I’ve found, trawling the net as I often do, a strange kind of cultural bias at work among some of the sites offering promotional services to independent authors, free or on commission based on sales resulting from said promos. Not unreasonably, a lot of them won’t have anything to do with pornography. I don’t write porn but I assume those authors who do can find plenty of X-rated sites offering reviews and promos. I honestly don’t know. Fifty Shades of Grey did pretty damn well, though, starting out as an Internet buzz. But it’s not porn I’m going to bang on about here (yes, oo-er!). It’s rude jokes—accepting them or shunning them, understanding them or not.
WOOF!, clearly marked as an adults-only comedy but containing no sex scenes whatsoever, is ineligible to be covered by some sites because the humour in the book is rude. It’s explicit without any sex, which is kind of a traditional British approach I deliberately brought to a very modern book. It’s nothing stronger than you’d see in a BBC3 comedy or on the front of a saucy seaside postcard, but one gets the feeling US audiences generally lean towards being more conservative than the British.
Add to this the ways in which Apple censors books and apps, or Facebook bans the female breast but male nipples are okay. Yet we’re the ones in Britain with the ill-deserved reputation of being Victorian prudes, when any cursory examination of our culture can throw up greats like Joe Orton, Oscar Wilde, Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Frankie Howerd… People who made careers partly out of innuendo and double entendre, served up with wit and intelligence.
Add to this, we’ve just legalised marriage equality for all, we fight homophobic bullying in schools, we let churches do their thing but churches can’t impose their thing on everybody else, we’ve no significant complaints about tits on TV or gay sex scenes in our dramas. Hardly the stuff of chastity belts and a prudish society.
It’s well known, outside the US at least, that American TV networks have bigger issues with sex than they do violence and I’m starting to suspect the same is true of some, by no means all, US-based book bloggers and review sites. Hence we find review after review of graphically violent werewolf and vampire stories. We also get violence and romance. We also get romance. Oh, and hunky topless men who are never sluts but are, instead, perfect gentlemen. Just perfect gentlemen with perfect bodies. I get there’s fantasy at work there. I hope nobody is writing this stuff thinking it’s reality at any rate. They’re just an actual sex scene, whip and submission scenario short of Fifty Shades territory.
That’s all fine. As I say, I don’t write porn but I do get that some like it, um, laid out bare while others prefer to use their imaginations. There’s just not very much humour to be found, or rather, funnies that are naughty but nice in nature. Americans do laugh at sex, I know they do—I distinctly remember just one of the reasons Sex and the City became popular was because it presented us with some hilarious sex scenes—and so, is it that, while we get their humour, they don’t get their heads around ours quite so easily? Where films are concerned, things are a bit different: often, American rude humour films come across to the British as puerile and fall flat, with some notable exceptions such as the first of the American Pie series (less so the sequels that proved the law of diminishing returns from what amounted to one joke about a penis in a dessert). And then there are the American celebrities who have made their names largely through being downright coarse, such as Joan Rivers and Bette Midler (arguably, though, these comedians aren’t saucy in the British sense and considerably less sophisticated in their vulgarity at times than even our politically incorrect Carry On films of the 1960s).
American readers who have bought WOOF! fall neatly into two opposing camps: those who get it and enthuse, who are often Anglophiles to begin with, and those who don’t get it at all. I’ve chatted to some American WOOF! fans on the social networks, often on Twitter specifically, and they’ve all been warm, fun-loving, liberal people. Back home in Britain, however, adults of all ages who have taken a chance on WOOF! have, in the majority, rated it five- and four-stars, often writing about how it’s the funniest book they’ve ever read. I set out writing it with that kind of review in mind, wanting to make people laugh and not take life too seriously, so I’m very happy to have delivered the goods. If just one reader is happy, I am too.
Of course, books and authors are like music and pop stars—what goes down a storm on one side of the Atlantic won’t necessarily make a splash on the other. WOOF! has a few haters on the UK side because you can’t please everyone all of the time and I knew it was a Marmite (love/hate) story when I wrote it. Have a look at WOOF!‘s Amazon UK and Amazon US pages. Feel free to discuss below. I’m not promoting any fixed idea here, mine are fluid and open to change and I hope yours are too. Different opinions and perspectives are always welcome. I’m just… interested in getting some conversation flowing, as to the nature of humour itself: how well it translates from nation to nation, culture to culture. Thanks for reading!