So it’s that time of year again: the Second Life Birthday celebration, and the annual controversy: are nipples Evil? Past issues of this issue (haha, see what I did there?) have also included “Why did you make me cover up my statue’s nipples when the statue of David has genitals showing?”; this year’s now includes “What do you mean, naked Barbie dolls are not PG??“.

I was going to ignore the whole thing with a sort of sad-amused sigh, but I got into a discussion last night in the AWG Groupies group IM, and then today I randomly followed an Immy Sideways tweet (“tweet”), to a comment thread on the Second Life weblog. Generally I avoid weblog comment threads studiously, but this one was started by someone that I rather admire, and (although I admit I didn’t read the whole thing) seemed to have a certain amount of actual content.

So anyway, I posted. :) Here ya go…

Re: Censorship at SL7B?

And this wasn’t the only display similarly censored; apparently pictures of “naked” Barbie dolls were also judged to be “non-PG” (which I found deeply ironic, given that Barbie dolls are sanitized specifically so that even innocent young children can view them “naked” without anyone worrying about it).

This kind of thing is why I tend to ignore the Birthdays, much as it somewhat saddens me to say. It’s just not worth braving possible lag and crowds to experience something that is filtered so Draconianly to be squeaky-clean and prude-safe. Like, I should go out of my way to see something approved by the Linden Marketing Department? No, thanks.

Which I think is a great pity, because I know alot of people, many of them Resident volunteers, go to alot of trouble to put the Birthdays together, and to help them succeed. I’d like to be in the Target Audience, but apparently I’m not.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to use the term “censorship” even when there isn’t a monopoly or a government involved. Government censorship is a more worrying kind of censorship, but when even a non-monopoly private company says “we’re going to put together an art show that’s open to all (but no nipples or naked Barbie dolls or…)” I think the word applies quite well. It is, as Scylla says, perfectly within their rights; but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

As I’ve said before in various venues, it always makes me a little uneasy when the Lindens get into either content-creation or content-restriction. It’s inevitable that they have to do it sometimes, given the laws of the world they operate in, at least the restriction part, but I’d rather they did it as little as possible. When they spend resources (that could otherwise have been spent on, say, fixing the grid) on putting together a celebration whose content is so restricted as to be mostly boring, I, as a paying consumer of their services, tend to wish that they hadn’t.

Let the Residents put on the big celebrations! Then the interesting ones can be in Zindra, and if someone wants to put a no-nipples one up on PG land, more power to ’em. But my tier and annual subscription shouldn’t go to the latter any more than it should to the former, in my ever-so-humble opinion. If the Lindens want to put some resources into a Birthday Celebration, do it via advertising kiosks where people can advertised Birthday-themed events of any content class, and content-neutral stuff like that, not via an Official Linden Sponsored Celebration from which nipples and Barbie dolls are banned for lewdness…

3 Responses

  1. Yes, I read it.

    I commented somewhere { I’m suffering from CRS} about The Benevolent Monarchy again stepping on it’s collective male genitaia.

    All this inabiltiy to see the big picture is expected in a Mom and Pop corner store…not in a company of the size of the Lab.

  2. Your post really captures a great deal of how I feel about this…and goes even further to suggest a positive course of action. Thank you so much, Dale, as always always. I love the idea of the different Residents putting on celebrations that are themed to the different continents, with the Lab taking a hands-off supportive role. The SL experience – from grid wide hunts, music events to exploring and meeting up with friends – involves tp-ing into different continents as much as anything. So why not include the continent hopping experience? A great idea, even in the face of what would be probably a logistical challenge (as the 21-sim event must still have been, my hats off to the organizers for managing that so beautifully with this week-long event).

    As for “nipplegate”…it’s just wrong on so many levels. If the exhibits were preapproved and then had the pre-approval yank, really bad form. Yanked publicly away, really bad form. If self-appointed Thought Police start making “citizen’s arrests” based on their personal beliefs (with their bullets in their shirt pockets looking startling like a nipple…GASP!…to the “normal” mind) , and a Linden stands at the scene mute, really bad form. (That smacks a bit of griefing.) And if somehow the inworld culture accepts these freakishly bizarre associations between something innocent and something atrocious (somehow a plastic Barbie will induce child molestation?!?? *Blinks* Egads! Then throw all the parents in jail for buying the TOY in the first place! While we’re at it, if nipples are such weapons, outlaw breast feeding, the sicko moms out there!) …

    …I mean…it’s just outrageously bad form any way you look at it. And any way I look at it, I am glad for the community outrage over this.

    Yours, Dale, expressed so very eloquently, constructively, and with a great generosity of spirit. Thank you.

    • Thanks very. :) Yeah, one of the suggestions that’s come up in the Scylla thread that I linked to there is that there ought to be Mature and Adult sections of the Official Birthday (on different continents if need be), as well as the “General” (which apparently means “even more respectable than a child’s playroom”) areas that exist now.

      I’m sure the possibility has occurred to the Lab. That they haven’t done it probably means that they think it’s just too much trouble, or that they regard the Birthday mostly as a PR event, and if there was an Adult section in the Birthday, it could be bad PR if a news story got out like “Birthday Suits: Naked Escorts Featured at Second Life Celebration”.

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