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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:59 pm 
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Sorry - I don't mean dramatizations of murder, rape, etc: I mean films of the real thing.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:32 pm 
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OK I'll rephrase but it remains an interesting question in this genre.

OK chaps you don't like movies to be censored so should we draw any lines at all or do we allow free rein for dramatic presentations of any activity as fiction? Should we let the potential audience decide what movies, TV and video to see on their own free choice?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:10 pm 
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It is a hard question, and my working hypothesis would be something along the lines of any film that encourages the vast majority of its target audience to act in a way that involves the physical and/or mental abuse of others.

An example would be kiddie porn where, although with modern CGI it may be possible to make a film without the actual involvement of children, the end product is clearly intended to engender feelings in the target audience that, if acted on, will result in harm to others.

And I'm deliberately saying 'the vast majority of its target audience' as I can see an argument might be made that some people could be affected similarly by horror films like "Grotesque", but I don't think the rest of us should be denied legitimate entertainment simply on the off chance it might send a few embryonic psychos over the edge, any more than the majority should be denied alcohol or football matches because of the violence they sometimes cause. In the case of kiddie porn, it's hard for me to believe that anyone would want to watch such material unless they were interested in doing similar, and that the films wouldn't reinforce those impulses.

I'm not happy with linking censorship exclusively to legality, as this could be used to stifle criticism of the government, state religion etc.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:19 pm 
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Oh, and Stephen, I haven't seen it, but I remember "The Grotesque". I have a feeling it was part financed by Sting, who appeared in it with his wife Trudi Styler. Some of it was filmed here in Norfok, and there was a call for extras in Dereham, the nearest town to me. I was busy that day, which is a pity as I could have quite fancied being third country bumpkin on the left :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:20 pm 
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"Encourages" is a loaded word, Pete! - as the writer and film maker might "intend" something different from what the audience infers. For example, Oliver Stone was horrified at the audience whooping with delight at some scenes in "Platoon". So what do you do in that case?

More generally, what if the film maker's intent is to horrify or apall? Is it OK if the director has "lofty" intent, but not "low" values like wanting to shock or titilate? What is wrong with shocking and titilating? :-)

PS: (re; the "majority of the audience" statement) one member of the 11 million BBC audience for (my drama) "Ghostwatch" on its first showing committed suicide. Also the programme was cited in the British Journal of Medicine as having caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in children. So, regarding my "harm" comment, maybe I should just shut up! Having said that, no children were harmed in the making of the drama - in fact, they loved it!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:33 pm 
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I do think the decision is best left to the consumer themselves, rather than to a board of censors.

In my own life, for example, I absolutely love the SAW franchise, because the gore and gross-out stuff all serves quite a fascinating plot that has kept me hooked for five (and soon, six) films now.

HOSTEL, however, I saw but couldn't stand. I thought there was nothing redeeming about the OTT violence and torture-porn and the story was too lame to justify anything we were subjected to as an audience.

Importantly though, I did not go and protest outside cinemas and demand that the movie be banned after seeing it - I simply made an informed choice not to see the sequel and got on with my life.

It didn't "harm" me to have seen it - it just wasted a couple of hours of my time, and made me much more wary about the growing spate of similar "torture-porn" stuff so I didn't waste my time on similarly hollow splatter-fests in the future.

I had no intention of seeing GROTESQUE (it sounded utterly dreadful) and came to that decision long before the censors acted.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that, and think that intelligent human beings are quite capable of making these decisions on their own without being told what they can and can't see by dubiously appointed censors. Indeed, if anything, by banning a movie such as GROTESQUE censors simply make it a more enticing proposition than it ever was before - why has it been banned? This I've GOT to see! - and will probably lead to more people buying it/stealing it online from places where it hasn't been banned, than if they'd just let it die a simple box office death in the theatres.

DaN


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:41 pm 
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I don't think the "Platoon" example contravenes my guidelines. People whooping with delight at battle scenes is distasteful, but that's not the same as causing harm to others. Now if the audience had run out of the theatre afterwards and started beating the crap out of innocent bystanders, and this is a reaction that you might have reasonably expected the film to induce, then I would say that a case could have been made for censorship.

I would argue that the director's intent concerns their own personal culpability, but shouldn't be an important factor in deciding if a film should be censored. As Stone's reaction shows, the director is not always best placed to judge how an audience will react. I'm not sure who is best placed, come to that (the big problem with censorship is always going to be who makes those decisions for us, and the thought of it being any of the current gang of political incumbents is cause for alarm).

I don't have any problems with wanting to shock and/or titilate, and being shocked can often be to our advantage. The important thing is not what feelings films invoke in us, even when distasteful, but how we will act on them, and to what degree it could be reasonably anticipated that we will do so.

I'll replace my earlier 'majority of the target audience' position with 'a significant section of the target audience', as the earlier proposition seems to leave me open to the accusation that I'm okay if only 49% of the audience get turned into murdering scumbags :?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:29 pm 
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I agree that banning films and the ensuing controversy can raise the demand for them.
Films can also make bad people worse. I have heard stories of (it is before my time admittedly) gangs turning up to parties at the time of the banning of Clockwork Orange dressed up as that gang and determined to cause trouble. These people would have caused trouble anyway but it added fuel to their fire.
People of a like mind will seek out controversial films to add grist to their mill.
I myself found Clockwork Orange overlong and confusing.
I watched the first Saw film and disliked it enough not to watch any of the sequels but I wouldn't say ban it.
I don't know if Grotesque will get any followers but it would have probably slipped quickly into oblivion if it hadn't been banned.
I don't go with the theory that horror films turn previously innocent people into murders etc.
8)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:34 pm 
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Good observations, Pete. My experience with the suicide allegedly (I emphasise) connected to Ghostwatch: it's important you say "how we will act on them, and to what degree it could be reasonably anticipated that we will do so." Could it be argued I could have anticipated that one person might have, could have, done such a thing after watching my show which freaked out many people? In fact, the Coroner into the death did not make mention of the programme. But - if I could turn the clock back?

Anyway, I think about when Hitchcock was berated by somebody when a killer had struck again after watching "Psycho".... the great man said "What did he do before his first murder? Drink a pint of milk?"


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:37 pm 
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Paul, what can I say? A Clockwork Orange is in my top five films of all time. A brilliant satire about the individual versus the state, the perils of liberalism, the absurdities in society, law enforcement, culture, etc etc etc. :-)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:14 pm 
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"A Clockwork Orange" wasn't banned as such, but withdrawn in the UK at the request of the director, when death threats were made to him and his family. I love the film, but one of the top five films of all time when there are four "Die Hards" and two "Charlie's Angels"... I think not :lol:

There's a fine line between creative licence and artistic responsibility. Yes, in general there's a responsibility on the artist, whatever medium, to take on board the possibility their work might provoke people to harm either themselves or others (an exception might be overtly political work aimed at the overthrow of a tyranny), but on the other hand you can't allow such considerations to hamper you unduly, or we'd never take any risks for fear of provoking an unwelcome response, and that way lies the death of creativity.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:33 pm 
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richdodgin wrote:
Just read "Bryson Feeds Families" by T.F. Davenport.

Wow.

I definitely want to read more by this writer.


Thanks, Rich!

Andy: Shame on you! Actually, the typo is not so bad. I didn't even notice it when I looked at my contributor's copy - it fits the narrator's Kansas accent pretty well, actually.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:42 pm 
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Pete you expressed that better than I ever could, so I will sleep easy tonight! :-)

By the way I always believed that "A Clockwork Orange" was withdrawn by Kybrick, as you said, however when researching Mary Whitehouse for my Black Static piece I came across a quote that said she was responsible for banning it. Possibly she got it banned in certain towns or counties prior to Kubrick's blanket withdrawal. That, or she just bragged about it, and lied.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:18 pm 
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Clockwork Orange a satire?
I never saw it like that.
I think I'll give it another go next time it comes on the tele.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:53 pm 
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I've just been having a look through Whitehouse's book "Whatever happened to sex?", which I read many moons ago (sometimes I take this 'trying to see the other person's point of view' lark to masochistic lengths). She has a five page rant about "A Clockwork Orange", but doesn't make any claims for a general ban, so I think the 'certain towns' option is the most likely. In fact, though the book was written in 1977, four years after Kubrick withdrew the film, she doesn't mention his doing so.

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