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The B-Side

illustration of a peeling parental advisory sticker with the words "The Unfiltered B-Side" below
Sara Fang

The filters we develop as humans are important for how we function throughout our daily life. As children, we quickly learn that it’s inappropriate to say whatever strange thoughts pop into our heads. No more telling a stranger they have a giant weird pimple on their crooked nose or telling your kindergarten teacher the new cuss word you discovered and wanted to share with the class. We wear masks that filter aspects of ourselves that may be inappropriate in certain environments. Being impulsive or loud-mouthed could reflect poorly on your professional performance. A first date generally only goes well if you present a well-kept version of yourself and keep the insecurities and gross habits hidden for a rainy day. These heavily filtered personas can be exhausting and frustrating to maintain; when we see art that strips away the filter, it’s cathartic. Parts of ourselves that are socially unacceptable need some loving as well from time to time (within reason, of course).

The sanitization of art is a nasty thing. Works that deviate from typical genre standards can completely redefine a genre or even medium with its subversive or unique choices, choices that can be confusing or off-putting. If a creation loses its original feel and soul because it isn’t consumer-friendly enough, sometimes the only option is to strip it away. With the rise of book bans, entire perspectives of already historically marginalized and underrepresented groups of people are swept under the rug and deemed unseemly for children’s eyes. 

When we consume art and when we perform critical analysis of art, we cut deeper into what it means to be human, and how we perceive the world around us. The human condition can be complex. It can be uncomfortable. It can be ugly. But holding up a mirror to the parts of ourselves that are taboo is important. It’s how we can create a better, more compassionate world for each other, and it’s how we can learn to start to love the parts of ourselves that we were taught to be ashamed of.

Daily Arts Writer James Johnston
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illustration of the three main characters of "Someone Great" with a peeling parental advisory sticker in the lower right corner

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digital art illustration of a musical script with the word “jr.” stamped on it

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Redraw of Link's Elegy of Emptiness Statue from "Majora's Mask"

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