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.

For Unit 1 Part D of my Gold Arts Award, I have chosen to explore the issue of ' Censorship vs Freedom of Expression in the Arts ' 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, here's why. 

 
 

Censorship is not a new concept in the context of the Internet and social media, films, music and photos. For example, the cover of British rock supergroup Blind Faith's debut album sparked controversy, specifically over the topless pubescent girl who graced the cover which forced the band's U.S. label to be changed to a black and white photo of the band. Is the male gaze a cause for this? Throughout feminist theory, the male gaze is the act of portraying women and the world, in the visual arts and literature, from a patriarchal, heterosexual viewpoint that portrays women as sexual objects for the enjoyment of the male spectator. So, because of the way men view women, are they looking at that prepubescent child and condemning it because the young girl should not be looked at in such a way? If men didn't look at females as objects, would that album cover still have cause controversy when the girl should have not been interpreted erotically? 

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 was the case, why was a Venus De Milo sculpture banned from a store as the management viewed its semi-nudity as "too shocking" Yet one would not consider this artwork to be psychologically damaging? 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? 

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 clear 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? Is the male gaze accountable for this because rather than viewing a pair of breasts in was viewed as a subject they are again viewing us as an object?  
 

Seeking pro-censorship views took me some time, but I managed to do so. A website called debate.org discussed censorship in the arts, the topic was 'In a pluralist society, is censorship of the arts necessary?' A pluralistic society is a diverse one, where the people in it believe all kinds of different things and tolerate each other's beliefs even when they don't match their own. This website displays viewpoints from each side, but I focused mainly on the opinions that were not in agreement.   

This is a view from a writer 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 writer this because of the main purpose of artistic expression. Art created for Artistic Expression focuses on the artist most of all, for it is a self-expression of the artist's personal, internal emotions, feelings, experiences or ideas. This type of art is sometimes, but not always, abstract or non- objective. One's expression cannot be controlled and monitored because that artist then has to make sure their work is "appropriate" therefore not allowing them to express their work at full potential. 

An opposing writer said that "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 avert my eyes. But what age should you be able to decide for yourself? I believe that at 16 it was okay for me to decide what I would like to view, up until that age my parents said no to watching/listening/reading something that wasn't suitable for me. Even then, it's different for each child.  

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 psychological harm to one another nor is the work forcing itself upon you and as individuals, we can choose to walk away.  
 

I chose to share my arts issue on the Voice website. https://www.voicemag.uk/blog/6414/should-art-be-censored 

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Author

Freya Mae

Freya Mae

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

We need your help supporting young creatives

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2 Comments

  • Sienna James

    On 19 November 2019, 11:35 Sienna James Voice Team 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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