Have You Obscene This?


I don’t normally rant since it is typically pointless but I’ve got to tell you the recent decision to pull Cycles Gladiator wine from shelves in Alabama because its lovely wine label (shown above) has been deemed pornographic (despite the fact that they approved it way back in 2006. And despite the fact that it is actually a famous piece of advertising art from 1895 for a French bicycle company) mystifies me. No so much because the illustration features a rather classical nude in profile – you’re free to object to nudity if you want- but because of what I perceive as a radical imbalance in our cultural perception of what is obscene (defined as: offensive to moral principals).

How is it that this wine label which celebrates the female form as a work of art is an offensive thing to have in liquor stores where minors have no business (granted wine is sold in one isle of grocery stores in many states) yet the lower shelves at my local Blockbuster video rental store, where minors are a core customer, are choked with DVD covers like the one pictured below for The Saw that celebrate incredibly graphic and dehumanizing violence?

I don’t want to start banning things because I have no interest in returning to any of the deeply flawed puritanical or medieval cultures of the past but if we go that route I would pose this question. Which one of these two pieces of professional illustration/design is at odds with our culture’s moral principals?