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Eleanor Cameron vs. Roald Dahl

From October 1972 to October 1973 a controversy over Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory simmered in the pages of The Horn Book. It began with an article, "McLuhan, Youth, and Literature", by Eleanor Cameron, author of the Mushroom Planet series for children and of The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books. Spread out over the October, December, and February issues, it tied the ideas of Marshall McLuhan (The Medium is the Massage) to the confection of Charlie, calling it "one of the most tasteless books ever written for children":
"The more I think about Charlie and the character of Willy Wonka and his factory, the more I am reminded of McLuhan’s coolness, the basic nature of his observations, and the kinds of things that excite him. Certainly there are several interesting parallels between the point of view of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and McLuhan’s 'theatrical view of experience as a production or stunt,' as well as his enthusiastic conviction that every ill of mankind can easily be solved by subservience to the senses."
What followed was a knock-down, drag-out, letter-writing brouhaha, refereed by Horn Book editor Paul Heins, with librarians, parents, teachers, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Roald Dahl himself joining in, and it was one of the main causes of the book's revision that year. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Oct 15, 2009 - 68 comments

Coming to a T-shirt near you

Chaos Reigns! [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Oct 10, 2009 - 39 comments

Untying the Pink Ribbon

October's focus on breast cancer is a curvy pink double-edged sword and those in the fight agree. [more inside]
posted by batmonkey on Oct 2, 2009 - 49 comments

Since when does Hollywood shy away from controversy?

The Producer Cites Religious Controversy. The Director points to a recessionary trend against "serious" movies. A new film about Charles Darwin's life ("Creation") is reportedly having difficulty finding a US distributor. ( Creation: IMDB / Official Site / Trailer / Spoiler-laden review from Roger Ebert / LA Times review // Darwin: Previously on MeFi).
posted by zarq on Sep 13, 2009 - 70 comments

A new battle for the Plains of Abraham?

Two hundred and fifty years ago the Battle of the Plains of Abraham* took place in Quebec City. In a fight that lasted less than an hour (following a three-month siege throughout the summer of 1759), both generals died and the British won Quebec, soon becoming masters of most of North America. [more inside]
posted by zadcat on Sep 7, 2009 - 91 comments

Putting a 14-year-old in a "lie detector" - what did you expect would happen?

Sydney radio station 2dayFM earned the ire and backlash of the Australian public - rape counsellors, Australian media, and Community Services ministers - after an on-air stunt by morning crew Kyle and Jackie O went horribly wrong. During their regular "lie detector" segment, a 14-year-old girl was interrogated by the hosts and her mother over her sexual history, against her will, and revealed that she had been raped at 12 on air (warning: possibly triggering audio clip embedded in news article). [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jul 29, 2009 - 131 comments

Dagger of the Mind

The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
posted by Artw on May 6, 2009 - 17 comments

D. All of the above

Is Slumdog Millionaire

A) A white man's imagined India
B) The reality of Mumbai
C) An immensely likeable slice of broad entertainment – nothing else
D) All of the above?

And will it win the Oscar for Best Picture now that it's taken the Producers Guild Award for Best Picture and the SAG award for Best Ensemble?
posted by crossoverman on Jan 26, 2009 - 118 comments

Polyvorous

Polyvore is a website that lets you mix and match online images to make fashion sets and collages. While it has received favour from Web 2.0 pundits, fashion bloggers, and major craft blogs, it has also drawn massive ire from artists that claim copyright infringement and use of personal photos. The anti-Polyvore pressure mainly comes from Etsy sellers, with some support from artists on DeviantArt, Red Buddle, and independent artists - all coming together on Flickr. We Heart It and Ffffound! are also seen as suspect. While Polyvore tries to assuage copyright fears, amidst growing pressure to shut down, many of Polyvore's current users are counter-petitioning for the site to stay.
posted by divabat on Jan 10, 2009 - 16 comments

Another Day, Another Dispute at Facebook

A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY has developed, this time over photos of women breastfeeding their babies. But Facebook is standing firm.. The protesters have also formed a Facebook group, of course, Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene. It's not the first controversy at the social networking site and this blog documents activities, rumors and news about Facebook. [more inside]
posted by etaoin on Jan 6, 2009 - 242 comments

Sunny von Bulow Dies

Martha "Sunny" von Bulow died this weekend at a nursing home in New York City, nearly 28 years after being found unconscious at her Rhode Island estate (and subsequently falling into an irreversible coma) in December 1980. Her husband Claus, who obviously became a controversial figure, was found guilty of her attempted murder (the alleged method being an overdose of insulin), but his conviction was overturned on appeal and he received a second trial in which he was acquitted. The sensational case, which featured testimony from many notables including Truman Capote, attracted worldwide publicity and rocked high society. It spawned numerous books, television shows and a 1990 movie.
posted by amyms on Dec 6, 2008 - 27 comments

Don't go to business school(?)

Business writer Seth Godin tell readers to forgo the MBA and spend six months in his company. While potential applicants have made use of social networking to show their enthusiasm, others think it's a bad idea. Great opportunity or massive scam?
posted by divabat on Dec 4, 2008 - 42 comments

"It's great to do something that has an effect on British culture"

Mark Leckey has won the Turner Prize. Quote: “I kind of hate the relationship the press in Britain has towards art,” he said. “I hate the way it’s all Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and Banksy. They expect spectacle and shock. Art is not like that. The art world I know is not like that; it’s a whole other world.” [more inside]
posted by chuckdarwin on Dec 2, 2008 - 17 comments

LittleBigPlanet Recalled

LittleBigPlanet, the highly anticipated create your own platformer game by Media Molecule, originally set to release next week, has been recalled. The reason? Apparently one of the music tracks used in the game, "Tapha Niang" by Grammy Award winner Toumani Diabate, contains verses from the Qur'an. As it's a no no to mix Islamic holy text with music, Sony has pulled the game after complaints. The problem has been fixed, but no new release date has been announced.
posted by yellowbinder on Oct 17, 2008 - 61 comments

Spertus Museum pulls plug on controversial map exhibit

The Spertus Museum/Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies has just canceled Imaginary Coordinates due to complaints that some of the artwork (NSFW: nudity, disturbing imagery) in the exhibit had an anti-Israeli slant. [more inside]
posted by hydrophonic on Jun 22, 2008 - 45 comments

Rethinking Literacy

The Dark Side of Literacy - Indian education reform organization Shikshantar, who aims to encourage concepts of "Swaraj", or self-rule in local education, argues that current education and literacy models do not take into account local cultures and languages and gives too much credit to the Western alphabet. They also argue that there are many serious flaws in what they describe as UNESCO's campaign of "McEducation For All".
posted by divabat on Jun 13, 2008 - 46 comments

An Affair to Remember

She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. They fell in love. And then they started having sex.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl on Jun 11, 2008 - 94 comments

Earthquake fashion shoot

The editors of the Chinese lifestyle magazine New Travel Weekly thought it might be a good idea to shoot a fashion spread in the rubble of the Sichuan earthquake. The editors have now been sacked and the magazine is undergoing rectification.
posted by Sitegeist on May 24, 2008 - 30 comments

Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery

It's the story that has Britain in uproar*: Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery. Did General Franco scupper the judging? Exhibit A: Cliff's UK entry, Congratulations. Exhibit 2: Spain's winning entry by Massiel, La la la. For added measure, exhibit iv: here's Cliff's 1973 entry, which believe it or not also did not win, Power to all our Friends (though Cliff's spectacular moves should not sway your opinion on the controversy* in any way). [*not really].
posted by nthdegx on May 12, 2008 - 34 comments

'There is no such thing as polywater because if there were, there would also be an animal which didn't need to eat food. It would just drink water and excrete polywater' - Richard Feynman

If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater, A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine? In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice, depending on your opinion. More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water! And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important, substances in our lives, our understanding of water is far from complete.
posted by Large Marge on Apr 29, 2008 - 38 comments

Is Tiger Woods Bad for the Environment?

Are golf courses bad or good for the environment? Chances are the answer you give depends on whether you are actively involved with the game. Representing anti-golf we have the Organic Consumers Association, the Journal of Pesticide Reform (pdf), and the Global Anti-Golf Movement. Speaking on behalf of golf course management the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (pdf) and the United States Golf Association. A group of leading golf and environmental organizations have jointly developed Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States.
posted by netbros on Apr 24, 2008 - 38 comments

Have you ever TRIED to fuck a grapefruit?

I knew that sooner or later, the backlash to xkcd would begin, but I never expected it would start over.... fruit... R. Stevens, that old Diesel Sweetie, is the first to respond.... Now, a very well-interfaced polling device is put online for your fruit opinions...Vote for the fruit of your choice... but vote! [more inside]
posted by wendell on Feb 25, 2008 - 152 comments

To be standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial.

Morrissey makes some controversial remarks to the NME. Defensive explanations by the interviewer, attempts at defusing the situation and threats of legal action ensue, as does satire.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Dec 1, 2007 - 53 comments

We finally really did it.

First cloning of monkey embryo raises hope of a great leap in medical science. A team at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (itself no stranger to controversy) cloned embryos from Semos — a nine-year-old rhesus macaque named after the ape overlord in Planet of the Apes — then extracted stem cells from the embryos. We've heard similar claims before and they turned out to be a hoax. But this time it looks like the real deal. [more inside]
posted by Camofrog on Nov 16, 2007 - 53 comments

How being signed turned into a dirty little secret.

"I just turned on my little iMovie, and here I am!" This week, Hollywood Records announced a record deal with female vocalist and underground sensation Marié Digby. Over the past few months, she has over 2.3 million cumulative Youtube hits, and has become a veritable rags to riches story - a testament, if you will, to how the Internet is changing the world of entertainment. What the label failed to mention was that Digby had already been signed to Hollywood Records for almost two years, well before she became a hit. A case of manufactured networking, or simply a "major" misunderstanding?
posted by phaedon on Sep 6, 2007 - 60 comments

"I will never use garlic!"

Sicilian chef Filippo La Mantia has sworn off garlic. La Mantia says that garlic is a "leftover from when Italians were poor", and feels it is overplayed and unnecessary. Others disagree, like chef Antonello Colonna: "eliminating garlic is like "eliminating violins from an orchestra".
posted by rossination on Jul 14, 2007 - 93 comments

Malaysia, Politics, and Bloggers

An Indonesian TV crew was invited to Malaysia for their Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign but encountered many problems. They write up about it - and start a flurry of comments and controversy across the Malaysian government about blogging. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Apr 6, 2007 - 14 comments

JFK Re-Reloaded

Anyone remember the short-lived FPS game JFK:Reloaded? It caused quite a stir when it was released a little over two years ago. Since then, the game's development company discontinued the game and JFK:Reloaded is now considered abandonware. The full version can be downloaded here and a site dedicated to the game is located here.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Mar 28, 2007 - 26 comments

Bullet The Blue Sky

Venezuelan State TV aired a show yesterday in which they complained about a certain videogame, in which the goal is to overthrow the "power-hungry tyrant who messes with Venezuela's oil supply." In Venezuela, people are a bit offended by the images of Caracas being destroyed in the game, outside, some people are offended because one of the owners of the controversial company that created the game is Bono, The Defender of the Poor, Bono, and they are trying to stop it.
posted by micayetoca on Feb 7, 2007 - 45 comments

Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?

Rolling Rock is sorry for their offensive new ad. Never mind that no one was complaining about the ad because they never aired it-- they are spending millions on radio, web and print media to let you a) see the ad b) understand how terrible it is and c) know how very, very sorry they are to have made it. The recently bought out Rolling Rock brand is hoping this manufactured controversy will somehow convince people to drink their beer.
posted by justkevin on Dec 1, 2006 - 110 comments

China blows up temporary barrier of three gorges dam.

Using enough explosives to topple 400 10-storey buildings, China has blown up [bbc news .asx file] a temporary barrier used to hold water back from the controversial Three Gorges Dam.
posted by tnai on Jun 6, 2006 - 36 comments

"They showed him a picture then; / Ain't that you with the Muslims?"

Banned in D.C., not to mention the rest of the U. S. A. --British-Sri Lankan rapper M. I. A. (myspace page, with music), aka Maya Arulpragasam, has apparently been denied entry into the United States to record her next album, a follow-up to the surprise success of her first major release, "Arular." Could it have been this album that pricked the ears of immigration officials? Or maybe these lyrics ("Sunshowers," available at myspace)?
posted by bardic on May 22, 2006 - 151 comments

Violet Blue loses control

She's Lost Control In one of the most bizarre posts I have ever read, Violet Blue weighs in on the Xenisucks.com debate and it's mention in the New York Times (Bugmenot). And then again after Dan Marshall (NYT) responds. But in a response to Violet Blue (about middle of the page), Matt Sharp (Xenisucks.com) says she has fabricated much of what she has attributed to him.
posted by gnash on Apr 12, 2006 - 128 comments

"I genuflect before Jack Smith..." - John Waters

The Tribeca Film Festival announced its 2006 lineup last week. Among the films in competition is the documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Filmmaker Jack Smith (a major influence on later filmmakers, from Warhol to Waters(NSFW)) is perhaps best known for his 1963 film Flaming Creatures, was shot on expired army surplus film, and banned soon after its release (with some help from Strom Thurmond). New controversies surround his work. See also Smith’s Scotch Tape (YouTube), from the same year.
posted by jrb223 on Mar 21, 2006 - 8 comments

Belsen was a gas.

Gas chamber art shut down. Santiago Sierra whose controversial work (some NSFW, auf Deutsch) had taken a turn toward the holocaust, has suspended his latest work in response to criticism.
posted by klangklangston on Mar 14, 2006 - 13 comments

Specter: Administration broke law

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says President George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program appears to be illegal. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Specter called the administration's legal reasoning "strained and unrealistic" and said the program appears to be "in flat violation" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
posted by bukharin on Feb 5, 2006 - 47 comments

Information wants to be free.

Wikipedia wrangling once more: the entire German edition was shut down this week over the contents of a single entry. The parents of the article's subject, a German hacker who died in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, are displeased with his real name being disclosed in the encyclopedia. It is now back online; however, the future of the family's efforts is currently unclear, not only due to the German order's debatable validity in the US - but also because the order was, initially at least, mistakenly addressed to St. Petersburg, Russia, instead of St. Petersburg, Florida.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jan 20, 2006 - 18 comments

06/06/06

The Beast is coming. Director Brian Flemming prepares to bring to the silver screen what might be the most controversial film of the year (if not all time). The cast and crew are all sworn to secrecy regarding the film's actual content, and the central premise easily explains why: What if there was a massive conspiracy in the Christian Church to conceal the fact that Jesus Christ never existed?
posted by deusdiabolus on Jan 6, 2006 - 74 comments

Shades of Grey in a Black & White Issue.

The Inequality Taboo - Charles Murray defends his ideas, published in the controversial book The Bell Curve.
posted by Gyan on Sep 5, 2005 - 71 comments

Owzat!

You say bodyline, I say leg theory. Either way, the origins of one of sport's most enduring rivalries (leading to a near diplomatic crisis) make for a fascinating read to the budding cricket enthusiast. No wonder people turned out in their thousands to queue in the early hours for the final day of another nail-biting test. It's turning into a hell of an ashes series.
posted by nthdegx on Aug 15, 2005 - 44 comments

God's Darwin or Chance's Drawin'?

Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed? Carl Zimmer wonders. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled with Christianity?
posted by daksya on Aug 11, 2005 - 90 comments

Instant Flame War! Just add MeFi.

Moral Politics - A Morality-Based Political Test - "This test is (or at least tries to be) a different political test. Most tests assess your opinion by questioning your stance on political issues. This test explains why you think what you think by mapping your personal moral system." 16 questions.
posted by blacklite on Feb 21, 2005 - 74 comments

Godwinized on the Factor?

Comparing the victims of 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann has lead to controversy and credible threats of violence toward CU Professor Ward Churchill and the small liberal arts college where he was scheduled to speak on the "limits of dissent." A pacifist and human rights activist, Churchill claims that, as Eichmann ran the machinery behind the Holocaust, the "technocrats" of the WTC facilitated the execution of a destructive U.S. foreign policy.

A tip to Bill O'Reilly led to the death threats against Churchill and other bizarre forms of protest (PDF). Major media outlets cite the comparison of 9-11 victims to Nazis out of context without tackling Churchill's views on American foreign policy. Is this just another typical dismissive reaction against the radical left?
posted by themadjuggler on Feb 1, 2005 - 116 comments

Spongebob joins an all-star cast

Spongebob is pointed at as causing moral decay today. But the idea of blaming animated characters for societal ills is nothing new. The 1934 Production Code changed the scantily-clad Betty Boop into a wholesome girl. Racial stereotyping dominated cartoons of the 1940s. The Flintstones even shilled for Winston cigarettes. Should cartoon characters reflect the morals of cartoon watchers?
posted by u.n. owen on Jan 28, 2005 - 30 comments

Annual airing of grievances

The War on Christmas. "What we are witnessing here are hate crimes against Christianity." Angered by perceived attacks on the Christ part of Christmas, Christians are taking a page from GWB and staging pre-emptive cultural strikes around the country. Or are they? Is this effort a bigger attack against Judaism and the rest of the nonbelievers/scapegoats, an honest attempt by Christians to "save" the holiday, or a media-manufactured controversy? (Air out your holiday spirit, but save your own personal grievances for December 23.)
posted by mrgrimm on Dec 16, 2004 - 212 comments

No Fucking Tenure For You!

Professor Stephen Roberds, Southern Utah University's controversial Professor of the Year 2003-2004, you're fucking fired.
posted by mr_crash_davis on Dec 16, 2004 - 89 comments

Liberation? Perversion? Or a Guy with a

Alfred Kinsey: Liberator or Pervert? (New York Times link, I hope you know the drill by now.) A newish movie explores the life of Alfred Kinsey, sex researcher and founder of the Kinsey Institute. Kinsey was author of the controversial book Sexual Behavior In The Human Male. The controversy has blossomed oh these many years later with accusations that Kinsey's work is fraudulent, and conducive to child based porn and fantasy. The ultra-right seems obsessed with sexualizing his research in terms of "protecting the children". His observations have been linked to the addictive, destructive nature of pornography, that twists our notions of sex and love, and even enables the sexual abuse of college students in class. (Yeah, I know, that last sounds kinky, doesn't it?)
posted by Wulfgar! on Oct 5, 2004 - 11 comments

Governor's Schools

Arkansas Governor's School, one of over 100 "Governor's Schools," starts today. The program is going in to its 24th year despite years of controversy over several mediums.
posted by whoshotwho on Jun 13, 2004 - 17 comments

We Are All Individuals! (I'm not.)

Classic films being re-released aren't normally news. Except, of course, when you are referring to films that were controversial when they were initially released. As a counterpoint to Mel Gibson's box-office smash, The Passion of the Christ, Monty Python will re-release The Life of Brian on Good Friday. This is more fun than a box of Peeps any day. Don't like CNN? Try the BBC or CBC coverage
posted by ilsa on Mar 24, 2004 - 25 comments

*Beeeeeep*

The UK's Channel 4 is to court controversy with a provocative advert littered with swear words in which the word "c**t" is heard nine times in the space of just 90 seconds. Watch it here (NSFW with speakers on!)
posted by MintSauce on Mar 12, 2004 - 41 comments

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