Queen’s University vs. Captain Underpants

In a nice change from ranting about Rob Ford (who still hasn’t denied smoking crack.  I’m just saying), I came across this story  from Queen’s University.  Now, I’m a former Queen’s grad, but I’ve long since lost any respect for the place.  Even when I was there it was painfully politically correct, but since I’ve graduated it’s fallen even further downhill – bottoming out, or so I thought, in 2006 with the proposal to hire “dialogue monitors” (i.e., the modern, politically correct, terminology for people we used to call “rats”, “finks”, or “stoolies”) to spy on their fellow students to denounce politically incorrect thoughts.  At the time, I think I wrote a letter to the Queen’s administration asking them to take back my degree, but I suppose they still harbour the (mistaken) illusion that I might someday give them money, because I never heard back from them. 

But just when I think that Queen’s can’t get any more pathetic, I read this:

[L]ast week, a Queen’s University fine arts student found out that men’s underthings are apparently still too titillating to be put on display.

At the end of April, David Woodward agreed to show his art at a university donor appreciation event.


Woodward chose to display his project titled “All I Am is What I’ve Felt,” which consists of 10 pairs of men’s underwear embroidered with images, text or both, that are tacked onto a wall or a white board. The work is an examination of gender, sexuality and intimacy, he says.

The 22-year-old student, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts this month, said he chose to show that project because it was his final thesis work for the program, he believed it would inspire discussion, and because he is proud of it.

The day of the event, he brought the work in and set it up. Not long after, he said he was told by members of the event’s organizing team that the art was supposed to serve as a “nice background,” that his work was “inappropriate” and would make attendees “uncomfortable.” He said he said then was told to take it down before anyone arrived, and he did.”

Now talk about a great story, because Queen’s looks bad every possible way.  

What does is say about the Queen’s faculty of Fine Art, that Mr. Woodward’s honours thesis project is a collection of glorified underoos.  I’d dying to know, did he have any Scoobi-doo underwear?  Yeah, yeah, I’m a philistine who doesn’t appreciate Woodward’s “examination of gender, sexuality and intimacy” yadda, yadda, yadda.  Come on, doesn’t every artist describe their work like this? Christ, someone draws a bowl of fruit, and they’ll describe it the same way (“See how that banana is nudging the watermelon.  What a beautiful examination of gender, sexuality and intimacy”).  I’m going to leave a note to the garbage man this week describing my pile of garbage bags as “a testament to gender roles in a post-industrial suburban context.  Oh, and an examination of gender, sexuality and intimacy”.  That it’s actually a fair description of my weekly performance art routine doesn’t take away from the fact that my “art” is a pile of trash.   If Mr. Woodward is right that this exhibit “was the most accurate representation of [his] artistic practice at this point in time”, I hope he’s not too attached to his Queen’s degree, because he’s going to be burning it for heat one day. 

(As an aside, reading this Captain Underpants’ webpage is an entertaining exercise.  His “about me” page is a literary black hole,  so densely packed with jargon that no meaning can escape – a sure sign that someone is putting you on.)   

Still, if I’m a philistine, what does that make of the mental midgets at Queen’s University, who ordered him to take the exhibit down?  I may exercise my constitutionally protected right to mock the “achievements” (such as they are) of others, but at least I don’t make them hide them.  Organizers of the event thought his work was “inappropriate” and would make attendees “uncomfortable.”  Well, for Christ’s sake, it’s an art show, it’s supposed to make people uncomfortable.  If people wanted “comfortable” art, they’d go to IKEA and buy some “Urk” or “Barph” paintings.   They want a “nice background”?  Buy a fucking screen saver!   Jesus. 

The real question is:  Who are these flaky members of the Queen’s community who feel uncomfortable in the presence of underwear? It’s not like his exhibit consisted of, say, a painting of the Virgin Mary sodomizing Mohammed with a Genoa salami (which, at least, would be a provoking, if not thought-provoking, display of ” gender, sexuality and intimacy” – Woodward, if you steal that idea, I want royalties!).  It’s a bunch of fucking underwear!!!  At worst, it’s bad art.  I know Queen’s is filled with precious little correctoids, but is the Queen’s community so fragile that there are people who will be offended by the presence of a few pairs of gotchies hanging on the wall?    Do these people not wear underwear of their own?  How do they get dressed in the morning?  Maybe I don’t want to know.

So, to summarize, we have a Queen’s Fine Arts grad, whose greatest artistic achievement thus far is putting weird markings in his underwear (my son, btw, does the same thing with his underwear… albeit using a different medium).  We have a Queen’s administration whose idea of fine art is something that doesn’t make people “uncomfortable” and that makes a “nice background” (ideally, I suppose, a nice off-white wall).  And we have members of the Queen’s community who are apparently terrified of tighty-whities.  I am alone in thinking less of Queen’s as a result of this story? 



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