Thursday, November 18, 2010

And yet we haven't found a way to censor stupid...

Holy arbitrary censorship Batman.

Two stories caught my attention today.  First was a blog post from Tom at Work That Matters regarding Facebook's double standard on so-called obscenity and vulgarity in photos.  The basic gist of the original note that Tom cites is a woman pointing out that you can search for 'Boob's' and find any number of skin-baring, objectionist, definitely sketchy boob shots ranging from plain cleavage shots to almost full-on nudity.

This isn't the problem though (well, it is, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.. not so much boobs, as the objectification of women blah blah.. again, a blog for another day).  The problem is that at the same time that anybody and their Grandma can find these images, the writer of the original note, a friend of a friend of Mr. Megginson's, points out a number of seemingly innocent pics of mothers breast-feeding their children that have been flagged and pulled from the site for being obscene.  Take a jump over to Tom's blog to see the images in question.  Most of them show a bare minimum of skin.

Whether it's the people flagging these pictures as obscene, or the moderators being picky-choosy about which images stay and which ones go, either way there is something very wrong here.   It seems ridiculous that non-eroticized pictures of mother's nursing their children are being targeted as obscene, whereas these other hyper-sexualized examples are hunky-dory?  What the hell, Zuck?

(yes.. anything Facebook related, and I put the blame straight on Mark Zuckerberg.  He's my favorite scapegoat)

Not surprisingly, the original note has been deleted, but Tom had the good foresight to screen capture it so folks can read it in all it's glory.  I've posted Tom's article to my own Facebook page and I am encouraging others to do so as well.

Me, I don't think boobs are inherently obscene.  It's all context, folks.  But if you're going to call boobage, bewbers, whathaveyou obscenity, at least be consistent about it.

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This story blew my medderfleurkin' mind:

A Brave New World controversy

A woman in Seattle Washington is trying to get Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" pulled from school curriculum because it's disparaging to Natives, and refers to Savage Natives, which offends and upsets her.

I'm upset and offended by this woman's obvious lack of reading comprehension, if she even read the book at all, or if just read the 'offending' passage and knee-jerked the rest.

In the complaint to her daughter's school, Sarah Sense-Wilson states:
"[the text has a] high volume of racially offensive derogatory language and misinformation on Native Americans. In addition to the inaccurate imagery, and stereotype views, the text lacks literary value which is relevant to today's contemporary multicultural society,"
*facepalm*

First off, I've read this book a number of times.  There's nothing in the text to indicate that the 'Savages' that the text refers to are supposed to represent Native Americans or First Nations people.  In Brave New World, the so-called civilised people are those born from test tubes in factories, pre-destined to certain lots in life to which they have been conditioned before birth.  The Savages are people who live on the outskirts of society and still live in families and are born of human mothers and bond and share.  They drink and fight and love and experience a gamut of emotions that the "Civilized" people find abhorrent and vulgar.

The book, along with being a dystopian vision of a world dependent on drugs, materialism and mindless eroticism (hmm.. sound familiar?) as a means of avoiding negative experiences and emotions, also criticizes the Eurocentric, colonial ideal of 'taming and civilizing the savage'.   Huxley painted John Savage as the tragic hero of the book, who looked at this 'Brave New World' he was brought to and saw through the fake happiness that the so-called civilized folks believed in.

Even if there was any evidence pointing towards the book targeting Native Americans, which I don't believe is the case at all - Savage is merely used as an illustration of the concept that the people of Huxley's future had of themselves as civilized as opposed to the uncivilized (who in reality, could be ANY North American or European of our or Huxley's generation).  As some commenters pointed out, the book is set in England, so there are no Natives there (although in fairness I always imagined the Savage land as Arizona)

Secondly, if there was any way to show that these Savages were supposed to represent Native Americans, anyone with any reading comprehension would be able to tell that they are supposed to represent Huxley's idea of the chaotic good of love and family and emotion, as opposed to civilizations increasingly sterile meaningless existence, which is hardly unflattering.

I think Jen at Blag Hag tweeted it best:
F*** stupid oversensitive people who have no reading comprehension and ruin everyone else's education as a result

Authors Note:  Sorry to anyone who read this last night (11-17-2010) and thought it made no sense.. somehow things got borked and a paragraph that was supposed down near the bottom ended up at the top of the post.  It should make more sense now.

5 comments:

  1. Great post. First, on the boob thing, I really think more people find women breast-feeding in public more offensive than sexified (new word!) boobs virtually everywhere. Did you ever hear about the woman who tried to breastfeed her baby in a Victoria's Secret store at the mall and was told by an employee to go to the restroom? Boobs are for feeding babies. It's culture that turns them into sex objects. Not all cultures even consider boobs sexual. In some places, showing thighs is as risky as going shirtless here (for women only, of course).

    Second, I have got to get my hands on a copy of Brave New World and can't believe I haven't yet. One of my all-time favorite books is 1984 and so a lot of people tell me I would love Huxley, as well.

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  2. First of all we are talking about America as a government, which is run by a bunch of homophobic prudes, as a whole, with some exceptions. That said non of the breast feeding pic should have deleted. What should have been disallowed, even though I personally have no issue with it, is the group objectifying big breasts, and the girl lying on the beach. The rest I think are passable. The sad fact is we all objectify the gender we are attracted to, whether it be the sunshine girl, or firefighters calendar, and in doing so we can make members of those genders feel less attractive in comparison.

    As for the second topic, again we have an overreaction to something that is obviously NOT what the person believes it to be.

    Good points Yandie!

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  3. Er, I don't know what book you read, but the only version I know of has pueblos full of Indians in it. In New Mexico. Huxley refers to an "Indian village" right in the preface.

    "I'm taking Lenina Crowne to New Mexico with me."
    "A birds-eye view of ten or a dozen of the principal pueblos, then a landing for lunch in the valley of Malpais ... up at the pueblo the savages would probably be celebrating their summer festival."
    "She pointed to the Indian guide who had been appointed to take them up to the pueblo."
    "It was all oppressively queer, and the Indian smelt stronger and stronger."
    "An almost naked Indian was very slowly climbing down the ladder ..."
    "...about sixty thousand Indians and half-breeds ... absolute savages ... our inspectors occasionally visit ... otherwise no communication ..."

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  4. Ahh, okay, you've got me there. Despite reading it several times, it has been some time since the last time I did read it.

    However, it is still necessary to remember that Huxley is writing from a POV of a society that sees itself as as civilized, in opposition to these folks. The overarching theme of the book is to illustrate the idea that the so-called 'civilized' society was the soulless machine to be avoided.

    Individually, taken out of the context of the book, it could be seen as unflattering.. but in the context of the overarching theme of the book I think that taking offense to the role of the Indian people in BNW is to really miss the point of the story.

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  5. i'm so sick of people "reading" through books picking out offensive parts and not taking 5 minutes to try and get a sense of the context.

    if i wrote a book about hitler, from hitler's perspective it would have a lot of anti semetic, homophobic and other super insensitive words, phrases and comments. because that is what hilter would have said. not because it's what i believe, or what i support, or what i think. in fact, it's the exact opposite.

    when AH calls them savages, you're supposed to get mad. but not at him, or the book. you're supposed to be mad at the "civilized society" that can't see past their own savage behavior. it's called social commentary.

    grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. banning books... honestly.

    ReplyDelete

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