Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sucka say what!?

I was watching Pillars of the Earth last night, a mini-series being shown on REELS channel, based on the Ken Follet novel of the same name. Besides noticing that the truth of "the book was better than the movie" yet holds true, I couldn't help but notice something else as well.

Isn't it weird the way we censor things? Here you have violent scenes, including main, likable characters being violently murdered, battle scenes with blood splashing everywhere, and so forth... but the brief glimpse of a woman's nipple during a love scene is fuzzed out. That's television; movies are different, yet, the same rule holds true in principle. In whatever medium, the showing of sex and/or the body always lags behind what they show of violence and death.

Look at Braveheart-- you have two people get their throats cut open in full view with blood flowing and everything, you have people getting limbs cut off, or a pick-axe slammed into his head, or an dagger stuck in his eye, or his face crushed with a mace... this graphic violence gets an R rating. Graphic sex, though, gets an X rating; they didn't actually show William Wallace screwing Murron. I mean, you'll never see a penis in an R rated movie, at least no more than a very quick flash in a non-sexual scene. In fact, the only time I can remember such a thing occurring was in Eastern Promises, in the very bloody fight scene in the Russian sauna. Viggo Mortensen's character was naked, attacked, and there was the moment's flash of his groin as he was thrown across the room. As for the nether regions of a woman in an R movie? Forget about it; I bet it's never been done.

Doesn't it seem odd that it's far more acceptable to show ugly acts of violence, but not beautiful acts of love-making? Personally I'd rather children saw the latter, instead of the former; yet the taboo goes the other way, for what would the action movie be without a ten minute gunfight, the severed limbs, the splashes of blood? Even just the sight of a nipple requires a pixellated blur, or an uproar on the Super Bowl. But is this really more harmful for a child to see than the thousands of enacted murders a kid sees by the time he's ten?

We as a civilization are really freaky weird about our bodies. Here's another example, I can only think of two instances of people sitting on the toilet on TV or the movies: one of the Lethal Weapons movies, where Danny Glover is on the shitter when he realizes there's a bomb attached, and once on Two and a Half Men. I feel like there may have been a couple more, but the point stands: something we all do several times a day is almost never shown on the screen. It's okay to ruin the body, but not to celebrate it in the act of love or as a beautiful thing in itself, or even to use it in it's normal functions.

It's not that I really want to watch people taking a shit on TV, but I'm just saying it's weird the taboo we have about our bodies. I know where it comes from, sort of; in general a Christian thing. The Romans had communal toilets in their public baths-- a row of shitters without stalls or walls, and instead of toilet paper, had a sponge on a stick, one for each latrine, used by all comers, washed in water trough after each time. Imagine that, eh? Lord knows they were violent, with their gladiator games and such, and they also had their orgies, their feasts (where they'd often intentionally vomit so they could go and eat even more). I guess the Christians reacted to this vulgar sensuality and hedonism, and took it too far the other way.

I also find it irritating how they censor cuss words. If someone says "God dammit," they bleep the God and leave the dammit! That's pretty weird. I recognize the hierarchy of badness for words, from ass and hell being weak, to shit and fuck, on up to cunt and nigger (dependant on context). But I'm beginning to notice they're sometimes not bleeping shit anymore, which is promising. I'm pretty much against censorship as a rule, especially when the issue is "protecting the children" from stuff they already know and words they already say.


  1. Odd, indeed. I watch a lot of Asian TV and film, and in the TV especially, which can be very bloody and violent, sexual contact is so discreet as to be almost non-existent. A hand touching is like a rape scene. Sexual matters are often alluded to methaphorically: if water is running, or it's raining, they're having sex. (Although later Asian/Chinese film has gotten just as graphic sexually.) The odd thing is that despite these "prudish" depictions, you can't go into a Chinese hotel room without finding pretty explicit advertisments for massage...and not just tui na or foot reflexology.

    Re: Braveheart (which is not very historically accurate), and his other films, Mel Gibson just LOVES half-naked tortured bloody men.

    Personally, I am really tired of excessive dialogue over men's urinals in film and TV. Are guys really that talkative while pissing?

    Thanks for telling me "Pillars" was a better book than a screenplay...because I detest the book (on its rape-per-chapter statistic, which seems also to apply to the sequel). Ken Follett is only a slightly better writer than Dan Brown. IMHO.

    For elegant violence (swordplay, martial art and horsemanship), and chaste but highly moving sexuality, may I recommend Korean historical drama?

    Incidentally, the only people who are allowed to use the "C" and "N" words are women and black people...someone just got fired from my place of employment for using one of those in an email. Just commenting.

    You know, it was pretty weird when Lucy and Ricky had separate beds and somehow she became pregnant...but we couldn't even use that word...but I must say I'm tired of hearing a lot of "fuck" in film and TV dialogue, even though it is one of my personal favorite expletives.

  2. Same old hypocrisy here, man! Probably even worse. I often think that Malaysia is such a holy country that even god shudders to come step in for fear of being found wanting.