Taste and decency

Perceptions of taste and decency change over time. Many of us have (or had) Tumblr accounts, certainly before the recent policy change. Their ban on ‘adult content‘ seeks to exclude anything deemed pornographic – in particular photos and videos showing human genitals and female presenting nipples. Although I downloaded my Tumblr content and have uploaded it elsewhere, I still have my tumblr account. Soon after the ban came into force I went through and removed most content deemed unsuitable. I appealed one photo which just showed my neck and shoulders, no nipples.

Since then my posts have continued to automatically upload, with some surprising results. This was deemed unsuitable, while this wasn’t. They use AI algorithms which are meant to highlight what doesn’t meet the new regulations and leave the rest. Art is meant to be ok as is breast feeding and mastectomy scars. I presume I’d need to keep my other breast hidden if I wanted to post a photo of the latter though.

Art galleries are full of pictures of people’s naked and semi naked bodies and what is acceptable and desirable changes. Sometimes due to fashion and other times due to rules on decency. The photo below is of a painting called Phyllis and Demophoön, by Edward Burne Jones. In 1870, it was deemed distasteful, both for the full frontal male nudity and androgynous nature of the figures. This seems strange now, because it is art and anyway his genitals are rather difficult to see. I wonder though if it is ok for Tumblr.

February Photofest

One Reply to “Taste and decency”

  1. The argument over what is art and what is porn (and therefore unacceptable to the general population) will likely never end. My issue is censorship. It’s one thing not to like it and to choose not to see it, but another to demand that no one can.

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