Clean Reader Sucks Giant Monkey Balls

They’ve made an app that scrubs profanity from e-books. Seriously, their tag is, and I quote, “Read books. Not profanity.”


Being a writer myself (I’m secretly J.K. Rowling, don’t tell anyone), I feel obligated to tell Clean Reader the following: You, sir, suck giant monkey balls, attached to a giant monkey that feeds solely on other monkeys’ balls. That’s how much monkey balls you suck.

Look, guys, I get it. Profanity is a big thing: some people love it, others hate it. But that doesn’t give an app the right to mess with an author’s work, just for the sake of political correctness.

If you don’t want to read profanity, make sure to buy from authors and houses which do not approve of profanity either. Or look for genres which likely won’t have a lot of profanity, like Y.A., Middle Grade, or Christian books.

Quite often, an author will need profanity to make characters real, otherwise their whole set-up and dialogues will feel fake. Trust the source: It’s really hard keeping profanity out of a book, and I’ve seriously tried, all in good faith. But there’s always that nasty villain or that crazy bitch, who will blurt out some level of nastiness, and hey, as long as it makes the story real and keeps the flow, that’s okay for me. Profanity can also give that pinch of salt to a narration, like you’re experiencing right now, and if that’s not right, then I don’t know what is.

Sure, some authors profusely abuse of profanity, and this means a lot coming from me, but that’s the kind of book they are writing, and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, or give the book to a friend, or ask for a refund. That simple. It’s all about respecting an author’s work.

So, fellow writers out there, what are your thoughts on Clean Reader?

PS: Harry and Ron were supposed to be a gay couple. Don’t tell the media I said that.

PS II: The Empire Strikes Back: Chuck Wendig wrote a great post on the subject here. Not about Ron and Harry, though, about Clean Reader, I mean.

59 thoughts on “Clean Reader Sucks Giant Monkey Balls

  1. I think Clean Reader is garbage. Hell, some of my favourite books have profanity everywhere. If people are offended by profanity, maybe they should check out books from a childrens library instead.

  2. I believe there are some authors out there that have not mastered the art of profanity and use it as a constant shock factor that just become overdone, but most authors utilize profanity as a tool in their books to communicate the mood or tone of a scene. It is carefully thought out and I agree the app sounds as if it is messing with the author’s true intent, though musicians have been dealing this this forever with radio edits, and having to sell edited versions of their works in places like Wal Mart. I personally can’t stand profanity in my reading (I cannot stand Catcher in the Rye) but love it in my music?! haha, I know crazy, but I stick to YA reading as I’m not religious.

    • Yeah, I’m also against using profanity as a shock factor. I mean, if it doesn’t bring much to the story or characters, I say leave it. But censoring it is super wrong.

  3. Real life has profanity, and sex, and violence (not that there seems to be much of a problem with the latter–as long as there’s no swearing or nudity). I have no problem with people who don’t like graphic content–most of my friends do not. That said, disliking profanity does not give you the right to alter the art of another to remove it. This happened with Titanic when it came out–someone released a censored version without the sex scene and the nudity, and it was wrong then. It’s still wrong now. If you don’t like it, don’t read/watch/look at it. Don’t presume to be Big Brother to every artist and maker out there.

  4. This is flagrant censorship. “Clean Reader” is, without permission, expurgating authors’ works, declaring what version they deem fit for readers to consume to be better than the original. Disgusting.

  5. I don’t mind a bit of profanity if it fits in with the story. If an author’s work is too profane for my taste, I just don’t read it. I am totally against the whole Clean Reader concept. We don’t need a virtual level of morality police digitally deleting words from a writer’s work. CR is programmed by humans with an adjenda that I don’t agree with. It’s utter nonsense.

  6. This reminds me of when I worked in a library and a customer obviously didn’t like profanity as they crossed out all the bad words, so we had to get rid of it! If you don’t like it don’t read the book!

  7. As a young person, I enjoyed reading a book that uses adult language. As long as it doesn’t get abused to where the writer starts sounding really ignorant or too gross, i’m good.

  8. Oh is it like that beeeep sound that plays on TV even though you still can lip read what the person is saying ? I never did like that beep , so I am sure I wont like the ***’s in the text either.

  9. I’m personally against the idea – the writer’s words are their words, chosen for their reasons. The reader may not agree with those reasons or those words, but that is not the writer’s fault; no one can write everything for everyone. The illogic that “f**k” is wrong, but describing every detail in a sex or murder scene just exacerbates the idiocy. Don’t want to read curse words? Then stay away from books that are liable to use them. Very simple.

    What really gets me about Clean Reader, though, is the way it changes things. I’ve seen a few “test runs,” and it often renders text completely illegible or funnier than Samuel L. Jackson being “tired of monkeyfighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!” I think the best example is replacing every occurrence of anything to do with genitals as the word “bottom;” in a mid- to heavy-level sex scene, that basically turns it into “he thrust his turgid bottom into her throbbing bottom, flicking his thumb delicately at her bottom while she squeezed his bottoms and…” and so on.

    Bad enough that they felt the need to yoink the words (and if you have a problem with naughty bits, why are you reading borderline erotica, anyway, hmmm?) but completely eliminating all sense and meaning in the process is what really irritates me. Of course, it leaves description of bloody massacres alone. So long as nobody said “Oh god,” “Damn!” or “Oh, shit…” in the process. (Nothing like a lurid murder scene that, when discovered by a Detroit police officer, elicits this statement: “Oh jeepers. What the fudge happened here? A fooey mixmaster?” I’m sorry, Velma, when did you take to possessing crooked cops?)

  10. Reblogged this on Insomnia, Nightmares and General Madness and commented:
    As someone who accepts that a book can be written “clean” if that’s the author’s intent (check Ted Dekker, for example), but one who enjoys his profanity on occasion, the whole “Clean Reader” thing is rather interesting to me… what’s everyone else’s take? (Comments disabled here; please visit the original post.)

  11. That’s kinda sick in a mentally unhealthy obsession kinda way. They should not change an authors work without their permission.

  12. Profanities or swears, etc. are just words, like any words.
    If people don’t like them, don’t read them.
    If you don’t like your children reading them, don’t have them read them; when they’re older they can make that choice.
    This is censorship. Not cleaning. You’d think people could find something better to do with their time.
    Words are just words – it’s the associations we make that make them dirty.

  13. Great minds etc. – I just wrote a thing on this as well. It annoys me on several levels but mostly i just want people to read the words i chose, because i did think about them.

  14. I 100% agree. At best this is laughable and at worst it’s dangerous. Are they really proposing to butcher the works of Shakespeare or Chaucer for example which are crammed with so called profanity (Think ‘The Miller’s Tale’ where someone gets a hot poker up the arse!)? To anyone with a brain these are brilliant works of literature. It’s also a slippery slope; today they’re censoring words, tomorrow ideas! Say no to this abomination and keep saying no, no, no no no!!!

  15. Associating profanity-free speech with virtue feels as problematic as prohibition laws. Sometimes the profanity can have thematic meaning like in Of Mice and Men. The next step is censoring “unclean” ideas that don’t conform to double speak or the dominant narrative.

  16. I blogged about this as soon as I saw an article about it in a newspaper. I thought a profile picture of book-burning Nazis quite appropriate. As some commentors above have said what next: filtering out references to non-Christian deities, filtering out references to non-white Anglo-Saxon characters, filtering out references to socialist politics?

    Profanity is a valid part of a character’s profile. These Clean Reader people live in a bubble, terrified of facing up to the real world or any references to it. Why don’t they write their own f***ing books.

  17. Does the reader just clean up the lingo or does it replace offensive with words with something harmless and cute, because that could have comedic value (Max told Jenny to go *rainbows* herself after she told him he was just a big *fluffy kitten*)? But otherwise I’m with you, it’s not cool. If you don’t like it don’t read it, but don’t go tampering with other people’s *fluffy kitten*!

  18. “Harry and Ron were supposed to be a gay couple” πŸ˜€ Am I creepy for imagining their threesome scene with Dumbledore? πŸ˜›
    Btw who the hell would download this awful app? Does it just blank out the words, or replaces them as in switching “fuck” with “fudge”?

  19. If it got used on A song of Ice and Fire, all we’d have left would be character/location names, he/she said tags, dragons, winter, and dead. =|

    People can do whatever they please, I guess. But I have to wonder about the emotional maturity of someone who cannot accept that swearing is a real thing that tons of real people do, so they hide it like it’s some horrible, contagious thing where if you see the phrase “Motherfucking Fuckface!” enough, it will turn into the only thing you can say, like a broken, R-rated Pokemon.

    Why can’t people just go “Oh. That is a swear word” and just, go on with their lives?

  20. It is very important to use profanity with grace and concision, as we English-speakers regrettably have a dearth of really effective invective. So I’m against using the f-bomb as punctuation, because we do not wish to deplete precious cultural resources.

    That being said, hats off to you and Mr. Wendig for great comments on this extremely silly app. (Mr. Wendig is doing his part to refill the well of Good Ol’ Fashioned Cussing, and I salute his efforts.)

    In re Messrs Potter and Weasley: I think the canonical ship is Ron/Food, so we already have an implied threesome. πŸ™‚

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