Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Thursday, April 01, 2004

media and society

-- media and society -- the horrors of nudity!

Art magazine faces nudity ban in US. 01/04/2004. ABC News Online

An Adelaide-based art magazine, Artlink is facing a ban in the United States over its cover. The publishers have been told by the American distributors that their March issue, Adelaide And Beyond, will not be sold in Barnes and Noble stores unless it is in opaque bags because the cover depicts a "completely nude male".Artlink manager Tory Shepherd says she is disappointed because it is actually a sculpture by Adelaide artist Christian Burford.

"It's a fibreglass scultpure of a young man. It's completely not sexual in any way," she said. "It's not salacious or pornographic, it's art. It's actually got the same marble sheen on it as the statue of David, so we're considering on our next issue of putting a photo of Michaelangelo's David on the front."

You know ... I'm by way of thinking that perhaps -- just perhaps -- some people in this country need to get a grip.

Below is a very low resolution image from the Artlink site itself of the terribly controversial cover.

Artlink March 2004 cover

Now, granted, low resolution, so in this image we can't see all the salacious detail of the sculpture's twig and berries, as it were. But given that position and that setting ... just how salacious could it possibly be?

Moreover, think about how most magazines are placed in racks in your average Barnes and Noble. At least two thirds of the cover -- the bottom two thirds, containing most of the sculpture of the young man -- will be hidden by whatever is in the rack below it. If retailers were all that concerned about it, they could simply make certain that it was covered by issues on the lower shelf.

The text description of the cover at Artlink does make you wonder if perhaps there might not have been some attempt to deceive, however, or some unintentional mistakes might have come from it. After all, given what some artists do with modern sculpture, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if some people had initially thought it might be an image of a whizzing statue. (Although that said, those Italian whizzing cherub fountains don't seem to bother anyone.) That paragraph also indicates that they were expecting some resistance -- although, interestingly, it does imply that they were expecting the resistance to come from Australians primarily.

Even so, once they saw the cover, that fear should have left. There's just nothing offensive in that cover to your average thinking human being. So all you're left with is a terribly stupid overreaction on the part of the chain.

Well, it's likely to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.

(Yes, I know. Two updates to this part in the same week. Don't get used to it.)

Posted by iain at 11:17 AM in category media and society