Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The PayPal Mess, Amazon, and a cultural observation.

(cross-posted from my other blog)

Thanks to a sprained wrist, I can't write at the moment. I can obviously still type, but really, really, really slowly. At least I can blog, though, so here I am. During my involuntary vacation, I've had lots of idle time to just think. And I've been thinking about...stuff. So here I go.

In the last year or so, Amazon and PayPal have both cracked down heavily on certain types of "obscene" material. Generally, this refers to erotic and pornographic material containing things like bestiality, rape, barely-legal material, incest, and pseudo-incest. Both companies have policies regarding such in place. I'm not going to argue about censorship (which I am wholly against) or these policies (which I completely disagree with). In this post, I'm just making a few observations about our culture.

Relatively recently, Amazon has gone so far as to remove adult incest titles from people's Kindles. Not just those containing underage sex, but all those containing any form of incest. (Ironically, one of their own television commercials features a book containing pseudo-incest. Go figure.) Though strangely, I haven't seen Amazon or PayPal restricting anyone's ability to purchase Game of Thrones, but maybe the incestuous sex isn't as graphic as in erotic fiction, so it's okay? I haven't read or seen it, so I can't judge.

So this morning, I did a little perusing on ye olde interwebs. I started with Amazon. Now, while I can't purchase certain types of obscene sexual material even if I wanted to, there is a wide variety of torture porn available to me with the click of a button. I can purchase Saw on DVD, on Amazon instant video, even as a boxed set with all the films together. If that's not enough, there's also the unrated widescreen edition of Hostel. In fact, if I were so inclined, I can even get my hands on a copy of The Human Centipede.

A quick browse of eBay, which is PayPal's parent company, shows a similar variety of options if I wish to buy Saw, Hostel, or The Human Centipede.

And were I to bore of torture porn, and decide I was in the mood to read about children fighting to the death for the entertainment of adults? eBay and Amazon both have plenty of ways I can get my hands on The Hunger Games. (hat tip to a poster on Absolute Write whose post got me thinking about this; for the life of me I can't find the post, though. Still looking, and when I find it, I will properly link it.) Hell, if I don't feel like reading the book, I can just wait for the film to come to the local movie theatre, since it promises to be a headlining blockbuster. Or wait for it to go to video, because then I'll be able to order it with ease and convenience on Amazon.

I'm absolutely not condoning censorship of any of the types of material I mentioned above. I'm also not saying I'm interested in buying (or writing) rape fiction, bestiality, incest/pseudo-incest, or anything like that. I just can't quite get it through my head how those things are more obscene than torture porn or kids fighting to the death for entertainment.

Think about it.

1 comment:

  1. I just read (on The Digital Reader maybe?) that PayPal was surprised at the negative publicity *rolls eyes* and might be doing a bit of rethinking, since people pointed out that their policy covers books like the Bible and assorted bestsellers. :)