Types of Censorship #1: Censoring for good taste

 

Examples to get the idea / Common items of bad taste in art today

 

Often we do need to censor for a matter of good taste and decency.

 

Remember, just because something happens in life, that does not mean we want to see it.

Or perhaps we only want to know the details at a certain time, when we are interested, and not thrown in gratuitously.

One point before I go on. In order to do this, I may have to be more graphic than normal. That is, to understand what it is I feel is in bad taste and should often be left out of art, I need to describe some of those things that are in bad taste. I don't normally like to talk about such things - but this is a place where it is appropriate.

 

Examples:

Butcher shop/slaughterhouse:

I am well aware of what I eat. I enjoy beef and chicken. I know these are animals. I see the cattle in Texas every day - its big business here. I realize that these animals have to be slaughtered - killed and cut up - so that I can enjoy eating the meat.

As a human, in the animal sense, I believe that we were meant to eat meat, just as a lion or hawk or many other animals.

But that does not mean I have to think about it, talk about it, or see it.

I pay someone else to do the unpleasant work, and I just use the meat in cooking my dinner.

My point... I know that there is a reality to my food, but that does not mean I want to have it shown or discussed, and certainly not in my art. It would be in bad taste.

 

Bathroom issues

Yes, we must do this every day.

But we don't need to know our hero does it. That would be boring. And unnecessary.

And most of all, its personal, kind of disgusting, and, well, we don't need to talk about it or show it.

 

Again, there is a reality, but we don't want that reality in our art.

It would be in bad taste.

 
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Common items of bad taste in art today:

Bathroom related

Vulgar language

Violence - in fake stories

Violence - in news, true items

Sex - too much of it, too detailed, detracts from drama, unnecessary to the story

Religion - offensive or disrespectful to religions

America and good people - disrespectful to good people, insulting America
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Bathroom related

Again - but more discussion with recent art:

 

Yes, we must do this every day.

But we don't need to know our hero does it. That would be boring. And unnecessary.

And most of all, its personal, kind of disgusting, and, well, we don't need to talk about it or show it.

 

Again, there is a reality, but we don't want that reality in our art.

Its bad taste.
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Vulgar language

Why use vulgar language?

You are obviously not very intelligent or imaginative if you can not come up with a better word.

 

It does not describe anything. It does not add to the scene.

So, the point of vulgar language is...?

 

Vulgar language can be cut from tv shows, movies and books because there is no reason for it.

If we cut the words, the scene will still be intact.

 

Vulgar language actually distracts from a scene. Even if I am watching a rented movie (so its all there), I get turned off by the vulgarity. I am no longer "into" the show. I wince each time I hear the words. You have just lost your audience.

Wasn't the point of you creating this work so that I could watch it? Well, I'm not anymore. You've just lost your audience.

And with tv shows -well - I know not to watch certain shows because of the bad language. Again, you've only lost your viewers, not gained them.

 

If you were taught to write, surely someone taught you the concept of diction. If you don't know what that means, look it up.

There are so many good words in the dictionary. You can find better words to express the situation.
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Violence - in fake stories

There is no reason for violence is tv and movies.

A talented writer and talented director can find ways to let us know the violence happened, for dramatic storytelling, without being graphic.

 

It seems many in television/movies are not aware of this, so let me remind you of a few old tricks to show violence without being graphic:

- Close-ups: Close up on the weapon. Close-up on the attacker.

- Viewing elsewhere: focus on the wall, on a pet in the same room.

- Darkness and silence: Screen goes black and no sound, just for a few seconds.

- Hearing: Hear the noise of the weapon but not see it. Hear a person shout, but don't see the person attacked.

- Out of range: this is a clever trick. For example, the person is knocked the floor. In real life, he rolls out of camera view. In the scene, the attacker kicks and whips and does whatever. In real life, the evil character actor is doing this attacking to an empty spot next to the other actor. It looks like the man is being hurt - but we don't actually see it.

 

The point of violence in a story should be for a dramatic purpose. Whether murder, rape, spy films, showing bullies, or whatever, the main purpose of violence should be for the point in the story.

 

There is the issue of accuracy. In a few cases, and make them limited and specific, some movies will try to show war in its reality. This falls into my category on the other page, of opening up the level of censorship for informational and dramatic purposes only, never for shock.

If you do make a film for this purpose, try to make it real. Stick to the facts in the battle. Make it representative - no more bloody than was really there. And tell more than just the battle, also show the people, their fears, their courage, their patriotism, their heroism, their discipline, their love of family... make sure you show all of that if you choose to show the violence.

 

We can easily be told the message, without being graphically violent.
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Violence - in news, true items

Violence in real life can also be censored.

We know what the violence in real life may look like. We have seen it, we have heard of it, and so most of the time we are not naive.

However, as I said with the cow and cutting up my beef, just because there is a reality, that doesn't mean we need to see it.

 

Rape, murder, aggravated assault, terrorism, third world torture, and even the just wars that we engage in, are all newsworthy. We do want to know.

Yet, we do not need to be shown the graphic details.

 

There are many fine points here - this is a fine, fine line. So lets look at some of the particulars:

1. For most stories, just describing it is good. We need to know about it, but we don't need to be shown the details.

This should be for most stories of aggrivated assault and violence in the news.

 

2. Some stories are important enough to be public, and videos are important enough to be shared.

Example: The Rodney King beating

Example: The looters in LA after the Rodney King verdict.

Example: Many examples of "peace" protestors who are actually themselves very violent.

Example: Recent hazing which got out of control.

All these are examples where we should be shown the violence. They are areas we didn't expect, groups of people who should know better, and something all of us must be aware of so that we can reduce this kind of thing in our own communities in the future.

 

3. Detailed stories, in words, can be good for serious items.

I'm thinking here of terrorism. Those from Iraq who have been tortured - they can share their stories, graphic as they are, so we all know what really went on.

Still, even if there are videos, it is best not to share them - just too graphic. These videos can be public in the sense that people can look at them to learn. But they should not be put in the nightly news.

 

4. War.

War is what it is.

Now we know what war involves. Even if you've never been there, you've heard stories from others, and you've seen films which tried to represent what it was like.

Even the books Red Badge of Courage and War and Peace, among others, give a pretty good idea.

News should censor a lot of what we see. The military is already censoring the media for security reasons. Yet beyond this, we do not need to see some of the details.

This is not "sanitizing." It is being civilized. We know what war is, we can guess at some of the things our great military saw. Some of our neighbors will come home with wounds. We don't need more than that.
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Sex - too much of it, too detailed, detracts from the drama, or unnecessary to the story

 
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Religion - offensive or disrespectful to religions

 
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America and good people - disrespectful to good people, insulting America

 

 

 

 

 
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