Monday, February 26, 2007

Off to the Obscenity Conference

This week, without Jerome Around, Lola is really going to be by herself. I am going to a national conference on obscenity to participate in a panel on Mexican obscenities. Mexico and Japan are the only countries that got their own panels for this one. I tried to do a "google" image search for something to include with this post, but the results were disappointing. Among the things that come up early when you search google for images related to obscenity are:
  • A photo of a peace demonstration in which a protestor holds a sign saying "Definition of Obscenity, that 4000 National Guard Troops from Washington State are sent to fight the private war of a man who used the National Guard to avoid a war.
  • A photo of war protestors arrested on obscenity charges after demonstrating with a sign bearing a cartoon of a Bush supporter with his head in the sand and his other end ... shall we say, uh, serving as a base for a U.S. flag.
  • A conservative cartoon accusing the media of hypocricy for holding conseratives to a higher standard of "decency" than liberals.
And lots more of that sort of thing, including a version of Goya's "Kronos eating his children" with Bush's face. Further down you get the following:
  • Links to Danish and Polish death metal bands.
  • Articles about a scandal surrounding singer/actress Mallika Sherawat's shocking New Year's Eve performance at the Mumbai Mariott. She wore nothing but a "body hugging skin suit and a silver bikini to top it." The horror!
  • The symposium!
  • Darfur protestors saying the violence there is obscene.
  • Yet another Indian scandal, this one revolving around a scene between Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in the movie Dhoom-2. Why don't people just protest temple carvings? Those puritanical Brits really got under people's skins, didn't they?
  • A story about controversy surrounding a sculpture by California artist Daniel Edwards of a nude Britney Spears giving birth on a bear rug. Finally the good old USA is fighting back! Edwards has also sculpted MLK and Bobby Kennedy but not like this.
In the above it's remarkable how much we in the states are using the word "obscenity" to talk about politics and violence rather than SEX! One of the themes of the conference is whether obscenity as a concept even makes sense in an age of widespread permissiveness.

For the last three years, conferences for me have been part job meat market part job meat grinder. Even when I've presented, I've spent most of my time preparing for interviews and pacing around the placement center, hoping I'm not sweating too much in my suit. This conference is going to feature prominent speakers in the social sciences and humanities and bring together researchers working on issues as diverse as pornography and censorship, comedy, torture, and the politics of the disposal of sewage sludge. I'll miss my Lola, but I'm psyched to be at a real academic gathering.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carlena here.

Maybe the nation as a whole is coming to see obscenity as dealing with violence. However, Kansas as usual is behind the times. The legislature is dealing with a bill that would allow English teachers to be prosecuted for introducing teenagers to many commonly accepted novels. Sigh. See

February 27, 2007 7:34 AM  

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