Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Offense unlimited

Posted as comment:
Censorship goes on everywhere. We are a little further down the line here in the UK but it keeps rearing its head through in some form or other. A small example is how political correctness keeps changing and how words gather moss: Terms are never free of being judged and condemned even when offense is quite obviously unintentional; people have been lynched left right and centre for not keeping up-to-date with the new current word that should or should not be used and ended up bewildered and shell-shocked through some minor lapse of thoughtlessness and nothing more. Even trivia such as choice of fancy dress may blemish a person’s career if the general consensus so dictates. Taboo would indeed be everywhere if nobody dared say otherwise. Do we still have a 9 pm watershed when the brutal news is on all day? As for television soaps and episodes, these are now consistently required to meet certain criteria; to involve different cultural backgrounds and sexual preferences even when they are not essentially integrated into the storyline itself, just for political correctness of an age. 
An example would be a recent debate broadcast about whether 'Midsomer Murders', a series which takes part in a rural English village should perhaps include a black person even though the likelihood of that happening in reality would indeed be extremely remote. Similarly, if there's a choice of promoting a new series it would probably be more likely that one which included a Muslim family would win as choice preference over any better plot submitted in another form. Include an 'across the board' selection of topics such as homosexuality, male or female or preferably both and some contentious issue of current interest to the mix and you have an instant dead cert winner, regardless of story, plot or ingenuity of subject matter. Substance will more often than not come secondary to arresting, sensational headers; unmissable irony therein since the subject matters now being dealt with on a daily basis and almost necessarily included in every production are the very issues that were formerly unacceptable to the general public: now contrarily being rammed down everyone's throats just to suit political correctness of a kind. When did a good storyline ever necessarily have to meet such criteria?
In Egypt, films containing sexual scenes have always been heavily censored and yet I remember a time when the most violent of such scenes in 'Soldier Blue' was allowed to be shown. The film contained shocking scenes of graphic butchery. The monstrosity of war was absolute and only gasps of horror could possibly be expected to emanate. However, even though the flesh was violated and literally sliced, since there was nudity involved, the frustrated male audience rooted and cheered for more; the film's message forever lost amid acute misinterpretation. That was a clear pointer to how censorship can go terribly wrong.
* Soldier Blue is a 1970 American Revisionist Western movie directed by Ralph Nelson and inspired by events of the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in the Colorado Territory.
In September 1970, Dotson Rader of The New York Times, wrote that Soldier Blue "must be numbered among the most significant, the most brutal and liberating, the most honest American films ever made".

Everything is relative, and things keep changing but the bottom line is that censorship does exist in some form or other and so it is indeed imperative for Egypt now to keep challenging the authorities or risk regressing further. With the attempt to ban literary works such as Moll Flanders, we see again how politics and religious morality seem to hold hands and dictate at will. We are all talking about self-appointed nannies of the state but the battle just keeps shifting shape.

1 comment:

Sh.elS said...

Spot on. The local always transcends itself to the universal. Food for thought indeed.