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Clive Hamiton and his 'loss of memory'... [Jun. 14th, 2008|06:38 pm]
Bob Bain
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From Bill Henson shows 'society exploits children in eroticised ways' ABC Radio National (also available in MP3 format)

PM - Friday, 23 May , 2008 18:40:00
Reporter: Edmond Roy

MARK COLVIN: As the former executive director of the Australia Institute, Clive Hamilton published a controversial report titled "Corporate Paedophilia"".

On the Bill Henson case, he argues that while artists have a right to push boundaries, society has a responsibility to push back.

He sees the latest controversy as the result of a society in which children are being exploited in increasingly eroticised ways.

Clive Hamilton spoke to Edmond Roy.

CLIVE HAMILTON: Well I think the way childhood has been sexualised so heavily, particularly over the last 10 or 15 years, has inevitably changed the way we see children in their naked form.

I've argued that previously when perhaps it was a more innocent age, then artistic representations of children, as is the case with the Bill Henson exhibition, wouldn't have provided difficulty.

But in an age where children have been so heavily sexualised by commercial organisations and by the wider culture and where there's so much more alarm about paedophilia then I think the presentation of a 12-year-old girl, for instance, naked to the public, really has quite a different impact and raises new concerns.

In particular, when they are placed on the internet, you know they're flashed around the world within hours and even though the website from the gallery in question has been taken down, the images of this girl who is about 12 we believe, are all around the world and can be used for all sorts of unpleasant purposes.

And I argue that she, the girl, the model, could not possibly understand the implications of being presented naked to the world, even though the presentation is very aestheticised and that therefore she could not give informed consent.

So there are serious ethical problems with having these child models presented in this exhibition in this way, particularly putting them up on the internet.

EDMOND ROY: Are you accusing the gallery owners, the parents, the artists of a certain naivety then?

CLIVE HAMILTON: Absolutely. I don't think their motives were nefarious or exploitative but I think they were very naive to imagine that nowadays you can put pictures of a naked girl with all of her, you know, budding sexuality on public display and not expect it to have all sorts of impacts including some pretty unpleasant ones.

EDMOND ROY: What do you say to the argument about artistic freedom? The question has been raised about how artists should be allowed, as you point out, push the boundaries.

CLIVE HAMILTON: Well it's not so much that artists, I mean it is in a way the duty of artists to push the boundaries, but it's also an obligation on society to push back.

And we've seen after a decade or more in which children have become increasingly exploited in the media and popular culture and presented in more and more eroticised ways, we're beginning to see a reaction against that and Bill Henson's exhibition has been caught up in that.

You know, arguably he and the gallery owners are innocent victims but they should have known better. They should have been aware that the way that children have been presented in recent years is bound to create difficulties when you present them not in an eroticised way I'd stress, the pictures aren't in any sense pornographic, but the context makes the presentation of children in the nude, you know, troubling.

EDMOND ROY: You did mention the internet earlier. Has the invention of that new medium changed the argument somewhat?

CLIVE HAMILTON: I think it's changed it completely. I mean if we imagine going back 30 years and this sort of exhibition being put on in a gallery and it was seen by its intended audience, that is those who have presumably a sophisticated appreciation of photography as art, then I don't think, I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it.

But when the same pictures become consumed, if I can use that commodified term, by a range of people for quite different and unintended reasons, which will have impacts on the child models in question, through the internet, then I think there are serious worries about that.

I mean, if this girl at age 30 has a completely different, you know has a career and an integrity and, you know, a history behind her and suddenly these pictures pop up in a magazine or on the internet, I mean, I'd imagine there's a good chance she'd be humiliated.

And yet it seems to me that the adults around her who have her interests at heart and organised, approved the exhibition, were not fully aware of these dangers and have probably caused that child some damage.

MARK COLVIN: Clive Hamilton, former executive director of the Australia Institute

and now the viewpoint of Mike Meloni at SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN - discussing censorship and moral panic in Australia

There is no censorship worth noting in Australia.‘ The words of former Australia Institute Executive Director, Clive Hamilton, at last nights Art Censorship debate in Sydney.

Clive must be losing his memory. Did he forget that recent case where those nasty chaps at David Jones tried to silence The Australia Institute’s criticism of their advertising practices? Some might tag that corporate censorship. The ABC even reported Clive saying it was affront to free speech.

And that book he co-wrote, Silencing Dissent: how the Australian government is controlling public opinion and stifling debate. I take it that was merely an exercise in printing 279 blank pages? Nothing worth noting? Odd considering what Clive said in this interview around the time of the book’s launch....


I can't understand why anyone should "feel guilty" at any time in their life at being photographed nude

click here for a google image search on the term "naked children" (there are three safe search filtering options provided by Google)

I even get Saatchi gallery will not be prosecuted Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 18:53 GMT

The gallery at the centre of a censorship row over photographs of naked children will not be prosecuted.

Police officers were called to the Saatchi Gallery in London last week after complaints about photos taken by American photographer Tierney Gearon of her own children and a second photographer Nan Goldin.

[User Picture]From: gemsling
2008-06-14 09:34 pm (UTC)
This has a bit of a "nothing to fear but fear itself" feel to it. As an aside, the western world (particularly the US) now has so many rediculous security measures in place that you could say terrorism is successful. As Bruce Schneier would say, we should "refuse to be terrorised".

Likewise, surely we should refuse to let childhood be robbed of its innocence. All this debate might be making people feel better, but it's not necessarily making children any safer. Yet at the same time, it's casting childhood in a negative light. And we're hearing that nudity is inherently sexual and worth hiding. Wouldn't we be better off focusing on the inherent innocence in these artworks, thereby preserving that innocence?

Has there been any word from Roslyn Oxley as to whether they'll put the returned portraits back on display, or if they'd prefer to lay low for a bit?
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[User Picture]From: bobbain
2008-06-14 10:48 pm (UTC)
The Roslyn Oxley gallery put to returned portraits back on display prior to the discussion but it was by invitation only.

It was in the press somewhere (I'm sure I could dig it out if pressed).

I believe the debate tends to degrade the value of pornography.

The "are you an artist or pornographer?" question tends to debase the value of pornography. Admittedly in discussing children it is "child pornography" that is under consideration - but in my lifetime I have known:-

a) All pornography to be illegal in Australia.
b) Child pornography to be legal - and legally sold in New South Wales).
c) Homosexuality to be illegal.

I recall the debate about the legal availability of pornographic magazines and the subsequent calls for it to be criminalised. If you are interested in the this you may like to investigate "Rodox Films" via Wikipedia which has (or had) a few lines regarding their legal production of child porn (which isn't necessarily the same things as "child abuse").

I don't recall 8 mm films of cp being on sale legally in Sydney although 8 mm films of bestiality were quite common and it's only recently that bestiality has disappeared from the smorgasbord or material on sale in New South Wales (about 2005).

The history of censorship and legality and illegality is tucked away in my head and in my memories. I do not necessarily rely on the Internet to provide me with authorative answers to everything.

I believe knowledge regarding Greek culture was only revived in recent centuries.


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[User Picture]From: gemsling
2008-06-15 11:25 am (UTC)
"The Roslyn Oxley gallery put to returned portraits back on display prior to the discussion but it was by invitation only."

Sounds like a reasonable compromise. Though politically sensitive, if would be unfortunate for them to back down in the face of pressure and not resume the display. That would just send a message to protestors that they had won.

"The "are you an artist or pornographer?" question tends to debase the value of pornography."

Interesting perspective. I admit that pornography itself has great value, but I still think of art as something different and of greater merit. Not to say that you can't have an artistic approach to porn, but I tend to think there's a difference, and I can't see how Hetty and co. are missing it.

In any case, this is not really about porn, but about child abuse and the absurd notion that all portrayal of nudity below the age of consent is inherently abusive and cannot be considered as anything but child abuse.
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[User Picture]From: bobbain
2008-06-15 10:43 pm (UTC)

Interesting perspective. I admit that pornography itself has great value, but I still think of art as something different and of greater merit. Not to say that you can't have an artistic approach to porn, but I tend to think there's a difference, and I can't see how Hetty and co. are missing it.

There is good porn and bad art and bad good art and bad porn. There's more illegal porn in New South Wales than legal art. I have what the Hon. Peter Breen MLC referred to a "a box of 10" (photo somewhere in this journal) returned to me under the instructions of the former Director of the OFLC Des Clark and if I understand correctly from the Commonwealth Ombudsman it was a reasonable decision of his to return very explicit items relating to rape and the illegal photography of women (age unknown) being photographed without their consent in the changing rooms of department stores. The site that hosts this material was considered not a breach of the guidelines by the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

It is not clear to me how people deemed to be "unknown" can be on a US "Section 2257 compliant" website.

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[User Picture]From: bobbain
2008-06-14 10:58 pm (UTC)

addendum to previous reply


Also notable is the fact that Color Climax was one of the only large-scale commercial producers of child pornography in the modern history of erotica to openly advertise the fact.[citation needed] Although generally not mentioned by the multi-national corporation of today, from 1969 to 1979 Color Climax was responsible for the relatively large-scale distribution child pornography.[1] Though participation by such a mainstream studio was unique to Denmark, it generally did not reflect a wide-spread societal acceptance of child pornography in the country at the time.[citation needed]

CCC was also known for its magazine series with titles such as Color Climax and Rodox, which presented a wide variety of European and American stars. Many of those photos are still available today via the Color Climax website and also circulate widely (though in violation of copyright) around the Internet via file-sharing networks and other sources

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