Juan Soto Ivars: “I think out loud and there are people who pay me for it; I have tremendous luck”

ALICANTE. “Digitalization makes all opinions visible and we can’t stand it; all the new censorship is born from there,” says the journalist and writer John Soto Ivars (Águilas, Murcia, 1985), who participated this Friday in the ComunicALC conference on new formats and languages ​​of cultural communication, project that, in its second edition, has dealt with the division of the cultural world between the analogical and the digital. The writer, who has passed through Elche, is also presenting his latest book: no one will laugh (Discussion, 2022). It deals with a “complicated” story that “makes the moral uncomfortable”.

In the book he provides information about the case that ended with the conviction of the person who published, as a parody, the false route that the members of La Manada would have followed at the San Fermín festivities in 2016: 18 months in prison and 15,000 euros in compensation for “degrading treatment” of the victim. What was intended as a critique of media sensationalism ended up backfiring on the author and ruining his life. Juan Soto Ivars tries not to comment too much, but he does want to tell the story “honestly” and raises questions such as the influence that sensationalism can have on justice or the rise of censorship.

“The greatest triumph of censorship is making us believe that we censor ourselves,” he says. Something that ends up having repercussions on artistic freedom and expression. “The fear of some creators is evident, but if companies and institutions weren’t so screwed up, another rooster would sing for us.”

You go full on for an extremely controversial issue. Are you attracted to controversies?

— I don’t like easy stories, and I don’t like easy conclusions to stories that seem easy. The story of this book is complicated, devilish, almost, and makes the moral uncomfortable. If that’s what you mean by attraction to controversy, yes, I’m attracted to it. But the blind noise that the book can cause pulls me back quite a bit. It is not written with the intention that an idiot go out and parade his dogmas in my face.

In this case, do you think it is necessary to amend or reverse the situation? Motivate that is your intention with this book?

— I think that in this case justice was not done because there was no information. The information arrived in court tainted by media sensationalism, and there a sentence was handed down that did not distinguish between a parody and a literal message. I think that telling the story well, with honesty, is already a step for others to do justice. But those wear togas.

“When Irene Villa said that some jokes about her made her laugh, she became my heroine”

The “exempt” you point to is satire, but what are the limits of humor?

— Humor should have no limits except for individuals, where it already has them. One laughs, another doesn’t, and it was the same joke. There you have the legitimate limits of the thing. Going to the case of my book, no one demands that a victim take a parody of his or her own good, but when Irene Villa came out to say that some of the black humor jokes that are made about her even make her laugh, she immediately She becomes my personal heroine. As I say, I do not require any victim to be Irene Villa, each one to set the limit where her feelings dictate. But do not try to impose them on others, except if there is calumny, insult or objective damage to her honor.

Who sets those limits today?

I certainly wouldn’t dare tell anyone what you can or can’t laugh at.

Is self-censorship worse than censorship?

— Self-censorship is one’s own criteria, and it is good and necessary. If you delete before posting out of fear, then it’s not self-censorship, but lifelong censorship. The greatest triumph of censorship is making us believe that we censor ourselves. It means that the censor has put us inside.

It is paradoxical that in the era of clickbaitwhere controversy rules, most people do not dare to address other types of controversy, why?

— Controversies, what you call controversies, are not such a thing, in my opinion. They are very predictable lineups of individuals around some trenches, with any topic as an excuse. It was seen with the Elías Ahúja residence hall, and with so many other things. Before the debate begins you already know what they are going to say. Controversy? It’s more like ballroom dancing.

Is artistic freedom and expression being more threatened by these attitudes?

— What most threatens this freedom is the fear of companies, such as production companies, publishers or record companies, which in the end are the ones who apply prior censorship in this curious democracy. The fear of some creators is evident, but if companies and institutions weren’t so screwed up, another rooster would sing for us.

Is that one of the gaps between analog and digital in the field of culture? Does digitalization favor inquisitorial hordes that force self-censorship and bring cancellation?

— Digitization makes what others think visible, in particular social networks have brought that. And it turns out we can’t stand it. All the new censorship is born from there.

As an expert on controversies and controversies, what are the consequences of addressing them?

I don’t know if I’m an expert in anything. I just think out loud and there seem to be people willing to pay for me to do it. I have tremendous luck.

You recently declared yourself to be on the left and, despite your criticism of the left, you said that you continued to vote for them “for being subnormal”. Pedro Herrero, from Extremo Centro, also said recently that he had a moral panic about declaring himself right-wing, until one day his wife told him that he had been a very right-wing ‘gentleman’ for 10 years and he assumed it. Is this your moment?

It’s just that I don’t care about “being” one thing or another. Before, I was very worried about being considered a facha, because I wanted to be on the left. It’s a way of saying: I wanted others to see me very handsome. Now I have a foot. I really like Arturo Pérez Reverte’s phrase: “I don’t have an ideology, I have a library.” Since I see it like this, I am not afraid of what a group of left or right activists can say about me.

Juan Soto Ivars: “I think out loud and there are people who pay me for it; I have tremendous luck”