05 Apr Censorship
Just what constitutes pornography? There is a certain level at which no-one is in doubt, where the sheer gross-out level makes it obvious to all and sundry that this material qualifies as pure filth.There is also, however, a place where other material resides, a grey no-man’s land, a place between art and pornography. The width of the breach differs from person to person, for some it is as wide and dry as the Mojabe desert, others see it as an instantaneous transition.
Whatever the truth, if there is such a thing, there comes a point when a decision must be made. Is it art, or is it exploitation? For exploitation must be the driving force behind any definition of pornography, a portrayal of acts or persons which so demeans and degrades the subject so as to render it an object. Pornography encourages a view of the world where people are things to be used and discarded, no-one is arguing with that. What I am arguing about is those who appoint themselves as moral guardians, those special people who ‘speak for everyone.’ An impossibility to start with, but even though I agree that pornography is a ‘bad thing’, I do not think it should be banned. I must caveat that of course, by saying that certain types of pornography pander to the very basest instincts within us, and I do accept that these are unacceptable. On the main, I feel that people, all people, should be allowed to choose for themselves. If they find the material – in whatever form – objectionable, then don’t buy it, don’t read it, don’t watch it. That’s your choice. There are some, whoever, who see themselves as not only making their own choices, but everyone elses too.
People like this have always irritated me, they always know what is good for everyone else, how fine it must be to be so sure of one’s self, how utterly comforting. I don’t want anyone else to make my decisions for me, I’m quite capable of making them myself, thank you very much, Des Hanafin take note!
Why am I writing this now? Busted Promotions ran a disco on Wednesday the 17th, which they advertised in the Grapevine, Waterford Today, and on posters throughout the College. There were complaints regarding the content of the posters and ad’s, and the posters were subsequently taken down by Busted Promotions. And the problem? There was a stylized drawing of a semi-clad woman. The fact that this picture comes from an exceedingly rich vein of Fantasy and Sci-fi art obviously did not deter those who complained from finding it offensive. That no-one complained about the photograph of a completely nude man on page 19 of the Grapevine seems strange, in fact I would go as far as to say that it is downright discriminatory. I don’t have a problem with either picture, they are both have aesthetic and artistic merit, and neither are in any way titillating, pardon the pun.
Were I to plaster the walls with pages torn from that old favorite the National Geographic, would I then fall foul of the censor? Pictures of semi-clad Africans engaged in their daily routine are surely inoffensive to all but the psychotically prudish. Or is it perhaps the intent that offends? Then what is the problem with the advert? Does it subvert the mind, encourage sexual promiscuity, or demean the subject? It does no such thing; indeed it celebrates the strength and confidence of the woman featured. I’m sure any woman would be happy to be that confident and sure of all she surveys.
Is there a case to be made for censorship that I have perhaps missed? There will always be those who are offended by a glimpse of belly button on a sunny day, and if we are in a situation where a few complaints cause free choice to be denied the rest of us, then we might as well start the book burnings. I reckon the constitution is a good candidate if there is a bonfire about that needs feeding.. I mean – you might as well start as you mean to go on.