VIEW. Cultural anxiety

For some time now, works of universal cultural heritage have been undermined by the apostles of “political correctness”; that quietly, but deliberately, the freedom of creation is challenged; that a cunning method of self-censorship took hold in the minds of artists as well as those responsible for cultural institutions or elected officials of the Republic.

Examples ? Tintin in the Congo where Gone in the wind are now qualified by concerned minorities as racist acts, so the publishers capitulate and correct. Carmen, Bizet’s opera, directed by the Italian Leo Muscato, was revisited by the Italian authorities on the grounds that it was not possible to applaud the murder of a woman. Signatories to a column published in The world in 2019 the Ministry of Culture was even asked to stop supporting the architect Le Corbusier (died in 1965) on the grounds that the artist was “conspirator of the Vichy regime”. At Gallimard, we are preventing the publication of some of Céline’s pamphlets, considering that the writer is a known anti-Semite, which is true.

The list is as long as an arm’s length of authors of genius who are guilty of abominable vices condemned by morality. But in the name of what other morality should we remove from history? Lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, fierce defender of creative freedom, is worried “the memory of a society ignorant of the mistakes of its past” if it continues to confuse authors and their works. What is surprising about this tendency to refrain from reading the truth, is not so much to reject it as to accept in exchange a freedom-killing influence from which democracies have saved us.

In the name of what?

That one objects to a work for what it says or urges, nothing more normal; that it should be argued is even desirable (this is the case with the recent decision of the Angoulême festival to deprogram the exhibition of the comic author Bastien Vivès, accused of trivializing pornography and incest), but if, in the name of a meaningless, ideological, identity or victim reflex, one seeks to deny the very existence of a questionable act, there is a step happily taken.

It is clear that social networks are at work to pin, denounce, discredit at all costs. As if that wasn’t enough, algorithms now come to the rescue of censors to automatically remove all so-called “obscene” works. This is the case of the painter Eugène Delacroix, whose painting Freedom Leading the People was banned from social networks for the sole reason that we see breasts. Both in The origin of the world of Courbet, there is no need to draw a picture. It is also in this sense that the tourist office of Vienna, in Austria, was recently censored because it displayed on its site Modigliani’s paintings judged “too suggestive”.

Do we have to be uncritical or simply resigned to accept a form of censorship that seems to have come straight from the Inquisition? The moral of the story, Elisabeth Badinter translated it very well by summarizing it in the magazine read, in 2015: “I can’t stand the Marquis de Sade. I hate his writings. However, I don’t want to be censored. »

If we have to eliminate from our history, as in our present, all the artists and writers who in their lives or in their works have been guilty of more or less uncontrollable vices, we can be sure that our cultural inheritance is a single light. .


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