09 Jan / Censorship “Je Suis Charlie”
On a more serious note than usual, tonight I’m writing about censorship while it’s far too early to make any jokes about it. When France raised its collective arms in horror I stopped calling them cheese-eating surrender monkeys and raised my arms in solidarity with them.
I think most people around the world will have been protected or enraged by censorship at some time during their life. Whether it’s the watershed hour on television protecting the innocence of many nation’s youth, or the slapdash coverups that restrict our pleasure while touting they’re for our collective benefit.
Personally I believe that once you’re an adult nothing needs to be censored. We know where the off switch is. We know how to not buy something. We can turn to a different page all by ourselves.
If people are offended by images or words or noises it is usually well within their capability to avoid the offense and regain equalibrium.
Even if someone gets in your face you can turn the other cheek and walk away. Just because you want to smash someone’s nose in, and I’m sure many of us feel the urge at times, doesn’t mean you have to. This is what imaginations are for.
This is how most of the seven billion people in existence get along together while living on the surface of a tiny planet in a corner of an unimpressive galaxy collectively hurtling through space.
(I actually looked up into the sky after writing that to check that there wasn’t another planet on a collision course with us – damn you Lars von Trier.)
I myself have greatly suffered at the hands of censorship. There isn’t a lot of room left in this blog before everybody loses interest because the commercial break’s over and heads away, so I’ll list the top three:
1) My parent’s – bless their hearts – used to send me to bed early so I wasn’t shocked out of my skull by mid- to late-night television. I vividly remember one night when my siblings were baby-sitting me (the joys of being the youngest) and they either didn’t notice or didn’t care that I got back out of bed at some point and watched the Sunday Horror with them. It was the Incredible Melting Man. It was hard to watch. He kept melting all over the place. I can still see the ear he left behind in one scene.
Perhaps I remember it so well because it turned up in my nightmares for the next seven years.
Gigantic censorship fail. Children do not understand consequences, and do not understand that they should go to bed when they’re told. Even me, and I’m practically a genius. Practically.
2) Southland – series two. When TNT bought the rights to the second partially completed season of Southland, I rejoiced. I loved the first half-season that NBC had broadcast, and although I understand it didn’t exactly fit its family friendly model it would’ve been a shame to waste it.
We don’t have a lot of cable television down here, our only option is Sky TV, so I wasn’t completely certain how cable channels operate in the States, but I was fairly certain that they only have to impose their own censorship. After all, you subscribe to their service – you don’t have to if you don’t want to watch – right?
An episode proved my assumptions were wrong. Coming into a crime scene that nice blond man, who used to be on the OC and is now on Gotham, stared in horror at the bed. The bed which was covered with the fuzzy squares of censorship.
Through having to pay attention to the dialogue I gather that there was a raped mother and two daughters, and they were not meant to be as boxy as they appeared. Really? You’re screening a television show about policemen and you can’t show a crime scene.
Censorship fail. I just imagined it instead. Pretty sure the version that was shot for TV wasn’t as depraved as the one my head provided.
3) Although New Zealand’s censorship office didn’t require South Park: The Stick of Truth computer game to be censored, our stores imported the European version because it was nearer or cheaper or the only version they could get hold of or something. I was treated to censorship sticker cartoons over the controversial (to Europe) cut-scenes while a narrator cheerfully told me exactly what it was the sticker was hiding.
Censorship fail. That was hilarious. There is no way that even the genius of Matt Stone and Trey Parker could have come up with something that funny on their own. I thank the censors of Europe for their idiocy, and hope that a range of spoofs are in creation already.
So there’s only one last act that I need to mention.
4) Two days ago three gunman opened fire at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve. The following day the remaining staff decided to continue with publication, but increasing the print run to one million copies, up from the usual sixty thousand.
Je Suis Charlie