Uproar Over Tiny Illustration Of Naked Statue In Children's Book

A German author and her publisher were thrilled when a U.S. publisher inquired about putting out a North American edition of one of her bestselling children’s books… until the U.S. publisher asked the author to airbrush some of her illustrations.

The drawings, of a scene in an art museum, feature cartoonish depictions of a nude painting and statue. Hardly anything to freak out over, but the publisher, Boyds Mills Press, was so afraid of angry parents that they sheepishly asked the author to censor herself.

This didn’t go over so well in Germany. From Spiegel:

American kiddies, obviously, could never be expected to handle such a depiction of the human body. The US publisher, somewhat awkwardly, asked if they could be removed.

The author, not surprisingly, considers the request to be absurd. The statue’s mini-willy, the author points out, is hardly even a half-millimeter long. And the naked woman hanging on the wall? Hardly a realistic depiction of the female anatomy. The US publisher, says Berner, was embarrassed to ask for the changes, but they were even more afraid of how American mommies and daddies might react if junior were exposed to such pornography.

For the author, any kind of self-censorship was completely out of the question. She said she could maybe have lived with putting black bars in front of the problem spots, but “invisible censorship” was out. “If you’re going to censor something, then the reader should be aware of it,” she told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The book in question is already a bestseller in 13 countries. Now, outcry from Germany has convinced Boyd Mills to go ahead with the book without any censorship.

It’s sad but not surprising that the publisher reacted the way they did. A tiny drawing of a wang in a kid’s book is just the sort of unsubstantial, yet mildly controversial issue that local TV news teams really enjoy. In a country where you can get your 15 minutes of fame from complaining about talking dolls that “swear” if you listen really, really hard, and the use of the word “scrotum” in a Newbery Medal winning children’s book causes apoplexy in librarians, the publisher was probably less concerned about offending your average parent than it was about having to “take tiny penis drawings seriously” on the nightly news. So it goes.

US Publisher Turns away from Cartoon Nudity [Spiegel]
US publisher relents on German children’s book [EarthTimes]

Comments

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  1. This same controversy erupted with the publication of Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen. That was more than 35 years ago.

    The more “cultural conservatives” change, the more they stay the same.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    In Europe, shampoo commercials show bare breasts. That would also never happen in America.

  3. TWinter says:

    Uggggggg. Why are Americans so hung up on nudity?

  4. IrisMR says:

    Well, nothing worse than children book in schools here that have pigs getting their heads chopped off with a chainsaw, mothers suiciding and two boyfriends kissing (I’m not homophobe but um, it’s aimed to 6 years old. They’re still at the “Where do babies come from” stage.)

  5. FuturShoc says:

    What I find so hypocritical is the fact that we portray an insane prudeness over benign things like this, but we as a country are the single biggest market for pornography *and* we are the biggest *producers* of that pornography.

    *Sheesh*
    [My interest in moving to Canada only continues to grow.]

  6. RenardRouge says:

    I’m glad the publisher requested the changes. I wouldn’t want my young boys to see the naked paining. Girls, I’m not as concerned. Boys tend to be affected in negative ways by nudity…

  7. JollyJumjuck says:

    Probably because a lot of Americans aren’t terribly attractive without their clothes.

  8. fluiddruid says:

    @TWinter: “Americans” aren’t hung up on nudity. It’s a small, vocal minority of Puritan prudes that have been making the rest of us miserable since the 1600s.

  9. rustyni says:

    Prudes.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    @Ben Popken: *packs bags* see ya!

  11. @Ben Popken: And as we all learned in Eurotrip,

    “Jenny, this is Europe. They have orange juice ads with lesbians and dildos.”

    Seriously, the time people notice this is when other people point it out.

  12. CumaeanSibyl says:

    What I love is that the article doesn’t even say that there are any angry parents — just that the publishers are afraid there might be. And the sad thing is, they’re probably right.

    Any parents who take their children to an actual museum would be exposing them to much more explicit artwork, but I suppose for the vocal minority it’s more important to protect a child from imaginary breasts than it is to attend to his cultural education.

  13. Scudder says:

    I have a replica of Rodin’s Age of Bronze on a small table in my entryway. On Halloween, a young girl spied the sculpture during Trick or Treat and quickly exclaimed, “He’s got a naked man in there!”

    I’m sure her parents were horrified.

  14. @rustyni: “You know America was founded by prudes. Prudes who left Europe, because they hated all the kinky, steamy European sex that was going on. And now I, uh, Cooper Harris, will return to the land of my perverted forefathers and claim my birthright, which is a series of erotic and sexually challenging adventures.” Again, wisdom from Eurotrip.

  15. Saboth says:

    Pathetic. America has become a joke of religious nutjobs, fear of free speech, and oppression. The rest of the world advances, and we put religious morons like GW in office to regress us even further into the 1400’s.

  16. alfista says:

    Simple solution – Don’t buy the book if you don’t think it is appropriate for your children. Everybody is happy.

  17. HalOfBorg says:

    I’m all for protecting kids from porn, and it sure sounds like this isn’t porn at all.

    Simple nudity – I’m not against that either, but “They have orange juice ads with lesbians and dildos” sounds a little over the top, or am I missing sarcasm?

    Now, since nudity is as common and unremarkable in Europe, then I doubt the items in the book were that important. (I have not seen the book so I can be wrong) Just more of the same old same old. Why not a little bit of touch up to sell them in a different market? I doubt the US is only place that has such things done.

  18. Antediluvian says:

    Well, I’m sure all this controversy would just go away quickly if the publisher pointed out to the “concerned parents” that at least the depictions of naughty bits are not depictions of GAY naughty bits!

    (Whatever that means; I’m not a conservative whackjob so I can’t really comprehend what passes for their thought process).

  19. Antediluvian says:

    @HalOfBorg: Maybe you haven’t seen the book, but you did see the picture at the top of the article, right? That’s from the book.

    No one would have noticed at all if the publisher hadn’t raised the issue.

  20. sarabadara says:

    How about putting a parental advisory on the cover? I bet they’d sell twice as many copies of the book that way.

  21. phelander says:

    @SCUDDER I’m surprised the next thing that happened wasn’t this scenario: Little girl tells parents, parents dial 911 to complain, police arrive at your door, you explain that it was a statue, police feel stupid for coming out for that so they think of something to search your house for, you refuse, police become belligerent, SWAT is called in, News vans arrive and report on a siege on the home of a man who was exposing himself to trick or treaters and it all ends up with you tased or shot. This is our America. This is what we face everyday. You KNOW this is totally conceivable.

  22. IphtashuFitz says:

    @alfista: Unfortunately there are plenty of religious nutjobs and other whackos here in the USA that insist they know how to raise your family better than you do, and that if these books are allowed here in the US then your children will undoubtedly see those filthy pictures because you’re such a lousy parent. So in the name of God, to protect your children, they must prevent that book from ever going on sale in the USA unless it’s properly censored.

  23. phelander says:

    Oh I forgot to add – Reactions from neighbors include these gems: “Well, if he didn’t do nothing wrong, why didn’t he just let the police in…he must have had something to hide.” People in comments sections of Blogs that report the story post similar reactions…all blaming the innocent SCUDDER. You see, in America, we LOVE the DADDY OPPRESSORS we love the big tough right wing…it’s a strong solid wing that PROTECTS us and who knows what danger lurks when you are npt under the shelter of that wing.

  24. Christovir says:

    @FuturShoc: We as Americans are not great consumers of pornography in spite of being prudes, no, we are great consumers of pornography because we are prudes.

  25. HalOfBorg says:

    @Antediluvian: I have no problem with that. MAYBE – just maybe – airbrush it a tiny bit, but OK for any book by my standards.

    I’m not saying I’d airbrush it, but I can see why some people might want it.

    And any art book show more and better.

    The problem is you have to have standards, or you end up with anything at all, and just browse a few hardcore webpages and imagine kids seeing that every day.

    The hard part is creating standards that WORK, and then applying them with COMMON SENSE, instead of “Zero tolerance” crap.

  26. Falconfire says:

    @TWinter: Because we are told to be by a very vocal minority who currently run this country with a iron fist. And I am not talking about any one party, but the entire of DC. Both sides, the religious right and the communist left are extreme in their views against any form of sexuality feeling it immoral. Basically we live in a new Victorian era, and it will take a major upheaval to change that.

  27. no.no.notorious says:

    @IphtashuFitz: actually, it’s a nice thing to preserve a child’s innocence until they’re at least old enough to even comprehend sex. even in europe and alot of R rated movies, a penis is almost never shown (which is on the statue)…probably because it’s more socially acceptable for a female to be nude instead of a male, but thats another rant.

    i don’t know what age the author geared this book for but personally, before buying a children’s book, i’d skim through it before buying it and then decide if i want my child to have it, instead of yelling at the author.

  28. Ghede says:

    You are kidding me right? In fifth grade there was a sex-ed book on the shelf, and it was always a source of hilarity. It had illustrations. Not of people, mind you. Of robots. Yeah… Being raised in a censorship-free house and access to the internet, It always made me laugh my ass off. They weren’t even humanoid! They were square things with vague imitations of genitalia. They had the little dome-shaped heads, and a tesla-coil shaped… *cough*.
    It was written, published, sold in America, AND ten times worse than this.
    Apparently, in the last fifteen years, our country has lost it’s *snicker* tesla-coil and ball bearings.

  29. forgottenpassword says:

    I dont blame the publishers for being skiddish of the puritain patrol in here in the US.

    I think the pics in question are harmless.

  30. cobaltthorium says:

    It’s been like this for a while. Violence in mainstream media is acceptable in the US, where sex and nudity isn’t. In Europe, it’s the exact opposite. If you ask me, the only reason Canada hasn’t followed it’s sensible European cousins’ examples is because our media is so drowned out by that of the US.

    Really, what’s worse? Showing children violence without the outcome of what that violence does (blood, gore, horrific pain), or nudity (part of life)? Not showing children the outcome of actions is (IMHO) child abuse. Of course, these are the same religious prudes keeping abstinence-only sex ed in schools, so I guess it’s typical.

  31. phelander says:

    And by the way “Walk Hard – The Dewey Cox Story” had the best joke of the use of full frontal male genitalia in a long time.

  32. cobaltthorium says:

    @Ghede: There was a book in my elementary school library explaining *ALL* the facts of life with illustrations of anatomy. It never hurt me, but of course I was also raised in a house where you called it a penis or vagina, and no one snickered.

  33. HalOfBorg says:

    *Monty Python’s*

    Full frontal nudity??!?!!!?

  34. Bye says:

    @IrisMR: Sorry, but despite your denial, you are a homophobe if you think a 6 year-old seeing two men giving each other a kiss (not a big, sloppy one, mind you) will traumatize them. Or worse.

    Kids understand love and family and they only need a very superficial understanding of relationships; older kids learn that adults sometimes have their own time together and occasionally they can make a baby.

    My partner and I have a number of kids in our life and they understand that we love each other like their mommy and daddy love one another. They don’t need to know that daddy likes to stick his penis in mommy’s vagina and that most of the time they’re hoping NOT to make a baby as a result. They don’t need to know that other people do different things with their genitalia.

    A few months ago I was back visiting my family and we were sitting around in my Grandma’s living room talking. My niece and nephew were getting a little rambunctious so my mom suggested playing a variation on 20 Questions where people take turns guessing who somebody is thinking of. After various folks like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Brad Pitt (courtesy of my 6 year old niece) were guessed, it became my 4 year old nephew’s turn. We all asked him questions and after establishing that it was a real person who was a male, somebody asked if he was a member of our family. He quickly said “yes” and then looked over at my mom for a moment for reassurance and then repeated, “yes” while nodding his head. When it was finally revealed that the person in question was my partner, he looked at my mom again and said, “Uncle X is in our family, right?” to which my mom replied something like, “Yes, honey. Uncle Y is my son just like your daddy is my son. Your daddy loves your mommy so she’s my daughter and your Uncle Y loves Uncle X so he’s my other son.”

    He just nodded and said “Oh, OK” and started playing with his Thomas trains.

    He didn’t need any more information and his curiosity was sated. And my 6 year-old niece just smiled, looked at me, and rolled her eyes slightly as if to say, “How funny that he even questioned that Uncle X is part of our family!”

    Don’t underestimate children. They are smart and comprehend some things that adults have ignored or have developed prejudices against. And if they don’t understand, that’s what Parental Guidance is for. A trusted and loved authority figure can gently introduce concepts and answer questions such as “why is that statue not wearing underwear to cover his pee-pee?”

    It’s only the prudes and haters of the world that try to insert evil or wickedness into things they don’t understand. (Or are possibly denying within themselves.)

  35. weakdome says:

    I ran an event this past weekend where 200 people rode the subway in their underwear. I’d say a good 98% of the other riders laughed, but I did get some flack from the other 2% about how “awful” and “uncomfortable” it made them feel. Good thing I didn’t take my pants off and show my tiny children’s-book-sized wang.

  36. tinmanx says:

    Reminds me of the movie Demolition Man, all babies are created in lab test tubes. Is this the future of America? High-Tech, safe, and sexless? I’m waiting for the three sea shells.

  37. RogueSophist says:

    @tinmanx: Excellent sea shell reference.

  38. SwampAssJ says:

    It’s our way. Watching someone do drugs and get their heads shot up with bullets? A+ television. See a nipple and its LAWSUIT time.

  39. mgyqmb says:

    Jesus, America, this is NOT PORNOGRAPHY.

  40. gorckat says:

    Clearly the publisher has never read Everybody Poops or Breasts, both fabulous books for teaching children.

    Both with nudity!

  41. RvLeshrac says:

    @HalOfBorg:

    Because censorship of any kind is wrong.

    Yes, that means I disagree with all of the anti-anti-semitic and anti-hate-speech laws in Europe as well. I can at least UNDERSTAND those, though, since they don’t want a repeat of last time.

    I can’t understand why we’re so hung up on this BS in the USA.

  42. cobaltthorium says:

    @tinmanx:
    Wasn’t there a Sylvester Stalone movie with Westley snipes in it like that? Where in order to have sex, you both wore a helmet with good feelings coming from it?

  43. RvLeshrac says:

    @no.no.notorious:

    Don’t understand what you’re talking about in the first paragraph there.

    “Innocence” is why so many children are snatched up by strangers at the mall – parents don’t want to ‘scare’ them by telling them about all the bad people in the world.

  44. RvLeshrac says:

    @HalOfBorg:

    One man’s “standards” are another man’s censorship.

    Schools should be a little careful of what they show the children, and parents can do what they like… but they shouldn’t be allowed to dictate ‘appropriate free speech’ to anyone else.

  45. IrisMR says:

    @Rey: You’re an idiot, and you are what I call an alarmist. You’re not tolerant, you’re overtolerant, over pc, and absolutely inhuman. Whenever you see something that MIGHT be interpreted as intolerance, even though it is stated by the person they are NOT homophobic, you go ahead and claim it is intolerance so you can jack off to it and write a gigantic rant of self righteousness that has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

    That pushed out of the way, I didn’t say it would TRAUMATIZE them. Imagine the kid that doesn’t even know the birds and bees. Sees two guys necking each other in a book where the guy hugs and kisses the other guy that was utterly sad for losing his lunch box as if it was the world to him. Now change the guy for a girl.

    Is that any better? No. It is not. First, to a grown up that strikes me as a massive overreacting from a guy. Second, the kid doesn’t even know the basic of life and probably hasn’t even caught mom and dad (Or dad and dad or mom and mom, since you are absolutely stuck up on the idea that I need to write every politically correct options) having sex by mistake. Or giving themselves a long and sexy kiss. Now he opens that book and sees that. For a lunchbox. When the best he sees usually is probably just a peck on a cheek in small cartoons.

    WOW.

  46. dgcaste says:

    It should be OK as long as there’s not a Target logo painted around the statue’s crotch.

  47. pegr says:

    @Rey:
    Wow, what a huge, self-affirming, long-winded diatribe of the obvious! How did homosexuality get in this conversation?

    Listen, I don’t wear my blue eyes as a badge of honor. Why would you your sexuality? Both conditions are equally pertinent to this issue, that is, not at all!

  48. unklegwar says:

    Children shouldn’t even be allowed to take a bath without a bathing suit. What if they saw their own genitals!?! Just think of the harm!

  49. IrisMR says:

    I hit the submit a bit too fast.

    Anyway, now picture the parent. Dad or mom. He’s watching TV. Then the kid comes in and goes “Dad (mom, shemomdad, whatever), what are they doing? Why are two guys kissing over a lunchbox?”

    Now dad pauses for a minute. That kid is 6 years old. He might know the birds and bees nonsense but nothing else. The kid doesn’t even know what puberty is, what libido is, what sexual orientation is. You know, you gotta start slow. Explain that to make a baby you need a mommy or a daddy (IT’S A FACT OF LIFE, NOT AN HOMOPHOBIC COMMENT. Let’s not get into sperm donation, for sake, he’s 6.). Then you have to explain the variants that are probably not even necessary to be known at that age since the kid is still clueless on what sex he prefers.

    Is that necessary. No. I think not. Let the kids be kids. No need to add up politically correct material in every darn book. To make a baby you need, BY NATURE’S WAY, a mom and a dad. And you don’t have to show mom and dad having sexy time, okay?

  50. snoop-blog says:

    i’m pretty sure a child 5 years old could duplicate the drawings in this book. i can remember drawing nudity like this in about second grade. my drawings were probably better even.

  51. snoop-blog says:

    i can see the parents point though, i mean i am getting really horny the more i look at it……….brb.

  52. bandit says:

    Strangely though, in the image the two kids seem to be obsessively discussing the naked woman painting, and the lady seems red-faced by her close examination of the nude male statute. So it’s not like the fact of nude art is subtle in the book itself. Attention appears to be drawn to it.

  53. Bye says:

    @pegr: Did you read the post to which I responded by IRISwhatever? She’s the one who started the whole, “I’m not a homophobe but UM…” thread. I won’t let seemingly-innocent passing comments like that go by. I don’t wear my nice blue eyes as a badge of honor either, but people don’t typically try to form conclusions about my life based on them either.

    I hope Iris doesn’t reproduce anytime soon. It doesn’t sound like she can handle complex thoughts let alone relating them to children in her care.

  54. cobaltthorium says:

    @IrisMR:
    If they’re at the “where do babies”, then they still see love as completely platonic, and seeing two men kissing wouldn’t really be harmful, would it?

  55. Pithlit says:

    @IrisMR: You’re just digging yourself into a deeper hole there, IrisMR. You sound even more homophobic explaining why you aren’t homophobic.

  56. Curiosity says:

    Who exactly said that this was a religious matter? To say that it is, puts the cart before the horse.

    While religion may be involved in the underlying dispute of whether a person’s children should be exposed to pornography (Assuming it is pornography), this is disparate from the issue here, the outsourcing of parenting – that parents expect others to raise their children for them and according to the parents wishes.

    This is a consequence of the blurring of the lines between separation of church and state combined with the freedom of religion within America. This inherently causes a conflict of ideas and ironically progress.

    Multiple religions, cultures, and political parties throughout the world regulate sexuality.

    For example:

    Orthodox Judaism (A prohibition on looking at pictures or scenes that will be sexually arousing.)

    Anglican churches in parts of Africa (extreme in their attitude towards homosexuality)

    Catholic Church (Manichaeism, the belief that the spirit is good while the flesh is evil, is a heresy; sexuality outside of marriage is a capital sin because it violates the purpose of human sexuality to participate in the “conjugal act” before one is actually married. )

    Islam (A marriage contract between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man is traditionally considered illegal and void, and hence legally an adulterous affair.)

    Hinduism (Most culturally-sensitive Hindus adhere to sexual standards akin to Victorian morality, with both pre-marital and extra-marital sex perceived to be immoral and shameful.)

    Buddhism (Refrain from committing sexual misconduct)

    —–
    This doesn’t mean it is right, it just means that people are overstepping their bounds and trying to legislate their morality, rather than a common morality – irrespective of being a Democrat, Republican, religious or atheist.

  57. IrisMR says:

    @Pithlit: *Eye rolls* Fine. I’m an homophobe. Whatever floats your boat.

    @cobaltthorium: Actually, I forgot to add the part where the kid tried to neck his schoolmate for bringing back his batman toy he brought back at his house… (PS: that was my cousin.)

  58. Pinget says:

    6 billion people on the planet. That’s 3 billion dicks and 3 billion pussies. Get over it.

  59. Benny Gesserit says:

    @HalOfBorg: I’m sure you’re correct – Iran, Iraq, Southeast Asia would probably cover them up too. I won’t bother with the ironic metaphor as it’s way too obvious.

    @IrisMR: “I hit the submit a bit too fast.” No you didn’t. The self-rightous, indignation came through in your first sentence of part 1 of your rant and after that you turned into a Charlie Brown adult “Wanh wanh wanh.” It’s pretty obvious you are full of hate and venom and however compelling your argument may be, when it’s spewed forth in that strident a manner it loses most of its credibility.

  60. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @IrisMR: “Why are two guys kissing over a lunchbox?”

    “Because they love each other.”

    How does that have to turn into a sex conversation?

    For that matter, why did you have to bring it up in the first place, if you’re not a homophobe? I mean, you can yell at Rey all you want for being self-righteous, but you’re the one who decided we all needed to know how you feel about men kissing. And you’re the one who decided that six-year-olds are incapable of handling a simple kiss. Throw in “I’m not a homophobe BUT,” which is the equivalent of “No offense, BUT,” and it’s pretty clear that you’ve got some issues.

  61. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Hey everybody –

    Let’s please keep the intercommenter flamewars to a minimum and focus on the topic at hand.

    (i.e., boobies and wieners)

  62. Amy Alkon says:

    “Cultural conservatives” give us actual conservatives (ie, classically liberal) a really bad name.

  63. spinachdip says:

    I don’t think it’s so much prudishness as it is being too stupid to differentiate between nudity and pornography.

    Pornography, with very few exceptions, involves some state of nudity. But nudity isn’t necessarily pornographic.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, I tend to categorize fleshy images as follows:
    *Pornographic – images purely intended for sexual arousal
    *Erotic – hinting at sexuality but emphasis on aesthetics than actual sexuality
    *Artistic (for wont of a better word) – Sort of like erotic, but emphasizing the human form than sensuality
    *Clinical – you know, like the diagrams in doctor’s office
    *National Geographic
    *Nekkidness – Nudity as subversion, intended to get a reaction because of the tabooness, like streaking and mooning

    Of course, there’s quite a bit of overlap, and it’s sometimes in the eyes of the beholder – I once was a teenager who depended on monthly shipments of Victoria’s Secret catalogs. But my point is, nudity can be pornographic, and there is a lot of smut out there that’s not appropriate for children. But for the most part, nudity isn’t porn.

  64. ancientsociety says:

    Here’s the funny thing about books for kids:

    If you, as a parent, do not want your child to own or see that book, DO NOT BUY IT AND DO NOT LET THEM CHECK IT OUT OF THE LIBRARY.

    Problem solved.

    I love how some US citizens are so quick to give up their essential freedoms to “protect the children” and deny it to the rest of us.

  65. IrisMR says:

    I got nothing else to add. I’m not an homophobe. If you think I am, please do continue jacking off to it.

  66. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @cobaltthorium: You’re remembering the same movie: Demolition Man.

  67. nmcglynn says:

    this sort of thing drives me crazy!
    this is why America is so sexually frustrated!
    because of things like this, we get these type of people: [defamer.com]

    remember when people were up in arms about the movie “the lion king” being to violent! ugh!

  68. cobaltthorium says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS:
    I agree! Penises and Vaginas for some, small american flags for others!

  69. deadlizard says:

    In a country where a Target ad with a logo pointing subjectively to
    a woman’s crotch is considered newsworthy I wouldn’t be surprised some
    people would be offended with this. You know what? Offend them! I’m
    tired you can’t say or do anything these days without offending
    somebody. The publisher’s lack of integrity and guts is sad.

    I don’t understand how Americans dare to criticize the Saudis or even the Taliban when things like this happen.

  70. youbastid says:

    @loquaciousmusic: That was one of the few relevant comments in this thread, one of the earliest, and no one has made note of it. Well I will.

    I remember reading that book when I was maybe 7 or 8, and thinking “Jeez, there’s a lot of wang in this book.” I didn’t think it pornographic, but perhaps a bit gratuitous.

    The thing is, with a book like the one we’re talking about, kids are gonna see it, snicker a bit at the drawings, and move on. When I was in elementary school, we’d get a kick out of looking up “sex” in the dictionary, and reading all of the variations of the word. Same diff. Best to give the kids access to the harmless and benign stuff so they can snicker at it, I say.

  71. nmcglynn says:

  72. snowmentality says:

    Irismr, your obsession with masturbation is bizarre and creepy. You’re also the one who brought it up in the context of how much you hate seeing gay people, so I gotta wonder about what gets you off.

  73. 3drage says:

    Americans are way too concerned with this nonsense. There are a few reports out about the first few seasons of Sesame Street, where they gave warnings because it was not suitable for children. The excuses they used were pretty moronic, and included concerns about the Cookie Monster and obese children.

  74. maddypilar says:

    @nmcglynn: I like this version because it makes the statue’s tiny wee wee look like an homage to Dirk Diggler.

  75. xredgambit says:

    I remember back when I was in grade school, I used to have an obsession with drawing penises. All the time. I couldn’t help it. I’m not gay or anything, but I just couldn’t help to draw them. Then some prude girl found a page of mine and I was sent to the principls office. Damn religious bastard thought I was possesed. I had to go to therpy and I couldn’t even eat any phalic shaped foods.

    If we didn’t have censerchip like this I could still eat hotdogs today.

  76. DrGirlfriend says:

    I think part of the issue is that American children can be exposed to a 16 year old Britney Spears acting like jailbait and no one bats an eyelash, because she is (just barely) covered up. In the meantime, kids aren’t really exposed to art, and if they were, the illustration in this book would seem normal and natural to them. I hate to bring out the tied “In Europe they do things THIS way” argument, but, in Europe, kids are exposed to nudity in art even if just through sculpture in public spaces. My mom lived in Germany as a kid for a couple of years and she said even at that age she noticed the difference in attitude between American kids of military parents encountering a nude sculpture, and local German kids.

    I’m still amazed at the lines we dra as to what’s okay and what isn’t. They seem so arbitrary and unreasonable.

  77. DrGirlfriend says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I meant “tired argument”, not tied.

  78. MercuryPDX says:

    American kiddies, obviously, could never be expected to handle such a depiction of the human body.

    The kiddies are fine with it, it’s the parents that can’t handle it.

  79. nmcglynn says:

    @xredgambit: i heard that like 8% of kids do that! do you know how many foods are shaped like dicks! the best kinds!

  80. cobaltthorium says:

    @nmcglynn:
    Pogos FTW!

  81. K-Bo says:

    Anyone else notice the image on the front page of consumerist is cropped in a way that basically sensors it? As soon as I saw it, I expected a comment uproar over that.

  82. dugn says:

    Being a dad with kids, I’d prefer to keep certain topics at bay until a point in my little girl’s development that she can reasonably understand them. As much as we avoid violence and nudity on TV shows, it’s mostly because they’re often portrayed in extreme ways and with an allure that’s not based in reality. In reality, our 2 year old sees her parents naked when they shower or dress. Does she need to dance like a whore for the fisheye lens in a rap video – no. Is it ok to see a real, live naked person who isn’t caressing themselves sensually – oh yes.

    The extremism and anti-American rants about prudes seem unfounded. Everyone raises their children as they will. And as consumers, we buy (and each family buys) what they decide to purchase – even if those standards aren’t yours.

    She’s a little too young right now, but our daughter will be reading Max & Moritz and the original Hans Christian Anderson books soon enough. Max & Moritz trip old men into creeks and steal roasting chickens. The Little Mermaid turns to sea foam and doesn’t get the guy. Cinderella’s sisters lob off body parts to fit into the slipper. But I’m not sure any of those would be a big hit in their original form on the big screen in America – and they certainly did better in their ‘sanitized’ forms in Europe as well.

    Personally, I’m glad to know about this book. If it brings something good to the home and my daughter’s understanding of reality, it’ll be in our collection (of American and European books) soon enough. In reality, there are breasts and naked statues in museums. That’s fine.

    As one poster said it’s an issue of standards. I’d much rather manage the questions from a children’s book with a nude statuette or a real life museum experience than a woman fondling herself in a shower ad.

  83. lostalaska says:

    Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

  84. MercuryPDX says:

    @dugn: And as consumers, we buy (and each family buys) what they decide to purchase – even if those standards aren’t yours.

    Totally agree. As an Uncle of three and Godfather of two, I apply a high standard to what I give to my nieces/nephews/godkids as gifts. They’ll never get a toy gun from me. I also won’t buy a video game for them unless it’s age appropriate.

    I think it’s wrong to foist the responsibility of raising children on “the marketplace”, when it belongs to the parents first, and related family and friends second.

  85. Lucky for the kids, they covered up the tiny penis with lead paint.

    @Amy Alkon:

    here here!

  86. ZekeSulastin says:

    According to the vocal minority on the Consumerist, nobody should have any opinion on anything lest they be labeled x-phobic. Iris may have been extreme, but that certainly doesn’t justify you all grabbing your torches and pitchforks and going to town. Tolerance works both ways.

    The publisher was wrong to ask for censorship of the book; it should have never reached the point it did. Thankfully, they relented. What I think would be useful would be the context of the page shown, however …

  87. ExecutorElassus says:

    @DrGirlfriend: alas, it is a tired argument, but I can’t help referencing it, either. Here in Stuttgart, the local public pool specially schedules one day of the week when everybody’s naked. In the public pool! They put up posters (with pictures) to advertise the benefits. And the saunas are naked every day. People bring their families, so kids are running around naked, around all the naked retirees, etc. It’s like that pretty much all over Germany.

    Actually, I think that sort of thing would be pretty therapeutic for America’s porn problems: nothing puts you off your porn appetite like sitting in a room with a bunch of naked sweaty octogenarians. Like that Far Side cartoon with the bears at the nudist colony.
    @Ghede: I loved that book. Everything was robots! And it described the, uh… internal mechanics in extensive detail.
    @nmcglynn: Reminds me of Blackadder, when Baldrick was always obsessed with finding vegetables that had “grown into a rude and amusing shape.”

  88. Morgan says:

    @K-Bo: People were probably planning on that; then they clicked through to make the comment, saw the full picture and, having gotten their booby and wiener fix, no longer had a problem with it :)

  89. sburnap42 says:

    I, for one, am glad they are protecting our children from pictures of wieners. Why, just yesterday, I had to confiscate a drawing my kid made of his own wiener! I have to watch that kid like a hawk lest he see what he draws before I can filter it!

  90. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @ExecutorElassus: Lol when I lived in Kaiserslautern we would go to the pools and lakes and see topless and naked adults all over. It never bothered me unless the women were all natural. Nothing turns you off faster than seeing a naked woman with hair on thier legs/arms longer and or thicker than yours..

    But yeah I saw tonnes of kids and adults nude just being people nothing out of the ordinary. Ahh I miss the sexual freedom of Europe.

  91. themediatrix says:

    Americans confuse nudity with sexuality. But then, so do individuals in Islamic countries.

    I don’t have anything against kids being exposed to nudity, especially in healthy contexts or in a book with drawings like these that represent art.

    Still, there is a U.S. culture that is different from that of europe, so this publishers request really isn’t surprising.

  92. themediatrix says:

    @ DGCASTE – No, a target around it would make it okay!! great idea!

  93. Szin says:

    *censorship rant* Listen. In a country where TV Censors make it where the Cookie Monster doesn’t eat Cookies anymore, or proclaims that “Cookies are only a sometimes food!” is truly fucked up. Again, let me stress this point again…..THE COOKIE MONSTER DOESN”T EAT FUCKING COOKIES ANYMORE! Why? Because they need to find some reason why their child is getting so goddamn fat, so instead of blaming lack of parenting, or feeding them all the crap that’s out there right now, they blame the Cookie Monster. THE COOKIE MONSTER. A MUPPET who eats Cookies! Funny, I never got the idea to eat cookies all the time from him, and I LOVE Cookies. Maybe it’s because my parents raised me with something called Common Sense. Oh, I’m sorry, I meant raised me period.

    I mean, it’s freaking Nudity in a Kids book. And not even that much of it, from what the author describes. You’d probably see more in a Rated R movie. Hey, guess what? The 6 year old, and I can’t stress this enough, isn’t going to notice! It all basically boils down to the surprising lack of parenting nowadays, which, as we can see by things like this, are going to have a very troubling impact on today’s kids. My niece is going to watch a Sesame Street in which the Cookie Monster doesn’t eat cookies. I suppose the Count will be seen as too nightmarish soon.

  94. chiieddy says:

    I should not the Americans aren’t the only pruds. I remember going to Versailles and seeing someone had thought it bad to have naked statues so there were bronze fig leaves on them. There had been an effort to remove the fig leaves but it caused damage to the statues. So, Europe has had its phases too.

  95. dcartist says:

    Problem is we indulge the hardcore conservative idiots in this country too much, and actually take them seriously when they make absurd complaints.

  96. hexychick says:

    @Saboth: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  97. Bye says:

    @ZekeSulastin: I think you will find that most humans are tolerant of many things except for intolerance itself.

    Vocal minority indeed.

  98. meneye says:

    @FuturShoc: you are an idiot for wanting to move to Canada because we don’t like public nudity.
    Normally there wouldn’t be a problem, but it is a children’s book! Are there no other paintings in german art galleries anymore except nudes? geez.

  99. Pithlit says:

    @Szin: Actually, Cookie Monster still eats cookies. He just eats other healthy things now as well, and has learned that cookies are a “sometimes” treat.

    But, yeah, the censorship is a little much, sometimes. Sadly, I think the American publisher was right in thinking there would be controversy. I think it’s fine for parents to make choices, and if some parents want to limit the amount of nudity their child is exposed to, I can understand that. But, overall America’s attitude toward nudity is rather prudish, so it’s not surprising that many parents would indeed find this book inappropriate.

  100. corbyz says:

    @IrisMR: I disagree that a kid can’t see two guys kiss innocently. If they can see a husband and wife kiss, they can see two boyfriends kissing. There should be no double-standard. That is normal. The abnormality all comes in when the parents start injecting false notions of sin and unnatural behavior into the act. Unless the parents have already poisoned the kid’s mind that two boyfriends kissing is abnormal or disgusting or wrong in some way, the little kid isn’t going to think anything more of it than if they had seen a husband and wife kissing. It’s the parents who apparently need the censorship to protect their delicate minds, not the kids.

  101. corbyz says:

    @dugn: Don’t take your kid to a museum ever and expose her to something called “art”. There is often nudity. Keep her sheltered so that it’s unnatural to her later, and when she goes to a museum as an adult, she will only stare at the vaginas and penises and boobies of the subject matter… completely distracted and unable to enjoy the subject matter as a whole. Sounds great. I don’t know how I survived childhood having seen uncensored depictions of Michaelangelo’s “David” as a kid… and who knows how many little cherub angel penises in Christian art. I shouldn’t have seen that until I was 18 !

  102. Antediluvian says:

    @IrisMR:
    See, I was initially willing to just write you off as over-protective and mildly homophobic, but your subsequent comments proved me wrong.

    To answer your implied question about how to talk with kids about same-sex couples kissing, it’s pretty easy, as other posters have suggested. Use the word LOVE. Just like you would with different-sex couples. Why on earth does baby-making get involved? Kids see kissing all the time, and associate it with one person LIKING the other.

    Kid: Why is that man comforting the other over a lunchbox?*
    Adult: Because they’re friends.
    Kid: Why are they kissing?
    Adult: Because they’re close friends.

    How difficult was that?

    ____
    *The lunchbox story that Iris told lost me, so I may have misunderstood. It’s possible the lunchbox was a metaphor for a sled.

  103. girly says:

    @IrisMR: Although I think you are being overly hostile (I’m not really a eye for eye kind of person), I do think they overreacted to your post.

    After all we don’t have the cliched movie scene of some characters kissing or what not and an adult covering any child bystander’s eyes for no reason.

    PDA and kids being allowed to watch don’t classically go together.

    Personally I don’t particularly care for nudity either because beneath the mask of openness I just think it’s mostly demeaning to women. In particular because I think it increases the superficial judgment of women.

  104. Angiol says:

    Here’s the way that I see it. If you think that two guys shouldn’t be kissing but that a guy and a girl kissing is OK, that’s homophobic. If you don’t think that sort of affection should be displayed at all, you’re just a prude.

  105. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    @HalOfBorg: that “little bit of touchup” is censorship, is why. Don’t we remember politicos within the current administration who wanted a nude male bronze in a government building covered up? When we cave into this shit, we enfantalize ourselves all the more.

  106. CyberSkull says:

    The shear stupidity of this makes my head hurt worse than it already does. So there is Wee Willy’s winky. So what.

  107. phelander says:

    I’m planning on not letting my newborn child look down at her “stuff” till she’s 21. Also I plan to line up some good therapists exactly at the same time.

  108. axiomatic says:

    To American parents: Grow up! Your puritanic bleating is ridiculous and is NOT the general consensus of all Americans. As an artist, I find it unacceptable that art like Michaelangelo’s “David” is having it’s penis (yes I said PENIS!) covered by fig leaf’s or some other device just to appease some puritanic viewpoint.

    I wish someone would sue when this is done as I see it as copyright infringement.

    I submit that if you find yourself offended by imagery or reality in “art” that you first EDUCATE before you DISCRIMINATE.

    I recently went to a restaurant here in Houston, TX called Bucco De Beppo’s (Italian cuisine) and all of the pictures and even the stone waterfall out front of Bucco’s (all depicting “david”) had “David’s” penis covered by something.

    I then talked with the manager and apparently the predominant christian church in the area complained about “David’s” penis in all of the posted imagery and got Bucco De Beppo corporate to go along with it.

    This is completely unacceptable and my family and I left Bucco’s that night and did not give them any money in protest.

    I too am a father of a 4 year old and a 14 year old (both present at Bucco’s) and I educated them about art and the human form, and they understood completely and both thought that censoring art was a terrible idea. Especially if it is only for a small number of complaining “bible thumpers.”

  109. girly says:

    @axiomatic: I don’t think calling people who have different preferences than you ‘bleating’ is really an indication of enlightenment.

    I’m sure that the restaurant will balance concerns over losing business due to covering up the poster vs losing business due to not covering it up.

    Personally, I wouldn’t really care either way.

  110. Spooty says:

    It’s amazing that the original post, and the 108 comments since, didn’t even mention the *other* censorship requested by the US publisher. It was in the original article (the first link), but maybe nobody RTFA.
    “First off, smokers had to be removed from the illustrations.”
    That’s, er, one-half of the censorship of the book, but what does EVERYBODY latch on to? The nudity part. Interesting.
    Although, I’d wager to say, censorship of smoking is probably a more popular form of political correctness in the U.S. nowadays (e.g., movies, T.V., magazines eliminating it).