NudityInArt: Here's a bit of a rant to start the day.

Don't cry, little angelDon’t cry, little angel Hosted on Zooomr

Here’s a bit of a rant to start the day. There’s a certain online art sharing site that’s recently changed it’s T&Cs with regard to thumbnails on images. Not the images, the thumbnails, folks. As the thumbnail is usually, y’know, a miniature version of the image, it amounts to pretty much the same thing, but I digress.

Anyhow, the new rules are as follows:

Thumbnails for all areas of the site may not display nude female breasts, male or female genitals or buttocks, or graphically violent images.
No nudity in thumbnails. This means no clothes, clothes that are transparent or blurring of nude images.
No areola or nipple exposure, and no transparent fabric.
No exposed buttocks – more exposure than a standard bikini bottom would constitute nudity.
No exposed male or female genitals
No Sexually Suggestive Language
No “Censored” language/images (some examples: “Warning: Nudity Inside” or black bars covering breasts/genitals)

What they offer instead is a generic “Content Advisory” icon which replaces your usual thumbnail image and folks can click through to view the disgusting filth… I mean, tasteful art.

I can see where they’re going with this, but it’s as broken an idea as I’ve ever seen online. What they want to do is stop right-wing Christians and other children from seeing something that’s either non-Biblical (in the case of the Christians) or likely to cause awkward questions (in the case of the children). While there’s a fine (and often blurred) line between pornography and nudity in art, to deny it’s presence is to deny Rodin’s The Kiss, the Venus do Milo, the Vitruvian Man and pretty much anything by Michaelangelo. Imagine if every single image of these works of art were replaces with a “Content advisory” thumbnail. Dumb, isn’t it?

My photo above of a ceiling at Bolsover Castle is probably the worst possible offender of all. Nude children! OMG! Paedophile! Sheesh.

The nude form is intrinsic to every artform from ancient carved scultures to modern photography; it’s history can’t be ignored or under-estimated because of fear of lawsuits from the Right Wing Stupid (note: the Right Wing doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid, but it does have a much higher body count).

I’m pretty sure that most folks can tell the different between a pornographic image and art. Art doesn’t tend to change, but what’s considered pornographic does with time, but that’s a whole other blogpost :)

Censoring thumbnails is a dumb solution to a stupid problem; if am image contains something likely to offend, mark a checkbox. Folks can then elect to view offensive images or not, depending on their sensibilities, opinions and age. Simple, and everyone is happy. Apart from the Right Wing Christians, of course, who are offended by the very presence of flesh (but not guns and dead foreign folk), but there you go.

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