In an era of sexualised children and constant government enquiries into becoming a nation of thoroughly bred moral crusaders, the media, police, and politicians have hounded Henson like a pack of hyenas.
Critics and blogosphere’s alike have wanted to give their two cents on the controversy, more specifically regarding Kevin Rudd’s reaction: that of deeming the photographs ‘revolting’. As an ‘intellect’ many were expecting Rudd to understand the artistic and creative beauty behind the piece. What many were failing to realise however, was the practicality and logic behind his denouncement.
Children as young as 12 are being exhibited in these photographs. It would only be common sense to realise that the Prime Minister of the country has no alternative than to condemn the exhibition of unclothed children. With the recent government emphasis on 'letting kids be kids,' and enquiries into the sexualisation of children in the media and society, Rudd has no alternative but to condemn for the sake of consistency. The papers would have a field trip otherwise.
The greater predicament lies in using ‘art’ as a common veil and disguise: hiding the lewd and controversial under the pretence of art.
Giving this the green flag and essentially giving someone license to publish/disseminate whatever they see fit with a label of ‘creative freedom’ is a misused and exploited concept and wrongly so.
It’s only expected that something so readily accessible to the public should come under fire when it offends the sensibilities of society. An unequivocally lawless approach cannot be adopted in terms of art and creativity.
Intellectual and artistic freedoms weigh into the discussion in the examination of freedom of expression and censorship. In a democratic and liberal society, which exceeds the other? Protecting the subject matter when the government/police see it as essential, or freedom to express ideas and concepts which fall within the creative model?
Always difficult to ascertain, general moral standards shouldn’t be traversed for the sake of unreservedly administering a standard of freedoms. However Henson is being utilised as a scapegoat and criminal proceedings are exerting a rule of extremity.
Most people purporting critical views are missing the point. The deeming of it as ‘pornographic’ has offended the artistic sensibilities amongst us.
We all accept that Bill Henson most likely had no intention of producing these photographs for pornographic intentions. This isn’t an issue of adding to the collections of paedophiles across the nation.
What people fail to realise, is that by granting exemptions, a standard is set thereby increasing the general tolerability. When you legalise something, the law is telling society it’s acceptable and okay.
If Henson’s artworks are classified as suitable because it’s stored under the pretence of ‘art’, then it’s being validating and deemed okay in the name of creativity and intellectual/artistic freedom. The problem then lies in that in granting it some acceptance, it may validate child pornography in the minds of those with such tendencies.
Some restrictions are necessary. A blank cheque can’t be provided to every domain to reign free.
Pornography or art. Thoughts?
Photo: ABC TV