December 03, 2004

Please no thongs, we're British 

Boy, we sure wouldn't want to offend anyone in our audience. So when Denise Perry, our manager of special projects and resident Clay Aken fanatic, produced a feature for WILL-AM's program Sidetrack, accompanied by a web page with pictures of her posing with her official Clay Aken thong....some people voiced concern it was too racy for a public broadcasting web site. Golly, but it seems like some of the radio shows I've produced here over the years might have crossed that line for us long ago, and no turning back. But never mind, we threw it out there without fanfare, and gosh, there was audience demand: Denise's "Not a Claymate" page got more hits last month than all but two other pages on our site. Even more than WILLblog, if you can believe that! (Ha-ha, whatever...) Jeepers, no one in our web audience minded a bit seeing Denise hold up a small piece of celebrity-themed underwear, but apparently someone on our own staff took offense. The claim (which reached me 3rd-hand) was that the display of a thong "sexualizes women." And before I even knew of the complaint, the page was removed from the WILL site. So golly gee willacres, I have a couple of points to make about this. Nobody gets to remove stuff from our site like this without asking me about it, so I put it back up. As to the claim of our staff member, I think this is a lovely chance to have a conversation about what does or does not constitute sexualization, and if that's automatically offensive, politically incorrect, in bad taste, or otherwise ookey. Could I pose with my underwear and offend people too? Or would it have to be someone else's underwear? Now I want to be open-minded about this, so I'm prepared to have that conversation. In the meantime I restored the web page with one minor alteration: I pixelated the thong. I happen to think that's funny, and there's a place for funny on our site. There's no place for censorship though, and it seems to me that's what's at work here. What do you think?

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