The guys talk about [redacted] [redacted]. It’s a risky topic so parental advisory – explicit content.
You can read: Kushiel’s Dart
And take a look at the art below.
NOT The Busty Bunch.
Eric forgot to mention this story… It was suggested (read: censored) to change the title from “The Busty Bunch” to “The Beauty Bunch” instead.
However, if you ever see him at a show, he has it with its original, non-censored title.
Hey guys! This is a really important conversation to be having, but I do think a large element is lost by not being able to have the input of traditionally marginalized people when talking about censorship– women, people of color, LGTBQ, etc– because the difference between self-censorship and external censorship becomes a lot different.
So, yeah, this is probably going to be a long one, and in the spirit of not censoring myself, I’m gonna be honest (but will attempt to not lecture or appear combative– I’m trying just to be informative and present a viewpoint not included in the conversation)
For instance, Eric’s sentiment of Japanese art being (and to a degree, still being) very ‘anything goes’ must take into account that the people publishing art with that kind of mentality were and still are overwhelmingly men, because women weren’t allowed to do that (socially, legally, etc). So it can’t fairly be said that there was a freedom to create without fear of repercussions because the men simply didn’t have to face them.
To this day, there’s still a huge double standard in Japan for women and LGTBQ people, and they still are not fairly represented and their stories untold. The internet has made it easier for them to get their stories out, but even public response is often harsher on women/minority voices than they would be for men creating something equally/more questionable (see: recent controversy over the manga artist for Land of the Lustrous).
As for self-censorship, I do feel that maybe you guys are asking the wrong questions of yourselves? I think it’s less about ‘what will people think of me’ and more ‘Is this going to hurt someone? Is it going to add to an existing problem? If the answer is yes, do I think it’s worth it? Why?’
It’s usually a matter of personal ethics and not a right/wrong answer or philosophy. Sometimes you feel like what you’re trying to convey is very important and worth the risk of potential harm. Other times, it’s just flavor and doesn’t change things so much that losing it would impact your greater goal. Editors are, of course, great for this, and for writing/art, sensitivity readers/viewers are a great resource when you want to consider the perspectives of people different from yourself (and ESPECIALLY when you’re portraying people very different from yourself who are currently at a significant societal disadvantage).
Simply, sometimes you need to choose between ‘being true to your original idea’ and ‘being a dick, even unintentionally’. I don’t think that all of our ideas are important enough to be communicated all the time.
Ideas are cheap and plentiful. No idea is good just because it’s your own. No idea is worth sharing -just- because you had it, or you want to. It’s the same sentiment of ‘well I’m just being honest’ when you tell someone what’s on your mind because you want to, or think it will somehow be of benefit when we know that 99% of the time it doesn’t produce good results.
Ideas are cheap. Execution is -KEY-. Artists should be and need to be better than self-absorbed creatures who believe that because there’s pushback against something then it MUST have merit because PUSHING BOUNDARIES is what we DO– No. Just like how we self-censor our behavior in public for the benefit of other people (or make informed choices NOT to censor our behavior in public), it’s part of being civilized, and sharing space with other people.
When choosing whether to censor yourself or not, look at the environment you’re releasing your work into, because that’s an important thing to consider. You mention all this stuff about women and politics, etc– it’s not something that happened because guys drew big tiddy girls and sold pictures of them, obviously. HOWEVER, for a lot of women, it just feels like another drop in an overwhelming lake of fatigue and a reminder of these same issues– of how women are regarded, treated, objectified, and things that we live with every single day, non stop, forever. And that works like that are just one of many, many, MANY that women are surrounded by and see all the time, everywhere, forever, and I know that I feel tired more than anything else. Not offended, not personally objectified, but just.. tired. I want to see something new. I want to see something else.
Same with ‘edgy’ stuff, or ‘shocking’ stuff or, as you may say, ‘spicy’ stuff. When everything is served up a la Christopher Nolan, it’s not special anymore. It’s not shocking or new, it’s just another piece of the same stuff using general social taboo as a flavor as opposed to clever or interesting writing.
But I deeply disagree with the idea that an artist’s job is to push envelopes or present ideas, or elicit a reaction. I think those are things artists -can- do, but it is not our only purpose, and ‘getting a reaction’ does not true or good art make. An artist’s job is to -communicate-. What you communicate and how, and why– that depends, obviously. But if you are an artist who is communicating ideas that push boundaries, or get reactions, you cannot absolve yourself of the consequences just because ‘you wanted to’ or you thought it beneficial. And damn, nobody wants to deal with an artist who thinks communication is a one-way street and isn’t going to appear open or receptive to critical, oppositional response. Those people get written off and discarded because it’s the same old, same old, and sure they think their work is original and great and spicy but to others, it’s just another white guy repeating the same song and dance women have been politely trying to ignore for ages.
For as much art has shocked and elicited thought and contemplation in society, so, SO much more has perpetuated violence, oppression, and the harmful status quo, because the artists creating this art are not exposed to the consequences. They don’t see how their one or two pieces add on to an infinite mountain of nonsense that continues to drown out new ideas, new concepts, new styles, and new perspectives.
Sometimes the most positive, helpful thing an artist can do is keep their mouths shut and not add to the noise (and as a certified bombastic loudmouth, it’s WAY easier said than done).
It’s complicated. It’s DEEPLY complicated, and there’s no easy answer, and ultimately what you decide is a personal decision and one that speaks to your personal values. And my perspective is just one of many, and it’s informed by my culture, my upbringing, and my personal experiences, so YMMV.
All that said, I hope it was ‘interesting’ and will positively contribute to the conversations you have with yourselves about when and where, and if, to censor your work.
Thanks for bringing up the conversation 🙂
First of all, thanks for the detailed reply. We really appreciate the thoughts you’ve posted here.
I don’t think we as a group debated posting an episode more than this one. We actually recorded an addendum to it trying to touch on a few other viewpoints, but our attempts landed flat.
We’re struggling with this, and we think lots of artists do as well.
For me personally…. (by that I mean not speaking for Eric or George)
I couldn’t agree more with you about sensitivity reads. I actually have someone doing this for my book right now. It’s been enlightening and valuable to me. I have emotions and ideas I want to communicate and love how much clearer those can be for my audience when my unintentional biases are challenged/changed/or stripped out.
I also liked this series of questions: ‘Is this going to hurt someone? Is it going to add to an existing problem? If the answer is yes, do I think it’s worth it? Why?’
I think a reductionist could make those mean you’re going to somehow offend someone so don’t do anything… but I think with an ounce of care and wisdom… it is possible.
“It’s the same sentiment of ‘well I’m just being honest’ when you tell someone what’s on your mind because you want to, or think it will somehow be of benefit when we know that 99% of the time it doesn’t produce good results.”
Reminded me of this tweet:
Thanks again for contributing.