Banned Books – The Classics, with Oh No! Lit Class podcast

This week’s special guest is Megan Dangerous from Oh No! Lit Class.


Walk into your local library this week and you’re likely to see a display of books that have been banned in different times and places for a variety of reasons.  Standard choices include
Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Huckleberry Finn and maybe some more recent additions like The Kite Runner.  Most of us glance over it was we walk by, but not so for a group of pastors in Maine.  They want to ban the display of banned books.

The pastors don’t seem to mind the books banned for racist language, violence against women or drug use, just the ones that shine a positive light on LGBTQ characters.  The library refused to remove any books from its display and one can only hope opened a dictionary to the entry for ‘irony.’ Banned books fall into two major categories: those banned by specific institutions, such as a school district, and those banned by countries.  

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We Can’t Have Nice Things: Art & Antiquities Edition

In the height of irony, many priceless works of art and antiquities have been destroyed by the people who were trying to preserve them. Modern art can be especially susceptible to accidental destruction by well-meaning parties. Some things were destroyed by unthinking or unfeeling people. Some relics were destroyed for the sake of money, even entire pyramids. Some things were destroyed by people who think they’re more important than, ya know, the history of the planet and its people.

Ecce Homo, Behold the Man, was the name of a fresco, a watercolor on plaster, of Jesus Christ painted in 1930 by Elias Garcia Martinez on a church wall in Borja, Spain. For the past 6 years, people have been calling it Monkey Christ or Beast Christ, ever since a well-intentioned 85 year old woman who lived near the church took it upon herself to restore the priceless piece. She had no training in art restoration or even painting, but how hard could it really be? Pretty damn hard, as it turns out. In place of the Renaissance-style face was now a smeary circle, wreathed in what looks like a maribu balaclava, with a nose like a folk-art sock doll, the crooked, misplaced eyes of a failed anime sketch, and a mouth like a lipstick smear left by a bass.

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The family of the original artist have said they will seek legal action against Gimenez for “destroying” the work. Senora Gimenez was sincerely trying to help and, in a way, she did. When word and pictures spread across the internet, tourists began to flock to Borja. The town with a population of 5,000 or so was hit particularly hard by the global recession. In the first three years after the abuela’s mis-strokes, 160,000 people, and their money, made the pilgrimage to see it. The church began collecting a 4 euro/ $5 entrance fee, raising 2,000 euros/$2,500 in the first four days. But even a silver lining can tarnish. Gimenez did not fail to notice the fresco’s huge popularity; now she wants royalties for her work. Her lawyers insist she should be entitled to a cut of the profits. Continue reading