Imagine a Twilight Zone world in which what you can and can’t do is mandated by authorities. A world that doesn’t allow you to learn about new things, listen to what you please, or watch mind-opening media. This world is seemingly unbelievable, and yet the world we live in today is not far from this scenario. Whenever books get a ban in certain libraries, when we choose what language to omit from music, or when images are thought to be socially unacceptable, one could argue that our essential liberties are under attack. Conversely, some view censorship as a public service, shielding us from corrupt content for the greater good. This poses a question: What is the motivation for censorship?
Monitoring what children absorb psychologically is standard, but why do we feel that certain “offensive” elements need to be withheld from the masses? To delve deeper into this enigma, let’s take a look back at the recent history of censored media and seek an explanation.
One of the sole reasons that The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka was banned in Czechoslovakia was that Kafka refused to put out a copy written in Czech. Seems a little extreme to ban it altogether, but they stood firm, and so it was. Censorship and banning can happen for any reason – even language barriers and a book could be unavailable to you forever.
The Exorcist directed by William Friedkin was banned for being “horrifyingly scary” and for religious purposes in some places. The film’s popularity was obvious, and it took in a whopping $441 million dollars worldwide. Paramedics would come to treat people who had fainted. Others went into hysterics after seeing the film. If you watch the movie today, it’s not as scary as some thought it was back in 1973. That didn’t stop the UK from waiting to release it until the 1990’s once it had finally passed its censorship laws. With the ban lifted, it is hard to imagine a horror movie night without this classic on hand. It could have been taken away forever if the right person saw to deem it inappropriate.
In 2010, Venezuela was the first country to completely ban violent video games in the world. This made their manufacturing, distribution, selling, rental, exhibition and use illegal. Their reasoning was they lead people down the “road to hell”, and that they were nothing but poison. There are plenty of people who could agree with this type of ban, but what consequences would ensue? Would it even make a difference in violence that occurs every day? After the ban on many things in Venezuela, riots, an increase of violence and a call for the impeachment of their leader took off. Protests are still happening today in this country. Censoring things can bring on strong consequences, and people will stand up for what they know is right regardless.
In each of these examples, censorship occurred with clearly cited reasons. They remain some of the most popular and sought-after media facets proving that for every action there is a reaction. Should we be okay with censorship or shouldn’t we? Does redacting content keep us safe or impede on our first amendment rights? We leave you with these questions that only one with unsuppressed freedom of thought can answer.
Visit any Bookmans location and pick up a banned book, movie, video game or any challenged media item and fight for your right to read, watch, listen, learn and know! Bookmans sets aside an entire month each year to celebrate #ArrestedReading and fighting censorship too, and we’d love for you to join us!
© 2012 Bookmans. All Rights Reserved.