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Thursday, December 15, 2022 

European cartoonist uses free speech issues as an excuse for revolting visions

World Crunch has a story about a French cartoonist who's generated some offense because he's got repellent views on sex offenses:
From Charlie Hebdo to Xavier Gorce to R. Crumb, cartoonists in France have a history of provocation and courting controversy—and generally receive French public support in return. But the latest provocateur, Bastien Vivès, may have crossed the line on the limits of free speech and artistic expression.

The 38-year-old comic book artist from Paris is facing a sudden backlash to work from four years ago that has resurfaced, as well as more recent comments, that critics charge excuse, or even promote, incest and pedophilia.

A petition (78,000 signatures and growing) is calling on the prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival to revoke Vivès’s invitation to participate in next month’s gathering.

A need for transgression?

Having authored mainstream comic books, including several that have been made into films (his 2011 Polina was adapted for the screen by Angelin Preljocaj, starring French actress Juliette Binoche). Yet one work is now the target of critics: Petit Paul, published in 2018, portrays a small child with disproportionate private parts, prompting critics to demand its withdrawal from bookstores and even its outright banning under a provision in the French legal code that prohibits the pornographic representation of minors.

Ultimately no legal action was taken. Defending himself, Vivès said, “How can anyone take Petit Paul seriously?,” calling his critics “regressive” and “stupid.”

“Our era needs transgression,” he said, “but it’s become complicated to do it.”
That part about "transgression" is what's really fishy and unpleasant. Now, I don't condone censorship, but it's very sad that the man has to wallow in producing content that can be offensive to victims of sex offenses. This is no better than Japanese mangakas who specialize in "lolicon".
Still Vivès’ may go well beyond transgression, as French daily Libération cites one of the many recent critics, “He continues to be treated in the media as a virulent but talented teenager. When in reality, he’s a (nearly) 40-year-old reactionary whose work actively contributes to the normalization of pedophilia and rape culture.”
Something to consider: if there'd be justifiable outrage if a cartoonist penned a racist screed, then obviously, there should be objections to a rendition of sexual abuse lensed through cheap sensationalism and fetishization. We're already seeing the USA headed on a horrible trajectory, and this isn't any better.
In a since-deleted interview with French media Mademoizelle, Vivès declared that “incest turn[ed] him on.” “Given that I cannot do incest in real life, and that I have no older sister to be able to do that to, I do it in my books,” Vivès said.
Well he sure has no shame in suggesting he'd be willing to do that in real life with an "older sister", which only makes this whole affair that much more atrociously embarrassing. Censorship is not the answer to this issue, but it doesn't excuse what he's doing either, which reeks blatant of self-indulgence. Worst is that, in sharp contrast to what he's emphasizing in terms of sex in his comics, he's unlikely to ever confront serious issues like Islamofascism, which has its own history of sex offenses. If not, that just compounds his cowardice and how pathetic he really is.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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