Paul Ruditis’ new book, Rainbow Party, is establishing a new low point for the sexual exploitation of young people. The book is about teenagers who plan an oral-sex party and ask each of the girls to wear a different color of lipstick. Welcome to the hormonally charged and morally debased world of “young adult” publishing.
As for Simon & Schuster, the book’s proud publisher, this is what is posted on the company’s Web site: “Rainbow Party is a cautionary tale about a group of teens faced with the prospect of attending a party involving oral sex. The novel spotlights each of their diverse viewpoints in the hours leading up to the party. It explores what each teen has — and has not — been up to sexually, and why. And ultimately, why they would consider going to a party like this in the first place. This book addresses important and timeless issues relevant to teens, including self-esteem, peer pressure, awareness about STD protection, and making an informed and educated decision about readiness for sexual activity. It was inspired by numerous news reports about the prevalence and attitudes among teens towards certain types of sexual behavior, and is intended to engage readers in this real-life issue in a responsible and constructive fashion.”
Well, then. So it’s “responsible and constructive” to present a story about young teenagers who are “friends with benefits” and engage in sexual escapades with multiple partners? The story’s inclusion of rather explicit information about sexually-transmitted diseases is hardly a sign of taking the high road. After all, there is always a condom. Such is the logic of the “safe sex” regime.
Ruditis told Publishers Weekly: “Part of me doesn’t understand why people don’t want to talk about [oral sex]. . . . Kids are having sex and they are actively engaged in oral sex and think it’s not really sex. I raised questions in my book and I hope that parents and children or teachers and students can open a topic of conversation through it. Rainbow parties are such an interesting topic. It’s such a childlike way to look at such an adult subject — with rainbow colors.” Ruditis’ comments are reflective of the perverted moral logic that inverts reality and considers teenagers holding “rainbow parties” to represent nothing more than “a childlike way to look at such an adult subject.” Parents, know your enemy.
Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster is also set to release a new set of books in The Hardy Boys series. The Hardy Boys books were a big part of my young reading life. I was introduced to the books by Mrs. Lewis in the third grade, who read The Tower Treasure to our class after lunch period. The first book was so popular that she read through several of the books over the course of the year. Nancy Drew never stood a chance.
I sometimes snuck a flashlight into bed in order to read the books under cover. We boys all wanted to be Frank or Joe Hardy, or at least to solve mysteries, drive fast cars and boats, and experience various adventures. The books were safe, wholesome, and interesting.
It looks like the series will stay that way. Harper’s Magazine published a leaked excerpt from the writers’ guidelines for the new series in its June 2005 issue [this document is not available on-line]. Nothing objectionable here. The boys are brave and true–and unemotional. “There’s nothing that could drive Frank or Joe to tears because they’re too gutsy and determined to behave that way.” No sniveling cry-babies here.
Look carefully at these instructions: “Dialogue no-no’s include long speeches, cursing, vulgar references, and taking the Lord’s name in vain (including the term ‘jeez’). For example: Positive, upbeat: ‘Wow!’ ‘All right!’ ‘Great!’ ‘Believe it!’ Negative, sarcastic: ‘Rats!’ ;’Yeah, right’ ‘Yeah, yeah’ ‘Yuck!’ ‘Oh, boy.” The guidelines also suggest grunts in the place of expletives in the case of stress or pain.
There’s more: “As mentioned previously, this is a modernized series, with a healthy dose of realism. This has to carry over into the types of crimes that the Hardys tackle. Without exception, these should be major, modern, and filled with action. . . . Murder is acceptable, as long as you restrain yourself from passing along all the gory details. In other words, someone can be shot and killed, but the reader’s eyes must be averted from the resulting puddles of blood.”
As for sex: “There isn’t any, not even in the Hardys stories of today. Bayport’s teenagers do display a healthy interest in the opposite sex. Romantic situations, however, can never be allowed to develop beyond the kissing and hugging stage.” The writers were further instructed to avoid all sexual references, off-color remarks, and references to drugs. The boys are allowed to eat fast food and hang out at the mall.
Finally, “End your penultimate chapter with a major cliffhanger. The final chapter then features the villain being foiled, killed, and/or captured, as our heroes bask in glory.”
This little corner of civilization has been saved, earthlings. But how can the same publisher release both Rainbow Party and The Hardy Boys? Here we certainly face a bizarre concept of market segmentation.
This much is clear–the Hardy Boys will not be attending any rainbow parties. You can count on that.
PRESS COVERAGE ON RAINBOW PARTY: National Ledger, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews.