Banned books/unbanned video games


If Hamlet was alive today would he say, ‘Something is rotten in the state of America?’

The Los Angeles Times published a list today, “The 15 most banned books in America this school year.” (Since many readers may not be able to access the link to the Times’ story, I’ve also included a PDF at the end of this post.):

Here’s the list (statistics from PEN America):

  • 1. “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe.(2019 – 56 bans/150 challenges)
  • 2. “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson. (2020 – 38 bans/86 challenges)
  • 3. “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. (1970– 32 bans/73 challenges)
  • 4. “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez. (2015 – 31 bans/50 challenges)
  • 5. “Flamer” by Mike Curato. (2020 –25 bans/62 challenges)
  • 6. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. (2017 –24 bans)
  • 7. “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins. (2004 – 24 bans/48 challenges)
  • 8. “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison. (2018 – 23 bans/54 challenges)
  • 9. “Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins. (2009 – 21 bans)
  • 10. “This Book Is Gay” by Juno Dawson. (2014 – 21 bans/48 challenges)
  • 11. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. (2007 – 21 bans/52 challenges)
  • 12. “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. (2007 – 20 bans)
  • 13. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews. (2012 – 20 bans/48 challenges)
  • 14. “Sold” by Patricia McCormick. (2006 – 18 bans)
  • 15. “Melissa” by Alex Gino. (2015 – 18 bans)

As you’ll see if you read the complete article, the themes covered by these books include, LGBTQ+ issues, race, child abuse, interracial relationships, suicide prevention, drug addition and sexual slavery. Several of the books were literary award winners; many were best sellers; some have been made into films.

To put both these bans and the current state of American culture and politics into perspective, the American Library Association. reports that in 2022 a record 1,269 demands were made to restrict or ban books and other materials in schools and libraries — up from 156 demands in 2020.

As I read the Times article, it struck me that while conservative zealots are banning books, ensuring that American students won’t learn about the real world, about real American history, about real people who might be their fellow-students, their friends, their neighbors, even their family members – these same ideologues have been noticeably silent about another phenomenon, dare I say crisis, that is affecting…more precisely…corrupting their children’s minds: Violent video games!

Here is a list of the “The 20 Most Popular Video Games Right Now” published by I’ve summarized the list below, including each game’s type/theme. If you have the stomach for it, the full description of each of these 20 best sellers can be found in the link in this paragraph.

  • 20. Super Smash Bros – Beat-em-up/Cross-over fighting.
  • 19. The Elder Scrolls V – Action role-playing/destroying an enemy.
  • 18. Call of Duty: Black Ops II – First-person shooters, with lots of shooting, explosions, death and graphic content.
  • 17. Spider-Man – Action/adventure in which Spider-Man takes out his enemy.
  • 16. The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – Another action/adventure take out the enemy game.
  • 15. Super Mario Odyssey – A a “platform” game with the goal to take out an enemy.
  • 14. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII – See #18 above. (Note, this is the fifth version of the “Call of Duty” franchise even though it’s labeled IIII. It also is obviously teaching students how not to learn Roman numerals. But who, besides the NFL, cares about that mis-education?)
  • 13. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – First person shooter.
  • 12. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – Battle it out to the last man standing.
  • 11. League of Legends – Battle arena “game” with the objective to destroy your opponents.
  • 10. Roblox – Creation platform system, that allows users to create their own games.
  • 9. Rocket League – Vehicular soccer video game. 
  • 8. Overwatch – Team-based multiplayer first-person shooter.
  • 7. Red Dead Redemption II – Shoot ’em up with the objective of trying not to be killed by rival gang members and government officials.
  • 6. Super Smash Bros: Ultimate – See #19 above.
  • 5. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege – Tactical shooter game.
  • 4. Grand Theft Auto V – Action-adventure video game that allows you to play as a criminal, committing heists and evading government and police officials.
  • 3. Fortnite – Online shooter survival game.
  • 2. Minecraft – “Sandbox” building block game.
  • 1. Call of Duty: Warzone (Modern Warfare) – See #’s 14 and 18 above.

There you have it. The 20 most popular video games, 17 of which involve guns, killing or overall mayhem, one that glorifies grand theft, leaving two, “Roblox” and “Minecraft” that might have some redeeming value.

Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for bans. Who are the parents who let their children buy and play these games while mindlessly banning books about the real world? Oh right, they’re in the garage or the family room cleaning their assault rifles while watching Fox “News!”

By the way, the if the descriptions of these games is not bad enough, here’s a sample of some game graphics:

Let me close today’s diatribe with this story, just in from the Florida newsroom courtesy of The Washington Post (This is an excerpt – full story PDF attached).

Teacher investigated for Disney movie says politics drove her to resign

Jenna Barbee said she wanted to give students a “brain break” during standardized testing earlier this month by showing them a movie. Barbee, a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Waters K-8 school in Brooksville, Fla., chose Disney’s “Strange World” because the film about journeying to a mysterious underground land related to recent science lessons about the environment.

But “Strange World” is also Disney’s first movie featuring an openly gay character, a fact that led a school board member to report Barbee to state officials, the teacher told the Hernando County School Board at its May 9 meeting. The Florida Department of Education is now investigating whether Barbee broke the state’s law forbidding public school teachers from talking about gender and sexual orientation with students, she said in a TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 5 million times in three days.

“This is the public education system, where students from all backgrounds, cultures and religions are welcomed and should be celebrated and represented. I am not and never would indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs,” she said at the start of the 6½-minute video. “I will, however, always be a safe person to come to that spreads the message of kindness, positivity and compassion for everyone.”

I ask you, readers, friends, opponents, do you agree that there’s something wrong with all this. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, is there really “something rotten in the state of America?” Are we, as Seinfeld might say, not just in, but fully vested in, “Bizarro World?

Here’s the PDF of the Times article, “The 15 most banned books in America this school year:”

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

3 thoughts on “Banned books/unbanned video games

  1. There has been something wrong with America, not just in America, for a very long time. There has been an albatross around America’s neck since the Mayflower and the first slave ship each landed on Turtle Island shores. Extreme relugion, and forced human suffering.
    But since Trump decided to tell people it was okay to openly hate, it has metamorphosed from a disease to a cancer.

    Meanwhile, love the contrast between the value of literature vs. commercialism. Funny how billions of $ a year are made off video games, while literature makes pennies in comparison. Ban literature, allow video games. Good catcn!


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