Monthly Archives: May 2009

Homophobia? At Amazon?

THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN

I keep thinking about that delicious homophobic snafu that stuck it to Amazon last month and demonstrated the growing power of Twitter, however deliberately flash-in-the-pan it was.

The incident roared to life a month ago and died so fast that it didn’t seem important, but for me, something oddly familiar about it kept pinging away at the old postmenopausal memory. Finally I remembered an event 10 years ago in which Amazon behaved in an even more bizarre and homophobic manner that still has relevance today.

The Latest Episode 

Last month Amazon abruptly removed gay/lesbian-themed titles from its powerful sale ranking system. In a weekend, thousands of books were ineligible for certain title searches, best seller lists and other critical functions.

An author sent a query to Amazon’s customer-service department asking why the books were being removed. Ashley D of Amazon.com Member Services replied that “we exclude ‘adult’ material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists.” 

Well, “adult” is hardly the category to dump an entire classification of books, since the term signifies “pornographic” (think: “adult’ bookstores).  But it is the correct term to use if Amazon officially believes that everything homosexual is offensive and needs to be removed from, you know, normal people’s eyes. 

(A thoughtful explanation of why a sales ranking on Amazon is so important, along with a list of explicitly sexual hetero books that were not censored and non-explicitly sexual gay books that were, can be found here.) Continue reading