In any event, I'll start off by noting an invaluable seminar being given to some "creatively gifted" students by successful artists, including Edward Albee.
For Mr. Albee, that was his first play, The Zoo Story, which he completed in just three weeks in 1958. Still, not even William Inge and Aaron Copland were able to help him get it produced in the United States. It wasn't until after the play's German premiere, when a critic from The New York Times happened to comment that it was a shame a young American playwright couldn't get attention back at home, that it made it to Off Broadway. "Virtue is not its own reward," Mr. Albee went on. "There is a huge difference between popularity and excellence. As playwrights you are going to be encouraged not to hold the line, to simplify, to make things not the way you intended. You are going to be encouraged to make plays perfectly happy at three and a half hours into two hours." How long should a play be? "As long as it should be," Mr. Albee said, nearly roaring. “Everything has its duration, which has nothing to do with commerce. Do what you have to do to make a living, but figure out if you're going to be a hack or your own person."
"Can't writers be allowed a certain amount of creative fluidity?" asked Ms. Rusch, whose own efforts waver between poetry and prose. "Yes, but people are generally better at one thing than another," Mr. Albee said, ticking off a list of offenders. "Henry James was a great novelist but a rotten playwright. Arthur Miller wrote a novel. Don’t go near it. Sam Beckett was a great novelist and a great playwright. He reinvented both forms, which is why people can’t touch him."
Kathryn Shattuck, "'Virtue Is Not Its Own Reward' and Other Lessons for a Life in Art," NYT (24 Apr 2007) (fake paragraphing omitted; typography corrected). The rest of the article is also worthwhile; I only wish that the artists who were advising these "young and talented" writers (and, presumably, other creators, although the article gives little detail) had been less relentlessly mainstream. If "genre" is good enough for Thomas Pynchon, Scott Turow, Mary Doria Russell, Salman Rushdie, and Kazuo Ishiguro, it should be good enough for other "serious" writers.
That, however, is just marketplace-based censorship (imposed largely by people who do not themselves read either the books in question or in a broader sense). Far more insidious, and subtle, and incomprehensible: government censorship. I've decried the government's differing treatments of sex and violence for a long time. Don't kid yourselves: The MPAA's system is government censorship, as it is a de facto delegation by the FCC (even if nobody will formally admit it). The obvious solution and, in fact, the only one that makes much sense is to eliminate the censorship and substitute clear narrative descriptions instead of ratings. Contrariwise, the social conservatives have decided that we need exactly as much government as will reach into my [expletive deleted] living room and bedroom: Instead of getting government out of the business of saying that sex is naughty but violence is ok, we'll have the government regulate violence on TV. (It already regulates violins on TV, by the simple expedient of first forcing PBS to depend on government money and then starving it of government money when it dares to criticize that same government.) What's next?
This document contains criticism of government policy, including advocacy of violent overthrow of the sitting government. The intellectually challenged are severely cautioned.
Obviously, understanding irony is not one of the FCC's strengths, as it's going to continue to allow football in prime time without limits (I wonder what Joe Theisman thinks of that? "It's just sport, not real violence?"). However, the not-bad film 1984, and the near-masterpiece Brazil, would almost certainly get moved out of prime time... where their content and implications are most desperately needed, as we're presently stuck with treating Simon Cowell as prime time's only serious critic.