Yesterday, I reported on the censorship mess at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Throughout the day, the story grew. Naturally, those who called for the exclusion of David Wojnaroicz's video titled "A Fire In My Belly" (due to an 11 second segment that showed ants crawling on a crucifix) said things that made them look much more foolish than they did just a day earlier. And, the scholars who actually know a thing or two about the artwork itself, said things that were intelligent and made perfect sense.
The conservatives (Catholic League, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, etc.) who claim to be offended by the imagery simply can not see the forrest for the trees. They are not even trying to put things into context (most likely because none of them have been to the exhibit or even seen the video in its entirety). This is why it's important to rely on the scholarly knowledge of the curators who selected and designed the exhibit.
One of the best quotes I have read comes from Wendy Olsoff, owner of P.P.O.W. Gallery in NY which represents the estate of Wojnarowicz:
"David puts ants over coins, dollar bills, toy guns, toy soldiers, eyes - he used ants and animal imagery all the time... David believed the imagery of ants' society was a parallel to human society. He was trying to change our mythologies about capitalism and institutionalized religion. and trying to make a comparison to animals. It was not about Christ. it was just about institutionalized religion."
Politicians really should think (or at least listen) before they talk.
In the meantime... The staff of the National Portrait Gallery has been working on filling the Wojnarowicz void left in the exhibit, Hide/Seek (an exploration of gender identity), by installing a video piece that I'm sure Rep. Boehner will find much more to his liking: a seven minute cut from "Pink Narcissus," aboutthe fantasies of a young male prostitute, directed in 1971 by James Bidgood.
Crazy Conservative Politicians = 0
Curators = 1