Rated M for Mature Linkblogging

March 15th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve tripped and fallen across half a dozen links this morning about censorship and labeling and adult material and so on. I figure that’s a sign, so I’m throwing these out for you to check out. Keep in mind that various links may or may not be nsfw.

-Steve Bissette has been doing a great series of retrospectives on a comics controversy from 1986/1987. I came across it via a link to Colleen Doran’s blog, where she discusses her role in the controversy. Bissette has several (prologue, 1, 2, 3, 4) posts up currently, all of which are worth reading. Bissette’s got a really engaging style of writing and does a pretty good job of collating all this data. It’s a fun history lesson.

-Molly Crabapple’s new book, Scarlett Takes Manhattan, is not being carried by Barnes & Noble for being “too pornographic.” Amazon’s got it, though.

-There’s an amendment to a child porn law in Japan being proposed right now that’ll “restrict sexually provocative, “visual depictions” of characters who sound or appear to be 18 years old or younger.” My understanding is that it is broadly worded, poorly researched, and unconstitutional. Yoshitoshi ABe has a particularly interesting opposition to the amendment, and a few dozen manga creators and publishers on Twitter have vocalized their opposition.

I usually hate empty linkblogging, but I’m still organizing my thoughts. I figure I’ll have something tomorrow or the day after. I will say that I am generally anti-labeling/ratings- I don’t think that you can apply a system with an objective scale to something as subjective as art, be it written, drawn, painted, scrawled, filmed, or programmed.

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6 comments to “Rated M for Mature Linkblogging”

  1. “For example, war is obviously a bad thing, but even so, what do you think would happen if we had a complete ban on depictions of war? Children would wonder if war was good or bad, and what would happen if our society had something called war, and despite this foolishness would unfortunately grow into adults.”

    This so much.

    Remember when they wouldn’t even show the coffins of the soldiers returning home from Iraq? And then when someone leaked the pictures so many people were just shocked, as if they’d only just realized there were lives being lost as a consequence for pursuing the war.

  2. I’m reminded of the case here in Iowa where the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund stepped in on behalf of a man charged with owning child pornography/yaoi manga. I didn’t ever follow it too closely, but I know the more I heard about it the more I was like “Oh, the government is right.” I think at one point the CBLDF’s defense was that the characters weren’t actually children, it only looked that way because the art style was super-gay (paraphrased).

    Not really connected to any of the things you linked, David, but I guess what I’m getting at is that it taught me to examine the issue & not go with my kneejerk reaction. That said, I’ll still side with Go Nagai on basically any issue.

  3. If that art’s a product, particularly one aimed at children, labels and categories are very useful and often necessary.

  4. @West: How and why?

  5. @West: I’d like to know too, especially since Steve Bisette went to great pains to delineate exactly how labels become targets for censorship. Is it so parents can police what their children are consuming? If so, why is this necessary for comics, movies and video games, but not literature? I’m pretty sure I could have borrowed any Henry Miller novel from the library when I was 10 and nobody would have said a peep. Is it the visual nature of these other mediums? Does seeing a bare breast or a drawing or special effect of someone being dismembered really affect a child more than reading text about it?

    I understand this mindset. Nobody wants to have their children reading something they feel they shouldn’t, that they’re not ready for. But as stated by Bisette, labels become lightning rods for controversy and help people who are inclined to force censorship on others do their jobs more effectively. I want to say that appropriate packaging helps guide parents towards “child friendly” material, but this is problematic, especially where comics are concerned. Some parents no doubt believe that anything colourful is strictly for kids, look at the reissued versions of Harry Potter and Discworld novels with drabber, plainer covers meant to appeal to adults. Superheroes, even the most noir, are colourful figures. Additionally, most comics have an illustration of the content within on the cover, rather than the type of abstraction more familiar as the presentation of “sophisticated” works.

    In the end, content policing should be the responsibility of parents. Who’s to say what’s right for one child is right for another? If I had a young child, say eight to ten years old, I would be perfectly comfortable with allowing him or her to read Hellboy, but another parent might find it too frightening. That’s perfectly fine, that parent has the right to say “Not for us.”

  6. @West: Also, who’s devising these labels? Creators themselves? I doubt it. All too often, such labels misrepresent the actual contents.