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Censorship!


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24 replies to this topic

#1 mussel

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 12:22 AM

Mayor Giuliani is at it again!! Unbelivable! He's got to be kidding!
Mayor calls for "Decency Committee" to oversee exhibits at museums that receive city money:

[url="http://"http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/16/arts/16MUSE.html"]http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/16/arts/16MUSE.html[/url]

Also, a related critique to the subject from the Times:

[url="http://"http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/16/arts/16EXHI.html"]http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/16/arts/16EXHI.html[/url]

Since NYCB also receives city money, it's not far-fetched that NYCB's works would be subject to the same scrutiny. Furthermore, the State Theater is legally owned by the City, if City Hall finds NYCB's or NYCO's works offensive, would City Hall try to evict them from their building as it did to the Brooklyn Museum over the "Sensation" fiasco?

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 08:57 AM

This is the kind of thing that would MAKE some artists do something "censorable" just to prove the point! (In D.C., during the Mapplethorpe flap, an earnest young modern dance company decided to perform naked. One mother, accompanied by her two elementary school daughters, walked out, shielding their fascinated eyes. Unfortunately, the dancers hadn't rehearsed the piece naked. . . .)

#3 Jack Reed

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 06:40 PM

...and so some of them blushed? blanked out? collided? So, what happened, alexandra? And did the authorities take notice, or action? You've left us hanging over a cliff!

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 08:19 PM

Well, there were some awkward moves that probably wouldn't have been choreographed in a Nudie piece. The star of the evening turned out to be an adventurous cockroach, who took center stage and never left it, skittering this way and that. Since there was a lot of floor work (i.e., stretches and somersaults on the floor), this was not an incidental element to the work -- very Cunningham, in a way. The cockroach remained intact for the bows, but it got dicey every now and then.

The authorities didn't interfere. The audience understood why it was done, and sympathized.

#5 Guest_JaneGrey_*

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 08:51 PM

Mussel:

I rather hope he's NOT kidding.

And I'd very much like to think that there really was a "decency committee". But if there was, all this stuff would be in private salons.

I'm just a little curious. Does anyone think that ANYTHING should be off limits for public funding, if it is passed of as "art"? If so, what would that be?

------------------
'God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.'

Lady Jane Grey
Wife of Guildford, Lord Dudley King Consort
Daughter of Henry Grey Marquis of Dorset, Duke of Suffolk

[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited February 17, 2001).]

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 11:00 PM

What! They've amended the constitution already? Posted Image

Seriously, in addition to the constitutional prohibitions on censorship of freedom of speech and expression, there are very good and practical reasons to avoid it. There's the "who guards the guardians" question. Do we trust politicians to appoint censors? There's the censorship-guarantees-sales question. Censorship controversies give the artwork at their center more press than they could ever get otherwise--which may well encourage people to think, "What could I put with Christ in a bottle to get people really mad?"

Finally, as tastes and standards are so variant, supporting censorship -- in arts, politics or religion -- is suicidal, to me. Today, they're after a naked girl Christ. Tomorrow, some idiot thinks that classical ballet is an outmoded, effete entertainment fit for only the depraved. It's too slippery a slope.

The individual has the ultimate power. Go to what you like or support, stay away from the rest. And always keep an open eye and an open mind, because yesterday's target of censors is very often tomorrow's great artwork.

#7 Guest_JaneGrey_*

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 11:14 PM

All that is fine and good Alexandra.

My question is does just "anything" that is "STATED" as "art" earn the right to be hung or performed at tax payers expense? Where do you draw the line, or do you draw one at all?

Sure those photo's upset us Christians. They tickle some other folks.

But let's pick another example.

I'm almost 49 years old. I was raised by guys that went through WWII. I have been told my entire life that Hitler was the worst thing that has ever hit this planet. I kinda believe it too.

Let's just say (for the sake of argument) that there is some tormented soul out there that REALLY believes that the world "missed the message" that Hitler brought us. That HItler was IN FACT the Messiah, and we didn't recognize him.

Let's say this guy is "gifted" in the visual or performing arts. What if he draws (out of absolute personal conviction) a very artistic depiction of Hitler "in the ascension". Ascending bodily to heaven as Christ, while underneath him, the victims of the holocast are depicted as agonizing in hell. Or he wanted government grant money to commission a dance piece to make SURE that the world "thought about the message" and "questioned themselves" (that first article stated that the responsibility of an "artist" is to make people "think".)

Do you really, honestly think that tax payer money should be spent to hang the art work, or commission the performance piece? Or even support the theatre it is performed in?

Even though you KNOW that it will be hurtful and insulting to a good percentage of the population of the earth?

Personally I don't. A great deal more tax payer money was spent on my dad and other servicemen to make SURE that the idiot was remembered for exactly what he was. A devil.

My question is where do you draw the line?

I think that is the big problem with taking money from "everybody". Then you have to support "everything".

There just ARE things, that people with good concience can't support. And should not be forced to.

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'God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.'

Lady Jane Grey
Wife of Guildford, Lord Dudley King Consort
Daughter of Henry Grey Marquis of Dorset, Duke of Suffolk

[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited February 17, 2001).]

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 11:51 PM

I'm a strict constructionist as far as the First Amendment goes. I don't think anecdotes -- what I like, what I don't like, what shocks me, etc. -- are relevant to the discussion.

We don't get into detailed political, and certainly not religious, arguments on this board. Further discussions should reference the articles that mussel posted.

#9 Guest_JaneGrey_*

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 11:53 PM

OK, then getting back to the first article.

The fact that "something makes you think" constitutes art?

Is that a premise we are working with?

And under your guidelines, I guess it's just impossible to discuss the subject as the nature of the art in the article was in fact religious in nature, and I really don't see how you can discuss constitutional basis without getting "political".

So I'll turn the floor over to you guys. Won't post on the subject anymore, but I'll be interested in seeing how others approach this particular subject without mentioning EITHER Posted Image

'Cause the Mayors BIG objection was that it wasn't going to be done at tax payer expense (referencing back to the article).

So in effect, we can't discuss the article, right?

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'God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.'

Lady Jane Grey
Wife of Guildford, Lord Dudley King Consort
Daughter of Henry Grey Marquis of Dorset, Duke of Suffolk

[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited February 17, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited February 18, 2001).]

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 12:07 AM

Discussing the article is fine. I wanted to send up a flare, because the last time we discussed arts funding, about two weeks ago, the discussion quickly diverged into a discussion of politics and religion generally, and that's not what this board is for.

#11 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 12:59 AM

I think we have a certain amount of common sense in decisions about free speech. Oliver Wendell Holmes didn't do a bad job when he said shouting "Fire" in a crowded room isn't protected speech. In the same way, if the object in question advocates or incites dangerous or even murderous behavior, we step in.

There is a problem with saying that "taxpayer money is going to support people making offensive/indecent" art. Taxpayer money is supporting a museum, or a dance company, or a performance series, or what have you. It's usually important support, but it isn't sole support. The curators and directors of these programs are then running their institutions and making choices.

Some of them you may like, some of them you'll question. You should tell them so (you should also see what they have done before doing so!) I think culture should be accountable to its audience, but there is accountability, and then there's line item vetoes. Their job is to run a cultural institution, not to be an arbiter of seemliness. I'm not going to go rushing out to buy the photos Giuliani objected to, but I didn't find them offensive. To answer Jane's question of the "Hitler Ballet" I think that's a call for the curators, not the legislature. Chances are if I were a curator I might look at it and go "I think we have better places to put our budget."

On the other hand, a stunning example for the other side of Jane Gray's question is Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia. It's a poetically beautiful movie made in both sympathy and propaganda to the Nazi regime (it's a chronicle of the '36 Berlin Olympics). I may be Jewish, but if a museum offered it on a free screening paid for with a government grant, I'd be on the line to watch it. (Olympia deserves an off topic conversation all its own though, it's far too complex a film to term as "good" or "evil".)

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#12 Guest_JaneGrey_*

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 01:08 AM

I see lots of flaws in your argument Leigh.

But I "Said I wouldn't" so I "wont'" Posted Image

------------------
'God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.'

Lady Jane Grey
Wife of Guildford, Lord Dudley King Consort
Daughter of Henry Grey Marquis of Dorset, Duke of Suffolk

#13 Manhattnik

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 01:15 AM

Let's just say (for the sake of argument) that there is some tormented soul out there that REALLY believes that the world "missed the message" that Hitler brought us. That HItler was IN FACT the Messiah, and we didn't recognize him.


"Attention! This audition is for singing Hitlers. Dancing Hitlers are the studio next door!"

--- Zero Mostel (The Producers)

[This message has been edited by Manhattnik (edited February 18, 2001).]

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 01:26 AM

When I was in college, our film teacher had to write a petition to the State Department to show us "Triumph of the Will." It was banned from schools because it might corrupt us.

I think "Olympia" is worth a word because it's a good example of beauty (or bad art, or censorable art) is in the eye of the beholder. I saw that for the first time a year ago, and had read for years about how repugnant it was because of Reifenstahl's obsession with Aryan youth. Putting aside whether it's really a crime to photograph blonds, I was struck, as a woman, watching the ending sequence of the divers, where beautiful body after beautiful body plunges into the water, that she was looking at males as sex objects -- not in a lascivious way, but in the way men have always depicted women. Had a male filmmaker shot the same sequence with a bunch of blonde Esther Williams, I doubt that it would have struck the (male) censors in the same way.

I agree with Leigh's point that the money goes to the museum not the artist -- I think most people don't really understand that. I also agree that we have every right to put pressure on museums to be careful what they show. I'd like to have the same amount of pressure put on them to have strong artistic standards -- no, Jane, I don't think that "making you think" is a necessary and sufficient condition of art -- as to appease which special interest group is on their case this week.

I think the problem with Giuliani is his attacks are so personal. He hears about something he doesn't like and then wants to ban it, or withhold funding. That presents an odd definition of art, too -- "The Mayor don't like it."

#15 Manhattnik

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 05:17 AM

Let's just say (for the sake of argument) that there is some tormented soul out there that REALLY believes that the world "missed the message" that Hitler brought us. That HItler was IN FACT the Messiah, and we didn't recognize him.


"Attention! This audition is for singing Hitlers. Dancing Hitlers are the studio next door!"

--- Zero Mostel (The Producers


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