Should there be censorship of certain artworks and to what extent should works be censored?

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belarafon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Art is entirely subjective. There is no real, non-biased standard for "art" that can justify the incredibly wide array of literature, music, drawing, performance... it's just not possible. One person's awe-inspiring, boundary-pushing experience is another's meaningless, self-indulgent tedium. I think Terry Pratchett is the world's greatest living writer, but I'm sure die-hard fans of Chuck Palahniuk or Margaret Atwood would disagree (note: three very different authors, and the fans probably have little overlap, and may easily consider works by the other two to be senseless drivel).

With that said, there should never be censorship of anything, ever. The truest path to knowledge is choice and the freedom to make our own decisions about what is appropriate for us and our families. I do think it would be a good idea for "art" of any stripe to be properly described in a manner which allows people to make informed decisions; if I put down my five bucks to see A Brutal and Misanthropic History of Human Taxidermy with Sound Effects I should be expected to know what I'm getting into.

Censorship is a paving stone on the path to dictatorship; gentle but very, very powerful. Remember the Hays Code for movies in the '40s and '50s? It's still around, but hides under the "Moral Authority" of the MPAA. Watch the movie This Film is Not Yet Rated for more information. Ratings and explanations are one thing; forcing filmmakers to alter their works to fit an undefinable standard of morality (and theater chains that won't accept unrated films) is quite another.

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epic-art-time eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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An artist can create anything he or she wants in the name of art as long as no law is being broken in the process.  An artist does, however, have an obligation to consider where he or she is exhibiting the work.  It would be wrong, for example, to show work with extremely frightening imagery in a children’s’ museum, or work with sexual content in a high school library.  Warnings with details about the nature of the work should be posted in public exhibition spaces where controversial art is being exhibited, to insure that the public has the choice to view the work or not.

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kiwi eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree that censorship through works not being funded by groups who represent those who could be offended by a work is a fairer way of managing contraversial art than an outright 'ban'. I do not think it is appropriate for governments to fund works which are designed to be offensive or obscene. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and those works considered to be flexing the boundaries of decency should be supported by those who wish to use art for this purpose, not by generalised funding from government.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Banning art is kind of an odd concept, really, because if one art gallery refuses to display the work because it's too outrageous or offensive, someone somewhere else might. But even if no one does, nothing is stopping the artist from creating. Plenty of people are "banned" from galleries for all kinds of reasons--most probably having to do with not...

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arrellbelle | Student

Before we can selectively censor different artworks, we must first try to understand what art truly is. If you ask different people, art is a way for communication between the artist and the viewer, art is a form of creative expression, art is also a medium used for therapy. Art can encompass many things and what you may consider art, won't be considered the same for other people. What we have to understand is that the artist is the one creating these pieces and has the right to argue for whether or not what they created is art. After we settle this whole debate, may we begin to argue whether or not we can censor art.

naturalinsanity | Student

Your question more properly should be "what constitutes art?" There should be little discussion about works of art being censored; universally they are considered appropriate for display. Works such as Michelangelo's or Donatello's statues of David, both nude and both anatomically correct, are not considered censorable.

So what constitutes art? The U.S. Supreme Court has said that works which are patently offensive, have no redeeming social value, or whose dominant theme appeals to sexual excitement are not entitled to First Amendment Protection. So, the issue is, does it constitute art? If so, then it should never be censored. If it is not art, then it is an entirely different matter altogether.

I would have to say that i agree with larrygates to an extent. correcting just one slight comment. There are many of Michelangelo's painting that have been "fig leafed" in which case any private parts seeable in the painting are covered up with figleaves. Fig leaves have also been added to the statue of David in london. Art is meant to be controvertial. Art is by most definable by ones singular opinion. Who is to decide where or not art has ''redeeming social value", not to mention how many nude statues and paintings were created with the artist's intent to stimulate? very few. that is open to interpretation. And so art should not be censored. It is not fair to the artist, or its viewers.

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shizza123 | Student

I think people have the right to know and see everything that is or will be, or was a part of their heritage......

Plus, someone else's opinion shudn't be forced on them..... They should be allowed to tink and feel whatever they want, without being given an impression of what others think.

there should be a vote. if ppl thin it is not worthy enough to be deisplayed in public, or if it mocks something important, then it should be banned.

 

but, at the same time, if u know people are OBVIOUSLY going to be upset and start killing each other, or are going to be tempted to kill the artist, then it should be distroyed or something......

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janeblue | Student

I think that not all art should be censored.

larrygates said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has said that works which are patently offensive, have no redeeming social value, or whose dominant theme appeals to sexual excitement are not entitled to First Amendment Protection”

However, when I think about One Nation Under God a painting by Jon McNaughton I feel like it would be heavily censored just because people feel it is “patently offensive”.

http://www.mcnaughtonart.com/artwork/view_zoom/?artpiece_id=353

The reason I feel that this should not be the case is because it has redeeming social value. If people censor art with a message that may be offensive to some but redeeming to others then how can we expect to push the boundaries of society?

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janeblue | Student

Your question more properly should be "what constitutes art?" There should be little discussion about works of art being censored; universally they are considered appropriate for display. Works such as Michelangelo's or Donatello's statues of David, both nude and both anatomically correct, are not considered censorable.

So what constitutes art? The U.S. Supreme Court has said that works which are patently offensive, have no redeeming social value, or whose dominant theme appeals to sexual excitement are not entitled to First Amendment Protection. So, the issue is, does it constitute art? If so, then it should never be censored. If it is not art, then it is an entirely different matter altogether.

Very interesting commentary.

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truthseekah | Student

Art is an expression of culture, politics, emotion, self, etc.  It cannot be defined, just as an individual cannot be defined.  We categorize as best we can, but it is folly.  Plus, as soon as we present a spectrum of what art is, the boundaries are intentionally crossed.

Therefore, government funding of art is a totally subjective thing and is usually driven by the current view.  The right or wrong is debated much like any other political issue.

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