I remember a time in the UK when censorship was rife. We couldn’t watch ‘The Exorcist’ and the nest bits from ‘Zombie Flesh Easters’ and ‘Dawn of The Dead’ were only viewable in fuzzy stills in the back of horror magazines like the dark side. Those were dark days indeed!
As an Indie film maker I am vehemently against censorship. And I believe that this stance is the one unshakable principle of Indie film making and should be upheald above all others.
01-19-2006, 01:18 PM
01-19-2006, 02:21 PM
I don't really understand the logic behind censorship to begin with. It's not a matter of perserving innocence of adult citizens (lol). The idea that movies will 'corrupt the young' are bogus. My dad is the same way. He can't stand watching a movie that has too much language/gore in it. He either turns it off or leaves the room. I'm like "Wtf? You're 46. It's nothing you've never heard before." I guess some people are inherently sissies when it comes to watching movies.
Which reminds me, I got a call from the Dove Foundation (they promote family movies and stuff). The guy on the phone is like "Do you feel there are too many violent, offensive, R rated movies made in Hollywood, and that more should be made for families."
"...well the Dove Foundation has raised over $150 million in donations used to pressure and encourage Hollywood studios to make more family oriented films..."
"Why the hell don't you open up your own studio and finance your own films? You'll make alot more progress than bugging execs in Hollywood."
I looked up their website and the most they can do with all that money is review movies and give them a petty "Dove Family Approved Seal". Wow! Talk about money well spent!
01-19-2006, 02:21 PM
I do know that the first thing a totalitarian regime does is apply rigid censorship laws. For me anytime you're in a country and people start burning books or banning certain kind of art or artists it's time to get out, because this kind of social engineering almost always leads to politcal prisoners and various form of genocide.
What I'm not sure about is whether the idea of complete freedom of expression is good thing. If I say that I believe that should be no censorship at all I'm saying that I'll support a racist's freedom to publish hate pamplets, or paedophile's right to lobby for the lowering of the age of consent. As a society we make choices over what is and isn't acceptable, some are enforced by the law and some are enforced by social pressure.
So, for instance, I like many Brits of my generation I swear and use profanity as part of everyday speech and yet here on this board I self moderate that behaviour because I know it causes offence; I do the same when I'm working with kids or other community groups.
I guess what I believe is that we as individuals have responsibility to hold the law makers to account for any censorship decisions that they make. As film makers i feel that we have an important role to play in that because in a very real sense we are the litmus paper by which a society decides how free it is. I remember really clearly how much fuss was made during the release of Life of Brian and also some of the public outrage at some of Derek Jarman's films, and yet here we are fifteen years later with a gay western in mainstream cinemas. Personally I think this is a good thing.
What we need now is a gay Kung-Fu movie (Phil, over to you)
Loud Orange Cat
01-19-2006, 03:25 PM
Moderators: You're going to hate what I'm about to say, but I'm speaing from the heart here and I'm not trying to start something... I expect this post to be censored.
You know what shocks the hell out of me? The fact that I live in the USA: Known as the ONLY truly free country in the world. In actuality, we are one of the most censored countries in the world.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Congress creates the FCC to govern the radio spectrum here in the USA. The FCC, controlled by old farts who don't like bad words and do whatever their church says, censors the free speech of its own citizens on television and radio against what the law says.
There are only a few other countries in the world that have this type of federal censorship: They're the ones we're bombing the hell out of right now. Can anyone say double standard?
Also, while on the topic, I'd like ask our on-air radio personalities out there why they're all being a bunch of whimps for running away from the FCC and hiding behind the veil of "satellite radio" services. Are you guys too chicken to fight? What's your problem?!
Okay, mods. do you your worst. Censor away. I honestly believe that everything I say in this message is true to the meaning of the thread.
01-19-2006, 03:34 PM
I agree regarding the FCC. The problem isn't all the government though. Alot of it is the people. People are whiny; they don't like to be offended. Curse words and boobies offend some people and they rely on the the FCC to protect them.
01-19-2006, 05:20 PM
Don't subscribe to satellite radio- I'm working at a call center for... we'll just call them "Company X"...
They screw over thier customers on a daily basis, and have thier call-center agents follow scripts that (first of all are very poorly written dialogue) are worded in such a way to trick a customer into forgetting thier original problems through manipulation, and while giving out 3 months free service to every customer who calls to cancel (which is a non-stop barrage daily), they will close your account if you miss $5 off your payments.
Ridiculous and cunning- never subscribe to satellite radio (unless it's for your Porche, in which case you probably can afford to loose lots of money).
I mean, these guys won't give refunds to people who paid for a full year and didn't even have a radio, while they throw free credits at cancellations to get them to forget about thier automatic credit card withdrawls...
As for censorship, I like the way Clive puts it, but I still think anyone should be able to say whatever they want on any medium, in any situation- it's up to the audience to be smart enough to take words for what they are. The curent rating system works (sometimes), but I've never been to keen on age limitations... perhaps if cinemas issued IQ tests instead of age restrictions...
01-19-2006, 05:30 PM
I think many people fail to see the difference between "Freedom of Speech" (as presented in the US Constitution) and no-censorship. The US Constitution only protects you from government persecution based on what you say or write, it does not guarantee you a platform to broadcast or publish your statements. (The exception would be sharing classified secrets about government operations - -which would be considered treason.)
As for the FCC...I just shake my head. I just don't know how to respond to attacks against the FCC. Here is a hypothetical situation to consider --
You are in the middle of crowded store with your 5 year old child, or maybe its the family reunion. At that one moment when all noise seems to fade, your child decides it is the perfect time to share the new word he learned -- "Daddy, you're a F*ckface!" All heads turn to look at you to see just exactly how you plan to handle the situation. "Um...where did you learn that word?" ... "The RADIO". Where's your FCC now????
I don't know how many of the members on this thread have children. I have two, myself. For those of you who don't have children, I will say this...everything changes when you do. The shows that you swore you would never allow your kid to watch (Barney, Teletubbies) suddenly become household favorites...You realize that the Kidz Bop CDs are actually not that bad...you think about whether or not a movie would be suitable for your 7 year old based on the language, violence, and sexual content...you start to wonder WHY it was SOOOO important for them to say "ass" in the newest animated movie, because by god that's the only thing that your kid wants to repeat now...
...and the FCC rules don't seem so offensive anymore.
It is painfully difficult raising children -- extremely rewarding, but painfully difficult. How you raise them is up to you. If you don't care whether or not your 5 year old walks around calling people mother-f*ckers and talking about sex in kindergarden, then by all means...let them hear whatever. But be prepared for that call from the teacher, or the angry parents whos kid learned things from your child, complaining that your child is not behaving in an appropriate manner for a 5 year old. When that call comes, you can either decide that you truly don't care, or you might realize that you made a mistake.
01-19-2006, 06:41 PM
and that call comes with an investigation and the possibility of losing them as wards of the state :)
Loud Orange Cat
01-19-2006, 06:53 PM
I'm the kind of parent that plays an active role in my child's development. I tell them "You can't watch this movie" because I don't want my kids hearing that kind of language or seeing something on TV that will require therapy later on in life. It sickens me that the excuse to censor is 'for the children'. What? You don't trust me to be a good parent, Mr. Government?
We don't need an FCC censoring film broadcast on television to meet a 'common standard'. I certainly don't want some government agency censoring my film in the name of what someone else considers good taste.
If you go across the border to the Great White North, you hear the F bomb being dropped on Canadian radio (I've heard it). if I don't like something, I simply turn it off. I know what I like and don't like and I think that I should have the right to decide what's in my child's best interest.
01-19-2006, 07:07 PM
It's not always the FCC that controls censoring, sometimes the channel chooses to. Cable does not have to censor, but they gain advertisers if they do. Example: TBS will show the "edited for TV" version of an R movie instead of the unedited version. Why? If they showed the R version they'd lose the "family" type advertisers they have, and that's where the money is. F/X is a good example of a network that does not censor.
01-19-2006, 07:47 PM
Very true indie- specialty channels like IFC, Showcase Action and Diva have a lot of uncensored flicks, and after what indie said, I've noticed the commercials are very targeted to an uncensored crowd.
TBS on the other hand, it totally makes sense, watching the commercials from an advertisers perspective, versus a consumer POV.
How many of you plan out a "screener-for-tv" version of your films before the editing room?
Anyone plan out two different cuts as far back as the script?
And how do different cuts nessecarily qualify as far as rights are concerned? If one market wants the family version, can you sell the rights to the "cut" version and still keep the rights to the "uncut" one?
And back on censorship- do the FCC ever hurt films' releases? I don't think the rating system is horrible- in Canada though they're much more lenient, and films that would be "R" in the states might possibly be considered "AA (16)" or "A (18)". I haven't heard of many films here being denied release, especially in Toronto, where there is an abundance of independent cinema chains.
Either way, as long as the rating system isn't squashing films, it's not something I detest- it's actually a good thing for movies.
Ratings give consumers a good view into what to expect- an "R" rating can be a turn on for thrill-seekers, while a "G" would boost a films profit because parents might only take thier kids to see those films. Either way, it actually helps the film narrow into it's niche market.
Most people base thier movie descions on either the trailer, the poster, the stars, and most importantly the title. At least the rating system allows a film like "Flubber" to not have to compete with "Die Hard" in the first place, because the ratings sometimes entice people to make decsions that way.
EDIT: In regards to censorship with the above in mind, I'd say the ideal kind of censorship would be one where just ratings were applied- like disclaimers. It should be up to the individual to decide what is appropriate for them.
TV stations have to appeal for a broad audience, and theatres also want to hit the big niche- but DVD is a wonderful land where ratings don't necessarily have to apply to sell a film.
01-19-2006, 10:11 PM
I'm going to skip back a couple of posts to lilith...I firmly believe that parents need to teach their kids values and help them avoid content that would be damaging. My wife and I prescreen all the content our children watch and listen to so (if nothing else) we know the content going into our kids heads. That way, when problems and questions arise, we know the source. It's easy to think "Parents should be more active in their kids lives". We are, but as our kids get older, they spend more and more time away from your watchful eye. As a parent of a teen and a preteen, I hope that I've taught my kids the values of our household as far as I am able to do so...but in reality, it comes down to them to make the right choices in whether or not saying "No, I'm not allowed to watch this..." will allienate them from their friends. This part of life is scary for me as a parent as it's hard to move from the role of protector to the role of friend in a world where they make the f-word legal to yell in a crowded mall (yes, in MN that is true as of 2 years ago), regardless of the audience. If I don't want my children exposed to this content...In good conscience, I should never let them out of the house.
Freedom comes with a price...this price is responsibility. You are free to say what you want, but this freedom needs to be tempered with responsibility to your audience...not just in movies, but in life as well.
p.s. We wrote the script for "Average Joe" with the intent to make a PG movie so I could proudly show it to my kids. We debated the use of language and content very heavily as we were writing the beast. I will tell you that it is quite difficult to write a script when you take away the ability to use some of the most expressive language you have access to for provoking emotion in the audience and still try to make it flow naturally.
01-20-2006, 01:28 AM
I don't have kids and I don't mind the FCC a bit. C'mon people, you act like it's a burden to you not to be able to hear the word f*ck on TV or the radio. The problem lies in this term "free country." Free means you have the rights to watch, listen or say what you want, it doesn't however, entitle you to infringe on other people's rights. Censorship gets a bad wrap cause most people feel it's taking away rights, but it is not. If I make a film that is chock full of nudity, and I ask a network to run it. They are going to say "no." The FCC will say "no." And the local affiliates will say "no." Now, did they censor me? Yes. Did they take away my freedom of speech? No. They didn't say I couldn't make the film or even show it, they simply said I could not show it over the public airwaves. Society demands that anything broadcast over public airwaves be suitable for a large portion of the general public. No one censored Howard Stern. They simply said, "Howard, you can't say these things over the public airwaves, you can't have people do these things in your studio and then describe it over the puiblic airwaves. Why? Because the general public does not want these types of things broadcast over the public airwaves." He is still broadcasting, or some might say he's still excercising his right to free speech, just no over the public airwaves.
01-20-2006, 02:49 AM
Guys trust me your glad your not in the UK. We used to cut every film on TV. Every US TV Show (not that I watch it but we still censor wrestling from time to time).
As I have sadi before I used to get Videos from teh US just so I could watch films like Clockwork Orange.
Thankfully it has changed a lot in the last 10 years and we are now one of the most liberal countries when it comes to TV and Film censorship. But we had some dark times!
01-20-2006, 04:14 AM
I think that it's interesting that the primary concern that people in the West have about free speech and censorship is about wanted to show or view ever more graphic violence and ever more extreme sex.
Our preoccupations with those subjects say a lot about us as a culture.
I think the thing is, if you ask anyone in the West whether freedom of speech is good idea they'll say Yes. It's a knee jerk reaction, because no one wants to be called a fascist. However, I'm sure that each of us has a limit to what we consider acceptable for public broadcast.
So what I think is a more interesting question is what do you think shouldn't be broadcast? (By this I mean over the public airwaves as opposed to on DVD or on a code protected channel)
My list is: Anything that promotes racism, anything that promotes the idea that guns are cool.
This is a contentious list because I think I just banned the entire Hollywood output (apart from chick flicks). I am however serious about this, I'd rather have my kids become praticising satanists than have them think that guns are a good thing.
01-20-2006, 04:29 AM
I kinda agree. that said I'm on dogey ground because Left For Dead had to ereleased in the US as unrated due to content...
But the glorification of guns is a bad thing and when made look cool by rappers and Icons like 50 cent we are treading a fine line of making this shit look cool. There's far too much gun crime on the streets today and having people like that make it look cool will only make things worse.
But again I walk a fine line... I think that line has to be films thats how the reality of death and the like over films that show how you can wield two guns, get shot a hundred times and still carry on ... well thats not so good. Although again I guess that would mean John woo would fall foul.
It's a hard call.
On the subject of racism I totally agree. Then again a film can be deemed as racist by some but not by others. I use Pulp Fiction as the example here. Many considered (and Spike Lee was one) that Tarantino's use of the word Nigger was racist. Most did not. Racism like many isms can be a subjective thing and that's the issue for me with censorship.
Censorship is subjective. What some one deems as 'censorable content' others do not. And that makes it near on impossible to ever make choices that are fair and reasonable. I mean look at James Furman and his reign of terror over the UK BBFC (the UK MPAA by in a Dictators shoes). His subjectivity and views lead to many great films being banned or outlawed.
What's the answer? Who knows. I guess this is one of those issues that will never be solved!
01-20-2006, 04:57 AM
Censorship is subjective....It's a hard call
I think sometimes even when the call is hard, it's still important to make a decision, even knowing that that decision will on some level be wrong.
So in many senses I think there needs to be two sides to the process, those who impose censorship (whose role is to be more conservative in their views) and artists (whose role is to constantly challenge the censorship laws).
The important thing is that the debate is constant and that the public takes and active part in it.
For me I still think the key factor is "I may not agree with you, but I'll fight for your right to say it."
01-20-2006, 09:16 AM
Tell me, if you were found to be watching something like wrestling or a film that was not to be shown on UK television, would you be arrested and thrown in jail? Back in the "dark times" I mean.
01-20-2006, 09:27 AM
In theory yes. Although I'm not sure how many people actually did. Certainly video shops got in trouble for selling stuff they shouldn't. Before 1984 the uK had vertually no rules on film content then the BBFC and James Furman came along and banned almost everything.
01-23-2006, 07:28 AM
Actually I just remembered a classic UK film censoring decision...
Nunchucks - Martial arts wepaon of choice for the many. But always somewhat of a prickly issue in the UK.
Teenage Ninja Turtles 2 (and in the Uk it was Mutant turtles because they didnt want kids knwoing what Nijas were). One of the Ninja T's has a fight with what the BBFC (Uk MPAA) thought were nunchucks. So they cut the scene. It later transpired that the nunchucks were infact sausages!!!
I SHIT YOU KNOW!
For years even the Great Bruce Lee suffered at the no nunchucks rule.
THAT is why I hated the BBFC and did a small dance the day James Furman (the then Hilter type head of authority) left.