Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fuck Censorship

(This old post is an angry old post, and I don't think I make much sense in it. I like the title, though. It was originally written on the 31st of December, 2008.)

Fuck censorship. Government censorship especially, because although the other types are pretty stupid, you're allowed to go somewhere else to say what you want or find another read what you want or such, but government censorship is unavoidable without breaking the law.

I'll cover censorship that's stupid but tolerable since it's within the rights of the people doing the censoring. Places that censor what they sell like bookstores, video stores, or music stores by not selling content they disagree with are fine. It's their store, they can do what they want. By limiting their inventory, they're just reducing potential sales. Other places, like internet forums, networking websites or private property in real life are also okay to have rules on what can and can't be said. The owners of the sites or property have the right to tell people what can and can't be said since they own the place anyway.

But the government is different. The government doesn't own the people. If anything, the people own the government. We shouldn't be told what we can and can't read, listen to or watch. If a person wants to go watch a movie, they should be able to watch the whole freaking movie, not just the bits that the censorship board deems acceptable.

Imagine you go to a restaurant. You order some soft drinks, but the waiter serves you water. When you ask why, he tells you he thinks you don't need the extra sugar. In this analogy, the restaurant is the cinema, the drinks and the movies and the waiter is the censorship board. The waiter has basically taken all the flavour out of the product you paid for and given you bland, tasteless stuff that is not worth anything near what you paid for. The censorship board cuts dialogue and scenes from movies that it feels people would not benefit from seeing. They're basically acting as a nanny for every moviegoer in the country. The thing is, most moviegoers are mature enough to handle the content that the censorship board is afraid will negatively influence/traumatize/offend certain groups.

Back to the restaurant analogy, imagine you order the steak, but when your meal arrives all that's on the plate are your mashed potatoes and corn, with the main item nowhere in sight. You ask the waiter where your steak is, and he tells you that the couple sitting in the table over there are vegetarians, so he removed your steak lest it offend them. Once again, the waiter is the censorship board and the steak is the juicy, juicy material that's been censored. You've paid full price, but they're giving you a crappy product that’s less than what you wanted and screws up the whole experience because of the missing material. I have got so many examples of this that it’s hardly funny. In Hancock, the word asshole was actually a plot point. Every instance of its usage was removed by the censorship board, though. However, there’s one point in the movie where Will Smith gets away with saying “fuck” because he says it so fast that the old farts on the censorship board couldn’t catch it. An even better example of the hypocrisy of the censorship board was Snakes on a Plane. This movie got a restricted or 18+ rating overseas, but here in Malaysia it somehow managed to get a U or PG13 rating, so everyone was allowed to watch it. The movie almost literally uses swearwords like punctuation, but the only scenes that were censored was a scene where a couple has sex in a bathroom and the famous “Enough is enough” scene. Apparently watching a plane full of innocent people get attacked and killed by snakes is less traumatizing for children than watching a couple getting intimate or hearing the word “Motherfucking”. Another brilliant example is the censoring of titles. Hellboy became Super Sapiens. It’s worse with songs. I Kissed a Girl became I Kissed because the board decided that removing “Girl” from the song would make everyone forget what the song was about even though they had been playing it uncensored for two weeks before that. The Best Damn Thing became The Best (Mute for a split second) Thing.

The methods of censorship are annoying, too. They’ll delete an entire scene in the movie and leave you wondering what the hell is going on. They’ll take words out of songs without even the courtesy of a beep, destroying the beat or flow of the song. It’s enough to make you wish you didn’t start watching in the first place.

Anyway, I’ll end this rant now. I had planned something much more coherent and bitter, but then New Year Celebrations got in the way. I’ll revise this sometime, maybe. But for now this is all I have to say.

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