Should Art be censored?

For my Gold Arts Award, I have chosen to explore the issue of ' Should art be censored ' because I find 'Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Entertainment ' to be an influential part of artistic expression and believe art shouldn't need censorship.

70a837e0e814a11512c6c40170117a559e3262de.jpgCensorship is not a new concept in the context of the Internet and social media. Nonetheless, it's a view that has evolved dramatically over time. Its fundamental purpose was to defend audiences from distressing, psychologically damaging images and videos.

If this is the case, why is there a long tradition of locking down galleries, libraries and other public areas when they showcased "inappropriate" art? Yet one would not consider any of the artwork to be psychologically damaging? 

A Venus De Milo sculpture, for instance, was banned from a store as the management viewed its semi-nudity as "too shocking. For me this statue is empowering, it shows beauty and femininity, what's wrong with that?

The statue of Venus De Milo is an ancient Greek monument and one of ancient Greek sculpture's most famous works. It was formed sometime between 130 and 100 BC. It is believed that the statue depicts Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, so what made this symbolic statue censurable to some viewers?

In 1853 in Mannheim, Germany, the armless classical statue was tried, convicted and condemned for nudity. Reproductions of that day chastely renamed Venus the Goddess of Liberty. In 1911 (in what critics ridiculed as an "elephantiasis of modesty") Alderman Buffalo John Sullivan and the Catholic priests tried to cover up several reproductions of ancient sculptures like Venus. Around 1930, sculpture reproductions of Palmolive advertisements included censor lines over the breasts of Venus.

Since reviewing some popular pieces of art that have caused public outrage, it is obvious to me that when art is considered inappropriate it is not because it is considered offensive, unethical, harmful to society, etc. It is usually because of nudity, and that is what causes the most scandals in the world of art. 

Why is looking at a pair of woman's breasts so unacceptable when we have things like nudist beaches, a place where one can view numerous naked body's? How is it that showing something we are so familiar with from when we are born, the very same thing that provides us as babies all the nutrients we require, a controversial issue when shown on a sculpture?

Seeking pro-censorship views took me some time, but I managed to do so. A website called discussed censorship, the topic was 'In a pluralist society, is censorship of the arts necessary?' It displays viewpoints from each side, but I focused mainly on the opinions that were not in agreement.  

This is a view from someone on the topic 'In a pluralist society, is censorship of the arts necessary?' that agrees with censorship. " Censorship of the arts is necessary for a pluralist society because it protects traditional family values. Censorship of the arts is necessary to protect both children and adults from images and other artistic content that lack redeeming social values. The promotion of traditional family values is beneficial to society because it encourages strong family core beliefs, which promote efficient working values and economic growth. Artistic content that opposes traditional family values and lacks other redeeming social interests is harmful to society and should be opposed.- I disagree with this because of the main purpose of artistic expression. One's expression cannot be controlled and monitored because that artist then has to make sure his work is "appropriate" therefore not allowing him to express his work at full potential.

 "It is NOT your job to parent other grown adults or other peoples' children. Parents know their kids better than anyone else, so, they should be the ones to set up parental controls and decide what the kid should and should not see. As for censoring content for everyone, it is not anyone's job to parent another grown adult. If you are an adult, you should be allowed to see, read, write, and create whatever you please. Also, no one forces you to read an offensive post, look at a naked statue, etc. If you don't want to look at it, you don't have to, but just because you don't want to, doesn't mean you can tell everyone else they can't."  - I am in complete agreement with this, why should it be down to certain people to choose what I view? No one else controls my life, I do, I should be able to pick and choose what I let myself see, and if I find something that offends me, I'll click off.

The reason that art is so intriguing is because of how it makes one react, all artists want to cause a reaction inside of you, one that won't be caused by any other artist. Yes, art can offend some people with certain views but they can exercise the right to walk away. Alongside the small number of offended people, there is a group that found that piece of art beautiful.

After all the research on art censorship, my views haven't differed from what I believed at the beginning which was, for art to be expressive and have meaning, one should be able to produce whatever they wish to. Even if something may be offensive to certain people it is not causing any physical harm to one another nor is the work forcing itself upon you and as individuals, we can choose to walk away.


Freya Mae

Freya Mae

I have completed my Bronze Arts Award and am currently on my Gold :)

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  • Sienna James

    On 19 November 2019, 11:35 Sienna James Assistant Editor commented:

    This is a fantastic topic to chose for your arts debate. What did you find most surprising when researching the issue? :)

  • Freya Mae

    On 27 November 2019, 12:43 Freya Mae commented:

    Hi Sienna, thank you for your comment!

    What I found most interesting was the fact that the word censorship in itself is inconsistent. What was once censored back in the 1900s is now open for everyone to see. It changes drastically over time and one minute something can be deemed censurable and a few years later it's then now a perfectly normal thing to show. Censorship is not based on whether it's offensive, unethical, etc. it is based on how society at that very moment feels.

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