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Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 3:26PM   |  31 comments
censorship

Blog written by Ann Michel and Phil Wilde, principals, Insights International

 

Censorship.

 
It's everywhere.  
 
Sometimes overt, sometimes covert.  
 
Some of it is open, much of it is subtle.
  
In America, certain swear words are not allowed in broadcasting.  
 
Sexual imagery is either banned, or, depending on your purpose and audience, featured.  
 
In the age of the internet, who are our censors?  
 

 


31 Comments

This is a good question. We see censorship everywhere, TV, radio and film. With movies however, the real censorship was during the production code and then progressed to a rating system so i guess that is still a form of censorship based on your age. With internet, it makes it harder for authorities to censor what people are watching or for parents keeping an eye on what their children might be watching. For certain popular websites like youtube and facebook, there is censorship. Even though anyone can post, the employees of both websites will take off any inappropriate posts they find on the site. Also, users can report inappropriate posting to the officials as well. As for other website that might contain graphic content, it's up to the browser if they want to view the site or not. For the most part, anyone is able to create their own website and put pretty much any content on it that they wish. With the internet, censorship gets more and more difficult to maintain.

You are forgetting self-censorship, which can be just as powerful. When a creator decides to cut a segment from their film, either to get a lower age rating (R vs. PG-13) or to avoid criticism or controversy, they are engaging in censorship. While I disagree with certain types of censorship, you cannot escape censorship as a whole. It is a common act and is necessary in the creative process. Creators censor things from audiences to make their final piece of work what they want. I believe that censorship, at least, when it is done by the creators of the work, is an integral part of creating cinema.

I think that morality and opinion are important parts of censorship on the internet. Some posters do not care what they are exposing other people to, and some people may not think some content should even be hidden.

Even on the radio I hear controversial words that are not censored that would have caused an uproar in past times. With changing times does that content that gets censored also change?

Another idea I'd like to express about censorship...Through the various art forms we express ourselves, including but not limited to cinema, we notice the recurring and often pestilent hindrance of censorship that seems to invade nearly every published work. I find myself often thinking about this...and if censorship were to not exist, what exactly we would find ourselves watching and listening to?

Another question I may pose, and have wondered: Outside of what everyone sees censorship doing, which is usually along the lines of barring creative freedom and so on, are there any other problems with censorship worth facing. Henry Commager, a famous historian wrote many years ago: “The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”

And some may argue that discretion is nothing more than a product of censorship. The fact remains that censorship is an inscrutable force, one that will always be around. But artists have fought valiantly for their work to be presented uncensored, or as it was intended....and also, doesn't it take a lot to be censored? For instance, i see the show jackass, or some movies today and they seem to be the opposite of censored..so what does qualify censorship?

Echoing Shane's quote of Henry Commager, censorship often seems either self-defeating or works in a way that is reactionary and intuitive but ends up not panning out. I remember in Kirby Dick's "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," Kevin Smith mentioned how silly it is that teenagers and young children can not go see "Saving Private Ryan" because it has so much gore and realistic war violence, and yet a James Bond movie shows countless people being killed indiscriminately, gets a PG-13 rating, and it somehow never occurs to us why young people can not grasp the gravity of death and continue to think that guns are "cool."

Then again, along with what James mentioned, there exists self-censorship. In this case, I might actually be going against the grain in thinking that I wish more artists would practice a little humility and self-censor their work. Sometimes you are so committed to preserving your vision that you do not stop to think whether or not your vision might be potentially harmful to the people who view it. For instance, I don't think David Fincher wanted as many people to misinterpret "Fight Club" as being for the things it is actually satiring. But the fact is that many people see "Fight Club" as a pro-masculine, pro-anarchy film in spite of his original intentions, and he deserves some flack for making a film that, for at least a large part, conveys the opposite message to some people than it actually intends.

Do you think that, in some ways, filmmakers have a responsibility to make films that will not cause harm to society? And if we insist that most formal censorship is bad, then what sort priorities should there be for the self-censoring social filmmaker?

Very good points Ian. And it's clear the censorship is a moving target. Yesterday's taboos become today's norm.

And what images, and for that matter, actual events, "harm" children? An amazing number of children survive very real holocausts (think Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, etcetcetc)and grow up to have full lives.....does censorship "protect" anyone?



This is a very valid subject to be discussed. Censorship has definitely always existed, since the time when it was inappropriate for girls to even show the flesh of their legs. Nowadays, legs are the least or our worries when it comes to what is being exposed to the public. Now we are able to literally see anything we really desire to see, so long as we have a working computer and an internet connection. From the sexually explicit to even people being killed, as well as the simple things like kittens wrestling or a sped up image of a flower blossoming, everything can be seen on a whim with the internet. The fact that we have all of this easy access to anything we want sometimes makes it almost comical when swears are blocked in a movie or a song. We figure, "We see and hear that all of the time, there's no point in blocking it out." And for as long as there have been words that we are not allowed to say, there has also been the large number of people who continue to say those words. Before celebrities and other well-known people were overexposed all of the time through videos and pictures and audio recordings, people could not be sure of how widespread the things actually were that society was attempting to censor from them. Now thanks to the ability to capture and view people at any time through media, we can see that things once believed to be off-limits and terrible, are actually done by everyone out there. In my opinion, this takes away the fun of some things, such as being able to see your favorite actors as glamorous Hollywood icons, when on every street corner there's a magazine with a picture of them in sweatpants taking out their trash.

So on either end of the matter, we can ask ourselves, is all of this "censorship" really protecting us from something, or has the media already shown us too much? Is it in the long run taking away from some excitement and mystery that once prevailed? Having too little censorship overall in society, with everything being available to us at any time and being far too overexposed, may actually be taking away from some of the magic or curiosity of the unknown that once existed.

This is a very valid subject to be discussed. Censorship has definitely always existed, since the time when it was inappropriate for girls to even show the flesh of their legs. Nowadays, legs are the least or our worries when it comes to what is being exposed to the public. Now we are able to literally see anything we really desire to see, so long as we have a working computer and an internet connection. From the sexually explicit to even people being killed, as well as the simple things like kittens wrestling or a sped up image of a flower blossoming, everything can be seen on a whim with the internet. The fact that we have all of this easy access to anything we want sometimes makes it almost comical when swears are blocked in a movie or a song. We figure, "We see and hear that all of the time, there's no point in blocking it out." And for as long as there have been words that we are not allowed to say, there has also been the large number of people who continue to say those words. Before celebrities and other well-known people were overexposed all of the time through videos and pictures and audio recordings, people could not be sure of how widespread the things actually were that society was attempting to censor from them. Now thanks to the ability to capture and view people at any time through media, we can see that things once believed to be off-limits and terrible, are actually done by everyone out there. In my opinion, this takes away the fun of some things, such as being able to see your favorite actors as glamorous Hollywood icons, when on every street corner there's a magazine with a picture of them in sweatpants taking out their trash.

So on either end of the matter, we can ask ourselves, is all of this "censorship" really protecting us from something, or has the media already shown us too much? Is it in the long run taking away from some excitement and mystery that once prevailed? Having too little censorship overall in society, with everything being available to us at any time and being far too overexposed, may actually be taking away from some of the magic or curiosity of the unknown that once existed.

I think that in the end we are our own censors aren't we? You choose where we want to go and what content to view. That being said I can see that we are not always in control of the advertisement media we are hit with and in that respect we cannot censor out those types of images but, for the most part, we can expect certain content in advertisements with conjunction of the website we choose to go to. With the exception of children which require people to censor the internet for them, aren't we, in the end, responsible for our own actions online? Do we really need someone else facilitating that?


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When it comes to the Internet, I believe we are the censors. Anyone can post anything on the Internet, but it is up to the creator to decide what he or she wants to display. I agree with James Earl that creators censor pieces to fit for their audience. There is no real way of censoring things on the Internet, so now the question is, is that good or bad? Should there be a universal form of censorship over the Internet? Or should the Internet be left as our escape from limitations?

The internet has become an ever evolving medium where the possibilities are endless. This has become a popular topic of controversy because there has been thoughts of how to censor the internet. Because it is such a large operation and new websites and material are created everyday, the possibility of censorship is small. As it has been stated in earlier posts with a medium like the internet we have to become the gatekeepers and self-censor the material we view. With parental control and firewalls parents can censor what their children can see and this can be a crucial element to protecting them from inappropriate material. The internet does allow for people to express their ideas freely which can be helpful and hurtful, but viewers should rely on their own sense of morals as a way of self-censorship.

After reading Ethan Burnette's post, I couldn't help but have the same reaction. In today's hyper-consumerist world, where an individual is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements a day, spends 13 hours a week online (according to a Harris poll: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/average_internet_user_spends_13_hours_week_online), and watches four hours of television a day, it is impossible to rely on censors to block out unwanted material and advertisements. For example, although I have "spam blockers" on my e-mail, I still receive hundreds on e-mails from stores and online websites that I visit. The same goes for film and television. What may seem appropriate to one viewer (say the parent of a five year old) may be inappropriate to another. An individual can't be too reliant on censorship. So, as Ethan Burnette said, we have to be our own censors. We need to choose what to watch, watch to "flick" past (like a TV commercial), and what websites we visit.

In the age of the Internet, the censor is ourselves. Much of traditional media works on a system of certain governing bodies having control over what types of imagery can be shown or what kind of language can be heard. The Internet, however, has no regulator like the FCC and so is largely self regulated. The only real exception to this is that governments can control information that is being hosted within their national borders but have considerably less control over outside sources.

Basically, the Internet has torn down traditional media outlets which were controlled releases of material that was censored for the masses. Now it is much easier to access information and media that would formerly be considered underground. In the modern day, we are more apt to censor our own media in order to reach a broader audience (you aren't about to see Mark Zuckerberg send a message to all Facebook users that is rife with swear words, for instance).

This coincides with a dramatic paradigm shift in at least the united states as to what is appropriate for TV and Film. The barriers of what is acceptable are expanding at a rapid rate as a likely result of the "controversial" material that Internet users can access at will. As the culture becomes more desensitized we see the rating system adapt. A recent example is that Easy A was rated PG-13, a movie whose sexually charged content would have placed it as an R as recently as 10 years ago I can almost guarantee.

Depending on the type of media and where one chooses to show his or her work, there may be many censors. For example, if you have a film you've made that you would like to share on the Internet through Youtube, certain content that does not adhere to Youtube's terms of service (i.e. pornographic images) can be taken down and no longer may be distributed through that website. This works with many other popular web sites used for sharing media of all kinds. While it is possible to create your own web site and put whatever you want on it (providing it doesn't interfere with local laws about Internet obscenity), the way most people distribute media has certain limits. However, it is much more lenient than, say, television.

Censorship has and always will exist. However, since the invention of the internet, censorship has a much less important role. When television and cinema were the two biggest outlets of media, censorship was easy as pie. The internet came along, and opened the floodgates for vulgarity, lewdness, obscenity, and all that other good stuff. In the age of the internet, I do not believe in censorship when you can google search "human beheadings". There is child pornography online for gods sake, and even though it is illegal to watch it, there is still access to it. When it comes down to it, censoring curse words and breasts from our children is ridiculous and pointless. Censorship is necessary though, because of the sick stuff that any casual browser can find. Unfortunately, how do you police the web?

Censorship is a huge issue in the US because its own Bill of Rights prohibits it from controlling the flow media in any way. And in my opinion they are right to do so. It isn't up to a foreign entity to control what kids see and hear. Mainly because, no matter what laws and rules they try implementing, there will always be a way around the system.

The best way to control how the growing media affects kids is parents. Parents don't need to shelter their kids from all the issues in the world, but instead teach them how to act when they see all this explicit material and how not to let it change them for the worst.

Our censors are everywhere, from the people who make the movie, to the people who make it possible for us to see the movie.
The latter is different for everyone from the people who control what movie is accessible the the movie theater near you, to the people who put the ratings on the movies, to your parents.
Other people are always censoring us, whether we like it or not. There are new ways to get around things like movie ratings, like downloading movies illegally, which is what most people resort to to get around the censorship.
You are never too old to be censored, yes most censorship happens when you are younger, but a lot of times you might not even realize you are being censored, because limiting the accessibility of the movies in the theaters is a type of censorship.

When it comes to censorship, it's important to address the concept internationally. Censorship in Europe and Latin America is much less strict than in the US. Content that would be considered offensive or questionable in the US is shown without second thought abroad. However, when compared to China or some Middle Eastern countries, the censorship varies. The question of what to censor especially on the internet remains a slippery slope; who gets to decide what is appropriate or not? The power of the web means that oversight is harder and harder to grasp.

In the age of the internet, our censors our truly ourselves. Today, the internet is a vast cyberspace of anything and everything. Any person in the world can go online and create a blog, publish a photograph, or join a chatting site and no one thinks twice. However, in movies, censorship is controlled through the rating system. You have to be of age 17 to be legally allowed to view movies with extreme violence, sexuality, and gore. However, these rating are only upheld in the movie theaters; once the movie is released to the public on DVD, we are our own censors once more. That being said, is there anything else that could or should be done to keep younger viewers from watching content labelled inappropriate?

Unlike other mediums, the internet has no official censors. Like other contributors to other mediums, the smart contributor to the internet will censor himself or herself. They want an audience, and to attract viewers they must censor themselves by adding and subtracting from their contribution as they think the audience will see fit. The internet can almost be compared with the graffitied walls of Classical Rome: there are countless of messages that are added for many different purposes. The author must try to reach the target audience and make the purpose clear if it is to have the desired impact. The principles are the same on the internet.

I believe that we are our own censors. Those who censor our programming try to reflect the values of our society. Censorship has good intentions most of the time, but can easily reinforce racial, sexual, and hetero normative ideals. In regards to the internet, those who censor are also trying to uphold the morals and values of our society, but fail to do so because of technological impracticalities. All one needs to do is say that they are 18 or 21 in order to see certain web pages; showing proof is almost impossible to do.

I totally agree with Amelia’s post. We are our own censors. The media is just a mirror of our society – it shows what people want to see and would go to see. People set limits, because it is easier to survive with clear boundaries, which restrain them.

I'd like to refer to "Rubber Stamp Film", when we see a stamp of a large TV. Shortly after, we hear a voiceover that says, "Meanwhile, back in real life...", and then we see another television. I believe that this comments on the fact that media shapes what we consider to be real life, or at least a portion of real life. Censorship, I feel, is irrelevant, because there are so many other outlets in which people learn information, especially in today's day and age. Television is a medium in which you can find severe censorship as well as explicit content just by changing the channel. The goal of censorship is obsolete at this point; it just doesn't achieve much anymore.

The internet is a new media that we haven't been able to control. There are too many people to set up parameters that certain things shouldn't be shared or said. There are some sites that attempt to block people under 17 from watching but that blocker itself will drive them to fake their birth date and see what they shouldn't be seeing. I believe that the internet will never be censored or that it should. People have the right to their opinions and messages. There is some terrible things out there but blocking it doesn't change the fate that those things happen.

If you have a problem with seeing something then don't watch it. Also if you have a child who you want to give a safer internet experience then get a nice blocker program but know that blockers can't stop everything.

Censorship is little more than another manifestation of the inability of the average person to take responsibility for what enters his or her consciousness. We cannot accept the fact that some ideas cannot be expressed in "politically correct" ways. Sometimes, the sheer frustration of a person caused by a situation can only be expressed through vulgarity. In many cases, a historical event cannot be accurately depicted without portraying the violence, vice, and/or sexuality associated with it. When one thinks back to the most "powerful" movies of the past thirty years, they are overwhelmingly populated with unsavory themes, be they drugs, rape, brutal violence, and so on. While some films do use these adult-oriented themes to excess, thereby taking away any possible meaning they may connote, we must learn to accept the use of such elements as a right of the artist. If you have a problem with said themes, it is your responsibility to avoid them.

The idea of censorship is very complex, and one that cannot be precisely blamed on one group of people. Although there are groups that do overtly censor with the intention to do so. Usually we are the biggest censors, and we try to tailor our work to what would be accepted, not necessarily by everyone, but to those who matter, be it critics, friends or peers.

Censorship has been an issue for hundreds of years, starting with literature and then continuing into the new mediums of film and television in the 20th century. During the time of the Hays Production Code in Hollywood, filmmakers found creative ways to say or show what they wanted to. These days, however, we have ratings for films based on the number of swear words and the amount of sexual content. The internet, on which anyone can post anything, of any content, is far more difficult to censor. There are programs that allow parents to control what sites their children can and can't go to, but I think there are some ethical problems with this (depending on the age of the child, that is). The only real solution for censorship on the Internet is, in my opinion, for each individual to only access the Websites and videos that thy themselves feel comfortable with. They may occasionally come across things they don't want to see or read by mistake, but for the most part if one stays away from "the dark side" of the Internet, he/she will be able to stay away from any content he/she isn't comfortable with.

in the age of the internet, we are our own censors. we decide what we want to see and what we don't want to see. Today, the internet is so vast that one can find anything in just a matter of seconds. from pornography to violence and other types of vulgarity, the internet offers an outlet for some of the most unimaginable things. it is up to us to discover how far we really want to go and what we really want to see. yes, the internet is an amazing tool, but it can also be scary to realize just how interconnected the world is and how much we actually want to know about the world around us that is sometimes very graphic.

In the age of the internet, WE must act as our own censors. On the internet we are in international waters, so to speak. Topics like child pornography aside, different cultures value different things and all of them have a hand in contributing to the world wide web. In England, for instance, sexuality is not as private and taboo in public discussion. So, if you don't want to hear about it, don't go searching for it. Set your internet filters to suit your own personal needs and preferences. The entire world cannot be responsible for every single person's likes, dislikes, and sensitivities.

Those who say we must act as our censors are correct, but I do not think they are considering children, who don't possess enough judgment to effectively act as their own censors. Parents can't as closely monitor their internet activity as they can with movies or videogames, which parents are in charge of purchasing. On the internet children have instant access to whatever they want, wether it's pornography or videos of violence (both real and fictional). The internet however is the future (and even the present)and with every notable advance in the history human civilization it's easy to find upsides and downsides. I like to focus on these upsides, such as the internet becoming a place for pure unfiltered expression, creative and otherwise.



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