Ah, the female nipple. Its prevalence in the news these days has less to do with its actual display than the debate surrounding its propriety in public, as part of the discussion about the sexualization of women's bodies. This week, Fox 5 News blurred out the breasts of Pablo Picasso's "Les femmes d’Alger" while reporting on its record-breaking sale. Predictably, Twitter responded to Fox 5 News censoring the Picasso painting's breasts as the contention surrounding the female nipple's public presence raged on. (It's worth noting that Fox 5 and Fox News are separate entities: Fox 5 is owned by Fox Broadcasting Company, and Fox News is owned by 21st Century Fox.)
"Les femmes d'Alger," or The Women of Algiers, broke all sorts of records when it was sold to an anonymous buyer for $179 million at an art auction this week. Some pointed to the sky-high figure as evidence of a massive art world bubble; others, like Neil Irwin at The New York Times, said it was demonstrative of rising global inequality. Fox 5 even publicly responded to the station's decision to censor the Picasso painting in a Good Day New York segment, with anchor Greg Kelly mocking it: "They thought it was too much! Kids might get the wrong idea at home! ... Rightfully, we — well, the 10 o'clock news — was ridiculed on Twitter."
The move outraged the art world, among them New York Magazine's art critic Jerry Saltz, who called the decision "sexually sick" in a tweet. Many other reactions were similar, renewing calls to #FreeTheNipple.
Unfortunately, the poor soul who was ordered to carry out the censorship left out another body part that many deem similarly inappropriate. You don't even have to look too closely to see it: smack dab in the center of the masterpiece is what is indisputably a butt that escaped the clutches of Fox News' censorship board. Let that be a lesson in overeager, clumsy, unnecessary censorship.