Apple Reverses "Ulysses" Decision, But...
At this year's Bloomsday celebration down at the Ulysses Pub in the financial district, we met up with novelist and winner of the National Book Award Colum McCann to get his opinion about Apple's censorship of the Ulysses comic book adaptation "Ulysses Seen."

JONES: I heard somewhere that they were going to be adapting "Ulysses" for HBO, and you were going to be uh...

MCCANN: Did you hear that?

JONES: Yeah, yeah.

MCCANN: Okay. What you have to do -- it's actually really quite wonderful -- you have to look at the date of the article and the time the article was written. It was written on April the 1st.

JONES: You're telling me this whole thing was a...

MCCANN: It's April the 1st! I didn't even know about it! Then people started coming up to me. People are like: "Ooo, you're working with Colin Farrell! You're adapting "Ulysses!" That's fucking brilliant! That's fantastic! Ooo, HBO!" But no. I'm not. I WOULD do. I WOULD do.

JONES: You'd do it if you could?

MCCANN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd involve all these people who are down here as well (gesturing to the Bloomsday celebrants) But no, no. Seriously. It was a blag, it was a joke, it was a fucking... like one of those mad moments when somebody invented something on the internet that's like a...but look at it. The date of the article is April the 1st. So, no.

JONES: Cheers, mate. I wrote that article. I'm fucking with you again.

MCCANN: Are you fucking Miracle? You bastard!

JONES: I am a bastard. But it's nice to see you.

MCCANN: (to those gathered around) This man played a fucking blag on me on April 1st! Said I was adapting "Ulysses" for HBO! And then he comes up as a fucking reporter for the Village Voice saying "I hear you're adapting...AW SOME FUCKING ASSHOLE WROTE ABOUT ME.

JONES: (explaining to the crowd) No, he was kind about it. He was kind about it.

MCCANN: You read last time! How come you didn't read this year?

JONES: I had to work! I just became a bartender!

MCCANN: You missed the whole thing!

JONES: I know, I saw the end of it. I was actually wondering...I don't know if you heard or not, but did you see that Apple was censoring "Ulysses"? Well, I write for The Internet, and I was wondering if you had anything to say about it. As like, King of Bloomsday.

MCCANN: I mean, it's ridiculous. The book is set in 1904, the book was written between 1914 and 1921. We had a fucking CENTURY. Like, the worst of times the best of times. Like between then and now? I mean, seriously, as a century it was the most horrific and the most beautiful of centuries. And then we can't fucking turn around and...and Apple comes along and censors one of our great relics? It's like going into your grandmother's closet and going through her underwear and going "Oh look -- these are way too short. Oooo, you shouldn't have worn those."

It's mad, right? Mad, mad, mad, mad, mad. It's just silliness, though. Corporate silliness. I don't think anybody really wants to censor "Ulysses." I mean, I think it's part of their mainstream idea that you have to put like a gate around language or something like that. It's silly. Silly, silly, silly. But I think if you went to Steve Jobs and Apple...and...hey Tony. You should meet each other. This man wrote a fucking blag about me on the fucking internet. said I was adapting Ulysses for HBO. and you know how many people came up to me TODAY ALONE?

JONES: How many people? How many people?

MCCANN: Four people came up to me TODAY ALONE. Michael Patrick McDonald. Talk to Michael Patrick McDonald. You know the guy? He wrote "Old Souls." He's a fantastic writer. He says: "Jesus! You're fucking adapting "Ulysses?"

McCann didn't think Apple REALLY wanted to censor "Ulysses," and was certain that if we all went to Steve Jobs and sat down with him to speak together about this as reasonable adults, he would lift this ban on "Ulysses."

And he was right. Today, Apple has agreed to reverse its decision about "Ulysses Seen."

Fucking A!

But does this mean that now "Ulysses Seen" can be as explicit as possible in the later chapters that contain actual sex and nudity? What does Apple actually mean when they say they are establishing new parameters that reflect artistic growth? Will the piecemeal publication of this "Ulysses" comic app slowly erode all of Apple's boundaries until they are forced to say "YES" to EVERYTHING?

I'm more cynical than McCann. I think PR pressure made Apple lift this ban, not glorious magnanimity. And what about all those other apps that aren't THE GREATEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN? What about all those other apps that aren't being banned on the HOLIDAY OF THEIR VERY EXISTENCE?

We will have to keep this public pressure on, every single time we want to do something that tests Apple's constantly-evolving policies, until Apple breaks down and keeps the same standard as the actual internet, letting everything through without gatekeeping, allowing the whole world of possibilities to be accessed through their sleek, steel, perfect devices.

Mr. Jobs: will you please stop going through our grandmother's underwear?

Posted by miracle on Wed, 16 Jun 2010 22:24:38 -0500 -- permanent link

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