Oneiriad (oneiriad) wrote,

Artistic merit, obscenity and poor little confused me

Right, so, in relation to the latest LJ/6A mess. Just me doing some thinking. See, I get that LJ is private company and therefore under no obligations to actually provide freedom of speech. I accept that LJ is ultimately allowed to decide what content they want to allow, though I think it is very bad customer service to not do so upfront rather than the latest mess. I also get and accept that LJ has to obey the relevant laws of the US and California, because, well, laws exist (mostly) to be obeyed and if a journal-blog-site is going to be made that will not occasionally run into such problems, then I suspect that the servers will have to be located in some obscure Pacific island country with a distinct lack of laws about a lot of things. Not that that might not be a good idea, but still.

What annoys and confuses me, though, is all the talk of artistic merit and obscenity and such. Perhaps it is simply due to my background, as a Dane and all. Still.

First of all, artistic merit. Now, me, I'm currently studying to be cand.scient.bibl. at the Danish School of Library and Information Science, and have an interest in culture and such. Admittedly, library studies involve mostly texts, but anyway. The thing is, as I understand it, artistic merit is impossible to judge, because we live in a hypercomplex/postmodern/latemodern/whatever age. The great stories are dead. There are no absolutes. There are a thousand perspectives to view a thing through, and especially with art, what one person considers a great work of art, another can think is junk, and they are both right! Taste is individual and therefore difficult to judge.

Still, people judge artistic merit - reviewers, buyers for museums, etc. What I want to know is what qualifications LJ has to do this? Longterm fans involved in fandom, 30 years working for a museum of modern arts, took Art 101 50 years ago, what?

Also, I'd be careful saying that a thing does not have artistic merit. At various points in the not too distant past, such things as a urinal, tin cans containing the artist's feces, a dead and rotting pig, stuffed puppies, the slaughtering of a horse, a naked man spending several days in a big glass box and goldfish in blenders have all been considered as having artistic merit. Admittedly, there was plenty of people saying things like "I don't get it", "I don't like it" and "That's cruelty to animals" (blended goldfish, anyone?), but nevertheless, all those things have been found on respectable museums (admittedly, the pig left prematuraly - it stank) and surely must have some artistic merit, right? My point is, artistic merit is in the eye of the beholder, and trust me, anything can have it.

Right, on to the obscenity. Now, it seems to me that mostly people seem to be equating obscenity with porn, especially hard-core stuff. Personally, I find stuff like various terrorist execution videos and the pictures from Abu Ghraib considerably more obscene than a few cum shots, but that's a discussion for another day. So, obscenity seems to equal porn.

See, this is where my background means that I am confused. Because in Denmark porn was legalized in the 60's and we tend to be proud of being the first country in the world to do so, because we tend to imagine ourselves to be all about freedom of speech and such. Our government likes to think of itself as very pro-freedom of speech (remember the whole Muhammed cartoons thing?), even though there has been some unfortunate stuff about e-mails to public service television. Still. Our grundlov plainly states that censorship can never be a thing. We still have to be careful not to run afoul of laws about libel, racism, blasphemy (funny thing - before the recent Muslim troubles the last time this was tried was in the 70's, with a song that's all about how God is dirty old man who spies on little girls when they masturbate - it wasn't found blasphemous. I heard that song in school, I remember.), insulting the queen (which has recently been done by a naked woman posing on the throne...), stuff like that. We have rating systems for movies and the like, but even these differ from foreign systems - try comparing the Danish and American ratings on movies like Love actually or American pie. Besides, the highest Danish rating is 15, meaning that once you are over this age, you can see anything you want in the cinema. Have fun with that.

Now, we do have laws about porn in Denmark. One is that you have to be 16 years old to buy it (like you have to be for buying alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, that kind of things.)

The second is about child porn. Child porn is of course illegal. In Denmark it includes fictional images, such as Harry Potter. Child porn is defined as pornographic images of people younger than 18. However, it is legal to own porn of people who are as young as 15 with the consent of the specific people. This is most likely the result of complications such as age of consent, EU standardization (curved cucumbers, anyone?) and the thought that it would be ridiculous to be allowed to have sex with a 16-year-old, but not to make a dirty homevideo for one's private enjoyment of it.

Child porn is disgusting. There, that's my humble opinion. Still, when I think child porn, I tend to think pre-pubescent. Little kids. Not a 17-year-old, for instance. Still, the law is the law. But when you're dealing with drawings, how are you supposed to be able to tell if someone is 17 or 19? The naughty Harry/Snape picture, would it have been alright if there had been a tiny card lying around saying "Happy 18th Birthday, Harry :-)"? How about photo manips and such involving characters from television series - is one supposed to go by the age of the character or the age of the actor? For instance, in Buffy, in the first seasons Xander is probably 16-17, but the actor playing him was born in 1971. And how about a character's apparent age versus real age? If someone is making naughty pictures of, for instance, Armand from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. After all, Armand is supposed to be around 500, well above the age of consent, but his appearance is that of a 15-year-old. Is that acceptable?

In short, I am confused, and sorry, but so far LJ hasn't been so kind as to alleviate my confusion. Of course, knowing LJ, they'd probably think my pretty userpic is obscene. Shows what they know...

Also, I still think Kim Larsen's "Vi er dem de andre ikke må lege med" would be a excellent song for fandom to use, apart from the whole language issue. Ah well...
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