What Is Censorship? Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons -- individuals, groups or government officials -- find objectionable or dangerous.
According to PBS
What is CENSORED? Why should you care?
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Censorship of the Arts
Henry David Thoreau once said, "The world is but a canvas to our imagination."
Oscar Wilde also commented on the purpose of art claiming that " art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known."
However, censorship has consistently affected the art community. Below are examples of censored art throughout history:
Michelangelo's painting "The Last Judgment" depicts the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. It was painted behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel, and immediately attracted negative attention. Michelangelo was accused of immortality and intolerable obscenity which began the censorship campaign known as the "Fig-Leaf Campaign." However, the pope allowed the painting to remain in the chapel after appropriate garments were painted over Michelangelo's original design. (1)
Ai Weiwei is a current artist in China that has created a lot of political controversy. He explained that he "cannot separate [himself] once as an artist or to as a so-called activist." An interview with WeiWei gives more detail and information about his censored art and what these experiences mean to him.
One last example of artwork that has been recently censored is the album artwork of Kanye West. Several stores chose to ban Kanye's original artwork for his album "My Dark Twisted Fantasy" due to offensive nudity. Kanye responded to this censorship via Twitter.
What is your opinion of censored artwork? Should art be censored or not? Is there a simple answer? Explain in detail.
Censorship of Music and Theatre
"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." Plato
Music and theatre have also had their fair share of censorship.
A song released in 1958 was originally censored for the promiscuous nature of a man joining a party in only a towel. I'm sure you have heard this song before and not realized the controversial history behind it.
"Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin
Another classic song that you may have heard was banned from the radio, yet still managed to make number one on British charts in 1977. The song was criticized as being unfair to Her Majesty; however, others have argued that the song instead called society to discuss all political classes among Britons.
"God Save the Queen" by The Sex Pistols
Germany experienced theatrical censorship as a means of propaganda for the Nazi party during the Holocaust. Hitler seized the opportunity to influence society through the arts. Often the Nazi party would censor any play they disagreed with on the grounds that their censorship would "prevent a danger to social stability." In 1933 the Reich League of Outdoor and People's Theatre was established and forced all theatre productions to join. This organization forced theatre to be purged of all Jewish influence and allowed there to be only productions that celebrated nationalistic values. This created a genre of theatre known as "thing spiel."(6)
A well-known example of thingspiel play is Frankenburger Würfelspiel which debuted at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hitler had the Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne theatre built as an addition to the Olympic stadium for the event.
The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco is planned to release December 2014. This movie highlights censorship and propaganda in North Korea while the two main characters attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, and is ironically not only censored in North Korea, but has also created huge controversy between Kim Jong-Un and Hollywood.
How does censorship in music relate to your interests? How does censorship in theatre or in movies affect your life? How has censorship evolved?
Censorship in Literature
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was originally banned in 1885. It was said to be "trash and suitable for only slums." Today the book is taught in many schools and is, for the most part, highly respected as a profound canonical work. However, there are still objections that the novel is offensive due to racial slurs.
"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is book loved by many generations. When it was first published, parents and librarians were reluctant to indulge in the book due to its dark nature.
Harry Potter novels have not escaped censorship either. Many critics claim that this series of fantasy novels promotes witchcraft. However, fans of the novel disagree and argue that the novel encourages reading and literacy.
Should novels be banned? Should you be allowed to pick and choose the novels you read? Should some novels not be allowed in school?
Censorship in Social Media
The concept of censorship in Social Media is relatively new due to the fact that the internet is new territory.
Under the First Amendment, website creators have the right to publish whatever content they would like. Many of these websites have a "Terms and Conditions" section that users must sign in order to participate on their website. This sparked a debate of whether or not what you post is your property, or the website's property. As is stands now, the website creators hold the ability and right to exercise the First Amendment and decide what will be published on their sites. However, the internet is full of possibilities. These possibilities allow internet users to find a website that does allow the user to dictate the content of their posts.
Recently, the horrific videos depicting the terrorist acts of Isis have been circulating the internet. The New York Times received harsh criticism for playing part of the videos. Youtube and Twitter have banned the videos due to their obscene and graphic nature. Many claim that it is insensitive to the families and the victims. Some argue that it gives Isis a platform, which raises further debate on how to censor content on the internet.
Is the internet an outlet for the user? Are social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter right in prohibiting certain posts? How should they decide what should or should not be published? Should any and all information be available for internet users?