The fact that the original book received condemnation for obscenity some 70-odd years ago in what was a more puritan world paints moral crusader Apple in a slightly backward light. But then again, maybe it just doesn’t want to fall in line with the godless, sex-obsessed media crowd – Think Different, innit!?
The whole situation occured when Robert Berry, creator of Ulysses Seen, a visual adaptation of the classic work, was asked by an Apple representative to remove what Apple considered pornographic elements of the graphic novel, even though the scenes in question are fully present in the novel.
Berry was, quite understandably, strongly condemnatory of Apple’s approach: “When we were asked to remove images based upon nudity, one of my partners took the call. His argument that the novel already determined this stuff and won this argument 75 years ago was apparently lost on the Apple representative. Apparently the people reviewing content don’t have a lot of info about what they’re involved in.”
He went on to ask why the Apple staffer unfamiliar with Joyce’s work should get to decide what is or is not appropriate for an adaptation of the seminal epic: “Who decides the way we see new content on these very exciting new devices: The artist reinterpreting them for a new and exciting venue, or the grocer or newstand seller who knows nothing about the content but talks incessantly about the kind of product they have to offer?”
The fact that Berry considers Apple only a “grocer” is probably telling enough in how highly he respects the company after this debacle. Although Berry played down the suggestion that this was censorship, asking for passages to be removed on the grounds of obscenity fits the description. Clearly Steve Jobs’ recent stance against porn on his shiny toys has been taken to the extreme by devotees.
Under the mounting pressure of Joyce enthusiasts Apple decided it did not know what it was talking about and allowed Berry to release the Ulysses application in its entire, uncensored form, just in time for Bloomsday today.