As a highly-respected author, online talk-show host (VICE’s Soft Focus), and veteran of the D.C. punk rock scene, Ian Svenonius has long used his bully pulpit to rage against the machines of ignorance, injustice, apathy, and government manipulation.
His latest work, Censorship Now!!, is a thought-provoking collection of essays. In Svenonius’ estimation, censorship—once viewed as a destructive clampdown on political and artistic freedoms—is due for a comeback. From the airwaves to records stores and the Internet, he proclaims, there’s much in need of stomping out these days. Svenonius’ essays reveal a world in dire need of some suppression, from the sacred cows of technology (Apple, Wikipedia) and the crushing gears of capitalist industry (IKEA and sugar), to racist gentrification (as seen in Washington, D.C.) and thrill-kill-glorifying Hollywood blockbusters (Heathers).
Despite the palpable and righteous indignation in his essays, Svenonius leavens it all with a subversive use of humor. Tongue-in-cheek absurdity is slid into his invective, like sugary centers to his poison pills. Witness his takedown of IKEA, which begins as an unblinking look at the insidiously cheap, veneer-laden design ideologies of the Swedish company, and arrives finally at their ultimate conspiracy against romance: “Why does IKEA make their manuals into time bombs of discord? Because IKEA wants couples to break up. Each breakup results in more bachelors and bachelorettes, which results in more IKEA products sold.”
In a utopian world where we all followed Svenonius’ lead by banning all uninspired, toothless, and just plain bad art, you would still find plenty of copies of Censorship Now!! lying around.