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Oct. 1 2009 - 10:15 am | 36,741 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Tate Modern caves to kiddie-porn warnings, removes controversial Brooke Shields photo

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  1. collapse expand

    “kiddie porn is our current cultural bugaboo.”

    This phrase sounds as if child pornography to you is no more than an unfashionable social habit, rather than the perverse exploitation of the innocent. The Brooke Shields photo is deeply disturbing, especially considering the fact that her mother would expose her in this way in an obviously sexualized image–with the heavy make-up, the pose, the background, etc. I understand your desire to be a champion of free speech, but there is nothing heroic in your linking to the photo. All you do is make the photo more widely available to perverts who get their jollies off of the exploitation of innocent young children.

    • collapse expand

      Eh, I’m not entirely convinced by your argument. There is a place for challenging images in art. I applaud my editors for 1) leaving the photo in my post and 2) having the good sense to install a link. (Stupidly, I had originally placed the image directly in the post, presenting the image to even accidental visitors.) Kiddie porn, while undeniably an awful and disgusting quirk in the human condition that should earn both producer and consumer nothing but the harshest punishment, is at the center of a moral panic. Not unlike the McMartin Ritual Abuse Cases on the 1980s, Kiddie Porn Fever is sweeping first-world countries, inspiring righteous indignation with the most casual mention. Don’t get me wrong — whomsoever has a photo or video depicting the sexual abuse of children should have his or her genitals removed with a dull can opener. And clearly Brooke Shields’ mother has some weird ideas about sexuality. But this photograph is a work of art. Challenging and disturbing art for some, but art nonetheless. I bet plenty of folks have jacked it Botticelli and Michelangelo. That doesn’t diminish the artist, but the individual viewer.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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