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Apple Censors Comic with Gay Sex But OK with Hetero

"Saga" comic with explicit gay images, albeit small, won't be sold through iOS apps.
 
 
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Apple has blocked the sale of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ comic ”Saga” because of two “postage stamp-sized”  images of gay sex, while previous issues of the comic featuring heterosexual orgies have passed muster with Apple.

The small images (broadcast on the television head of Prince Robot IV) are explicit, but no different than material covered in previous issues. As Alex Hern at the New Statesman notes, in issue four of the series, a character visits a “sex resort” and wanders through room after room of graphic hetero-copulation. (A 100 percent NSFW panel of that wandering can be found  here.)

So it seems that Apple has no problem with dicks, per se. Just, you know, gay dicks.

Vaughan issued a  statement on the ban explaining that neither he nor Staples would be “changing shit” about the images in question:

As has hopefully been clear from the first page of our first issue, SAGA is a series for the proverbial “mature reader.” Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps. This is a drag, especially because our book has featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past, but there you go. Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.

Whether or not Apple has explicitly anti-gay guidelines in its approval process, some kind of clarification is in order. Because the company either allows mature content or doesn’t; either a reviewer made a mistake approving the images depicting straight sex while censoring others featuring gay sex or didn’t. Apple should make clear what its standards are, and stick to them.

Otherwise, it’s hard not to see this as a blatant case of homophobic bias. And, as novelist and “”noir prophet” of cyberpunk William Gibson  remarked on Twitter, that’s an embarrassing (though not entirely uncommon) place for a company to find itself in 2013.

 
 

Katie McDonough is an assistant editor for Salon, focusing on lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

 
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