Do we really need film censorship?
Do we really need film censorship? : The Central Board of Film Certification, the regulatory film body of India, regularly orders directors to remove anything it deems offensive, including sex, nudity, violence or subjects considered politically subversive.
Do we really need film censorship?
What is censorship?
Censorship can be broadly defined as the suppression of knowledge or ideas. They are used by Governments or organisations to prevent the circulation of material. In wartime information about troop activities, future battle plans etc., will be censored. In peacetime censorship can be more problematic and controversial.
The Censorship of films:
Censorship of art dates back to the early 16th century when Roman magistrates would censere or assess and give their opinion about various arts which would affect public life. By the first decade of the twentieth century, film censorship boards had come up in various parts of the world.
In different countries, films are censored to monitor for varying levels of social and political issues, the depiction of which may be deemed disturbing for the people. Violence, sexual content, abusive language, drug use, abusive content, revolutionary content, and human rights violations are common factors that come under the censorship “snip”. Censorship has been used as a political vehicle disallowing ideas contrary or inimical to the regime.
The film rating system is one of the most common forms of censorship in any country.
Film censorship in India:
The Central Board of Film Certification, the regulatory film body of India, regularly orders directors to remove anything it deems offensive, including sex, nudity, violence or subjects considered politically subversive. In India, the film censor board members have been chosen from among industry veterans, public office holders, renowned intellectuals, and public leaders.
Is censorship really necessary or needed?
Effects of media on the audience have mainly been conducted in relation to TV audiences and focussed on the issue of violence. For example, in laboratory conditions children have been shown violent film clips and then their behaviour has been monitored afterwards to see if they act more aggressively than a control group that has not been shown violent films.
Content Analysis has also been employed to count the number of acts of violence, violent language and related actions in a specific film. A high score would rate the film as being more likely to inspire aggressive reactions than a low scoring film.
Polls and surveys, and test screenings are another means of determining how an audience responds to a film.
Critics claim that such studies are limited as they do not consider the wider context of the film and its effect on the viewer. A direct cause and effect – viewing a violent film causing aggressive behaviour – has been very hard to establish on a scientific basis.
According to the Supreme Court of India:
“Film censorship becomes necessary because a film motivates thought and action and assures a high degree of attention and retention as compared to the printed word. The combination of act and speech, sight and sound in semi darkness of the theatre with elimination of all distracting ideas will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions…” (Wikipedia)
But if movies affect human mind and behaviour so much than it is not in anyone’s hand to control. It means censorship can censor some scenes of the movie but it cannot control incepting ideas indirectly by movies.
As scenes of smoking have been censored in India and it is compulsory to show notice of injuries of smoking. But in the movies central character, like hero or protagonist is smoking, no one will going to read the given notice but the impact of that scene affects viewers mind that to smoke is a heroic act.
Considering cinema as one genre of art, it also shows mirror of society, mirror to society. If all the movies deal with moral messaging or preaching than who will going to see them?! And with so many morals it becomes religious preacher.
If movies are about human life and for humans, if it is showing all human emotions than, there must be all emotions, all Rasas, including disgust or erotic or fury etc.
In ‘modern’ time movies are not melodramatic; they have not all good or virtuous things to say. Modern Indian cinema is becoming more ‘life like’. It tries to express all human emotions in more realistic way. There is no melodrama, no exaggeration, and no supernatural elements.
But we should also not forget that, recent movies have more number of vulgar scenes, have been put by the directors so as to collect high revenues for the movie.
Expression of human emotions is another thing, which is realistic and has more artistic ability. But at some extent, it is converted into vulgarity by some cheap movies. And slowly and steadily, this vulgarity becomes fashion. Now there is not any kind of realism but it becomes lusty and vulgar which can damage society and culture.
For example, objectification of female body. Some parallel movies, in context of their story and background, have portrayed women character in their gray shades, but the aim is to present reality. Like the movie Talash – which talks about prostitutes- prostitution.
But we can hardly find any recent popular movie which has not item song or vulgar song, lyrics, cheap double meaning comedy. With these types of movies, one can judge, not only taste of people, but culture and its mentality. For example recent movies of Sunny Leone, which has no reality, emotions or good story, there are only for earning money.
This type of objectification harms society, culture and increase crime ratio. For this reason film censorship is needed more.
Censorship can erase some of the vulgar and adult scenes from the movie, but the harm movie is doing cannot be controlled by censor board. Because when anything is banned or prohibited, it is seen more with excitement and amusement to know why it is prohibited. Indirect way whatever the movie is incepting cannot be controlled by anyone, by censor board.
To control harm of culture, youth or society, people should change their mentality. Movies also have to change. They must have mature, realistic content, not vulgar nude or violent.
It doesn’t mean that every movie has moral preaching or all virtuous things. Even religious books also don’t have all good things. There is violence in every religious book like Ramayana or Mahabharata. But films have at least mature content not cheap or vulgar that affects viewers mind so much.
At some extent film censorship is necessary to filter some movies, which is cheap and full of vulgarity. But when censorship becomes barrier to pure, free art, means realistic, critically appreciated movies; it becomes harmful to art and create bad impression of rigid society.
It also raises question of freedom of expression, if film censorship interferes much. But this freedom should not be turned into anarchy or chaos otherwise it creates culture chaotic and without morality or values.
The best Indian examples are…
In 2003 Indian censor board banned the film ‘Gulabi Aina‘ (Pink Mirror), a film on Indian transsexuals, produced by Shridhar Rangayan. The board cited that the film was vulgar and offensive. The film maker appealed twice again unsuccessfully. The film still remains banned in India.
But has screened at numerous festivals all over the world and won awards. The critics have appreciated it for its sensitive and touching portrayal of marginalized community.
So, film censorship has to understand and differentiate which movie presents human emotions in more realistic way and which movie is incepting vulgarity, violence and objectifying female body with its vulgar and cheap comments.
Board is necessary if it recognises films and their impact on society appropriately. But banning never helps to protect society, or to control culture. It shows rigidity and immaturity of society.
Society should be mature enough not only for making movies but to understand difference between real and imagined. And if society becomes so mature, free, acceptable and artistic, any kind of censorship is not needed. There will be complete freedom of expression, and even society or public will not accept, reject cheap or vulgar films automatically and they will never affect mature society any more…
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