Sunday, January 23, 2005

Somone Better Look Up The Word "Deviant"

One reason I decided to start a blog after all this time was in reaction to what's been going on at DeviantART lately. It's a free artistic community designed for amateur and semi-pro artists to upload their work, have it critiqued, share it with friends, what have you. And as you might expect by the name, it's not just still life portraits and sunsets; according to the site's own FAQ, it's pretty much anything goes. Naturally, there's a staff that helps keep things organized and occasionally brings down the hammer when users get out of line or content is deemed inappropriate, for whatever reason. But usually, if it's a valid artistic expression, it's left up to the community to judge.

And oh, what judgement was handed down by that community when a bunch of inflation fetish artists set up shop at DA. Some of the best known names in inflation put their wares on display--Critical Volume, CattyN, Wren, Dwarfpriest, Indiana Jones, Sickstar...I don't mean to leave anybody out, but it's a veritable rogue's gallery of roundness over there. I posted my stories over there as well to sort of help the effort, since fiction writing is considered an artistic endeavor too (by most people, anyway--I did get one note of complaint that I wasn't posting drawings). But the point is, it was a good cross-section of talented folks in our community, with my crap thrown in amidst all the quality.

When I think of the word "deviant," I think of the dictionary definition of "outside the norm," which may not necessarily mention but always allows the modern application of a sexual context. Some reference works call it a synonym for pervert. It's hard to think of an inflation fetish as anywhere inside the norm, frankly. So I figured, hey, in DA, we belong because we don't belong.

Not so, said some very vocal people on DA. Not the admins, but the users! The inflation artists were savagely attacked, bludgeoned with closed minds over and over. You name a moral judgement, it was applied--"This is sick and wrong," "I hope these people get kicked off DA," "I hope these people get hit by a truck," yadda yadda. "Wow," said many people, "I didn't know any of this stuff existed--and I wish I didn't! This should be condemned!"

I think I should point out that they found us. There was no campaign to spread the gospel of inflation to the unwashed artistic masses of DA. One of them actually sought out my page and posted comments just to elicit a strong negative reaction. (Perhaps it was better for that person to be hated than ignored--because hey, on the Interweb, there's little difference between famous and infamous, and page hits are page hits.) But a handful of people there took great offense to inflation art and its varying forms (preg, weight gain, breast enlargement, etc) and boy, did they raise a stink.

I have a few theories as to why they were so upset:

1) They felt threatened by this new body of work that would take attention away from their wholly derivative pictures of anime-influenced goth catgirls--instant insecurity!
2) They found this art personally offensive, forgetting that in so doing they were instantly nullifying their own artistic integrity and freedom--instant hypocrisy!
3) They secretly found it intriguing and didn't know what to do--instant sexual confusion!

I think #3 is highly unlikely, personally, but it's fun to dream.

At least one of the artists with an opposing viewpoint to the inflation community drew a satirical cartoons about what they found so distasteful. That's fine--that's an artistic expression, and everybody's entitled. I don't have to agree with your sentiment to see the value in your artistic statement. What was really chilling in a witch hunt kind of way was how many people then jumped on the bandwagon with publicly posted comments about that cartoon, saying all the aforementioned burn-them-at-the-stake-but-not-in-my-backyard stuff.

I find it amazingly ironic that true deviant art was rejected by the community at a site called DeviantART.

Some people kept an open mind. "Hey, art is subjective, let them be." But as always, the loudest voices were the most ignorant, and it spread easily, like loud ignorance always does.

Since I am something of an eternal optomist and a fool besides, I attempted to honestly answer some of the charges by one of the more fervent screamers, at the same time questioning why one artist would question another artist's right to free expression. I tried several times before giving up--the person in question simply was not interested in an exchange of ideas or examining other viewpoints. They made up their mind and they were going to stick to it--inflation art was sick and wrong and unrealistic (unrealistic! This criticism from someone who drew people with cat ears and enormous eyes?), and it was therefore invalid. I knew when to fold 'em and when to walk away. I know better than to sit and argue with someone who isn't even listening.

I am happy to report the the folks who were actively harassing the inflation artists for no apparent reason were, in fact, punished with temporary suspensions and whatnot. DA's staff has different interpretations of art as some of DA's clientele. But the resulting kerfuffle has put a lot of inflation artists on alert--and we're not exactly having parades in our honor to begin with, so such a public smackdown of a rarified, embarassing interest really hurt a lot of people who simply didn't see it coming.

Me, I'm not hurt. I'm not looking for mainstream acceptance of this interest, either. But I am not going to sit back and let some people tell the rest of the world what this inflation thing is really all about--not when I've been deeply involved for ten years and they're making snap judgements after ten minutes. What the blind critics don't know or care about--and what I want to protect--is the time and effort that it has taken our community to come together and find some comfort and understanding among similarly minded outcasts. We are, after all, deviants.

So if you're reading this and you are new to the idea of an inflation fetish, I strongly encourage you to drop me a line and ask a question. I'll be happy to answer them here and protect your anonymity.

See, the witch hunters only carry torches. I'm bringing actual lights.


Joe said...

Its sickening that this is allowed to happen when it is a community of artists trying to express themselves. However, its like any artistic movement just look at what was said to Picasso when he began doing the abstract.

I personally find inflatable art to be "different" to say the least, but I can appreciate it because it is an art. An art is the content of mind and if someone's content of mind is different from ours, who are we to judge? We all experience the world subjectively and we cannot progress in the art world until we tolerate the subjectiveness of minds.

Ajax said...

It's a shame all right, that people seem to need to attack other folk's expression, never mind what sort of comment that attack makes on their own. Some people are jerks, but most aren't. The anonymous stage that the internet provides seems to bring out the jerk in people more readily.

There's plenty of rotten art of all kinds on Deviant Desires (IMHO), as well as elsewhere. Mostly it needs or deserves no comment at all, and that's what I give it.

Personally, I LIKE inflation stuff (esp. BE) and seek it out, so I guess I fit the "deviant" definition. Too bad I'm not an artist!

xtikalx said...

Not all inflation art is human and realistic anyway, i draw Manga inflation art and everybody loves it
plus if those idiots who hate it post bad stuff about inflation art no matter how wierd it is ill give em a peice of my mind