I fail to see how anything can be "too vulgar." That's a comparative term, implying that a certain level of vulgarity is acceptable, but too much vulgarity is not. It also implies that things can be "not vulgar enough.
I'm not saying people aren't allowed to call art "vulgar." We are all entitled to our opinions and are free to determine our own levels of "good taste." But it seems to me, if you find value in a work of art, it will never be "vulgar" to you. If, on the other hand, you cringe anytime you hear a character in a book say the word "cunt," then you may never find that work "tasteful."
All's I know is, my novel has 227 instances of the word "shit," less than half of which refer to feces; 190 instances of the word "fuck," less than a third of which refer to coitus; and 16 instances of "cunt," of which just three refer to women. Nine scenes take place in a latrine or bathroom, with six cases of bladder/bowel relief.
These numbers are apparently too high, and Striking Out therefore failed some vulgarity litmus test employed by a certain entity which relies on ad revenue to survive. Consequently, they refused to take our money for a banner ad.
Perhaps if my book had no direct references to fecal matter, only 75 cases of "fuck," and maybe just the two non-women-related uses of "cunt," they'd have said yes?
Striking Out also has 91 (mostly favorable and devout) mentions of God or Jesus. The book refers to seven quotes from the Bible, features a Sunday Mass (the "loosest on record," lasting only two minutes, but whatevs), has a reverent Catholic stand up to an unbeliever, and stars a God-fearing protagonist who crosses himself anytime he hears or says a blasphemy. Is that not enough piety to counterbalance the vulgarity?
Oh great determiner of taste, oh princely ad-supported venue which I shall not name, what are thy value thresholds? Had thy judgment merely been, "Thou art vulgar," I'd gladly bend my knee. Yet thy judgment be, "Thou art TOO vulgar." Pray, masters, where is this line that my slovenly piece of trash book has evidently crossed?
Did you accept ads for the books GONE GIRL, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, TEENAGE DEGENERATE, or WOLF OF WALL STREET — all of which flood the the reader with f-bombs and c-missiles, and none of which even come close to the religious devotion shown by a good portion of my characters? TEENAGE DEGENERATE has 367 uses of "fuck," nearly twice as many as mine — and the book is 100 pages shorter. The WoWS movie has over 569 uses of "fuck," one shy of being exactly *three* times as many as in Striking Out. And its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar.
I guess it doesn't matter what other works have. Clearly, my novel went too far. At least, as far as those fucking cunts running that ad-supported venue see it!
You know, originally I wanted the f-word to show up 666 times, to match Troop 666. But early on I realized the word lost its sting when employed that often, and scaled back. Now, I kinda wish I'd scaled it up and gone for a thousand. Surely that's a record!
There's always the next book ...