I have long discussed the problems with integrating infanticide and other heinous forms of physical child abuse into a storyline. If Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER doesn’t demonstrate the problem in abundant terms, I don’t know what does. The book was first published in 1993, so it’s taken 21 years for it to make the big screen (the movie is to be released shortly). And this book is Sci-Fi and not Horror or another self-aggrandizing genre.
I recently watched HOSTEL 2 to get an idea of the level cinematic gore has reached, and I was shocked, not by the silly plot and ridiculously portrayed characters, but that a character was “allowed” to shoot a child in the head. Even though this young boy, who appeared to be no more than 10, had been part of a group of kids kicking around a freshly decapitated head as if it were a soccer ball, I was concerned that this scene got by the censors.
Regardless of what’s allowed in the movies, people don’t want to read about children being mutilated or murdered in a gratuitous manner (I hope the latter makes sense, as I can’t think of another way to express myself on this subject). And it doesn’t matter if the murders are via a serial killer and it’s this person’s victim demographic. Am I saying there’s not a market for this sort of material? Of course not, as there are people who relish visceral imagery and the ages of the prey are not of the least consequence. It’s mainstream publishing I’m discussing, as editors at the major imprints find child mutilation and murder right along with pedophilia as a knockout for a story. My advice to anyone writing about children is to read Ms. Lowry’s book and see how your story fits in with her relatively mild treatment of a disgusting subject. In her book, children are culled from society, and a specific child is killed and this death drives the plotline–but in the movie the child doesn’t die. Please believe me, there’s a moral in this somewhere.