Do You Find This Painting Obscene?
I’ve been regularly reviewing my Flickr photos using the Flickr organizer to see which of my photos Flickr has been hiding on their site. If you are not aware of how to do this yourself: 1. Go to the Flickr Organizer. 2. Click under the “more options” button under search. 3. And then restrict your flickr images to either “moderate” or “restricted.” Has Flickr censored any of your images?
This will show you images from your photostream that Flickr has hidden or buried from public site areas. These images don’t come up in the vast majority of searches people do on the site. They can’t be used for galleries. They won’t show up under the default view used by most users on the site etc.
I blogged yesterday about James Doiron having his entire 25,000+ photostream restricted over photos of mannequins that show nipples — something Victoria’s Secret has been doing publicly at over 1,000 stores in public malls and other sites across United States for the past several years.
But increasingly Flickr has gone about burying images of art and culture, attacking images from museums of paintings and sculpture with an alarming rate. I had to fight last year with Flickr Staff in the Help Forum (where I’m now banned permanently) because they tried to censor one of my images of a public sculpture that has sat in the middle of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills now for several years. Public art. Censored. They reversed their decision on that one and lifted the restriction, but not without a lot of work on my part.
Most recently they have censored the artwork above from my stream. The image above is one of a famous painting that hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s entitled Odalisque with Tambourine and was originally painted by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. They didn’t tell me it was censored. As they mostly do Flickr likes to censor things behind your back, without you knowing.
Ask yourself this — do you find this painting obscene? There are no warnings regarding it’s placement in the museums all ages gallery. And why is it not ok to show the backside of painting of a woman in a museum, but it seems perfectly fine for people to show full frontal nudity of the famous statue of Michelangelo’s David? isn’t it a double standard for Flickr to say that great art of females ought to be treated differently than great art of males.
The basic problem is that the Censorship Division at Flickr is unchecked. They’ve been given unlimited power over who sees our images and who does not. Flickr relevancy to our culture is too important not to resist these intrusions. Censoring great works of art is an insult to all photographers and artists. Like the Victorians of yesteryear who ruined many sculptures by plastering fig leafs over their private parts, Flickr wields the censors sword flippantly and seemingly without consequence. This is bad for morale, bad for Flickr/Yahoo’s PR, bad for Yahoo shareholders and causes Flickr to lose both revenue and important users and contributors who have great things to offer the world.
Yahoo Management ought to seriously consider cutting staff within Flickr’s Censorship Division. Not only would they be saving valuable money from salaries and benefits that could be used for more important things like engineering, they would be doing a better job as stewards of the important and significant cultural jewel that they have on their hands.