2005-01-18

Lewd is in the eye of the beholder

When, exactly, did Americans become such prudes?



As a country, there is collapse and rancour over Janet Jackson's nipple. Ashcroft has to have the Spirit of Justice statue draped because the "strongly religious" Mr. Ashcroft was "fed up," and could not abide waggish photographs angled to include his face and the statue's right breast. This fate had also befallen former Attorney General Edwin Meese the day he released the final findings of a pornography commission back in 1986.

And now America has deftly upset another country by wagging a finger in disgust at the human body. Reuters UK has the report:
ATHENS (Reuters) - A clutch of complaints by U.S. viewers that the Athens Olympics opening ceremony featured lewd nudity has incensed the Games chief, who warned American regulators to back off from policing ancient Greek culture.

Gianna Angelopoulos warned the Federal Communications Commission watchdog, sensitive after a deluge of outrage when singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl game, not to punish NBC television that aired the Games.

Male nudity, a woman's breast and simulated sex were the subjects of shrill complaints about the opening ceremony on August 13 which were posted by the FCC on its Web site.

"Far from being indecent, the opening ceremonies were beautiful, enlightening, uplifting and enjoyable," Angelopoulos wrote in a weekend commentary in the Los Angeles Times titled "Since When is Greece's Culture Obscene?"

"Greece does not wish to be drawn into an American culture war. Yet that is exactly what is happening," she said.

The ACLU is fielding lawsuits from gallery owners across the nation like the following:

DALLAS—The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the city of Pilot Point and its police department, charging that police officers violated an art gallery owner’s freedom of expression by coercing him to remove a mural depicting the biblical story of Eve.

“It is unconstitutional for government officials to censor a work of art because it might offend a small group of people,” said ACLU of Texas Executive Director Will Harrell. “It is also a misuse of resources to have our law enforcement officials act as art critics.”

Dwight Wesley Miller drew the attention of local police after displaying a mural depicting the creation of Eve on an exterior wall of his art gallery in the northern Texas town of Pilot Point. The mural borrows heavily from Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” fresco in the Sistine Chapel, and in particular from a portion of the fresco that depicts God reaching out to touch Adam. At the far end of the mural sits a classical female nude, in a pose that is a variation of Adam in the Michelangelo creation scene. God’s finger points at an apple, a traditional image of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, suspended between God and Eve.

Because Eve’s breasts were bare in the mural, the Pilot Point Police Department repeatedly threatened, in writing, to prosecute Miller under a criminal statute aimed at those who would victimize children by selling or displaying to them hard-core pornography. In order to avoid the expense and embarrassment of being charged with such a sordid crime, Miller covered Eve’s breasts with a “Crime Scene Banner” tape.

And I really want to know why. Why people can't stand the image of a body that, if they were to look down whilst they showered, they would see for themselves? Why the human body, when reviled by some, must therefore be censored for everyone? Why some consider all nakedness a form of pornography?

As this is going on, American celebrities wear less and less clothing as they get skinnier and skinnier. Clothing for children and teens is more and more adult. And sexual crimes perpetrated by children are on the rise. This isn't the result of nude paintings, statues and Olympic opening ceremonies. It is a sign of problems within the culture having to do with how we perceive each other as human beings. Anyone that feels severely traumatized by a breast really needs some serious therapy. Not the right to censor an entire country.

Naked is not evil. Naked is as naked does.

2 comments:

Jim Winter said...

When? 1620. But fear not. Times like these pass. Like a kidney stone, but they pass.

Anonymous said...

Why do these screwball stories always seem to come out of Texas? For that matter look at the screwball president that came out of Texas. Sometimes I think the country would be better off if we just got rid of Texas all together.