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OMG, freakout! Teacher also writes teen smut!

BY ROB SALERNO – Looking for a cheap laugh that could also destroy someone’s life? Look no further than page A1 of today’s Toronto Star, which I’ve included below for all the readers who aren’t in Toronto.

 

I’m not sure the Star editors expect me to be laughing out loud at each sentence in their story about how the guy responsible for disciplining Ontario’s teachers also has a side career writing teen erotica, but that was the effect when we took turns reading it aloud in the Xtra office. Well, at least it was a break from stories about our local politicians’ flagrant homophobia.

Just look at the opening paragraph:

"The longtime chair of discipline at the Ontario College of Teachers is
the co-author of a soft porn book for teens that chronicles the sexy
adventures of Grade 9 girls and boys at a mythical Toronto high school."

Jacques Tremblay says his novel “is meant to empower teenagers, to encourage them to be strong and resist or avoid peer pressure.”

That’s why it’s called The Sexteens and the Fake Goddess.

The Sexteens is about a pair of teenagers at an elite Toronto high school who become initiated in the mystical Secret Sexteen Society, which exists in a parallel dimension where teenagers are eased through their sexual awakening. It also features a creepy headmaster “who sweeps a sex assault under the carpet
and tells male students at a pep rally that if he was younger he would
have sex with all the girls in the audience.” You can order the novel online at amazon.ca or check out the sample chapter at Tremblay’s website.

If nothing else, the prose is terrible. It reads like it’s been Babblefished to English from Tremblay’s original French. (Sample lines: “Seven members from the Secret Sexteens’ Society, under the initials
S.S.S., are enjoying with great delight this prized moment while
secretly surveying what some would call their frightened victim, but for
the Sexteens, however, she is rather a precious ally"; “regardless of their modest size, her firm and wonderfully rounded
breasts arouse in Tony desire, fascination and concupiscence.") Peter Griffin wrote better erotica.

But that doesn’t excuse the Star’s equally atrocious prose. (Warning: if you’re planning on reading The Sexteens for some reason, the Star article totally spoils the ending.)

Best/worst sentence of the article? “Enter Harry Dick.” Really, the context isn’t even important.

Let’s also take a second to ask, could the Star have found a more creepy photo of Tremblay to head this article? I suppose they could also throw in some innocent-yet-lurid-sounding-in-context details like the fact that he’s a “certified trainer in infant massage” or allude to how the Sexteens’ corrupt school headmaster and disciplinarian is described as looking quite a bit like Tremblay.

It’s an interesting contrast to a similar case from Florida in August, when gay pornstar Collin O’Neal was fired from his substitute teaching job because of what he called his porn past. At the time I argued that porn can’t really stay in the past. After all, O’Neal (real name Shawn Loftis) was the title character of a long-running successful porn franchise. He blogged and tweeted about his experiences and made his porn life his public life.

Tremblay arguably did the same thing on a vastly smaller scale. Contrary to what the Star story suggests, The Sexteens is published under Tremblay’s own name (co-authored with his wife), and he maintains a website detailing his creative endeavours along with photos and videos that identify him. On the other hand, it doesn’t break any laws, and Tremblay hasn’t exposed anything other than a weak grasp of English prose writing and a questionable sense of what belongs in YA fiction. And since he’s a French teacher, the first part isn’t even really that bad. 

On yet another hand, if I were one of Tremblay’s students and I stumbled upon a copy of The Sexteens and read it, I suspect that once I finished laughing I’d be pretty creeped out knowing that these sorts of thoughts were going through my teacher’s head. 

Here at the Xtra office, we couldn’t come to a consensus on whether this was a firing offence or not. Given how many commenters leaped to Collin O’Neal’s defence in August, I’m curious what you all think. Please let us know in the comments below.  


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