Art Censorship Art is a part of everyone’s life, whether they acknowledge it or not that’s different. Without the work of artists and their creative capabilities, life would be extremely difficult and depressing. Artists have always despised censorship and control by the government. In the digital age they come under more scrutiny as power hungry politicians and conservative community members try to find offense in every bit of art. Currently in China the government blocks movies that they do not want the public.
Many theatrical plays are fought against by conservative groups and their constituents right here in the United States. People are afraid that art might offend children and particular groups depicted in the art. High school students are forced to take down art projects and revise plays just so they can meet community guidelines and appear to be “clean”. Art works should not be censored because censorship violates the right to free speech, diminishes history and takes away the right to offend.
The right to expression, opinion and speech is a guaranteed human right and protected by both the United States Constitution and the United Nations Declaration of Universal Rights. “If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they do not like, or news reports that they do not like,… That’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about. “(Baldwin 2). President Barack Obama states that America is a country that respects individual rights and fights to protect these rights.
The leader of the free world feels it is wrong to censor a type of art or journalism just on the basis of dislikement is utterly wrong. No government should have the power to restrict people from having access to art or free journalism. The world as a whole should be a protector of rights. “As China rises, its efforts to contain civil liberties at home are radiating outward. The removal of scenes from “Pixels” thought to be offensive to Beijing shows how global audiences are effectively being subjected to standards set by China, whose government rejects the kind of freedoms that have allowed Hollywood to flourish. (Baldwin 2) The Communist regime of China limits the rights of its people it has started editing the very movies the people watch and make sure to not show the true nature of China in any way possible.
Even though Hollywood is allowed to make any movie they wish, the people of China have no control over the content of the movies they watch and are forced to watch whatever it is that the government deems right. Art can play a role in forming an impression on people. It is not meant to be acted upon as if it is some type of legal documentation or law. Works of art often evoke such diverse and passionate responses, it is not surprising that artistic expression is the target of so many censorship efforts. ” (Cooke 2) Artists are often times the most politically affiliated people and gather a following of young and eager people, waiting for a change. The government fears artists like these and with clever strategies they censor and try to cover these people. At one time people referred to The Beatles’ music as “electronic devil music”, and now The Beatles are regarded as the greatest band of all time.
If those conservative groups and politicians had been successful, The Beatles would now be just a forgotten page of history. Censorship battles have reached all the way to the highest federal court and have often ruled in favor of the defendant. In the court case Cohen v California, Supreme court rules that the state of California cannot deem a profanity word as an obstruction of peace, as the defendant was merely wearing a jacket with the words “F*** THE DRAFT” on it. The state of California tried to defend itself and yet once again the Supreme Court was in favor of the defendant and the first amendment.
Even if government officials have tried to censor art, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the law in order to protect the first amendment. Any agencies that have been built by the government are required to respect the right to free speech and can not violate it. Lebron v National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Cooke 3) The Supreme Court rules that AMTRAK is government ran and can not censor the work of an artist it has commissioned to work for them. Just as AMTRAK is a government owned and operated business, so are schools and public parks, and they have no right to restrict free speech.
Art is a vital record of history and over the years, people have begun to censor art in the fear that it may offend others. In doing so they have destroyed and covered up history. “Art has more important things to do: preserving its autonomy, preserving the danger of the experience, preserving the history embodied in the cannon, and helping us understand our own ugliness, weakness and cruelty. ” (Kennicott 3) Art is such a delicate and vital part of society. People are inspired by art, encouraged, and pushed to contribute to a more progressive world.
It is true that without the hard work of artists, life would be bland and filled with repetitiveness and sameness. Moreover, artists should be given credit for the fact that their relentless effort has survived through censorship, war, and hatred. Yet it still continues to thrive. “Censoring art to make it more palatable to contemporary audiences warps our sense of goodness, making our tolerance seem magically delivered rather than hard-won through centuries of struggle. “(Kennicott 2) It is obvious that the ideological values of people have increased dramatically from just a few decades ago, let alone a hundred.
In these years, people have been discriminated against, killed, and assaulted just on the basis of skin color or religious preference. The artwork from these times are the portal into a world that is out of our reach. Art tells stories not made to represent every person ever, but instead the artists’ views during a specific time in history. With people finding offense in every piece of art, it seems as if paintings, plays and songs should be all censored to make sure that everyone is content. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and several other religions have art as a central representation of their faith.
The Sistine Chapel, a 15th century built residence of the Pope, is the home to some of the greatest and most famous paintings ever painted. No single painting has taken as much criticism and censorship as the Last Judgement has. “Pope Paul IV contemplated destruction of the Michelangelo masterpieces because of their nudity, but was dissuaded, having the figures draped instead. “(Cameron 1) A true painting to symbolize the triumphs of a religion through wars, tyrannical regimes and dozens of popes. It is hard to believe that nudity causes such a ruckus in the world.
It is as if people are surprised to see other nude people. Nudity in religion is extremely common considering the timing of most religious events took place at the age of using curtains as clothing. Hard to believe that artists were hired to cover up the Last Judgement, as it is one of the most recognized paintings in the world. Yet the religious leaders entrusted to protect the mass of work of art thought of destroying it. In society, racism, bigotry and sexism play big roles. Unless artists are making statements no one will discuss the problems. They will only fester and become even bigger conflicts.
Artists have the right to offend these hateful people and shine a light on the moles in society. “Cultural leaders who fret about art causing discomfort to supposedly hypersensitive audiences generally view art as a species of entertainment, rather than an independent and volatile space governed by its own rules. ” (Kennicott 3) Art should not just be considered a show or a form of entertainment but rather an expression of the artist. Just as art can be anything the artist wishes it to be, the meaning can also be whatever the artist wishes.
The audience of any show is only present to listen and engage with one another. It was a deeply disturbing: a reminder of how anti-Semitism is alive in the heartland and capitalist America. “(Taneja 1) Censoring Shakespeare because anti-Semitism plays a big role in one of his plays, “Merchant of Venice”, that was first performed in 1605. The reporter is disturbed at the fact that four hundred years later playwrights have chosen to study and reperform the play.
Artists have the right to offend any government official they wish, without the fear of being censored. In a world filled with corrupt politicians, tyrants and abusive officials; artists reserve the right to criticize these people and support the people. This nation started out in protest against despots. How is it that they’ve found their way back into our government? ” (Warde 1) Without the works of such artist as Paul Revere and John Trumbull, the formation of the U. S. could have been completely different. As the strongest and most powerful nation the United States owes its freedom to artists and freeminded people. To which, they sacrificed their own safety to guarantee the freedom of their peers. It should be noted that works of art contain anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, sexual abuse and violence.
They should be censored as they offend particular communities. Obviously, since the times of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, times have changed. People are not as racist or sexist. Therefore, it is certain that the works of art from that period can contain insensitive material. Knowing that these works are racist and insensitive gives no right to people today to censor these works and condemn them. “No one expects a genuine theatrical, literary, poetic or artistic experience to be simply pleasurable, and the audience isn’t assumed to be incompetent or ignorant. (Kennicott 3)
No artist wishes to hurt any viewer with his or her art, artists merely try to show the world a view that is original and only belongs to them and with this view they hope to inspire and change opinions. Addressing controversial themes like: homosexuality, police -violence, war, and drug abuse, artists have been able to show progressive views and inspired regular people to take action and use the art as a symbol. No one has a problem with Picasso’s “Dove of Peace”, but his “Ladies of Avignon” painting has prompted many critics to use censorship on an abstract and harmless painting.
Art is a form of expression and no type of censorship has ever proven to be successful and never will. Art is a fundamental piece of life and is necessary to make the world a more lively and beautiful place. Censorship takes this beauty away and replaces it with blurriness and darkness. In order to preserve the history of the world, express freely and openly, censorship should become extinct. The ability to tell right from wrong, is a conscious statement and defines the characteristics of a person. The government has no right to tell the people how to think and when to apply it to life.