Sunday, July 3, 2011

How Orwellian : The Pie of Slavery

from the Colossus story in Marvel Comics Presents #10 (Jan 1989).

scan of Marvel Comics Presents #10 p25
click to embiggen

Colossus says "You in this country have free press. You can say whatever you please!"

Sounds good so far!

Colossus : "Your constitution gives you that treasured freedom. So must you slap your government in the face with pornography? Why abuse your freedom?"

As a kid I laughed when I read that. It seemed silly to suggest that free speech should be limited (besides by the illegal) by anything that is an affront to the government (and however that might be defined). I find that view of free speech more distressing now that I'm older.

At least lèse majesté is narrowly limited to offense aimed at a monarch. It is interesting that it shouldn't be respect and politeness to one's neighbors and fellow citizens that might provoke a want for discretion but an insult to a faceless institution.

and a few pages later...
scan of Marvel Comics Presents #10 p30
click to embiggen

and Colossus thinks to himself "But... are the two countries that different?"

Colossus is a university sophomore?

Colossus : "Russia's media is suppressive, but America's is exploitative!"

So, censorship and a not enough censorship are practically the same thing? I imagine the writer, Ann Nocenti, still cackles with laughter at the thought that she is still exploiting me after all these years.

Colossus : "Americans on a picnic, eating American pie. They look so happy."
Colossus : "Are they? Are they really free?"

Perhaps not. I blame it on their grabbing the wrong pie and bringing a telepathic mutant pie of slavery to the picnic by mistake. It seems like a better explanation than blaming distant, two dimensional boobies and a lack of crushing censorship.

Altogether, the story isn't without a certain charm and I think the artwork by Rick Leonardi & P. Craig Russell is exceptional. There is a lovely economy of line.

The meat of the story is based on the abuse of government power, hardly who I would want to entrust censorship based on the degree of affrontedness the government might "feel."

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