Mar 4, 2012

Success = Federal Censorship

Well, everyone, I've made it. I have arrived at artistic legitimacy, and I wasn't even trying! The way I figure it, if a Federal agency takes notice of what you're doing enough to tell you not to do it, you are a success, which makes me, now, legit.

Check out this image. It's the front of a postcard that apexart was planning to send out to promote my art show, Consent (crappy snapshot, but you get the idea):

Pretty cool, huh? Evocative, intriguing, and yet not explicit. Kind of the perfect thing to mail to 9,000 people in 110 countries, right? Not according to the US Postal Service. I'm getting this all secondhand--I wasn't there for the meeting in which this was actually discussed--but the gist of it is that, when the people at apexart took these postcards and a mockup of the brochure that will feature more explicit images and an essay by yours truly to the Post Office to find out if they would be better off using envelopes, the USPS kind of freaked out. Apparently, according to the Powers That Be, the above image is blatantly pornographic and therefore cannot be mailed out to anyone who has not explicitly requested it. If it is, say the Postal people, apexart could face Federal prison time.

Seriously. They said that.

Look at that image. True, it's from a porn movie (Tristan Taormino's Rough Sex 2) and it features a porn star (Sinnamon Love). And it says the word "porn" on it. But let's take a moment to reflect on what can be sent in the mail. For example, a Victoria's Secret catalogue:

Call me crazy, but that beautiful lady is showing a lot more skin and boob than Sinnamon is on my postcard. And I'm pretty sure that Victoria's Secret catalogs get mailed to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom don't really want them (like me, for example).

How about a print magazine with a readership of at least several hundred thousand, if not millions, that's sent through the mail every month?

Now, granted, Aubrey Miles isn't getting flogged in that picture. But I've got this suspicion that, given the choice between jerking off to a mostly-clothed, vaguely BDSM image like the one on my postcard, or the one with the totally naked woman with handprints on her tits, most American males might go for the handprint photo.

But my postcard just got censored. Some of this has to do with mailing lists--not everyone on the apexart mailing list signed up for it and therefore there's a bit of a legal leg for anyone who gets offended to stand on if they object and never signed up. But still. Seriously? This is straight up censorship. Freedom of speech my ass.

I'm so fucking edgy, people!

And I'm so glad that this has happened, in a way. Even though it's ridiculous, it points out exactly why it's important for me to speak up on this issue in the first place. The dialogue around pornography and sex positivity in general in this country, despite the efforts of so many for so long, is still nearly nonexistent. The Postal Service would still rather censor material like this that asks people to stop, think, and discuss than deal with any possible fallout. It would rather help disseminate material like the FHM cover above, which is unquestionably sexual and even, many would say, actively promoting the continued objectification of women in America, than help myself and apexart promote a conversation about what pornography is and how it affects us--and how mainstream imagery also affects us. Censorship and a larger unwillingness to talk about these issues is the reason why it's so important for me to keep trying.

The art space is printing up simple white-text-on-black-background postcards with the same text that will be mailed out, and we'll change the brochure to make it more mailing-safe as well. But in the meantime, I've got 3,000 postcards with the image you see above on them that the art space can't mail out. I can, however, mail them to people who request them... Sooooo who wants some postcards? Send me your mailing address to, and proof of government censorship will be yours!

1 comment:

  1. you are insanely edgy...and the usps is "dirty" parts are being shown in your postcard...keep on trucking you...;)