Thursday, March 12, 2009

The "C" Word

There is nothing more anathema to an artist than censorship.

Two articles today in The New York Times reported vastly different censorship issues in two communities: Boston, Massachusetts and China.

In the former, Shepard Fairey, creator of the "Obama Hope" art that became ubiquitous during the campaign and morphed into a website where everyone can transform their own photos into the same style, was recently arrested for years-in-the-past infractions of pasting his art up in public places without permission--a sort of highbrow form of graffitti.

The latter, China, still holding its finger in the dike of free speech as we all observed during the Beijing Olympics, is being overtaken by a pseudo-children's tale and song about a "grass mud-horse" that carries with it multiple filthy double-entendres that skate a hair's breadth beneath the censors' control. It's a marvelous example of mass resistance to authority.

Fairey knew he was breaking the law and has plead guilty to the initial charges leveled against him--but complains that authorities in Boston are now piling on more and new charges because of his celebrity.

Whether China will crack down on the viral spread of the "grass mud-horse" remains to be seen.

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