All Articles Tagged "censorship"
This Thursday was meant to be opening day for Django Unchained in China, but abruptly and without full explanation, the film was pulled from theaters. In some cases it was pulled while audiences were actually in the theater.
China is very restrictive about the media that reaches its citizens, whether broadcast and print media, Internet news, or entertainment. According to The New York Times, American movies are routinely edited (read: censored) because there’s no ratings system and everything that’s pushed out has to be appropriate for children and adults alike. That means less blood and gore, no nudity, and less violence. Because movie makers stand to make a ton of money from the Chinese market, they go along with this. The paper says that Django director Quentin Tarantino actually played a role in altering the movie before it was sent to China. Nevertheless, a confused Sony spokesperson told Deadline Hollywood in an email, “We regret that Django Unchained has been removed from theaters and are working with the Chinese authorities to determine whether the film can be rescheduled.”
A moviegoer told The Wall Street Journal‘s China Realtime Report blog that about a minute into his viewing of the movie, the lights came on and “several people in suits” entered the theater and offered everyone a refund. That’s like something out of a movie that the Chinese government would never let its people see.
China Film Group and the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television, the organizations that regulate films in China, aren’t talking yet. But bloggers are.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, online writers in China are openly saying that they’re going to get their hands on pirated copies of the movie and watch it on their own.
“While many bloggers have expressed surprise about the Chinese censors giving the film the green light – with its Chinese distributors, Sony China, confidently claiming the film will be released in full with just minor adjustments in the color and extent of blood being shed on screen – the news of the film’s sudden fall from grace still astounded many,” the article says. Some have said that the incident reflects poorly on the Chinese government, which is trying to put a good face forward internationally.
You can mess with a lot of things. But once you start fooling around with people’s entertainment, they take matters into their own hands.
Kameron Slade won a class speech competition and that allowed him to be part of the school wide speech competition at P.S. 195 in Queens, NY. Instead of taking on a topic that many other students would probably pick, 10 year old Cameron decided on something else: same sex marriage. Kameron, along with his mother and teacher, worked diligently on the speech so that he would be prepared for last Friday’s competition.
He didn’t get to do the speech because just two days before, the principal told Kameron’s unidentified mother that he needed to change the topic or be removed from the contest. Although Kameron changed the topic (he spoke on animal cruelty) and subsequently lost the speech contest, his opinions on same sex marriage conversations as it pertains to children apparently remained the same:
“There is no point in really trying to hide it because us children, we are going to figure it out some time now or later.”
When news fthis story broke on NY1, there was immediate outrage from gay and lesbian advocates and caused Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to speak on what was happening. Walcott said the principal, also unnamed, felt she needed to connect with the parent community first because of the nature of the topic. A final decision was made on Friday that Kameron would be allowed to deliver the speech at an assembly at the school on Monday. If any parents have problem with their child hearing the speech, they’re encouraged to contact the principal.
Interesting indeed. There would likely be some children in the audience who would might still be sheltered from knowing about same sex relationships and marriage so to find out from a fellow student might be a bit much. On the other hand, children today learn a lot about social happenings while being in school so it’s possible that it would have been easier to understand coming from a classmate.
Do you think the principal made the correct decision? Would you have been upset if a speech like that was delivered in front of your child? What is a good age to talk to your children aboutgay and lesbian relationships?
A picture of a nude captured African woman being trophied around by a white man has been deemed too explicit for Facebook.
NO one knows for sure the identity of the people in the photo, the origins of the photo or if it is even real. However it has spread through the newsfeeds of many black users of the social networking site for the last week – that was until Facebook abruptly took it down. I first saw the photo earlier this week when fellow Facebook friend, local attorney and activist Michael Coard shared the photo from one of his friends. The image is both striking and haunting, offering up all sorts of commentary about the objectification of black women, our bodies both past and present. And according to Philadelphia Magazine, which first picked up the story, before the image was removed the photo generated dozens of comments and shares.
The author of the Philly Magazine piece contacted Facebook, which responded back to the request by saying, “The company does not “make any exemptions for nudity due to an image’s documentary context.” The statement went on to explain Facebook’s official terms.
“You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” But Facebook’s own Community Standards page makes it clear that there are, in fact, some exceptions to its nudity rule, such as a photo of “a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”
Coard believes that Facebook’s Community Standards policies might be a bit racially insensitive and verging on censorship. However, in the same week that Facebook went public, the company banned the photos of one grieving mother’s deceased infant son, who was born with a rare disorder, Anencephaly, which prevents the brain from developing. Likewise, the site social networking site banned several photographs of a woman showing the scars from her triumphant defeat of breast cancer for being ‘pornography’. And most recently, about 60 protestors gathered at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. and staged a nurse-in to rally against the widespread censorship of photos showing mother’s nursing.
So while the removal of the picture of the nude African woman might have some racial components to it, I think what is much more prevalent is how easily Facebook can deem any part of the female form (including childbirth, which is usually associated with womanhood) pornographic, regardless of the context. The same site, which allowed “pro-rape” joke groups to remain active for several months (and only be removed after intense public pressure), now has a no-tolerance policy to breastfeeding moms and historical images of nude African women as captives. All of this makes it appear that Facebook not only hasn’t figured out how to differentiate between pornographic and healthy exploration of the female form but how inadequate it has been in taking their own rules regarding violent statements and possible criminal behavior against women seriously.
For a social networking site built on the concept that it’s users live to be an open book for the world to view and share alike, Facebook certainly appears repressive when it comes to certain aspects of a person’s life, particularly those involving the fairer sex. So what do you all think? Is Facebook Community Standards policy justified in the removal of pictures they deem offensive such as women breastfeeding or nude African female captives? Or does the social networking site have issues with women?
Imagine working for the CIA for 23 years, spending some of that time interrogating suspected terrorists using methods that might be illegal. When the time comes to share your personal experiences, your former employer chooses to use its power to block your freedom of expression. This is exactly what happened to Glenn Carle, whose book “The Interrogator” was published in June of this year — only after heavy meddling by the CIA. Carle’s memoir was published with heavy black bars through extensive passages of the tome to show where the CIA had demanded omissions — even for information that was common knowledge. The CIA took over complete control of how it was portrayed in another human being’s story.
These invasions were committed in an effort to prevent readers from perceiving a text published by a CIA veteran as being a confirmation by the CIA of anything the agency wanted to remain secretive about, including the emotional effects of its tactics. If that sounds convoluted, so is the reasoning behind it. Salon.com reports on the CIA’s logic in violating this individual’s legal rights:
…Carle complained when the [CIA] insisted on cutting information from his book that was already common knowledge. Two reasons are offered for such demands. One is the “mosaic theory of classification,” characterized by Carle as “one of the most harmful consequences of eight years of the Bush administration. And that is not a partisan statement.” [...]
The mosaic theory alleges that pieces of information that may seem innocuous enough on their own — including material that has already been cleared by the CIA — can, when combined with similar pieces of information, present a potential threat that might be of use to the enemy. “By that rationale,” Carle observed, “you should take every chemistry textbook out of every high school in America.” [...]
The other justification the agency commonly offers for redacting material is that some facts, although widely known, have not been officially acknowledged by the agency or the U.S. government. If the CIA were to approve a book stating those facts, it would supposedly amount to an acknowledgment.
The CIA has also been in the news recently for interfering with the publication of a book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, which is highly critical of “[the CIA's] use of brutal interrogation techniques in the decade since 9/11,” also according to Salon. The CIA appears to want unlimited power to prevent eye witnesses from sharing their accounts of the agency’s perhaps unethical practices — methods justified by the war on terror.
(AllHipHop News) Rapper Kanye West’s music was among the songs officially banned from the Internet in China, the Ministry of Culture department has announced. Kanye’s hit song “E.T.” with Katy Perry was officially banned from the Internet and even personal websites.
(Slate) — Most discussions of “government and the Internet” focus oncontent regulation: Should there be a law against cyberbullying? Sanctions against companies who help Wikileaks? What about Egypt shutting down the Internet? These days, such questions are raised in the United States only by extreme behavior, the electronic equivalents of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. For the most part, there is broad political, legal, and social consensus that government shouldn’t fiddle with how information flows in a free society. But the ideal of neutral government is a mirage. Government hasalways played a significant role in how we communicate.
Is rewriting and censoring someone’s creation for textual purity a bad idea? Should controversial books such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (“Huck Finn”) and To Kill a Mockingbird (“TKM”) be updated for modern times? These are two questions that have recently created a substantial outcry relative to the classic novels by Mark Twain and Harper Lee.
Without equivocation, Huck Finn and TKM are two of the greatest works in American literature, as objectively evidenced by their widespread readership in our nation’s classrooms and around the globe. These two texts are also extremely polemical in nature because of their inherent racial stereotypes and relatively heavy usage of racial slurs and have been consequently banned in various places. In an effort to overcome the controversial aspect of Huck Finn, NewSouth Books plans to release a version in February that will replace the “n” word with “slave” and replace the slur “injun” when referencing Native Americans.
And, there have been discussions of making similar changes in TKM. Some commentators have voiced strong opinions that this type of censorship should not be implemented, because it is predicated on erasing racism as if it never happened. Other critics and readers believe that the changes to Huck Finn and the proposed modifications to TKM are necessary and will result in more people being able to truly enjoy these narratives. Are both viewpoints valid? Absolutely.
Since the election of President Obama, there are certain individuals who believe that we now live in a post-racial and colorblind America, where racism and bigotry have come to an end and divisive and artificial categorizations (i.e., races) cease to remain. In congruence with this train of thought, some people believe that talking about the days when the “n” word was “acceptable” is no longer needed.
To be sure, it would be great if discourse about the struggles and the colorful vernacular that was used to describe the fictional slave Jim and Tom Robinson in Huck Finn and TKM, respectively, was somehow no longer relevant. Although these thoughts are lofty and utopian in nature, one has to be honest that we, as a whole, do not live in a post-racial America where the thought of race is nonexistent and people are seen and judged by their character in lieu of skin pigmentation.
We continue to live in a society where racial injustices and xenophobia are fairly ubiquitous though more subtle in nature. Thus, efforts to censor the historical backdrops of these texts where African-Americans and Native Americans were treated in a sub-human fashion and to erase Twain and Lee’s courageous critiques of racism, segregation and lynchings can certainly be seen as a euphemistic “whitewashing” of a necessary history that must be consistently told to prevent repeating.
Relative to critics and readers who believe that the changes to only one version of Huck Finn and the proposed modifications to one printing of TKM are necessary, their assessment is also quite plausible to a certain degree. Although Twain and Lee were both bold in their respective times for penning works that aimed to decry barbaric acts and to promote humane sensibility, one has to question the overabundance of racial epithets in their novels to achieve these goals. It is relatively safe to state the fact that the “n” word appearing 217 times in Huck Finn and 48 times in TKM is overwhelming. This certainly makes the teaching of such novels fairly difficult for certain teachers, and it also creates an atmosphere where certain students can be very uneasy and uncomfortable.
Thus, to replace the “n” word with “slave” and replace the slur “injun” when referencing Native Americans in Huck Finn and to make similar changes in TKM can certainly resonate well among children of all ethnicities without diluting the overall themes of love, compassion and courage.
On the whole, despite the controversy, the intended result of having more people, including young readers, being able to enjoy narratives such as Huck Finn and TKM should be worth the changes.
Anthony Jerrod is a bestselling author, speaker, and public policy expert.
(UPI) — U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. said parents in the future could have the option of censoring 16 radio stations that feature adult content. Ford said it would extend the capabilities of its “MyKey” system, which lets the car discriminate between different drivers depending on which key is used to start the car. Parents can already use the system to control the car’s top speed and mute the sound system until seat belts are buckled. The new enhancement could allow them to block Howard Stern’s radio show, Hip Hop Nation and other programs channeled through Sirius Satellite Radio, USA Today reported Wednesday.
(Raw Story) — It’s no secret that Rev. Al Sharpton isn’t a fan of Rush Limbaugh. Now Sharpton is hoping the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will finally do something about the conservative radio host. Sharpton told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Monday that he is conducting a series of meetings with the FCC to see if anything can be done to put a stop to what Schultz called Limbaugh’s “racist-type talk.” ”We have a series of meetings going on, and we’re going to see the FCC next week,” Sharpton said. “We’re not going to stand by and allow publicly regulated radio and television just go for marketing and promoting this kind of racism.”
(Daily Finance) — Networks ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking viewers from accessing their programs through Google’s (GOOG) Web TV service, demonstrating the challenges Google faces in getting content for its new product.Users can’t watch full-length episodes of show’s including NBC’s “The Office” and ABC’s “Modern Family” on Google TV, The Wall Street Journal said. Google TV allows people to access the Internet and search for Web videos on their TV screens. Companies including Sony Corp (SNY) are already selling devices that use the software. ”Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owners’ choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.