Monday, March 4, 2013

Why are films the common scapegoat? Part II

When it comes to what we expose ourselves to in terms of movies, there are several things we can do. We can take a movie as gospel, we can watch it and just forget it in about a hour, we can branch onto other films of that same calibre. We are all allowed to have our personal tastes, different elements appeal to different people. But a lot of the elements you may find really cool and innovative, another group of people may see it as depraved and sick. Now while this is just their opinion, do they have a right to participate in a crusade to get a film banned? I think it’s a double edge sword in those terms. While I am not opposed to films of a more ‘graphic’ nature to be released, I often wonder about the people that write the script, as well as the director of the film, especially if I believe the film doesn't have any kind of message. I don’t think every film has to have a message, because there are a lot of Exploitation films that don’t have any message and are a little depraved but they don’t go past a certain line for me.

The main question throughout all of this is, why do we ban films? What do they have to possess that other films do not? Obviously the main reason you could say movies get banned is obviously gory, and very bloody practical FX. Clearly some of us have stronger stomachs than others, but just because you couldn't appreciate the creativity of that scene because you think its gross, does not mean the scene or the film loses artistic merit. That is the problem with movie viewers today. We all believe that our opinion is what matters and that it’s set in stone and everyone is wrong. We are all guilty of it, even myself. But with age I have learnt to keep more of an open mind, especially in genres such as Horror, Exploitation and Foreign. Why? Because a lot of the people behind these genres of film, are some of the most creative people in the business such as Dario Argento, Roger Corman, Alfred Hitchcock, Terence Fisher, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero. I could seriously list a tonne of Horror directors, but let’s face it is, its such a huge genre, which goes out into a lot of different avenues. Why ban creative masterpieces just because its not understood, or it doesn't suit to your tastes?

Why ban something for thinking outside of the box in terms of storyline and visuals? The screenwriter and the director and producer are trying to give you something different. They are trying to broaden your mind, but instead over analytical parents or government heads stick their nose in this nonsense, to distract you from the corrupt things they are doing.

I have been doing some research on banned films from all over the world, and some of the reasons why films get banned is beyond a joke. It isn’t just horror or Exploitation films that feel the ignorant wrath of others, comedies such as Bruno, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Bruce Almighty, Zoolander feel it too. It just seems that films get banned for the silliest reasons at times. If you want a film of yours to be banned include the following elements

  • Graphic sex scenes and plenty of them
  • Blood
  • Homosexual themes which make narrow minded people feel uncomfortable
  • Racism 
  • Anti Religion
  • Animal Cruelty
  • The possibility that the film could ACTUALLY be a snuff film, but it's actually just really good practical FX
  • If it is seen as negative propaganda towards a government
  • Extreme violence
  • Sexual Violence
  • Paedophilia themes

In saying of this, there are several exceptions to the rules, when it comes to the banning of films. A film I believe that shouldn't have been released is A Serbian Film. What possesses someone to write a screenplay, which includes rape, and a high level of Paedophilia? Is it someone who is sexually depraved? Mentally ill? Or just someone who wants to shock us? I think it could be a combination of the three things. Paedophilia is not something I want to seek out when I watch a film. It’s bad enough hearing about the child sex rings, and paedophiles constantly wrecking children’s lives. Why the hell would I want to watch someone voluntarily make a film that shows a child’s life just taken from them? That is just the worst thing you could ever see on screen. Sure it’s banned from distribution from a lot of different countries. But does it really matter? It’s all over the internet. I think banning films is just pointless now, because either way, you will probably be able to find it from one illegal source or another. With A Serbian Film, I don’t wonder why it got banned, it’s pretty obvious why it did. What I am more concerned with, is finding out, is why the hell was it even made to begin with?

I get more and more curious as to why films like A Serbian Film exist. Do they make these kind of films as a wake up call to society?  Apparently there was a message in A Serbian Film. In an interview with the films director stated that it doesn't touch war themes but is about consequences of a post war society. I didn't see the consequences of a post war society in A Serbian Film. I just saw blatant paedophilia. If he wanted that point to be put across and not have so many people sickened by what they saw, maybe he should have gone about the film a different way. Because when you put paedophilia on the screen, that is what the viewer is going to see, they are not going to see the consequences of a post war society. I can’t put it more simpler than that. But after saying all of this, I just have to tell myself one thing; It is just a movie. And a bad one at that.

I do like horror movies, I do not know everything there is to know about horror, but I can appreciate the different types. I have always been attracted to torture horror. Mainly because there really isn't a strong story line and there’s just a lot of blood, guts and gore. As I said in the previous article, watching violent films from a very early has definitely put a more fiery streak in my personality. As I got older I discovered Hostel and I loved it. And then I was going onto forums trying to find more gory films. And that is where I found August Underground, I was nineteen at the time.  My personality was a lot different then. I felt more angry and dominant, so when I watched these kind of films, I felt empowered. All I wanted was gore, it excited me. And then something just clicked. I saw humility in others, and then I just didn't want to see people getting tortured brutally to that extent anymore. I love watching fun Exploitation and gore films. But I don’t see the point in just watching a film on people getting tortured and butchered brutally, just for the sake of it.

My favourite horror sub genre is Giallo. Over the past few years I have really grown to appreciate and love that genre and it’s films. It possesses something that no other genre does. I find with Giallo films that they usually have a strong plot and storyline, they are very intense, the dialogue is perfect,  the musical scores are beautifully orchestrated and the killing scenes are brutal but very stylised. When a film like Tenebre can possess all of those elements without it becoming ‘shlocky’, then that is a masterpiece in my eyes. Films like that don’t deserve to be banned.

I don’t believe films should be banned. At the end of the day, you are going to find the film one way or another, whether its illegally from the internet, or you find an old VHS copy at a garage sale. You can’t ban entertainment. It is impossible. It makes the viewers want it more. And if more and more films are banned, it doesn't matter. Because if there is a mentally deranged psychopath wanting to commit a crime, they will do it, they don’t need a film to tell them so. Each country is different with what films they ban. If they see a film as a threat to their government or their way of life, it doesn't stand a chance. But why ban them? We have committed far worse crimes in real life against one another. Has everyone forgotten about the Armenian and Rwandan genocide? What about the Spanish Inquisition? The Holocaust? Clearly a big part of the world has. Because if they hadn't they would be more concerned on why society is run and built on fear and hate. Banning films should be the least of their worries.

I have also realised that it isn't a level playing field. A good example of this is that The Accused which stars Jodie Foster, is one of the most intense films I have ever seen. The gang rape scene is probably the worst one I have seen depicted on screen. It isn't banned though. Then you have I spit on your grave. The differences between the two films is one has been given a bigger budget, which buys them better actors and gives them more of a slick, clean look in terms of how it’s shot, compared to it being gritty and honest. The only difference between both of the films female leads is that one gets her revenge through court and the other takes matters into her own hands. I don’t believe you can ban one of the films but not the other.

I don’t believe that movies inspire people to kill. I don’t think films sets out to make a normal person just want to hack someone’s limbs off. But in saying that, films can make criminals more creative. Films do not ignite that flame inside someone, to make them commit a crime, because they would have done it anyway. Films will always be the common scapegoats because there are films and genres, which people don’t understand. And they are not choosing to understand with an open mind. They believe it is better to rid certain films from society because that seems easier to blame rather than looking outside their window and seeing the real life horror that we live in every day.

I am not wanting to sound like I am preaching, but banning films is just a waste of time. If we don’t want to watch an intense movie, then we don’t have to. If you don’t like gore, then don’t watch a gory film. If you find you are sensitive to sexual violence on screen, then head in the other direction. There is nothing wrong with not watching certain films because of the elements that might touch a nerve. Watch films that make you happy, that you enjoy, don’t concentrate on films which make you feel uneasy, unsettled, because the more you do that, the more that will ruin your movie experiences. But always keep an open mind. There are a lot of masterpieces out there which have been banned and re released. Explore something that is out of your comfort zone, because you may find a new genre of film, that brings your imagination to life.

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