Thanks to the success of book series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, the young adult, or YA, fiction market has become lucrative and culturally influential. With that in mind, New York magazine recently did a feature on the bevy of online critics whose opinions can make or break authors in the world of YA fiction. New York was appalled by what it found: “Many members of YA Book Twitter have become culture cops, monitoring their peers across multiple platforms for violations. The result is a jumble of dogpiling and dragging, subtweeting and screenshotting, vote-brigading and flagging wars, with accusations of white supremacy on one side and charges of thought-policing moral authoritarianism on the other.”
Exhibit One is a review, posted on a blog this spring, of a buzzworthy debut YA novel, The Black Witch. The blogger denounced the fantasy novel as “the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read. It’s racist, ableist, homophobic, and is written with no marginalized people in mind.” The review goes on for some 9,000 words in this vein asserting all manner of thoughtcrimes perpetrated in a book about elves, wolfmen, and witches.
Piling on ensued. The online fracas over The Black Witch has caused big headaches for the publisher and author, and few of the YA “culture cops” seem to realize that online mobs demanding that books be banned are problematic.
Those who now find themselves writing books that may at any moment be objects of the Two Minutes Twitter Hate, however, get it. One anonymous YA author and “former diversity advocate” told New York, “I have never seen social interaction this f—ed up. . . . And I’ve been in prison.”
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that things are getting so bad that prestige liberal media outlets such as New York find themselves not just covering, but decrying, the politically correct carnage coming from the left. Here’s hoping some useful political consensus emerges about how to discourage these jayvee Jacobins from their cyberbullying. If it doesn’t, well, American society is going look eerily similar to the sort of dystopian fantasy worlds found in so many YA novels.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard