Lou, from Porfolio X By Robert Mapplethorpe 1978 http://phomul.canalblog.com/archives/mapplethorpe__robert/index.html
World AIDS Day came and went like any other for me. But it drew my attention to how screwed up we all are about talking about sex, even more than most days do.
I saw someone post this article, about how a gallery in America has taken down an AIDS related exhibit, due to pressure from Christian campaigners. The exhibit is a video, featuring images of Christ, naked, being eaten by giant ants. I guess it is an allegory?
The person who posted the link works for The Guardian newspaper. I told him I thought the Guardian is forever featuring articles, especially by feminists, arguing for the restriction / censorship of images of women in various objectified poses, as they are ‘offensive’. I pointed this out with a view to suggesting he was advocating we apply one set of values for one image, and another for others. I thought he might see my point, and distance himself from the feminists. But no, he took the harder road of arguing that pornography is different from this video, and censorship is valid in some cases. Oh. And who decides when it is valid and when it isn’t? Probably Guardian journalists and their feminist friends I expect.
I reminded this person, who I used to think was pretty sound and maybe even, huh, radical on matters of sex and culture, that Kathryn Flett had written a particularly cloying article about how she didn’t approve of people taking their kids to a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition. She needed us to know how cultured and ‘risque’ she is by liking Mapplethorpe, but also that she is a good mother and an upstanding member of the middle classes, who would not expose her children to such outrageous material.
My correspondent said he agreed with Kathryn. ‘Portfolio X is not for toddlers’ he told me, authoritatively.
I don’t understand. Deep down in my perverted heart I don’t understand. Why is it not offensive to show an image of Christ being eaten by ants, but it is offensive to show images of men with their fingers up their urethra? Or rather why is it NOT offensive to show an image of a man with his finger up his urethra in an art gallery, unless there are children in the art gallery? And why are feminists allowed to be offended by ‘offensive’ images of women, but Christians aren’t allowed to be offended by ‘offensive’ images of Christ? And why can’t Mapplethorpe, as well as Christ, be used to educate people, including children, about sex and AIDS?
This is a thorny topic and I keep pricking my fingers.
Everything seems like pornography to me anyway. And I don’t have children. But if I did, I would be happy for them to look at Robert Mapplethorpe pictures, and I’d be happy for them to read the Bible, and watch videos of Christ getting eaten by ants. I might draw the line at Harry Potter books and films though. A mother has to have some standards.