15 February 2009

Madonna -- Art or Porn?

Warning:
This post contains a full-frontal nude photo of a 20-year-old aspiring singer, Madonna. If the nude form offends you then do not scroll down and look at the picture at the bottom of this post. You have been warned! If you scroll down, look, and then claim to be offended, it is your own fault!

I am sure that at some point most young artists starting out in the entertainment world reach a point where they need to make ends meet and get them that little bit closer to their dream.

Madonna is no different in that sense, except perhaps that she went on to live out that dream. Nevertheless, as a 20-year-old artist looking to make ends meet as she traveled on her way to super-stardom, she answered an ad for a nude model and was given the job.

The photos have appeared in Playboy Magazine in 1985 and all but one of the photos were sold in 2003. The current photo, was expected to fetch a price of up to USD 15,000 at auction. However, the photo sold for a respectable USD 37,500.

Nevertheless, as the title suggests, I am wondering when something stops being art and becomes porn or is it always art no matter where it might have appeared in the past? I am sure the photo falls foul of Indonesia's pornography laws, yet should it?

Maybe this post is just an excuse for me to post a gratuitous full-frontal nude of a 20-year-old Madonna. Then again, I might be serious when I suggest that there is a need for greater debate on the subject of art and porn. Either way, if you are offended by the naked form, my apologies!

Is this art or porn? You be the judge.

32 comments:

Hannah said...

sorry, i think that's gross..

bloggerbercerita said...

I agree with Hannah. That is gross... And there's no art at all from the picture. Asli porno itu mah... *halah*

Dan Lacey said...

Art.

Rob Baiton said...

Hannah...

No need to apologize. The point was to garner a response and to see what peoples opinions are.

So, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

Bloggercertia...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

This was also part of the point. Art and porn are in the eye of the beholder. You consider this to be pure porn however I am sure not all agree with you.

As a matter of interest. Can the naked form ever be art? Or will it always be "Asli porno itu mah..."?

Dan...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

I am glad that at least one person so far has seen artistic merit in the photograph.

tere616 said...

It's an art.

Porn is something different, like in the Porn movies, the triple "X" ?

Her face do not show an invitation expression.

At a glimpse, my 1st opinion is "Porn" but after I read it through your article then look at it carefully, then my second thought is "Art".

Can't agree more than you. Art vs Porn, is different.

Long time ago, our former president's wive "Dewi Soekarno" also published her book. Naked in different angle.

For sure I didn't buy it in Indonesia.

Rob Baiton said...

Tere...

I think it is art. It was taken for the purposes of art. However, it did appear in Playboy so I am guessing that there are arguments to be made for it to be porn (perhaps relatively speaking "soft porn").

Good point on Dewi Soekarno. I had forgotten about using her as an example.

the writer said...

I think it's art, but the rough display of the uhm...*cough* you know could be toned down a little bit. It's a vulgar art but it's definitely not porn

Silverlines said...

I can't differentiate between art and porn and won't even try.

But I am tempted to suggest her for a bikini waxing before the picture taken.

Euww.

spew-it-all said...

Silverliness? Bikini waxing? Does it mean the picture will have anachronistic element then? Reportedly, it was taken in the 80s.

Rob, art and porn is hard to define. It's like drawing the line between private and public.

I am not offended by the picture but i would not call it art just because i wont tag it as pornographic.

Multibrand said...

It is a nice piece of art
(for private collection only)

Rob Baiton said...

Writer...

"rough"? Funnily enough I knew that there would be something in your comments alluding to uhmmmmm if you were to comment.

Yep, vulgar art and I am not sure that if I was a collector that it would be a piece I would be seeking out.

Rob Baiton said...

Silverlines...

Ahhhh, the eighties! ;)

Sometimes the line between the two, art and porn, is fine or blurred. So, I am guessing you are not the only one that would feel that way.

Spew...

Point taken on not calling ti one because you won't tag it as the other.

I agree the distinction can sometimes be difficult.

Multi...

Probably not in my collection :D

oigal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Baiton said...

Is it bad netiquette to comment on a deleted post?

oigal said...

"I think thats gross" and yet they look...

How does a human body get defined as "Gross" anyway? Sad comment on a societies than feel the need apply that label the human form

"no art at all from that picture. Asli porno itu mah" Religion and art what a bizarre yet common pairing. (and yet amusing irony ...humans are Gods finest creation...but only if drapped)

Not something I would have hanging in my house but then again I just might..if only to gain the same effect I get with the balinese pictures and carvings..the art value is not in the items but the reactions of the pious ones that visit.

Besides it must be art..just look at the the emotion and comments it created.

Rob Baiton said...

Stump...

I recently had a long and drawn out debate on a similar topic concerning offensive radio broadcasts that were proceeded by a disclaimer saying that the content might offend some listeners.

Funnily enough people then complained that they were offended.

This kind of thing always generates a response...

rani said...

Rob, I read the Obama bit first so I was a little bit shocked when scrolling down and found the picture :D

Don't have any comments on this. Until some years ago, still close my eyes on making out scenes on movie :P

Rob Baiton said...

Rani...

Sorry, did not think about people reading the Obama piece first and scrolling down and being somewhat shocked at the scene greeting them.

For that and to you, my apologies.

I will post a few new posts so that the picture gets onto the second page.

schmerly said...

I thought pornography was designed to sexually arouse, well this photo definitely doesn’t do it for me! So I guess it’s art, but I wouldn’t have it in my house.

Rob Baiton said...

Schmerly...

It probably does not "do it" for a lot of people.

I am not sure that I would have it hanging on the walls in my house. Although, as the Stump points out, it is not uncommon for people to hang portraits of naked women (Balinese is what I most regularly see) on their walls.

Oh well, to each their own.

jaka said...

Aww!

Rob Baiton said...

Jaka...

How should I translate that?

jaka said...

Sorry, that was my very first emotional reaction.

To be said pornography, why I was not aroused, even turned off?

To be called art, why it was that ugly, I did not spur any aesthetic feeling within ?

The figure is so contradictive to me. The upper part makes me say hmm, the lower part, that what made me saying aww.

Rob Baiton said...

Jaka...

thanks, now I get it! :D

treespotter said...

i am lost for word. Neither art or porn.

think it's just ugly.


i'd still so totally do madonna tho.

oigal said...

Schmmers and others arouse raises an interesting point

"To be said pornography, why I was not aroused"

"pornography was designed to sexually arouse, well this photo definitely doesn’t do it for me" etc..

If arousal(?)= porn then we have big trouble, what do we do about those who get excited about earlobes, toe fetishes, dare I say it ..women with covered hair..Do I have to delete every picture of Muslimmah on my blog because they may arouse some (and I am sure they do).

And yet, for most well adjusted males who have grown up with access (poor description but you know what I mean, I HOPE)to "hard core" porn it has little effect..The stump is normal (ish) and yet I could think of nothing more boring than a night sitting down watching a blue movie..

Trying to regulate human taste is an exercise in stupid!

Rob Baiton said...

Tree...

Maybe Madonna would totally do you as well ;)

Never known you to be lost for words though...

Stump...

The arousal thing comes out of the Porn Law. Pornography is anything that might cause arousal in the viewer of the material.

I agree regulating human taste is an exercise in the impossible (and perhaps, the stupid).

The fetish point is a good one :D

Anonymous said...

The charity 'Raising Malawi' (PR firm) founded by Madonna AND TWO OTHERS in '06' held fund raisers for over two years before finally getting registered as a non-profit. In other words, Madonna and the others were free to squander that funding any way they saw fit for those first two years. In fact, they still havn't accounted for the 3.7 million raised from a single event in the fall of '07' (The grand opening of a Gucci flagship store in Manhattan.). She also pleaded with her fans worldwide for donations along the way. In the meantime, she toured the world to promote her latest CD and raked in another $280,000,000 gross in just over 12 months. To date, the basic financial info for 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been posted on the website or anywhere else. The 'progress' page only tells of the collective works by over 20 seperate charities. Each of which have their own sources of funding and may have recieved some sort of promotion or support from 'Raising Malawi' in order to be considered 'partners'. But no indication is made how much of their funding came from 'Raising Malawi' or how much of their progress if any could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. The fans/donors have no clue how many millions of dollars were raised in that first two years, no clue how much Madonna herself chipped in, and no clue how the money was spent before they finally registered as a non-profit. No clue what fraction of funding or works listed on that 'progress' page could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. Nothing to go on but the vague and misleading word of Madonna. For example: She states in her latest promotional video that she will match any contributions made to her charity (PR firm) "dollar for dollar". However, there is a disclaimer posted on the website for 'Raising Malawi' that Madonna's total contribution will not exceed $100,000. Thats not per donation. Thats a maximum of $100,000 TOTAL. Less than a single days pay for Madonna. Also much less then she will surely rake in by promoting her own CDs, DVDs, and 'for profit' merchandise through this massive worldwide publicity stunt. So I called the office of 'Raising Malawi' in an attempt to verify some sort of efficient financial operation (310) 867-2881 or (888) 72-DONOR). These details are ALWAYS made available by legitimate charities. But not in this case. I got nothing but recorded messages and hangups. So I did some research on my own. 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been given any kind of rating by ANY independent charity watchdog like Charitywatch.org. The vast overwhelming majority of 'celebrity' foundations never are. In general, they are inneficient and riddled with corruption. Like the promotion of CDs, world tours, commercial websites, entire lines of jewelry (not just the single piece from which proceeds are donated), and high end retail flagship stores. Its far less expensive to promote your image and product with a contribution to your own charity (PR firm) than it is to buy commercial airtime worldwide. This is why its become such a trend. Celebrity foundations are also notorious for squandering much of their funding on private jet rides and super high end accomodations for their managers, PR crews, and celebrity figure heads. Its legal even for a nonprofit but not noble or efficient by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, non-profits are not actually required by law to be efficient. This is why the independent rating is so important. In general, 'celebrity' foundations never even get one. They are a twisted inefficient mutant of charity, self-promotion, exotic travel, and PR crap. Still, they compete for funding with more efficient legitimate charities. The celebrity figure heads often disregard the primary donors, co-founders, and managers, take personal credit for any collective work done, and seek maximum publicity shortly before or after the release of their own commercial projects. Its a sham. So if its not rated, then don't support it. Instead, support a top rated charity like any of those given high ratings at Charitywatch.org.

Hannah said...

What is art? Who has the right to determine 'this is art', 'that's not art'?
I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion and just because someone disagrees with you in one topic, it does not necessarily mean your're right OR wrong.

@oigal
I really believe a lot of women (and/or men) nowadays would react the same way I did considering the different era we're in right now to when the pic was created.
Nowadays even though we claim to be in the era of 'eu natural' but we also value simplicity and hygiene. Trimming our 'bush', if not shaving it, for sexual comfort and hygiene sake is absolutely preferable by either gender.

You talked about labeling and 'pious ones'?
Who are we to judge others who give comments based on their own beliefs, the culture they grew up in or other factors as I mentioned above?
Just because one comments from his/her own limited perspectives, it doesn't mean others have to follow his/her own way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

funny to see that you Americans can really consider this as porn :-) its just nudity, nothing more. To be porn, it needs more "action".
And if it is art...its getting to that direction imo.
To call it gross is just so childish. Ok so much fur is definitely not fashionable these days.

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