In the event of a fire, stay calm, sound the fire alarm, call the emergency services and leave the building in a safe and organised manner. Whatever you do, do not panic.
When encountering a large and mean looking shark in the ocean, assess the situation, remain calm, do not thrash about and do not panic.
When your football team loses three games in a row, do not give up on the season or call for the coach’s head. Look for the positives and identify areas of improvement. Just don’t panic.
We all know these things. Human beings have the ability to choose rationality over impulse and in all of the examples above, the rational being is better equipped for a crisis situation than the impulsive one.
However, not all of us are rational beings.
When you attend an art exhibition and notice one of the works depicts a naked, pubescent girl, what do you do?
Well according to Judy Annear, the senior curator of photography at the Art Gallery of NSW, 65,000 people were confronted with this situation in a 2005 Bill Henson retrospective. No complaints were made. It would seem that the 65,000 people remained calm, assessed the situation and dealt with it on its merits. This is an art exhibition not a hidden file on a laptop computer.
Bill Henson has had no complaints made against him from any child or parent involved in his galleries. There is a difference between the use of a child in art, advertising and pornography. The motivations for each should be obvious. Nevertheless a healthy discussion and debate is warranted.
All common sense aside, let’s now try this again from a different perspective.
When you are sitting at home and Mr. Television Presenter tells you that an art exhibition is depicting images of naked pubescent girls (you have no knowledge of the artist or any background information of the issue), what do you do?
PANIC, PANIC, PANIC!
You might approach the issue like this man from an Australian Identity forum discussion, “A 53 year old man taking pictures of naked 12 and 13 year old girls. sick (sic) bastard.”
It seems that the media’s contribution to an issue all too often comes down to this,