is currently under fire from such media organizations as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal for providing what some call "indecent" art projects.
All of those perverted NEA grantees are--you guessed it--right here in the Bay Area. Because this is clearly a haven of debauchery and moral degeneration, out here in the West, far from the puritanical, straight-laced East Coast.
The indecent grantees: CounterPulse
, because they host a cabaret titled "Perverts Put Out!"; Frameline
, the host of the San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which recently screened a movie called Thundercrack,
which mixes hardcore sex with a campy plot; and Jess Curtis/Gravity
for producing "Symmetry Project," featuring two naked people "writhing on the floor."
To begin, "Perverts Put Out!"
claims not to receive any of that NEA funding; in other words, CounterPulse uses the federal money for other, more noble and universally accepted pursuits. So why this is even a part of the debate, I'm not sure. Second, Frameline screened hundreds
of movies, of which Thundercrack
was but one. It is possible--likely even--that NEA money, once again, did not go toward this particular objectionable screening.
But whether or not this funding went to these sex-related artistic pursuits, a nasty whiff of censorship lingers in the air. Why are two naked bodies "writhing" (some call it--*gasp*--"dancing") not artistically valid? We accept nudity in the theatre, because it can signify something potent. A nude character is a vulnerable one, for example, or an objectified one. Like any costume, it is part of telling the story. So why should it be objectionable and distasteful in a dance piece? Why the government can't bring itself to allow nudity in the name of art is beyond me. Anything sex-related in art and gubernatorial panic ensues, because obviously being exposed to any kind of sex outside the closed doors of your own bedroom will corrupt you beyond salvation. Just look at those promiscuous French people.
Sarcasm aside, art does--and should--live by its own laws. This is about freedom of expression. In two out of these three cases, it is at least questionable whether federal funding actually went to anything objectionable. In the other, nudity in a dance piece, in my opinion, should not be cause for alarm.
And, in the case of Thundercrack,
sure, it sounds like a porno. (I've never seen it, so I am not equipped to make that judgment call.) But according to the description on Frameline's website
, it is "the world's only
underground kinky art porno horror movie." That's historical significance, right? Worthy of federal funding?
That might be a stretch. But the government does need to relax. Freedom of expression is a good thing, particularly in art. Sex is also generally considered a good thing. The marriage of the two is only natural. Isn't all art really about sex, somewhere in there? Sex and nudity doesn't make art indecent, it makes it interesting and natural.
We all know federal funding for the arts is important. Let's not allow a silly little porn flick to get in the way of that. This needn't be Mapplethorpe 2.0
. If you need to restore your faith in the nobility and decency of art, go see CounterPulse's labor history bicycle tour, or take in a different LGBT-themed film from Frameline, one with a brilliant message about acceptance and very light on the sexual innuendo. Or go see one of the other recipients of the more than $79 million of NEA money that went to uncontroversial art projects.
Leave us crazy San Franciscans to our porn, nudity and general perviness. Our counterculture isn't bothering your mainstream, so don't bother us.
Labels: CounterPULSE, Frameline, Gravity, Mapplethorpe, NEA