Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, December 08, 2008

When does protection become censorship?

The Internet Watch Foundation has caused internet service providers across the UK to censor a Wikipedia Scorpions page with the cover of the 1976 album Virgin Killer. The picture is of a naked pre-pubescent girl. The picture is already available on dozens of websites as part of the band's discography.

The IWF statement is here, and you can judge for yourself the album's cover here.

Obviously in 1976 the internet was non-existent, and the standards of the time were less rigid. While we wouldn't condone such an album cover now, there is no hint of any child having been abused at the time through this picture being taken. Ironically, the album is not one of Scropions best of the 70's era, with only two tracks making it to the live Tokyo Tapes double platter just two years later.

But the IWF's action has enraged Wikipedia editors and users, with the claim being that the IWF action has led to users being unable to edit pages.

While this is a debate relating to web censorship, one has to wonder what is the next step in the IWF's crusade? While all of us should support actions to prevent child pornography and stop the abuse of children, the ability of a self-appointed body, which has no oversight or accountability to decide on the distinction between creativity and abuse. What would they have make of W.A.S.P.'s Animal: Fuck Like a Beast, Motorhead's Jailbait or other lyrics, stageshows, album covers etc.

I fear that heavy metal is once again under the censor's spotlight.

ADDENDUM: The IWF has backed down...they have now withdrawn their objection...in slightly less than gracious terms. :) Read the BBC report here.


Wayne said...

While on one hand I am against censorship, I also see no artistic merit to having a naked kid on the front of a metal album.
So really, I'd say the cendsors are twats, but so are Scorpion for having such a shitty and obviously controversial album cover.

Jonny said...

The pictures on Nirvana's Nevermind, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, plus numerous other examples, could, as claimed by IWF, be defined as a Level 1 image under police definitions. I agree the cover is pretty tasteless (and it's an average album at best!).

If you can access the wikipedia pages - that is if your ISP hasn't blocked them because of the IWF action - there is an interesting insight from the band themselves

Anonymous said...

My Da still has the original cover version ,on Vinyl of course ,its worth quiet a bit these days I'm told ,and I know a few of my mates have offered him to buy it off him a number of times

Kids today wouldn't even know what a turn table is thou :P


Jonny said...

With the IWF backing down I wonder will the value of the Virgin Killer vinyl fall...might put mine on e-bay to see. And with that post Redskull I really do feel feckin' old! Though I bought my copy second hand in Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations in 198...well it was the 80s and don't see any need to date myself any further!