Drinking parties-- It used to be, back in the old days of the eighties and nineties, that if you wanted to portray someone as a rebel, you'd show them knocking back a beer snuck in a coke bottle at a wild party where everyone was trying to fit in. Lately, every book I've read has included under-age drinking. Sometimes, the focus of the party is just to get drunk. This isn't like nineteen year olds, but fifteen and sixteen year olds are out slamming back a six pack on a school night. The author slips it in like it's nothing. It's not to convey the teen's personality or the atmosphere of the party, but it's a prop--like a soda. They're treating it not as if it's rebellion, but it's normal-- a big "meh" on the normal teenage experience. These are the books that I'll be handing my children to read in ten years? Should we expect to preview all books by the time that decade rolls around?
Sex-- Yes, I said it. I'll admit I'm conservative, but the books I've read recently (intended for a teenage audience) haven't been about adults or older teens in monogamous relationships. Once again, fifteen and sixteen year olds--and it's treated like a big "meh."
Profanity-- Why are movies still getting "R" ratings based on language when apparently using the 'F' word twenty times in a book gives it a PG-13 age group? Plus, I've found, without fail, that the parents are portrayed as clueless in this regard because the minute their child says "damn" in front of them... or even "stupid" the parents jump on them screaming "We don't use that word around here." Twenty minutes later, they're at school dropping words that should burn holes in the paper. I'm disgusted to admit that our local high school only prohibits racist and hate language. It's also why waiting in line at a fast food place behind teenagers includes me covering my children's ears. I've even been "that" parent who taps them on the shoulder saying, "I have kids here. Can you watch your language?" There are still quite a few teens that immediately change their language when they see my kids, but... why are they using so much profanity if they CAN turn it off?
Lately, I've found myself using more mild profanity just because it seems to fit. Taking it out makes my writing unrealistic, but using it makes me feel like I'm about to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. (I have a teenage beta reader, so I will be.) I feel like I need to find a non-profanity type of profanity to fill in the blanks. (AKA "holy crow" ala Stephanie Meyer) Crap and darn sound puny now. Shoot is laughable. When I do a rewrite on my NaNoWriMo project, I'll probably yank out some of the profanity, but hopefully... not add any in.
Anyone else writing YA thinking about this stuff?
Oh, and while most don't consider this a "sin" of any kind, it's also become commonplace for teens to drink coffee apparently with their breakfast? Is this not stunting their growth? Is this really the norm outside of my little world?