Culture

Apple Bans Gay Sex-Depicting Comic From iOS Stores for No Real Reason

Culture

Apple Bans Gay Sex-Depicting Comic From iOS Stores for No Real Reason

+

This is Apple’s world, and we’re all living in it. When you buy one of their products, whether iPhone or iPad or iMac, you’re buying into their world view and way of doing things—which, in this case, involves banning a comic book from being sold because it depicts a brief act of sex between two men. In the latest issue of Saga, a world-spanning reinterpretation of Romeo & Juliet that takes place in space (I’m being brief), a character who has a TV for a head is severely wounded. As he lays there, bleeding, his head-screen shows male-on-male fellatio (NSFW). It’s just a bite-sized panel within a panel, but it was enough for Apple to prevent the comic from being sold via Comixology, an digital delivery system, and any third party developer. You can go straight to Comixology’s website to purchase the issue directly, but it’s a weakly-justified hurdle to clear. (Weirdly enough, you can still buy it through iBooks.)

Writer Brian K. Vaughan released a statement in which he said that the ban was unavoidable, because neither he nor artist Fiona Staples had any interest in censoring the images to limit their purpose. (Comixology elected not to comment given their business relationship with Apple.) The funny/sad thing is that this is in no way the first explicit thing to be shown in Saga—it’s been a while since I picked up the comic, but I recall several detailed eviscerations and sexual acts between non-human-but-straight characters that did a pretty good job of giving it away as Adult, to be consumed by those who don’t get touchy about a stray dick or exposed intestine on screen. It’s funnier/sadder because Saga is a great comic, too—Vaughan is a Pantheon-level modern writer for his ability to incorporate mature material in a way that doesn’t feel laden with shock, and by banning the comic Apple is saying that nuance doesn’t matter—that there’s no difference between this and straight up pornography, since it’s all “obscene.”

We live in a free market, and any vendor can refuse to sell a product for whatever reason they choose. But when it’s a conglomerate as large as Apple, banning such a product is less of a personal decision and more of an attack on Vaughan and Staples’s artistic agency. Given how much Apple talks about innovation, it’s disappointing they’d be so retrograde.