Presenting Problematic Issues in Art

Lolita, when it was published in 1955 (after much delay) was received by a hostile combination of abhorrent dismay and critical acclaim. Similarly, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses upon release in 1988 received both popular and critical praise but enraged a considerable portion of the Islamic community that resulted in a fatwa being placed on the author. More recently, the Netflix film Cuties was met with a #CancelNetflix response while the efficacy of the film’s intentions are still hotly debated. NITRAM, a film that explores the worst gun massacre in Australia’s history, has also faced significant objection.

These works are a small example of art that attempts to discuss problematic issues in the public domain. In varying degrees, they all portray uncomfortable representations of social problems. Where does the line lie with the representation of problematic themes in works of art? Does a work of art with the platform of Netflix have more of a responsibility to stay within the confines of non-controversy? Or, conversely, because of its platform, should this be the very arena that tackles problematic social issues?

An interesting angle for this article could be the role of cancel culture within the discussion. Do responses such as #CancelNetlfix inhibit the willingness of artists to attempt to tackle problematic issues and what is the consequence of this in broader social discourse?

  • Another example that jumps to mind is Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1992 film 'The Lover,' starring Tony Leung and Jane March. In the book, the unnamed female lead character, played by Jane March is 15. March turned 18 shortly after shooting began and (apparently) Annaud delayed shooting the sex scenes until after March's birthday. – Amyus 8 months ago

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