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Art and Morality - Movie Review Example

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Art and Morality

Artists are the ones who have to normally face the brunt of this censorship. Whether you consider the criminal obscenity charges against the rap group for the album 2 Live Crew in the 80s or the fatwa issued to kill Salman Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses – artists have always been persecuted for bringing out work which goes against ‘ethos’ of society. (Greenwood) This chant for censorship is not limited to Islamic countries or third world countries which are not considered ‘mature’ enough but extends to the self proclaimed champions of free speech – USA and the Western Europe. From the Comstock Law of 1873 to the 1996 Communications Decency Act; the developed world is full of laws which stifle artistic freedom. (Caso) The question which arises is this – should we allow censorship of controversial art which shows murder, explicit sexual scenes or offends religious sensibilities? The answer is a big NO. The reason is very simple. Censorship is like a wild poisonous snake – you cannot control whom it will bite. Once power is given to the government to ban someone else; it may turn it head and ban something you like too. The most frequent target of censorship is sexually explicit art forms. Hundreds and thousands of books have been banned all across the world for their sexual content. Some books may be sexually explicit; however sexual content is usually an excuse for the ban. One example which comes to mind for such excuse is the ban of Grapes of Wrath. (Wartzman) Grapes of wrath is a much celebrated and controversial book which was releases in 1939. As a work of art; this book is exemplary which went on to win The National Book award, the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in 1962.It is set during the Great depression and focuses’ on the hardships faced by families during the period. However the book was opposed vehemently by groups of big landowners who were opponents of organized labor. Explicit sexual content was used as an excuse to ban the book at that time from schools. The example of Grapes of Wrath is given here to show how sexuality can be used as an excuse to ban books whose main content is nowhere related to sexuality. Thus obscenity can easily be used as a vehicle by the government or powerful pressure groups to ban books or ideas to which they are opposed .Pornography and sexually explicit material is completely relative. What might be sexually offensive to one person may be normal for other person. We might find it amusing and childish that many Islamic countries ban films which show lip kissing but the same argument can be used for that art forms which majority of Americans find sexually explicit. These famous lines by Justice John Marshall sums up the futility of trying to define obscenity – “one man’s vulgarity is other’s lyrics!”Not only obscenity but even pornography has no legal definition. Some may consider a little skin show as pornography where as others may consider it as the requirement of the film. In the absence of a formal definition we are left to the whims and fancies of certain individuals who are given the right to decide right and wrong. Laws are those which can be objectively applied, not something which requires subjective treatment. “Concerning the Gods I am not able to know either that they do exist or that they do not exist.”- The treaties of Protagoras. (Schiappa) Most of us this day will not find the above line offensive as atheists are now an acceptable part of the society. Some openly ...Show more

Summary

Name 8th December 2011 Art and Morality The first amendment to the USA constitution gives all citizens of USA the freedom of speech. Provisions like the first amendment which allow free speech are made in almost all the modern constitutions of the world…
Author : mkuhlman
Art and Morality essay example
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