Thursday, November 20, 2003

I just read the book review for Helmut Newton: Autobiography. For a man who made a career out of taking controversial, highly-suggestive, photos, he's nothing short of remarkable. The page excerpts reveal to me a man who refuses to excuse himself for his decadent, Dionysian, lifestyle. I think the reason his photos are so talked about is because they question, surprisingly, male sexuality. Leaving the male viewer with one of two burdens to carry: perversion or self-denial. The former, because the arousing pictures almost always illustrate twisted and questionable relationships. The latter, because of its tendency to inflict self-revulsion when left unchecked, ergo, oppressed. It's the devious paradox of a so-called liberated society that prides itself for its open-mindness to ideas ... within reason. The accusation that Newton and (on a lesser scale) von Unwerth have demonized sex is without merit. How can it be demonized when it was never allowed into sainthood? The classical definition used in art to seperate what is and isn't tasteful is: "What turns me on is erotica. What turns you on is pornography." And in essence, it is the statement of our lives: What I do is always justifiable. What you do, just never is.

This is the double standard that is regularly confused with popular opinion. It is the hated flaw we unknowingly enforce. Are we truly undogmatic when we use ourselves as the universal scale of morality?

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