You simply can't talk about these things today
'What perplexed Britten was not his sexuality per se - he never concealed himself in a sham marriage, and sustained a loving relationship with Pears for more than half his life - but his longing for the company of underage males'.
Alex Ross in The Rest Is Noise
'"The notion at its heart is of innocence v experience," says Kildea. "We tend to say that innocence is the right path and experience is bad. And what Britten plays with here is, what if experience were part of a portal into adulthood? If this is part of a child becoming a man, what value judgment do you place on it?"
This is dangerous territory. "You simply can't talk about these things today," says Kildea. "If you're talking about experience, it comes down to pedophilia. Let's not call it child abuse. Let's call it what it is. Rape. And the power imbalance between adults and children. But what if the power imbalance is driven by the child? That is a curious and murky area."
Unsurprisingly, Kildea cites Bill Henson, whose darkly suggestive photographs of children caused a furore when they were to be exhibited in Sydney two years ago. "I thought the political response to that was really embarrassing," says Kildea. "In fact they were rather beautiful photographs. At the same time we have a cardinal in Australia who thinks that a lot of what has gone on in Catholic schools is something of a press beat-up. And the government says nothing."'
Paul Kildea interviewed in The Australian June 2010.
One of Bill Henson's controversial photographs is used in my header montage. Paul Kildea's Britten and English culture is published by Penguin in February 2013. More on that dangerous territory here.
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