Magazine changes

Magazine changes

John Bayko
John Bayko

July 23rd, 2005, 12:21 am #1

I noticed a change to a magazine today. There are two American magazines devoted to the art and techniques of airbrushing, with similar names. One is "Airbrush Action", the other used to go by the name of "Airbrush: Art + Action" - possibly to be confusing. It recently changed its name to "Art Scene International", as it seems to have merged with another publication.

For those nor familiar with air brush art, it became popular on the sides of vans, on 1970s album covers, and motorcycle magazines. While it is probably most often used for photorealistic illustrations such as in ads, on the artistic side it's most often used fantasy art, often involving machinery (chrome, a lot), but also nude or semi-nude women. While many of the artists are male, women who paint fantasy art paint the same way. For an example, one of the most popular women in the field is Julie Bell (who paints a lot of chrome and naked women).

The former magazine has always been on the conservative side when showing women, generally avoiding any thing that could cross the nudity line, where the latter wasn't so fussy, and showed more variety, nudity and all. However, suddenly little black stars have started appearing over every single female nipple in the magazine. They are exactly nipple sized, and cover nothing else, but the magazine suddenly looks like a serious old lady has gone through with a roll of star-shaped stickers and a magnifying glass.

Bizarre. Especially since their target audience is precisely the audience which enjoys female nudity.

As of late, computers have been replacing airbrush techniques, so most commercial illustration, and a growing amount of fantasy art, is computer generated instead.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 23rd, 2005, 1:51 am #2

Yes, it does seem that we are losing the battle for breast freedom. A few victories here and there does not erase the ever-growing trend of nipplephobia. The RRR is so politically powerful now that media people see the easier course is to give in to censorship then fight it.
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Charlie
Charlie

July 24th, 2005, 2:39 am #3

I noticed a change to a magazine today. There are two American magazines devoted to the art and techniques of airbrushing, with similar names. One is "Airbrush Action", the other used to go by the name of "Airbrush: Art + Action" - possibly to be confusing. It recently changed its name to "Art Scene International", as it seems to have merged with another publication.

For those nor familiar with air brush art, it became popular on the sides of vans, on 1970s album covers, and motorcycle magazines. While it is probably most often used for photorealistic illustrations such as in ads, on the artistic side it's most often used fantasy art, often involving machinery (chrome, a lot), but also nude or semi-nude women. While many of the artists are male, women who paint fantasy art paint the same way. For an example, one of the most popular women in the field is Julie Bell (who paints a lot of chrome and naked women).

The former magazine has always been on the conservative side when showing women, generally avoiding any thing that could cross the nudity line, where the latter wasn't so fussy, and showed more variety, nudity and all. However, suddenly little black stars have started appearing over every single female nipple in the magazine. They are exactly nipple sized, and cover nothing else, but the magazine suddenly looks like a serious old lady has gone through with a roll of star-shaped stickers and a magnifying glass.

Bizarre. Especially since their target audience is precisely the audience which enjoys female nudity.

As of late, computers have been replacing airbrush techniques, so most commercial illustration, and a growing amount of fantasy art, is computer generated instead.
Reminds me of that Classic Film (tm): Barbarella....

For reasons that go right past prudery straight to insanity without stopping, the opening credits displayed Jane Fonda (Barbarella) undressing whilst floating weightless in her spaceship boudoir. Sure enough, braless, she removes her shirt to reveal - gasp - not nipples, but a pair of pinwheel rotating starbursts which pivot about the hereafter hidden-from-plain-view body parts.

Oh, no -- not that you could ever detect the hammered metal nipple/areola texture in the bronze breastplate armor she wore later in the movie, or in the transparent prespex bodice/breasplate (also formed with proper anatomy) over a sheer body stocking. Why no, not at all!

All space vixens have nipple-formed clothing, but not actual nipples themselves to be seen. Or so the person in charge of standards would have you believe.

So... I wonder why Batman and Robin both had nipples, but not Batgirl? Oh... she wasn't a space vixen, so she didn't need them. That must be it.

I'm going to have another beer now...
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 24th, 2005, 2:55 am #4

Actually Joel Schumacher's decision to put prominent nipples on Batman's costume generated quite a lot of flack from Batman fans who though it look "too-gayish". And subsequent Batman movies by other directors don't have them.
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John Bayko
John Bayko

July 24th, 2005, 4:30 am #5

Yes, it does seem that we are losing the battle for breast freedom. A few victories here and there does not erase the ever-growing trend of nipplephobia. The RRR is so politically powerful now that media people see the easier course is to give in to censorship then fight it.
Although you often point to American influence on other cultures, I think often you're overestimating U.S cultural influence. When the U.S cultural guardians[1] go too far opposite the rest of the world, the fact that the U.S is not a monolithic group holding a single opinion means that world culture and morals seep in despite all attempts to stop it.

As an example, it was the wide availability of nudity and sexual expression in foreign magazines and films which brought them in growing numbers into the U.S, and consequently made the likes of Playboy magazine acceptable enough to start, and become very popular. For all the talk of morality, the U.S is fundamentally a capitalist society, and if there is money to be made, eventually local media will do so.

For a long time, the U.S has been relatively isolated from modern, progressive views on nudity, sex, and the like - it was all across the ocean, in different languages and incompatible time zones. So the influence has been slow and diffuse. One difference now is that Canada is becoming as progressive as European countries. American right wing groups recently sent millions and millions of dollars up to Canada to proxy groups set up solely to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, because they realize that that may be the single greatest threat in history to American right-wing homophobia and gay repression.

You might also not realize that Canada is the world's second biggest producer of TV programs. Many are set as American shows and exported, but a growing number are set in Canada, for Canadian audiences, complete with themes, language, and content which are unacceptable to U.S broadcasters. Some of them are starting to find a U.S audience.

One such show, "Degrassi: The Next Generation" is the single most popular program on the U.S "Noggin" (or "N", in the evening when it is shown) cable network where it is shown. This is a conundrum, as the show deals blatantly with issues such as abortion, homosexuality, teen sex, and other adolescent issues. The network spends a lot of time deciding just how much to censor to both avoid complaints, but not alienate the audience who watch it precisely because nothing like that would ever be dealt with on an American program.

It may be that the U.S is simply too big to remain a single political or cultural entity. Or to maintain the illusion. Some could argue that it never was - there was even a civil war at one point on that topic. Recently, political divisions have risen to the point that Americans have been informally dividing themselves into geographical "Red States" and "Blue States" (as if the "United States" were now merely "Co-habiting States" not entirely comfortable with that arrangement), and social attitudes tend to follow that division. It is entirely possible that the two parts of the U.S are headed in opposite directions, with the "Blue" states becoming more progressive along the lines of Canada and Europe, and the "Red" states becoming more isolated and conservative.

This does not necessarily mean separation, unless the recent political abuses grow far worse than they are now. There is an immensely strong economic engine driven by the lack of borders between States, and disrupting that would be a catastrophe. Even the comission of war crimes by the country's government has not been enough to make Americans even think of separation. But it may be necessary for media companies (primarily television) to give up on the idea of a single American consumer, and eventually begin to segment the entertainment market geographically into "Red" and "Blue" (or any other divisions that are most profitable).

This wouldn't be particularly unusual. Consumer products in the past few decades have been progressing towards more specialized sub-groups of consumers. The entertainment industry has resisted mainly because of advertizing - a single product with a given popularity is more profitable than two products with half the market, even if they are each 50% more popular overall, because of the cost but also because its simply less effective advertizing. Worse for ads to be associated with something that offends much of the customer population.

You may see regional TV networks (or network programming) grow if this keeps up.

At that point, I would expect the remaining conservative attitudes to wither and die - eventually. Mainly because they are predominantly located in less wealthy parts of the country, and thus would simply be less profitable. That means less product aimed at them - or perhaps a cheaper product, like reality TV. Either way, they will be marginalized, and no matter how popular it may be, even reality TV and tractor pulls get repetitive. And even the conservative areas are not a single mindset, there will be open-minded people pointing out that there are people living a good life out there.

I also expect broadcast television to die completely anyway, replaced by per-show viewing - think iTunes for television. Already, many people are watching TV shows exclusively on DVD, skipping networks altogether. Once chokepoints like broadcast television (maybe radio, too?) are gone, so is centralized control, and people everywhere will be free to enjoy what they like without having someone they don't even know trying to censor it.

[1] Culture in an anthropological sense - cultural guardians in that case would be those who control the media.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 24th, 2005, 5:56 am #6

Wow, you covered so much there John I don't know where to begin, if to begin at all.
First, I admit having a rather provincial view here because the US is the only country I know much about. I don't know how much influence the US has on other countries other than the fact that everything that is popular in the US seems to soon be popular elsewhere in the world.

I certainly agree we are a more fragmented society now- something which I think began with the proliferation of dozens (now hundreds) of cable networks some 25 years ago. I remember when you only had 3 or 4 channels to choose from. It gave the country a sense of community because we were all watching the same things. Not so now when you can choose between 200-300 channels, plus DVDs, video games and internet downloads.

As it is, local radio stations are in almost panic over their dwindling audiences. Not only are people listening to their walkman's and Ipods rather than radio, but now people can download podcasts of programs from all over the world and listen to them at their convenience. I have a friend who downloads a overnight radio program each morning (which only takes a couple minutes with broadband) and then listens to it while driving to work. But all this increases the lost of community that we once had.
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John Bayko
John Bayko

July 24th, 2005, 10:20 pm #7

"I don't know how much influence the US has on other countries other than the fact that everything that is popular in the US seems to soon be popular elsewhere in the world. "

There is a large influence, no doubt, but a large part due to the fact that the U.S has large economy and lot of resources to throw at making a lot of different products (movies, television, inventions, consumer gadgets) that people can try a whole lot and see what sticks. That which is successful gets exported. Incidentally, Japan has a similar culture, and similar economic strength, and does much the same thing - a lot of odd product ideas get tried out in the U.S, but Japan sees things in stores that are positively wacky. But out of that, the most successful get exported and take consumer markets by storm.

Another parallel is entertainment. Japan is one of a few countries that is essentially self-sufficient when it comes to entertainment. If you were to travel in Asia, chances are you'll find a lot of people who can speak English, except in Japan, because that is the one country that simply is powerful enough (even in a recession) that they simply don't need to. The U.S is another (with outsourcing to Canada), as is India. But most places, it's simply cheaper to pay a small amount for the local rights to an American movie and dub it than to try to make something of comperable quality. Same for television. And while the U.S makes a ton of crap, foreign markets can select the few that work for the local culture and ignore the rest.

BTW, Indian movies are fairly culturally heavy, so they don't do well outside that country. Japanese movies and television, especially the animated ones, have been discovered by Americans, and are exploding in popularity, but have somewhat of a niche appeal and also play to Japanese culture. Asian "Kung-Fu" movies have always had a niche as well. American movies are pretty much the only ones that cover an extremely wide range of subjects, without a lot of cultural baggage. Not that America doesn't have its own culture, but the public face of that culture is very bland and inoffensive, making it friendlier to other countries.

However, what people see on screen is only an example for other cultures. It gives them a benchmark to compare their own society to, and presents different ideas that are appealing because of their novelty, or because they're genuinely good ideas. But still, for all its appeal and novelty, people are more strongly influenced by people actually around them on a daily basis - family and friends - than media. Same as in the U.S - seeing celebrities bra-free in magazines, television, or movies doesn't inspire a lot of ordinary women in the U.S to do the same.

A lot of what happens in other countries happens in parallel with the U.S, which might look like cultural influence by the U.S. A lot of what happened in the sixties happend because of new media, rise of underground magazines, discovery of new drugs and a social network for distributing them, and the exploration of new musical forms (much of what formed sixties and seventies rock and roll did come from England, in the form of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, for example). Those were factors in many places, so the social changes also happened in many places (with local variations - racism was less of a problem in England, so was never an issue raised in youth protests).

Basically what I was proposing is that this sort of parallel, cross-pollinating cultural change goes on all the time, and is increasingly dominant. Any society which tries to oppose that, and fight any outside influence, will eventually find themselves in a losing battle, trying to plug an increasingly leaky dike.
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Boreas
Boreas

July 25th, 2005, 11:57 pm #8

Although you often point to American influence on other cultures, I think often you're overestimating U.S cultural influence. When the U.S cultural guardians[1] go too far opposite the rest of the world, the fact that the U.S is not a monolithic group holding a single opinion means that world culture and morals seep in despite all attempts to stop it.

As an example, it was the wide availability of nudity and sexual expression in foreign magazines and films which brought them in growing numbers into the U.S, and consequently made the likes of Playboy magazine acceptable enough to start, and become very popular. For all the talk of morality, the U.S is fundamentally a capitalist society, and if there is money to be made, eventually local media will do so.

For a long time, the U.S has been relatively isolated from modern, progressive views on nudity, sex, and the like - it was all across the ocean, in different languages and incompatible time zones. So the influence has been slow and diffuse. One difference now is that Canada is becoming as progressive as European countries. American right wing groups recently sent millions and millions of dollars up to Canada to proxy groups set up solely to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, because they realize that that may be the single greatest threat in history to American right-wing homophobia and gay repression.

You might also not realize that Canada is the world's second biggest producer of TV programs. Many are set as American shows and exported, but a growing number are set in Canada, for Canadian audiences, complete with themes, language, and content which are unacceptable to U.S broadcasters. Some of them are starting to find a U.S audience.

One such show, "Degrassi: The Next Generation" is the single most popular program on the U.S "Noggin" (or "N", in the evening when it is shown) cable network where it is shown. This is a conundrum, as the show deals blatantly with issues such as abortion, homosexuality, teen sex, and other adolescent issues. The network spends a lot of time deciding just how much to censor to both avoid complaints, but not alienate the audience who watch it precisely because nothing like that would ever be dealt with on an American program.

It may be that the U.S is simply too big to remain a single political or cultural entity. Or to maintain the illusion. Some could argue that it never was - there was even a civil war at one point on that topic. Recently, political divisions have risen to the point that Americans have been informally dividing themselves into geographical "Red States" and "Blue States" (as if the "United States" were now merely "Co-habiting States" not entirely comfortable with that arrangement), and social attitudes tend to follow that division. It is entirely possible that the two parts of the U.S are headed in opposite directions, with the "Blue" states becoming more progressive along the lines of Canada and Europe, and the "Red" states becoming more isolated and conservative.

This does not necessarily mean separation, unless the recent political abuses grow far worse than they are now. There is an immensely strong economic engine driven by the lack of borders between States, and disrupting that would be a catastrophe. Even the comission of war crimes by the country's government has not been enough to make Americans even think of separation. But it may be necessary for media companies (primarily television) to give up on the idea of a single American consumer, and eventually begin to segment the entertainment market geographically into "Red" and "Blue" (or any other divisions that are most profitable).

This wouldn't be particularly unusual. Consumer products in the past few decades have been progressing towards more specialized sub-groups of consumers. The entertainment industry has resisted mainly because of advertizing - a single product with a given popularity is more profitable than two products with half the market, even if they are each 50% more popular overall, because of the cost but also because its simply less effective advertizing. Worse for ads to be associated with something that offends much of the customer population.

You may see regional TV networks (or network programming) grow if this keeps up.

At that point, I would expect the remaining conservative attitudes to wither and die - eventually. Mainly because they are predominantly located in less wealthy parts of the country, and thus would simply be less profitable. That means less product aimed at them - or perhaps a cheaper product, like reality TV. Either way, they will be marginalized, and no matter how popular it may be, even reality TV and tractor pulls get repetitive. And even the conservative areas are not a single mindset, there will be open-minded people pointing out that there are people living a good life out there.

I also expect broadcast television to die completely anyway, replaced by per-show viewing - think iTunes for television. Already, many people are watching TV shows exclusively on DVD, skipping networks altogether. Once chokepoints like broadcast television (maybe radio, too?) are gone, so is centralized control, and people everywhere will be free to enjoy what they like without having someone they don't even know trying to censor it.

[1] Culture in an anthropological sense - cultural guardians in that case would be those who control the media.
Wow John, that is an interesting essay. I can't comment on it all, partly because I haven't printed it out for review as I write. I need to comment on the Canada part.

It does seem that we are becoming more liberal while the US is becoming more conservative. Perhaps that has to do with your current admin and the religious right influence. It also has to do with the Canadian psyche that will not be "like the US" the "we are different from the Americans because...." mentality. We currently have a conservative political party leader in federal politics who is hurt by his apparent desire to be like the US. We are in a country that has fought to be separate from the US for all of our history, including the US war of independence....before we were even a country.

I recently heard an editorial on the radio talking about why we won't be so influenced by the religious right as the US. We do not have "In God We Trust" in our logo etc. We have managed to have a totally separate church and state....even in Quebec where the Catholic church has been so influential. We have had leaders (P.E. Trudeau for one) who have lead informed by their faith, but have not imposed it on the country.

Anyway, I feel like I am babbling. I like being a neighbour to the US most days. I don't want to become American, at least not on this particular soil. If I become American it is because I have moved to Vermont or somewhere. I like that I live in a country that has recently passed same sex marriages and that is debating the marijuana issue. (I hope it is not decriminalized, but I think that could happen) I like that there are women in Canada challenging the Catholic church's view on ordaining women by having female "ordination" this week.

We get ads that show nipples and even breasts....mostly print ads. We have mannequins in our stores that look bra-free.

I hope that we can send some of our tolerance and liberalness down to yuo guys!

Cheers.
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John Bayko
John Bayko

July 26th, 2005, 1:41 am #9

"I hope that we can send some of our tolerance and liberalness down to yuo guys!"

I try to write neutrally, but in fact I live in Saskatoon. Take note of my email address (Sasktel).
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 26th, 2005, 1:42 am #10

Wow John, that is an interesting essay. I can't comment on it all, partly because I haven't printed it out for review as I write. I need to comment on the Canada part.

It does seem that we are becoming more liberal while the US is becoming more conservative. Perhaps that has to do with your current admin and the religious right influence. It also has to do with the Canadian psyche that will not be "like the US" the "we are different from the Americans because...." mentality. We currently have a conservative political party leader in federal politics who is hurt by his apparent desire to be like the US. We are in a country that has fought to be separate from the US for all of our history, including the US war of independence....before we were even a country.

I recently heard an editorial on the radio talking about why we won't be so influenced by the religious right as the US. We do not have "In God We Trust" in our logo etc. We have managed to have a totally separate church and state....even in Quebec where the Catholic church has been so influential. We have had leaders (P.E. Trudeau for one) who have lead informed by their faith, but have not imposed it on the country.

Anyway, I feel like I am babbling. I like being a neighbour to the US most days. I don't want to become American, at least not on this particular soil. If I become American it is because I have moved to Vermont or somewhere. I like that I live in a country that has recently passed same sex marriages and that is debating the marijuana issue. (I hope it is not decriminalized, but I think that could happen) I like that there are women in Canada challenging the Catholic church's view on ordaining women by having female "ordination" this week.

We get ads that show nipples and even breasts....mostly print ads. We have mannequins in our stores that look bra-free.

I hope that we can send some of our tolerance and liberalness down to yuo guys!

Cheers.
You make an interesting observation when you note the Canada is becoming more liberal while the US is becoming more conservative. I think you are absolutely right, and it makes you wonder how much mutual influence countries can have on each other when such close neighbors can be going in totally opposite directions.

I've been given a lot of thought as to why the US has taken such a turn to the political right the past 20 years. I think back to my youth and wonder whatever happen to all those liberal flower-carrying 1960s hippies? It's as if they climb aboard a spaceship one night and vanished because it's hard to believe they are the same people who are now such gun-oh conservative Republicans listening to Rush Limbaugh every day.

It makes you wonder what brought about such a politicial metamorphosis.
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