Taking the “artistic” out of “artistic nudity”

The LA Times Culture Monster blog recently posted an article on YouTube’s censorship of videos containing nudity. At issue here is a 1973 video called Dressing Up by Susan Mogul. The video shows Susan putting on underwear and clothing in a casual fashion and discussing each piece as she puts it on, sort of a strip tease turned around.

Tom Jancar, owner of the Jancar Gallery in LA, posted the video in 2009 and it had received “hundreds of hits” during the time it was up, and also notes Susan is “doing everything posible not to be sexy.”

While I understand Google (who now own YouTube) not wanting the site to become a haven for pornographic short films, there is a difference between obvious pornography and artistic nudity. I saw the clip of Dressing Up on Susan’s website and while Susan is definitely fully naked in the beginning of the clip, I would call this artistic nudity. (It’s still almost certainly NSFW though.) Hopefully, some other site can host this video since apparently it’s too hot for YouTube.

Seriously, how can Google allow this Australian news clip with a straight face at the same time they mercilessly take down Dressing Up?

Nixed nudity

The Daily Beast reports on a change in policy in France, where the topless beaches made legendary there are about to be the sign of a bygone era, due to a shift in women’s swimsuit fashions back to covering up the upper body.

The most telling quote in the entire article is:

“Nothing is more ringard (tacky, or out of date) in 2009 than strolling around on the beach without a bathing-suit top.”

My reaction to this is somewhat mixed. I am of the impression that France is somewhat the exception to the rule, that there are few, if any, other places in the world that allow(ed) topless women on the beach.

Nevertheless, it’s kind of hard for me to not see the sexism in a policy requiring full-body swimwear for women and only for women, while at the same time making it appear rather, shall we say, hors de l’ordinare (unusual, or out of the ordinary) for men to show up in swimwear covering anything above the waist.

As a more voluminous male, I personally would feel more comfortable in something that would, in the US, be considered on the verge of gender inappropriate. Of course, maybe it shouldn’t be. I’ll probably draw my share of criticism for asserting that; rarely is a truly enlightening opinion met with open arms.

Anatomically correct, politically incorrect

I’m not too sure the outcome would be much better in my native Houston, Texas. Hope springs eternal. (And I realize the story is a bit dated, but I just now found it.)

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported and followed up on the case of a set of nude statues by artist Itzik Asher entitled Journey to the New, which depict a father, a mother, an infant, and an older child. The pieces are on display at a shopping center. The nudity is subtle, the pieces are somewhat abstract. But the anatomically correct statues are making a few parents a bit nervous, given that the shopping center is not too far from an elementary school. Quoting from the article:

“My daughter has been joking about it,” said Jeffrey Cohen, whose 6-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be talking to me about this.”

Some, like Richard Caster, who owns the shopping center where the statues are on display, describe the work as “natural and beautiful.” Others are pressuring Caster and Asher for the prompt addition of fig leaves, or even the relocation of the statues entirely.

This is not the first attempt to censor Asher’s work: there was a prior incident in 1995 which resulted in the temporary installation of cardboard fig leaves.

The school, which is due to start classes shortly, has left the issue up to the parents to resolve with the property owner. Which is exactly what I think they should be doing; there is no reason for the school to get involved in a dispute which does not directly involve them.

As to what should become of the art display? Sooner or later the kids are going to have the “birds and the bees” talk. I remember we had our first “sex ed” talk in fifth grade; the private school I was going to at the time required parent confirmation and I was one of two kids that got to spend those hours in the library. Thankfully having to wait another year before I learned about the penis, vagina, etc. had no lasting ill effects on me. I don’t see how it would have been any worse had I learned sooner rather than later. The great artists of the Renaissance did not censor their work; I would see such censorship today as being a step backward, not forward.

Yet more iPhone monkey business from Apple

A Techcrunch article (which references this prior article as well) slams Apple yet again for more iPhone App Store idiocy, this time centered around the Hottest Girls app.

It completely confuses me what Apple is thinking here: add parental controls to the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS, then when an application adds nudity to take advantage of this, pull the app from the App Store. Huh?

The addition of a nudity category and then pulling an app that has nudity is at best confusing. At worst, it looks like Apple is entrapping developers, or being selective on what apps get to stay in the store.

I’m not sure I can recommend anyone trust Apple at all for anything anymore.