Monday, December 08, 2008

Man Convicted Of Possessing Simpsons Porn

Okay, this has always been a topic I wondered about --

If you did any Google image search without filters for topics like The Simpsons, Kim Possible, Teen Titans, Peanuts, etc you got tons and tons of porn images depicting the underage characters having sex with each other. It was all there in your face, as a part of Google's automatic thumbnail displays.

And I always thought: that's sort of child pornography, isn't it?

Is it a gray line, or black and white? Is it just harmless gross-out fun, like in the Tijuana Bibles of old?

Or should depicting Bart and Lisa Simpson in a sex act (or Charlie Brown and Lucy) be illegal?

Well, a man in Australia has been convicted of possession of child porn for using his computer to access images of the Simpsons children having sex:
"In the New South Wales Supreme Court today, Justice Michael Adams ruled that a fictional cartoon character was a "person" within the meaning of the relevant state and commonwealth laws."

Meaning, the cartoon images would be treated under the law as if they were of real people.

In addition, it appears that Google (or the copyright holders of the assorted characters in question) has massively cracked down on these images as of late, preventing them from being included in the search result thumbnails even with the Safe Search filter shut off. This is pretty significant, considering only several weeks ago Image Search was choked to the gills with these pictures -- many drawn so professionally, they looked like actual screenshots from the cartoons.

Personally -- setting aside the question of whether cartoon characters should be considered "people" in terms of porn -- there is definitely an aspect of a lot of this art that goes beyond the slapstick Tijuana Bible aesthetic, and which I think is kinda sick.

Okay, I'll spoil this for you: Wimpy would
prefer to eat hamburgers more than...anything else

For example (I've decided to totally edit this description of one of the Simpsons images out at the last minute, as it's just too disturbing). This is different, in my humble opinion, from Daisy Duck and Mickey Mouse having passionate sex against a wall. Daisy and Mickey are consenting adults sowing their wild oats in the usual way -- albeit by committing adultery and unfaithfulness to Minnie and Daffy!

So I shed no tears for the absence of porn based on underage cartoon characters on the Internet. Nor will I miss feeling like a party to an illegal act every time I do an image search for cartoon and comic book characters.

However, there must be a rather sizable number of people actually visiting these XXX cartoon parody sites -- not just those who get off on such images, but just regular people looking for some gross-out humor. Will the latter category find themselves roped in with these crackdowns, even arrested? Would having an illustration of a "Peanuts Orgy" on your hard drive be enough to convict you as a sex offender?

It would be helpful, I think, for these boundaries and determinations of what is or is not legal to view and download to be clearly delineated and widely broadcast, as to prevent misunderstandings.