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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Japanese Art Show Turns Brits Into Prudes

Really? You have a problem with an octopus eating out a woman? What if the roles were reversed? What if it was just a drawing and no real cephalopods were hurt in the making of this porno shoot? What if it was drawn by a Japanese man considered to be one of the country's top artists of 150 years ago? What if it was art depicting pornography? What if it was art and not pornography?

… for a country that has long embraced transvestites on TV a la Monty Python, gross titillation on The Benny Hill Show (Zoom in on the trophies!), swearing its fecking arse off on Father Ted, had topless Sunshine Girls in its newspapers, the British in general sure can come off as being too prim and proper sometimes.

Really... wouldn't it be more fun to not have to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on through the daily and grind and all that rot and instead keep a stiff stiffy?

The Brits - long a purveyor of some interesting sexual… stuff… seem to have rubbed up against some Japanese art and have felt the need to be embarrassed for its youth.

The British Museum will introduce a cinema-style age limit later this year when it hosts an exhibition of Japanese art featuring graphic sexual content, a spokesperson mentioned on June 27, 2013. (Gods! The paper I saw this in used the term 'spokeswoman' rather than 'spokesperson'! That's bloody sexist!)(It would be better if it was sexy!)

The images set to go on show in London in October of 2013 promise to showcase the Japanese erotic art form shunga, but apparently some of the images are so explicit that children under the age of 16 will only be allowed to enter if accompanied by an adult. (Enter what now?)

In fact, one of the images to be included is an ukiyo-e print designed by master artist Hokusai, depicting a woman in a tryst with two octopi. (The effing newspaper actually wrote 'octopuses'. The plural of octopus is 'octopi'. Stupid Brits are getting stoopider) (I was born in England, and feel the pain… rue Britannia, the fall from grace we doth share. Perchance to scream.)

(By the way - see the comments section below for clarification regarding the plural of octopus, as sent in by a reader, and my pathetic attempt at clarification.) 

In a preview of the show, the museum showed off one of the tamer paintings, "Courtesans of the Tamaya House” by Utagawa Toyoharu (another master of the ukiyo-e art-form), dating from the 1770s or early 1780s. That's the image at the very top!

"This is a finishing school for tarts. You can see all the skills that a successful tart has to know," the museum’s director Neil MacGregor says of the 1.83 meter (6-foot) folding screen painting.

The Courtesans of the Tamaya House painting depicts a group of courtesans - some of whom are sitting, some are standing in a tatami-mat clad room mastering the shamisen musical instrument, mixing of inks for calligraphy, making matcha green tea... wow... that does not make me horny. Hell... forget about seeing boobs, you don't even see any ankle. And I sure do love me some ankle!

So yes, MacGregor is correct in stating that the place is where courtesans came to learn things... but it's courtesan things, not necessarily 'tart' things. Tart things might imply something sexual.

For the record, a Japanese courtesan (oiran), was an entertainer who would also sleep with her charges. A prostitute, sure, but more like a proper high-class escort versus a ho. A typical Japanese prostitute is known as a yƫjo.

The women in the painting are oiran. It's why you see them learning how to play music rather than how to peel a banana with their tongue... though I might also find that entertaining.

So... hopefully, museum director MacGregor will offer some correct insight on these paintings rather than mucking about like the common rabble. Tsk-tsk. It makes me wonder if the museum will be offering up proper descriptions under the art work, or if it will be providing raunchy nudge-nudge-wink-wink commentary.

Oy! Meredith! Lookit that randy mollusk going to town on that nip… and also down on her fish and chips! I wouldn't mind a spot of that I'll tell you! Gor blimey… now look at these girls… 'finishing school'? They certainly are! Yeah! Play that shamisan! Play it! Feck… we need to go now! Gerrrrr... Me clam digger is pointing straight to Polaris. Howz yer Father?

The British Museum is Britain’s most popular visitor attraction and is currently experiencing high demand for its show "Life and Death in Pompeii", which has attracted 1.7 million visitors since April 2013.

I think that the British Museum is trying to create a bit of a firefight with a wee spot of 'negative advertising', stating that we've got art (ooooooorrrrr-ooooorrrrrrr!) that is so dirty you'll need a shower after you come… and see it. Adults, preferred, or at least very liberal parents….

Oh well… I appreciate the fact the museum is trying to dissuade young people from getting their hands on porn at a place of yearning, I mean learning. It will force kids to get their porn the old-fashioned—from the Internet… where any of the images at the event are also probably available for free… or simply go and purchase a book on shunga and a bottle of hand-lotion.

Besides… maybe what should be watched for, are the parents bringing kids in to see the art…like what's up with that, ya perv?

Or... maybe these kids wanting to see the art are far more mature than they are being given credit for… they are coming to see art, after all! At a museum! Seriously… if they want sex, they can find it on-line. And cheaper! No kid is going to start cranking is yanker at the museum... and if an underage girl is being turned on by the rubbery creature on the woman, even if she was denied entry, she would eventually found some stimulating titillation soon enough.

Whatever… I suppose the museum is covering its ass, even while its art is baring it all.

Shunga... it's not just for kids anymore.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Hello,Andrew,
    I am still a fully qualified Brit and I sometimes fight a rearguard action against the misconceptions of some North Americans about our language. So "Gardez loo" (metaphorically speaking.
    The plural of 'octopus' is, strictly speaking, 'octopodes' or 'octopuses'.
    From Wikianswers: "The plural form of octopus is octopuses (or occasionally octopodes). Although it is often supposed that octopi is the 'correct' plural of octopus, and it has been in use for longer than the usual Anglicized plural octopuses, it in fact originates as an error. Octopus is not a simple Latin word of the second declension, but a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, and its 'correct' plural would logically be octopodes. Most dictionaries will list both octopuses and octopi as correct plurals."
    So your statement that the plural is 'octopi', accompanied by offensive comments about Brits, is objectionable on two counts - it is inaccurate and it is prejudiced and unjustifiable.

    Jeremy (Fid. Ang.)

  2. Well - no total disrespect is meant against the Brits. Sorry.
    except for the the prude remark.
    Octopodes is well... I also read online that: "Those who don't like "octopi" sometimes suggest that the correct term is "octopodes." Nobody ever uses "octopodes" outside of arguments about the plural of "octopus." Nor should you.
    In short, stick with "octopuses" unless you really prefer the sound of "octopi."
    I did always wonder why Ringo used the term octopuses...
    So... I stand corrected... and shall make amends in the next blog.
    By the way - self-deprecating humour... I used the word 'stoopid' purposely misspelling the word to show I wasn't above making a mistake.
    But how about the whole 'tart' thing as mentioned by the museum director? Slang, is it not? Perhaps.
    I do the same with the Father Ted 'feck'.
    But... I appreciate your LOC (letter of comment). Your point is well made - as usual.

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