Is popular culture plunging to ever more sickening lows? The answer is yes, according to the Board of Directors at the Glenwood Springs Censor for the Arts.
I was recently invited to take part in the “Real Men” show at the GSCA. The October show was to feature the art of twelve local adult male artists. At a preliminary meeting back in June, we collectively arranged the details of the show including dates and times and space issues and marketing.
The group decided to nickname itself “The Dirty Dozen,” a tongue-in-cheek hats-off to the real man movie of the same name. In following with that theme, it was playfully decided that we would pose in front of a camera with nothing on but stern expressions, the boots on our feet, and hats placed in front of our privates.
Each artist was given the option to expand or contract on the idea in any manner he deemed appropriate for self expression. It was supposed to be satirical fun, just a humorous little gimmick to get you to come see the show.
A week later, to the shock of many, the GSCA dropped the iron curtain on the idea citing it was an “inappropriate” way to promote the Real Men show. They said the thought that someone might be standing naked behind a hat was too much for the men, women and children of this valley.
The idea was censored before the images were even taken. When confronted with the question “How can you censor something without even seeing it?” the censors, in an act of conservative benevolence, decided to wait until they actually saw some images, and then they bowdlerized it again.
The 14-inch straw hat covering my 13-inch hips was apparently too salacious for some. Another artist held up a huge Mexican sombrero. Still not enough? You guessed it.
The censors must have gerbils tickling their buttocks to be feeling anything prurient about the pictures in question.
“We don’t want anything controversial right now,” I was told.
The only controversial thing I can see is a panel of prudery crimping and curtailing artistic personalities into a cookie cutter culture of terminal blandness. The puritanical moralism of middlebrow conservatives sanitizing the ideas of artists is far more offensive than any one of the photographs could ever possibly be. When political oppression penetrates into the details of life and art, it’s not progressive thinking, it’s raunchy censorship masquerading as conservative idealism.
The Board of Directors at the GSCA pretends to speak for artists on the one hand and then suppresses expression with the other. Their smug, sunny tone reminds me of grade-school art teachers who force students to draw within the lines in a mindless patter of paint-by-numbers perfection.
The personal power to control the work of artists belongs in the hands of the artists, not some repressive authority. The silencing of artistic expression robs us all of the power to make choices for ourselves.
Every artist has a vision of himself and his world. The photographs in question were a commentary on both. Are we so afraid of the blatant sexuality of a man as he is that his naked legs and torso are too much for us to bear? Give me a break.
The suffocating, condescending decision forced upon the artists by the sexual commissars of the GSCA borders on the absurd. Anyone who has ever visited the Hot Springs Pool long enough to see a man in a Speedo will have seen far more bare naked flesh than any of the photos in question. The idea was not designed to appeal to prurient interest in any manner what-so-ever, and to censor it as such casts aspersions of pornographic intent.
The only thing obscene going on here is pure, unadulterated censorship. Pious attitudes of compulsory conformity do as much, if not more, to incite rebellion than to inspire conformity.
The conservative minds at the Glenwood Springs Censor for the Arts have seen the evils in our bodies but not the good in our hearts. After a month and a half of wasting time and feeling their milquetoast constrictions, I’m sorry to say that “The Dirty Dozen” may have to shrink to fit the label of “The Laundered Eleven.” A real man knows why.
Silt resident Bernie Boettcher’s column comes clean every other Thursday in the Post Independent. E-mail: email@example.com
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