Are you guilty of pornography?
The Simpsons are in the news again. Unsurprisingly, the series is up for five Writers Guild of America Awards. What’s slightly surprising is that this is the first time the long-running show has been nominated for best comedy series. But what’s really surprising is a recent Australian court ruling that sophomoric drawings of the bright yellow characters are just like photographs. A man who had poorly-drawn images on his computer of Bart, Lisa and Maggie having sex was found guilty of child pornography.
The article said the court ruled, “That while The Simpsons characters had hands with four fingers and their faces were ‘markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being’, the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.”
Among the many expressing outrage is the inimitable Neil Gaiman. Putting it much better than I ever could, Gaiman said, “I suspect the Judge might have just inadvertently granted human rights to cartoon characters.” He added, “I think it’s nonsensical in every way that it could possibly be nonsensical,” and even joked that the characters made their first TV appearance in the ‘80s so they’re all over 18.
Take a look at whatever you collect – anime, video games, graphic novels, DVDs, T-shirts, notepads you doodled on during a meeting – and think about whether you could be found guilty of pornography according to this ludicrous logic. And be grateful the United States has organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.