Sometimes it feels like we're more offended than words than we've ever been. The makers of the Clean Reader app are evidently outraged at some of the obscenity that can be found in, gosh darnit, books. Using highly advanced technology (we imagine), the newly released app replaces sweary words in literature with inoffensive equivalents, like "dang" or "heck". Authors like crime writer Ian Rankin and journalist Laurie Penny have hit out at the app's existence, calling for the censorship app itself to be censored. So what happens when you try to pass one of the world's foulest books through its rigorous anti-obscenity filters?
We put Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho through Clean Reader to see if our iPhone combusted or just presented a series of unreadable redacted blocks. As you probably know, Ellis' book is violent, depraved and pretty sweary. So here's an example of the world's premier censorship app doing its best.
Above is the original text, naughty "goddamns" and "shits" all intact. Below is the version that's been through Clean Reader, complete with the more family-friendly "dangs" and "craps". The slur "depraved faggot" is allowed to stay.
Next up is a particularly filthy page from the chapter "April Fools", featuring lots of "fucking", "bitch" and the racial offensive term n*****. Surely Clean Reader will step in and prevent us from having to view this filth?
You'd think that a censorship app might replace the n-word with "black man" or "person of colour", but the Clean Reader app goes for "negro", you know, like you might say if you lived in Mississippi in 1930. This is on the setting "Squeaky Clean".
The app was designed by two parents from Idaho who wanted to prevent their daughter from reading books with words in it that might make her feel uncomfortable. Clearly conservative parents aren't all that concerned with their offspring seeing the words "faggot" and "negro". But it is unbelievably annoying reading this many "hecks", "darnits" and "dangs".
Does anybody ever talk like this, besides in someone's dreamed-up vision of a bygone America? At one point through Clean Reader makes Bateman's best friend Timothy Price say "Darn, darn, darned", making him sound like Little Lord Fauntleroy after he's stubbed his toe.
People are shit, so sometimes they talk like shit and act like shit. No point trying to hide that from anyone – trust me, your kids are gonna find out.