? Or the even funnier, but alas unlocatable moment where a presenter on Children's BBC got confused and called someone a "penisface"? I think not. Half the fun of swearing when you're a kid is that it's something you're not meant to do. Putting these words in books just ruins it. At least star it out (eg. t**t) so that kids can have hours (ok, minutes) of fun guessing what it is.
posted by xchmp at 10:49 AM on August 22, 2008


Ah, remember the old days, when 'gay' meant 'happy', and an innocent girl could spend all afternoon playing with her pussy and a ball of yarn without raising an eyebrow...
posted by troybob at 10:54 AM on August 22, 2008


Random House Children's Books received three complaints from parents about the use of the word "twat" in the book, which is aimed at children aged 10 years and over. Wilson, a former Children's Laureate, is an enormously popular author, and the book has already sold 150,000 copies in the UK since publication in March.

What's that, 0.002%? I'm all against mob rule etc., but I think that's a rather statistically insignificant number of complaints...
posted by djgh at 10:55 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll never understand why euphemisms for vagina - the portal through which we all must travel in order to live here - are the Most Hated Words In The World.

The vagina needs a publicist... [not labiaplasty].

Twat is my favourite epithet.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


These folks obviously Can't Understand Normal Thinking.
posted by fixedgear at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm directing this comedy right now about murder, casual sex, and people generally treating each other badly. The first time I worked on this show, it had a generous portion of swearing. This time around, the playwright removed all the swearing so that people would feel comfortable watching it with their kids.

Which is awesome, because now the kids will be able to watch a show about murder, casual sex and people generally treating each other badly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:05 AM on August 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


These folks obviously can't think outside the box.
posted by Tbola at 11:06 AM on August 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


Murder is wholesome, family-friendly subjet matter. Gruesome, innocence-crushing, graphic violence is good for kids. They LOVE it. Nudity and bad words are dangerous.

[/sarcasm]
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2008


Speaking over over-reaction, when a British athlete won an Olympic medal a couple of days ago and said "I'm so fucking happy" in a BBC interview, the beeb grovelled to apologize in case any viewers were offended. Twats.
posted by binturong at 11:26 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd hate to suggest the duality of man, but would you feel better if I wrote 'Twat' on my helmet prior to capping off some rounds?

Wouldn't make any difference to me. What you say is a lot less important than what you do. Offhand, I'd say the bullets were the important bit.
posted by Malor at 11:28 AM on August 22, 2008


Ideally it'd what it says above your head in my HUD anyway.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on August 22, 2008


Although we may run out of Pan Am coffee, we will never run out of TWA tea.
posted by mandal at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


chuckdarwin: I'll never understand why euphemisms for vagina - the portal through which we all must travel in order to live here - are the Most Hated Words In The World.

In the spirit of over the top complaints... can I object most profusely to the caesarean-ist logic in chuckdarwin's post?
posted by knapah at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2008


People born by caesarean are actually weird soul-less zombies. Have you never been to natural child-birthing classes?
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on August 22, 2008


Cesarean: I can't think out of the box? Buddy, I was born outside of the box!
posted by troybob at 11:44 AM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


[not caesarean-ist]
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:04 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good grief.

Watch the uncensored book become a collector's item.
posted by orange swan at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2008


Excellent. Just thought it provided a great opportunity to be a twat twit!

My sister was born by caesarean, I don't trust her. She definitely has some zombie tendencies.
posted by knapah at 12:12 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Outrage on behalf of purported children over these sorts of things -- "bad" words, nipple slips, etc. -- is quite rich considering that the bawdy, grotesque, and shocking (at least to our modern ears) is more or less how children have been entertained through stories, fairy tales, and stage shows for the past gathousand* years. (* Not an exact scientific measurement.)

I was just reading yesterday about the origins of the phrase "pleased as punch." I knew it came out of the traditional Punch and Judy shows (which themselves came from the Italian commedia dell'arte puppet character Polichinello) that have evidently entertained children for centuries, and I vaguely remembered that the shows involved puppets beating each other up. But I didn't realize that for the past, oh, 400 years or so, the basic storyline has revolved around Punch killing his baby, beating his wife to death, and then murdering in turn a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer, the hangman, death, and even the Devil. (The "pleased as punch" part comes about due to Punch's insane glee upon murdering everyone, which he traditionally celebrates with the catchphrase, “That’s the way to do it!”)

So. Twat? I'm pretty certain the children can deal with it.
posted by mothershock at 12:15 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


A book that has already sold a shitload of copies is getting bowdlerized by changing one letter in one word in its next edition to reach a wider audience. A Walmart-esque super-chain reacts at the slightest hint of controversy by taking something off its shelves which will then be put on somebody else's shelves and sell quite well to people who think the bowdlerization is an outrage. This is not news, just a PR coup for the book and its author. Far greater Crimes in the Name of Propriety are perpetrated by editors on authors every day but you never hear about them because they occur before the first edition is published. Nothing to see here.
posted by wendell at 12:21 PM on August 22, 2008


Twat is one of my favourite words just because of its many and varied uses: "I got twatted last night and ended up twatting some twat in the twat."

ASDA are being berks here, calling someone a twat is about as bad as calling 'em a pillock. At least according to cuntybollocks here.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 12:24 PM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


And for the record, I am caesaren-born (which is one of the reasons I'm an only child). Fear me, Macbeth.
posted by wendell at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2008


Ideally it'd what it says above your head in my HUD anyway.
posted by Artw


I couldn't have put that any more coherently better myself, Artw.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:25 PM on August 22, 2008


On the plus side, enterprising British teachers now have an object lesson in the nature of irony that today's kids will never forget: "You see, children, in order to protect you from seeing a certain mildly naughty word, they had to become it . . ."

Anyway, as Norman Mailer's soldiers would say, fug these Asda guys.
posted by gompa at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2008


"I was born by cesarean. But you can't really tell. Except, every time I leave a room, I go out through the window." - Steven Wright
posted by The Bellman at 12:29 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I love swearing."
posted by Skot at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2008


Watch the uncensored book become a collector's item.

I can see the eBay auction now: "For sale, My Sister Jodie. Collector's edition. Includes twat."
posted by Malor at 12:54 PM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Whilst we're on the subject of twats.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:05 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


God he's jealous.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on August 22, 2008


I was under the impression that "twat" was a pretty benign word in the UK, despite its same meaning, while here in the US it's pretty close to "cunt" in offensiveness (a word which also seems to be more benign, or at least used a lot more). Is that incorrect? For example, didn't the UK movie poster for 24 Hour Party People have "Genius. Poet. Twat." printed on it over pictures of the actors playing Ian Curtis, Shaun Ryder and Tony Wilson respectively?
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:07 PM on August 22, 2008


What's with the bloody fucking shitstorm every time some cunt says a certain goddamned word?
posted by tehloki at 1:31 PM on August 22, 2008


God he's jealous.

He should be. Jay-Z is 10 times the performer that Noel Gallagher will ever be.

"Blargh, Britpop is dead and I can't get away with covering Rubber Soul over and over any more. Hey guys, look at me! I'm being a complete asshole! Please interview me!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:37 PM on August 22, 2008


Cunt is such a very useful word. It seems perfectly designed to describe, for instance, the current POTUS.
posted by binturong at 3:08 PM on August 22, 2008


Really? I’d use Chimp.
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on August 22, 2008


Whilst we're on the subject of twats.

Will somebody just give him his own weekly column already?
posted by chillmost at 3:15 PM on August 22, 2008


Top Tip: at work we use 'twunt' (stolen from b3ta), because, being a made-up word, it isn't yet in the IT Dept's filth filter, and so can be used in email banter between team-mates.

So yeah, Asda are a bunch of twunts, no doubt about it.
posted by essexjan at 3:18 PM on August 22, 2008


Fear me, Macbeth.

That did not wendell for him.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:21 PM on August 22, 2008


Twuntfest
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:23 PM on August 22, 2008


Overreaction for a store chain in the UK, definitely.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:25 PM on August 22, 2008


Twunt, a blend of twat and cunt (I've always presumed), isn't a b3ta creation. Me mam's in her 70s and uses that word quite often. Normally when talking about me stepdad. Or me, thinking on it.

My favourite sweary frankenword is custard.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 4:26 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this over-reaction. Bear in mind that although twat and prat are broadly the same in meaning the latter is probably slightly milder.
posted by an egg at 4:50 PM on August 22, 2008


an egg: Calling a kid who is talking in class a prat wouldn't be a big deal. Writing an insult on the kid's forehead would be, regardless of the word chosen.

Hang on. That article has a claim that the kid was fined for talking in class. Fined! What is the world coming to? Back in my day the teachers just caned you across the eyes and that was the end of the matter.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 5:08 PM on August 22, 2008


I always thought 'twat' was more like 'twit' in British English. So yes, total overreaction (if you follow that line of reasoning).
posted by plep at 5:38 PM on August 22, 2008


I think it's rude that when I loaded the front page, this thread had 69 comments. EDIT IT.
posted by davejay at 1:17 AM on August 23, 2008


Isn't twit the combination of nit-wit and twat?
posted by Bitter soylent at 9:32 AM on August 23, 2008


I'm British, and a Dad, and I don't think that twat should be in a kids book. If it's not a word you'd be comfortable calling your Mum to her face; or a word you'd be displeased your own kids calling you, then it seems reasonable that it shouldn't be in a kids book. Sure it's not going to 'damage' the kids, but that's not quite the point is it.
posted by zeoslap at 7:09 PM on August 23, 2008


Oh, look, this is much the same as the age banding thing, it's about selling books without booksellers.

This is what My Sister Jodie looks like. That cover was drawn by Nick Sharratt, who mostly draws children's picture books. Thanks to (among other things) Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson is very popular with children who are honestly too young for the themes of the books.

Asda are covering their arses because if a child of, say, eight picks up My Sister Jodie from their bookshelves, there will be no member of staff to say 'that book is not suitable for your child', to a mum or dad who just sees a fairly jolly Nick Sharratt illustration on the front, when they're already frazzled in a supermarket with their kids, but who might later spot a 'twat' and kick up a fuss.
posted by featherboa at 7:10 AM on August 26, 2008


Twatvomit?
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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