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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Boat I Don't Want To Be On... The HMS Censorship.


The United Arab Emirates is progressive in many fields, dragging a portion of the Middle East kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but forward nonetheless. However slowly and circumspectly, they are also making (what I perceive to be) progress in the area of the arts and censorship. The subject of censorship is one that sparks something in me, namely: all-consuming rage.

I'm a grown-up, I have free will, and I do not wish to bring harm upon others... So if I want to see something others may consider offensive, that is my choice. I wrote a post about my lovely South Park boys, Matt Stone and Trey Parker and their recent jaunt into controvery, but then chickened out of posting it. If you have the choice to opt out of seeing/hearing/experiencing something, I think you're okay. Now, if you have no choice but to be forced to experience something you find offensive, that's when I have a problem... But I don't recall South Park ever being mandatory.

Growing up, I was annoyed by the censorship of kisses from TV shows and equally annoyed by the slightly less strict -but ever present- editing of movies in the cinemas. No sex. No criticisms of any religion. No mention of Judaism. I can respect that some people don't want to see that sort of thing, and nor do they want to miss out on a bunch of movies because they don't want to see those specific scenes so if it were financially and logistically feasible, I'd support the showings of two versions. But my main point is: Give people a CHOICE.

So I found this interesting article on film censorship in the UAE and was delighted to see that film-makers there were pushing the envelope not for the sake of shock value, but for the sake of credibility, realism, and respect for art as being a reflection of humanity; not just in its state of beauty but also in its moment of shame, lustfulness, greed, and general naughtiness. The UAE is often so bent on filtering its image to itself and to the rest of the world when it should simply take pride in the wonder of its many, many accomplishments and reflect upon recognized problems and use that PUBLIC knowledge to move forward. Stop pretending the rich don't get away with murder. Stop pretending no one there has AIDS. Stop pretending the migrant labor's basic human rights aren't being violated. So you've got some skeletons in your closet. What country doesn't? Generally, I don't measure the value of someone in the mistakes they've made as much as I measure them by how they proceed once they've made those mistakes. But at some point, you have to recognize reality- warts and all- and use that knowledge, your own sense of morality, your own free judgment, and decide what kind of person you are and/or want to be. LEARN.

When you start cutting information out of books, out of movies, out of the news, how can you possibly hope to learn and grow as thinking human beings?

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