Saturday, 31 October 2015

An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg...

Last night, my favourite Facebook page, Drawing Dicks on the Herald Sun, was removed for violating Facebook's Community Standards. The much-loved page became an Australian icon, gathering 379,585 fans in just three years. This letter is for people who believe that censorship stifles artistic freedom of expression, and for those who want to see the phallic, veiny masterpieces return to their news feeds immediately. 

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

During the Easter break, I visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania. Its founder, David Walsh, describes it as a subversive adult Disneyland, so as you can imagine, I was incredibly excited.

The minimalist feel of MONA’s subterranean gallery space makes you feel like you’re being held captive in an elaborate Fritzl-esque sex dungeon. Thankfully, Stockholm syndrome soon sets in and the fear is replaced by a comfortable familiarity. I recommend visiting for the architecture alone.

To be honest, I don’t really ‘get’ a lot of art, but I’m a master of pretending that I do. The trick is to spend at least three minutes staring at each exhibit through squinted eyes, whilst nodding and thoughtfully stroking your chin. Having a beard and wearing brightly coloured pants also helps. I didn't understand the vast majority of work at MONA, but one piece resonated deeply with me — James McCartney’s, Great Wall of Vagina. I even used it to wish my Twitter followers an enjoyable Easter.

In my 33 years on this planet, only one other collection of art has filled me with as much joy as this prodigious posse of plastered pussies — Drawing Dicks on the Herald Sun; a Facebook page dedicated to the favourite Australian pastime of drawing penises in the newspaper.

As you can imagine, I was horrified to learn it was recently banned for violating Facebook's Community Standards regarding nudity. I find it strange that your progressive company would censor any form of art, let alone these masterpieces.

Some of the world's most revered and cherished works of art depict nudity. Imagine if they were censored because someone found them offensive.

Your Community Standards state that you restrict nudity because some audiences may be sensitive to it. That's like banning bacon because certain religions find it offensive, or prohibiting free speech because some people don't like what's being said. Perhaps the inimitable Stephen Fry summed it up best.

Your guidelines go on to say that you allow photos of paintings, sculptures and art that depicts nude figures, and that nudity restrictions apply to digital content, unless it's educational, humorous or satirical. Me, and the other 379,585 fans of the page think it's absolutely hilarious. I understand these images would be offensive to some, but is that really a good enough reason to forbid them?

No it's not, Mark. That's why I'm writing to you today, begging that you restore my favourite Facebook page. Not just for me, but for the founders, artists and fans, who, like me, might not understand most art, but feel deeply connected to this genital genre. With the decline of traditional print media, it's only a matter of time until newspapers become an artifact of a bygone era, so please let us enjoy drawing dicks in them until that sad, flaccid day arrives.

Rich (Dick) Wisken