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Freedom of Speech

The good news: the new version of our iPad app is now available in the App Store with Retina resolution and all the rest of the magic. Now you can read our latest issues on your I-Pad and browse through the pages of almost all Colors issues from 1991 to now. “Almost” is where the bad news starts.

You won’t be able to read Issue #28- Touch, for starters. It shows a white man kissing a black man on the cover. Apple thought that the image was inappropriate. Issue #31- Water is also missing. Despite the innocence of Water as a topic, Apple took offense at the cover shot of a naked baby peeing. Images of a penis and of a vagina in the AIDS issue were also considered unsuitable for the iPad app. Ditto for a group of nudists in the Volunteers issue, two elephants mating in the Lust issue, a woman breastfeeding in the AIDS issue and many more photos that we had to get rid of in order to have our iPad app accepted.


It isn’t a big deal for our readers. They can find the censored issues and images here. And it’s nothing new for Colors. For instance, all genitals shown in issue #4 - Race were carefully pixelated in the Japanese edition, while the Swiss ruled that the Water issue be wrapped in plastic like a porn magazine.

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Still, twenty years after the magazine’s founding, one might expect that the idea of what is socially and morally acceptable to show had evolved, and that the photo of a gay kiss would not be considered porn.

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What’s even more annoying is that this comes from Apple, a company that has spent the past thirty years encouraging us to think different, fight the status quo, be free. It’s taken the opportunity to associate its image with people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Now that they have developed a (not even so innovative) device, made it the most desirable object on the planet and established the rules for what it can contain, they don’t seem so passionate about supporting different ideas or ensuring freedom of expression. They rejected our app for containing “frequent” and “intense” display of “sexual content or nudity”.

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Don’t get me wrong. Being censored always provokes a diffuse, self-indulgent pleasure among magazine staff. It fills the office with a Robespierre-like feeling that makes the writing punchier, the photos stronger, the design edgier. But if Colors had to be censored, we would have liked a little advance warning. We could have made it worth it. We could have photographed a bondage orgy of Jesuit priests on a bed of cocaine.