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Apple Seen Exercising Double Standard on Gay Content in Censorship of SAGA Comic Book


Apple is banning the sale of a popular comic book through any of its iOS devices over two "postage stamp-sized images" of gay sex, while previous issues of the comic which featured larger group scenes of heterosexual sex, sailed through, the New Statesman reports:

The comic in question is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' SAGA, one of the New Statesman's best graphic novels of last autumn. Issue twelve of the series opens with one of the characters, Prince Robot IV, injured on a battlefield. On his TV-screen head (look, it's a thing in the series) images of gay porn are visible, as the damage takes its toll. You can take a look at the pages in question here and here, and while the small visible images are certainly explicit, they're far from erotic. They work in humorous juxtaposition to the chaos of the battleground, and underline the artificial nature of the character in question.

The paper adds: "It's hard not to conclude that the rejection is homophobic. Even if it doesn't come from explicitly homophobic guidelines on Apple's part – and the company is notoriously opaque about how its App Store approval process works, so we can't know that for certain – the outcome must be judged on its own merits."

UPDATE: Apparently this was all nonsense:

As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps.  Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today.

We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.

Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.

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  1. Two questions:

    Any examples of the images of heterosexual sex that was allowed?

    And what is the context? Why are there porn images on Prince Robot IV's screen head?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Apr 10, 2013 9:34:25 AM

  2. Why don't you post some images of the heterosexual sex?
    I'd like to judge for myself.

    Posted by: kodiak | Apr 10, 2013 9:35:33 AM

  3. This is why the app store pisses me off. Apple has always been controlling.

    The real question is not the context of these images or how they compare to the heterosexual ones. The real question is, why can't we have those images on the phone that we bought, if we so choose.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Apr 10, 2013 9:40:57 AM

  4. FYI an image of the heterosexual scene was not hard to find.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Apr 10, 2013 9:42:42 AM

  5. If they are innocuous and not erotic, why will you not post the images directly here?

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 10, 2013 9:48:14 AM

  6. Those images are pretty hardcore. If anyone under 18 could access them, then it should be restricted. If over 18, there should be no censorship.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 10, 2013 9:51:47 AM

  7. Yeah, I wouldn't touch apple with a barge poll.
    Has it become too big to fail ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 10, 2013 9:52:17 AM

  8. Wow, guys, you either show sex or you don't. This book shows sex and nudity. There are some graphic-ish sex scenes before the gay ones.

    This is a huge deal because Brian K Vaughn is a very respected writer, he can bring a lot of pressure to apple.

    Also, if you remember the ipod's unveiling, you are probably behind the times as far as Apples current corporate ethics. They are the opposite of what they used to be. Apple is 10x worse than Microsoft's best dream. (Microsoft is always a bad guy for pushing the DMCA)

    Posted by: Fenrox | Apr 10, 2013 9:52:41 AM

  9. @ Tyler: You're missing the point. The eroticism of the images is not in question. The issue is that Apple published issues of this comic containing erotic images of heterosexual sex to the App Store, while preventing the publication of the same comic when it contained erotic images of homosexual sex.

    Had the App Store denied publication of the comic for inclusion of erotic imagery (regardless of sexuality), then there would be no argument here. The problem is that there is a clear double-standard in effect.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Apr 10, 2013 9:55:36 AM

  10. This controlling attitude is one of the main reasons I can't stand Apple. They act as if they're doing you a favor by having everything go through the Apple Store but really what it does is give them top-down approval for what they "allow" you to put on devices that YOU purchased! F*ck that!

    Whenever there's a controversy about something Apple has approved for purchase, for example that "ex-gay" app that was widely protested until it was removed, it's because by making it available it has the implied approval of Apple Corp. It's their own fault, thanks to their controlling ways. Believe me I am NO fan of the "ex-gay" cr*p, but if you paid for an (over-priced) device you should be able to by-god put whatever you like on it, so long as it isn't illegal.

    Remember the iconic Apple commercial based on Orwell's "1984"? Well it's gone from iconic to ironic because Apple has become the Big Brother they promised to free you from!

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 10, 2013 9:59:22 AM

  11. I want to see Apple's response to this, but as of right now, this smacks of the double standard society has against male homosexuality.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Apr 10, 2013 10:13:52 AM

  12. Here is another example of "hetero" sex

    Posted by: FernLaPlante | Apr 10, 2013 10:28:59 AM

  13. I collect the comic book

    For those who ask- I can't give you the images, but I can tell you that its full own orgies, with women boobs hanging out, a man copulating with a big fat woman, alien women with multiple boobs, etc.

    It straight up not fit for work content. But its like one page, in a larger story (and at the time I was more like "wait this is a sex planet and there is not gay sex")

    The dialogue was quite crazy as well as the story. It wasn't just that there was sex, but discussion of copulating with animals and a pimp trying to sell the services of a little girl to a contract killer.

    Posted by: nonapologies | Apr 10, 2013 10:38:57 AM

  14. Apple likes to control their brand, and that means avoiding the 'gay' label.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 10, 2013 10:42:30 AM

  15. @anon - I wonder what Apple would think if they lost all their gay customers?

    If they are approving depiction of explicit hetero sex, then there is a double standard. Straight people don't want to be confronted with the actual idea of what we do in bed.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 10, 2013 10:48:54 AM

  16. Speaking of censorship, there appears to be a ban on same-sex kissing in, of all places, Archie Comics publications that feature Kevin Keller, their much-celebrated Gay character:

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Apr 10, 2013 10:52:53 AM

  17. Yeah. Those are pretty filthy.

    Posted by: mvecera | Apr 10, 2013 12:57:01 PM

  18. Looks like it's available, but it's a dollar more than the other issues.

    Posted by: Josh | Apr 10, 2013 1:33:50 PM

  19. Avoid Apple, avoid censorship (and a number of other control issues).

    Posted by: Randy | Apr 10, 2013 2:26:00 PM

  20. This has all been sorted:

    Posted by: moike | Apr 10, 2013 2:29:49 PM

  21. Older issues get discounted by a dollar every month. It doesn't cost more because of the content.

    Posted by: B | Apr 10, 2013 2:30:46 PM

  22. @moike From how I read it yesterday, Comixology is owned by Apple, but I shall check out your link.

    Posted by: Pete | Apr 10, 2013 2:37:59 PM

  23. It was Comixology's decision to not release it in their app as referenced by @moike 's link.

    @Pete Comixology is not owned by Apple.

    It's also really interesting some people are claiming homophobia when the CEO of Apple is an out gay man.

    Posted by: Marcus | Apr 10, 2013 2:45:53 PM

  24. Yes, the Apple CEO is gay. It's simply another case of the "gay vortex" swallowing anything suspect. This activity is much easier than trying to find and make a real relationship work. You know, actually "being" gay.

    Posted by: GB | Apr 10, 2013 3:43:19 PM

  25. Well, to be perfectly correct Apple's CEO Tim Cook is *believed* to be gay. I don't think anyone has ever produced an interview or anything else where he has said he was.

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 10, 2013 5:37:53 PM

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