Thursday, August 26, 2010

No shirt, no shorts, no sale

See article from

VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) - A book banned for sale aboard western Canadian ferries because a naked boy adorns the cover has drawn worldwide attention with critics crying censorship.

"Alexander the Great novel gets bum rap in Canada," chortled a headline in a report Tuesday in the British Guardian about a ban by British Columbia Ferries of "The Golden Mean" by Canadian author Annabel Lyon.

"Censorship ... is generally bad news," wrote Eileen Reynolds in a recent post on the New Yorker?s web site. But, she added, the ban on Lyon?s book "is particularly silly."

The ferry service, owned by the government of Canada?s westernmost province and connecting Canada?s Pacific islands to the mainland, banned the book because the service is "a family show and we?ve got children in our gift shops," spokeswoman Deborah Marshall told the Vancouver Province newspaper.

The cover features the nude back of a boy astride a white horse.

Lyon?s fictional account of Aristotle as tutor to Alexander the Great won Canada?s prestigious 2009 Rogers Writers? Trust first prize, and was a finalist in Canada?s two other largest literary awards, the Giller Prize and the Governor General?s Award.

Craig Spence, president of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, called the ban "an overreaction to a photo that's artistic ... are you going to stop kids from seeing Michelangelo?s David?

"The kinds of graphic material that kids are exposed to, through advertising and other media all the time, go much farther than that, and they're not in a context that would give it the justification."

(end of article)

Let's start off and say that the nudity is hardly shocking on the cover of this book. I mean, you don't even get a full shot of the bum in the first place from the angle that the picture's taken and even though I'm no bum critic, I couldn't tell you with any confidence how it's shaped or ranked. I don't even know if it's a good bum. But the critics here are not arguing the quality of the bum, but the nakedness of it, and yes, I will agree, it is definitely an uncovered bum.

That debate aside, it's hardly as shocking as full frontal nudity. A bum taken from a side angle view, which is not even the main focus of the picture, is hardly anything to get excited about. I'm sure even the gay community agrees with that.

I think that there are 2 main things that really bother me about this whole issue.

1- Double standard views on nudity

There are always portraits, statues, pictures, etc. of beautiful nude women, mostly taken from artistic angles that are not considered vulgar, offensive or off limits. Any part, save for the all-important v section, of the naked woman's body are used liberally in art and nobody ever argues in favour of covering a beautiful woman's breasts or butt. But for some reason, the minute it's a man, censorship and decency laws come into play.

This is a blatant, unjustified, nonsensical double standard that society seems to have. It's as if society believes that the woman's body belongs in the public sphere and is a public object that can be used for art and expression, whereas the male body isn't. What makes the male body worth protecting more than a woman's body?

Granted, a woman's body is a work of art, and men have all that flab and other stuff. Seinfeld pretty much sealed that debate. We would rather see beautiful women curves instead of men as a general rule. That shouldn't exclude men completely, though, nor should it be an object of censorship.

2- North American prudishness

It's funny that violence is a-ok in North American society, but sex is completely off limits. This is the product of a largely Puritan background and a general feeling that sex is somehow more damaging than violence because of the moral implications.

Sex is a natural occurence in life and often results in children, and what could be more natural than that? How is a natural process that results in the production of a species more offensive than violent marauders hell bent on the destruction of society? Some guy gunning down a bunch of other guys is less damaging to children than a side view of a guy's bum? Where does this thinking come from?

Of course, the moral high ground people oppose both sex and violence, and that's fair enough. It's just strange that North America can't seem to let go of this idea that sex is not that bad. It's really not as taboo or naughty as most people think it is. Look at the Europeans. They are so over sex. Their attitude towards it is fairly healthy. They don't shy away from it and they've accepted it as a part of everyday life. And that's really what it is.

Why are we so embarassed and threatened by sex? If it wasn't for sex, well, none of us would be around.

I think that parents would set a better example by acting mature and open-minded about topics like sex rather than acting flustered and scared like a group of middle aged priests. And they'd do better to explain to their children that the human body is natural and beautiful, rather than pulling their children away while they laugh and point and whisper to each other 'look, it's a bum.'

Show some maturity.

And look, it's a bum. A boy bum.

hee hee.

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