Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nothing like some controversy on a Tuesday

So, as part of The Park Record newspaper, I get to lay out the pages for the Scene section of the paper. The lead story was about the Body World exhibit that's being put on in Salt Lake. Basically, the idea is that people donate their bodies to science and the scientists preserve the bodies by injecting them with plastic to preserve them, so they can kind of peel away the different parts of skin or muscle to reveal the bone structure or nerve interconnections or whatnot.

Everything was going along fine and dandy until I printed out pages for the copy editor to look at and she saw that the genitals of the male skier were intact. She then asked us to crop it out of the picture.


This is said offensive picture. (Should I not be posting this?)

Although I'm not one to normally support keeping possibly offensive pictures in the newspaper, I kind of felt somehow that this was a little different. The editor's point was that if they didn't want to see the exhibit and would be offended by the complete realness bodies, we shouldn't force them to do so through the pictures. But, really, I think what she was trying to say was if they didn't want to see that certain part of the exhibit we shouldn't force them - we were already kind of "forcing" them to see the exhibit through putting in any pictures of it at all.

Also, what qualifies as art? I mean, yes, it is a real human, but it's not at the same time. The process to preserve them kind of makes them a statue or model more than anything else. The David is kind of the same idea - I wonder if we would put a picture of that in the paper...

Another controversial point about the exhibit is that it's taking bodies, which we know are sacred, and kind of manipulating them, but it IS educating people about how the body works...

I just don't think these are things that are cut and dried - but do you?

4 comments:

Katie Phelps said...

I don't have an answer to your question about it being offensive or not, but I feel your pain about not knowing. I agree that not all things are cut and dried. There are a lot of grey areas. Last night Bryan and I had a long talk about the internal struggles I was having about things not being black and white. It was interesting. If only it could be easy.

Becky said...

Since I have been wanting to see Body World, I am not opposed to showing pictures of anything in newspapers. However, I can see that it might cause problems by showing a male body part, albeit for educational purposes. Hmmm you are right about it not being an easy thing to figure out.

Jennifer said...

Body World itself...certainly not offensive. I'd consider going but I've already spent uncountable hours with various dissections of dead bodies and it seems silly to pay to see what I usually get to see up close and touch and such. Also, genitals aren't offensive and it's people acting that way that yields the silly stigmas attached and causes little boys to say "pee-pee" or whatever and giggle about private parts when they're mentioned. No need to fuel that. If we're discussing the sacred nature of the body...let it be laid out...the person who donated themselves wanted to contribute to science...they probably didn't know they'd be posed on what appears to be skiis though...

Allison Harris said...

I know this is so long after you wrote it, and a bad joke, but I do know one thing that is cut and dried: that guy on the skis.

Ok, sorry. You have a good point about ethics. It reminds me of the hours we spent in the scroll office talking about banning books and such. Hard questions.