Tumblr hari-kari

tumblr logo

Tumblr has chosen a peculiar form of self-inflicted hari-kari. By now we’ve all heard of their total ban on ‘adult’ material, beginning on Dec. 17, 2018. Several artists and producers I’m following have already abandoned ship. I understand what prompted this extreme action, and I’m all for banning child pornography. But these new guidelines are broad enough to boot open the door to all manner of censorship across the Internet.

I have to wonder just how stringent the censorship search program they’ll have to use is going to be. There are literally hundreds, possibly thousands of sites and posts that may not be considered family-friendly on Tumblr. That’s been its major draw. Supposing someone posts a clip of an animal nursing its young–with its NIPPLES, of course. Will that set off the klaxons?

What’ll be next? If a person’s bog is not considered pure enough…if it’s too (OHHH!!!) politically correct, whatever that means these days, do we strike down that infidel’s webpage and block his/her access to all servers? Who’s to say where this stops, IF it stops?

We’ve seen this before. From 1930 until 1968, American motion pictures were bound by the Hays Code, which placed any films and television programs under a strict regime of self-censorship. There would be no ridicule of religion, no mention of homosexuality; men were men–white, usually, bad was bad and life went on in a virtual la-la land where good people [again, white people] always win.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93301189

Another example; Fredrick Werthem’s Seduction of the Innocent, published in 1954, put forth the claim that comic books promoted juvenile delinquency, which led to an inquiry by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which led to publishers voluntarily neutering comics with the imposition of the Comics Code in 1954. Marvel Comics began to break down thee improbable standards in 1971 with a three-part story involving drug-addition in The Amazing Spider-Man # 96-98.

Seduction_of_the_Innocent

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/comics-code-authority/4015-42382/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics_Code_Authority#1960s%E2%80%931970s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seduction_of_the_Innocent

In both cases, these codes were imposed by self-righteous ideologues inflating the dangers posed by their respective mediums all out of proportion, and often distorting the facts to achieve their ends. That does not appear to be the case with Tumblr at this time, but the window of exploitation is now open.

I take hope in the fact that while we may be entering a period where we will be forced to water down our artistic impulses, the day will come when new outlets of self-expression WILL arrive. The restrictions of far-right, narrow mined goons will be loosened, most likely with the passing of this generation of vipers that is set on putting these chains on us in the first place.

Tumblr by that time is likely to be either an anamoly, a platform once popular soon to be forgotten; or it will act as a compliant tool of ‘The Establishment’ the Internet was born to resist. In either case, you can’t cork a volcano, nor will the artistic impulse be caged forever.

Rubber Soul as it should be

Rubber_Soul

I’ve just realized why Rubber Soul was never one of my favorite Beatles albums growing up. I had no way of knowing better of course; did any of us know in the fall of 1965? You see the problem was, we were getting the Americanized version.

A sign of a great work of art is its openness to more than one interpretation. In his blog Psychobabble, Mike Segretto gave the impression  that certain alterations were an improvement on the original British LP; that these substitutions were more in line with the folk-rock stylings of the majority of the set. On that count, I respectfully disagree. The rock numbers [“Drive My Car” & “Nowhere Man”] I feel balanced out the introspection of “Norwegian Wood” & “In My Life”. There is very little question that the British album was the better of the two versions.

Granted the classics were all in their proper places—“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “Michelle”, “In My Life”, even “The Word”. The point is, I grew up listening to what was provided by Capitol Records. Capitol was the American distributor for EMI-Parlophone Records in the U.S. And they butchered Rubber Soul.

rubber soul UK back

The back cover of the UK release, at least the remastered CD from 2009 

rubber soul US Capitol back

Running order of the Capitol Records release

The first sin they committed was to strip four songs from the original LP, ie “Drive My Car”, “Nowhere Man”, “What Goes On” & “If I Needed Someone”. This was standard practice for Capitol: take a few songs off one Beatles album and collect as many as possible into a ‘new’ album. Something New [July 1964] may be the most egregious example of such mash-ups, and I’m saying this as someone who does in fact prefer some of the American LPs over their British counterparts.

Here’s what rubs me; two of those songs were among the strongest tracks the Fabs had done in this period; and they substituted two of the weaker tracks from the British Help! LP. If I may digress, Capitol got s lot of mileage out of that record. Over the following two  years they managed to spread those six Side-2 songs over three different albums. Most of us who grew up in the ‘60’s didn’t realize how badly we’d been gipped until the official British albums saw their first CD release in 1987. That was the year we in America finally received Rubber Soul in its full glory, as God [or the Fab Four anyway] intended.

The UK version opened with a strong lead-in, ‘Drive My Car”; the Capitol album had the temerity to replace that with the significantly weaker number, “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. Worst of all, “Nowhere Man” was also taken off the Capitol release. I never knew it was supposed to be on Rubber Soul until I listened to that damn CD for the first time. George Harrison had originally been allotted two numbers, “Think For Yourself” & “If I Needed Someone”. I don’t know why I’m so taken with the latter number; that riff just seemed to hook me. It’s mostly the guitar. These are both decent songs, but at a time when George was just beginning to flex his songwriting muscles, Capitol cut his contributions by half.

Adding insult to injury, the one song allotted to Ringo Starr, ‘What Goes On”, the first instance in which he actually received any songwriting credit, was swapped with “It’s Only Love’, a song even John Lennon said was abysmal. Which meant Ringo got NO vocal numbers at all on our side of the Atlantic. In fact, in 1965 Ringo would appear on two, count ‘em, two tracks for U.S. release. One was “Act Naturally”, the B-side of the “Yesterday” single. “Boys” [from The Early Beatles, March ‘65] was part & parcel of the re-re-release of the Beatles’ first Parlophone album Please Please Me–from 1963.

That leaves fully half of the album dominated by Lennon compositions—on either side of the Atlantic—“Norwegian Wood”, “Nowhere Man”, “The Word”, “What Goes On”, “Girl”, “In My Life” & “Run For Your Life”. John Lennon songs tended to dominate Beatles albums up to this point. Rubber Soul would actually be the last time this was the case until the White Album sessions three years later—honestly, mostly on account of John’s growing, admitted laziness.

The four tracks that were stripped from the Capitol album would eventually conglomerate in July 1966 on the Yesterday and Today set, along with the final two orphans from Help!, Side 2, plus three more recent cuts stolen from the upcoming Revolver. And that would be the last time such butchery would be committed against a Beatles long-play.

–“It’s Only Love” was mine. I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song.

-John Lennon to David Sheff, The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon & Yoko Ono, @ 1981 Playboy Press

https://psychobabble200.blogspot.com/2014/08/turn-left-at-greenland-part-8-rubber.html