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Iconnery


I've had a couple of comments lately about some of my user icons being
offensive for various reasons.

Normally, I take it with a grain of salt. If I took away everything that
could possibly offend somebody, there wouldn't be much left. And really,
I haven't put together the icons to be offensive, but to reflect a mood
or a concept.

However, some folks don't get the deeper meaning. They are offended by
the image itself, probably because the image has a different context for
them. This is not new-- consider the reaction to Serrano's Piss
Christ
, where the deeper meaning was subjugated by the outpouring of
hostility over the concept of an Icon being placed in urine and blood.
Where the statement had to do with the separation of the icon from the
thing it represents, it caused a whole wave of violent reaction that
became the bigger story, and the message was lost.

I am no Serrano. I don't pretend that my icons are works of art. But I
don't intend for them to be so offensive as to detract from the concept
that I'm trying to get across. They do have meaning, and I try to use
them judiciously.

So I have after much consideration decided to remove some of the icons
that I have in my icon pool. It's not a caving in to public opinion,
it's eliminating a block to the messages that I want to get across. And
over time, I'll probably eliminate more and replace them with more
artistic and abstract ones since I like playing with iconography and
meaning so much.

Apologies to those who have been seriously offended. I have never meant
to offend. Disturb, shake up, evoke thought, but not offend.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
theatre_nerd
Feb. 17th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'll bet someone complained about the butt icon didn't they? Heh. They're just user icons. One guy I read had a nude photo of himself as his icon. It's up to the individual what icons they use. You're nice to consider other people though.
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC)
The butt icon actually got more complaints than any other-- though why that one over some of the others escapes me. Cripes it was a girl in a thong on a beach. Considering the number of posts that I make about being ass-o-centric, I thought it was pretty innocuous.

But the point is that when the icon becomes so overpowering that people miss the content of the message, it gets in the way. And I have enough impediments in my life without creating more of my own.
(no subject) - dracut - Feb. 17th, 2005 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - magicmarmot - Feb. 17th, 2005 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dracut - Feb. 17th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - magicmarmot - Feb. 17th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
scarletdemon
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)
Well, I had no problem with them but I'm fairly relaxed and not LOOKING to be offended.
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:22 pm (UTC)
And I keep trying to offend you and it never seems to work.
(no subject) - scarletdemon - Feb. 17th, 2005 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
windelina
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
What kind of sissies do you have reading your journal?

Jeesh.

It was a female ass - a nice-looking, in shape one. We glorify the damn thing, what's wrong with it?

Somebody was jealous that their ass wasn't as nice.
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:20 pm (UTC)
If it had been just one complaint, I would have written it off. But there were three from three separate folks.

I still have the picture if I really want to see it. :)
(no subject) - magicmarmot - Feb. 17th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
saveau
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:37 pm (UTC)
Okay, here's a contest idea; let's see if we can come up with icons that are as deliberately offensive as possible. Like a nun being anally penetrated by a crucifix held by a cartoon demon, or something.

Whoever is pissing and moaning about your icons is an overly twitchy asshat looking for something to bitch about, someone small and petty who needs to tear someone else down to make themselves feel bigger. Nothing more.
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:17 pm (UTC)
That's a great generalization, but it the specific case it doesn't hold up. This is the exact same reason I am against mandatory sentencing in courts.

If you had the nun icon, and somebody wrote to you very nicely and said that they were upset by your icon because they were held prisoner and anally raped by a crucifix-weilding demon for ten years, it would probably make you rethink the circumstances.

If someone removed you from their friends list because they got in trouble for having "adult" images displayed at work, it might be cause for rethinking.

If someone sent you a message saying "I am disturbed by the ass because it reminds me that mine isn't so good", well, I'd probably say piss off or the equivalent.

It's still back to the same principle. When the icon obscures the message, when it gets in the way, it's time to reconsider its usefulness. That is the key issue here, not whether the icon itself was offensive to a person or three.
mesmericone
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
Okay sensitive people look at my bitch icon and see if I fucking care!!!!!!
That icon w/the girl's ass.....I want an ass like that but give me a fucking break!!! I mean.....grow up some people!

*mutters*

magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Okay sensitive people look at my bitch icon and see if I fucking care!!!!!!
Well, I want an ass like that too. Not on me, just to play with.
eldogo
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
When your ass icon would come up, I'd stare, sigh, and get all dreamy. Then I'd go "holy shit! I'm at work!" and then scroll the screen down really fast.

I've never been offended by anyone's icons ever, but there are some practicality concerns that come up.
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
I can send you the full-size picture if you want. Beware though, she's a european girl, and has a rather furry ass...
lucyruthe
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... If I was ever offended, it was by ethel's icon crotch shot of David Hasselhoff... But that's purely on principle...
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:19 pm (UTC)
Jeden der Hasselhofcrotch gegessen!
(no subject) - lucyruthe - Feb. 17th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - magicmarmot - Feb. 17th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lucyruthe - Feb. 17th, 2005 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - magicmarmot - Feb. 17th, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - loba - Feb. 18th, 2005 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
mle292
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
All nice and peaceful like...
I'd like to voice a dissenting opinion from some of the other comments, just to offer you some support for what was probably a challenging artistic decision.

You're right.

I wasn't at all offended by any of your icons. Still, if you're trying to communicate with your "friends" and some of those friends tell you that something bothers them, it's just plain respectful to try to find a way to communicate without bothering them. Good for you, and I don't think it diminishes you as an artist in any way.

Because some of the icons were sexual in nature, I think this might be seen as a "prudish" issue. It isn't and it's got nothing to do with sexuality.

If for instance, a friend wrote to you and said "A squirrel bit me once and I had to get horrible rabies shots. I hate to see pictures of squirrels, please don't use a squirrel icon where I can see it" would you be willing to accomodate your friend? I'm guessing that most people would be willing to accomodate a friend...
magicmarmot
Feb. 17th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
Re: All nice and peaceful like...
I think it requires judgement in each case.

If you get down to it, every one of the icons might be offensive to someone for some reason. Hell, I've offended people by just listing my interests. Some people are easily offended by things that I just don't get.

But there are others who bring things up that make me think. That was the case with the last complaint. It wasn't a crackpot, it was someone who had a legitimate reason (IMHO) for being distracted.

And yes, it was a hard decision. I'm not one for self-censoring because I might offend somebody somewhere, but I do need to have an awareness when I try to communicate.

I still come back to Serrano. I get what he was trying to do, probably because of my interest in semiotics. Other artists have done similar things (Magritte, Ceçi n'est pas une pipe), but none that had the notoriety of Piss Christ. The notoriety killed the message, which is too bad because it was brilliantly put together. (People still react violently to pictures of the exhibit, which I consider to be irony.)

In the case of the squirrel... tough call, but I might remove it. I have other icons, and I do make more from time to time, though none speak to my frame of mind quite so eloquently as the squirrel with the knife.
Re: All nice and peaceful like... - mle292 - Feb. 17th, 2005 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
jmanna
Feb. 18th, 2005 01:03 am (UTC)
O can tell you the one an only reason I might be unsettled by an icon to the point of asking someone to remove it.

Work.

That said, Livejournal is not work related and well sometimes there are not work things displayed there. There are ways to set up a view that doesn't allow icons in livejournal.

(I had something pissy here, but I won't soil yer jounral. I'll put it in mine.)

Marmot, sounds like you made the decision out of respect for the person rather then fear, so that's cool. Because it is a decision.
loba
Feb. 18th, 2005 02:42 am (UTC)
"Disturb the comfortable, and comfort the disturbed." :-)

And yes... I *like* your icons... like all pictures, they communicate better that many words do. I'm sorry you feel the need to self-censor because some people are offended by your images. *makes a face*

But, do what you think best. There's always the filtered posts, if you want to use the ones that have been perceived as to "offend".....
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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