Indiana Jones And The
Temple Of Censorship
Eric Renderking Fisk | December 29th, 2003
Update November 18, 2010
Been down this Road Before…
Folks who know me by my writings on the other forums know a few things about how I feel about the subject of censorship. I hate it and it’s many forms. For example; I’m a raving lunatic when it comes to the Widescreen verses "Full Screen" because I consider "Full Screen" to be a version of censorship. "Full Screen" or Pan and Scan (as it was known until folks like me started calling it Pan and SCAM to illustrate how ridiculous it is) is cropping a movie from it’s original aspect ratio to make it “fit” on television screens. Since movie screens in the theater are long rectangles and television sets are square, the edges have to be “cut off and thrown away” to get the movie to fit on standard sets...
By doing this, it undermines the Director and the Cinematographer while cheating the audience from enjoying the scenes as it was meant to be seen. A lot of money is spent on scenery, actors, lighting and special effects and the movies are budgeted according to how large the scene is in relation to the aspect ratio of the frame. When a movie is cropped, not only are you missing some of the scenery but many of the actors performances and most important you’re not getting the complete bang for your buck. Cropping the scene in such away diminishes the scope of the film.
Same thing can be said when actual content is removed from the movie because particular scenes are offensive. I’m the first to admit that there are some images that have no place in movies- but I’m also one to say that as part of being a free society a film-maker should be able to make the movie he wants to make. If a film-maker wants to make a movie with inappropriate content he should be allowed to do so as long as there are disclaimers included with the movies rating that state what offensive material is contained in that motion picture.
An artist should be allowed to write a book, make a movie or a piece of music with adult material sexual or violent content, support any view on a political issue or an historical event that he choose and in turn the work should be judged by the public on it’s appropriateness via the box office or cash register. That’s a price we pay free Speech, as the other far extreme such as political, ideological and religious should and MUST be allowed.
Less Isn’t Necessarily More
What started this whole tirade over censorship is the deletion of a few scenes in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom by the BBFC*. Over the past decade, George Lucas has been ADDING to the movies he’s made in the past, namely the original Episodes of his STAR WARS Saga – A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of The Jedi. As of this writing, there is an internet rumor that Mr. Lucas will be adding even MORE to his Original Trilogy (with hopes of making the movies actually longer and not removing anything that’s already in there). Ironically, while Mr. Lucas is adding MORE to the movies that made him famous… the BBFC* is actually taking some scenes OUT of the OTHER movies that also proved Mr. Lucas to be a visionary.
The OFFICIAL story of why they did this is to maintain the integrity of the original “PG” rating. In truth, it would have been easier to just give the movie another rating such as “PG-13” or what ever the equivalent is in The United Kingdom and just not edit those scenes out. In fact, according to other members of the forums I participate in… you can still find the original Version of Temple of Doom with those gruesome scenes intact with the original rating… which almost defeats the purpose of taking the scenes out of the same movie on a new medium.
Cutting these scenes down changes the context of the movie - such as Mola Ram taking his victim’s heart out, our heroine Willie and the aforementioned victim being lowered into the pit of lava the scenes of the children being beaten and tortured while being forced to mine the caves for the other stones and gems. With out these scenes, Mola Ram is less evil and you could make the argument that with demonstrating how evil he really was, Jones is actually an intrusive white man forcing his religious beliefs on another culture…. Which might actually be the true intention of the BBFC!
One of the many excuses I read in favor of Censorship is to make sure that nobody is “offended” by inappropriate content. Many movies that have been made in the past will be lost forever because of content that might offend. Perfect example is many of the Disney features such as Song of the South which depicts some aspects of the lives lived during the Civil War period in between segments of Briar Rabbit and Briar Fox. Blotting out art that depicts some of the unpleasantness of life as it was before our time is a variation of the old adage that says folks who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Often times there’s been a call from the Leftist media and pundits to remove any religious artifacts from public viewing… such as a nativity scene on a city plaza during Christmas. Most recently there have been people in the media such as Bill Marh denouncing religion in the bible on his own HBO weekly show and or Larry King last week. Under the First Amendment, he has every right to do so. But people would argue that to make an argument FOR religion would be insulting and perhaps a violation of the Separation of Church and State clause. Some might even be outraged if someone like myself would take the opposite side of Bill Marh’s argument- that if you DON’T believe in some Higher Power such as God and you don’t take Holy Books such as the Bible literally and more then just face value… you’re “Retarded” as Bill Marh would say. If you believe everything Science force feeds you and don’t believe for yourselves that there is something bigger and greater then all of us, you’re just plane stupid and sheep of the secularist fold. If you don’t believe in the wonder, the mystery and the ever lasting love and affection of our Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost you’re inherently deficient. Absolutely, if you don’t buy into the power and strength of The Ark of The Covenant and the Holy Grail... they there’s something seriously wrong with you.
Granted, if those AREN’T your beliefs and you are offended by those comments, you have every right to be. Making comments like those are intrusive, while comments made by those who are against religion are “free thinking” and “progressive” and those who are offended my the anti-religious comments should “Lighten up”. It’s modern-media’s double standard, and it’s a form of Censorship.
Censorship’s true intentions...
In any society, Censorship in any guise is NEVER a good thing. True, inappropriate material should be kept out of the hands of children too young to handle mature material or instructions on how to make explosive devices should never be in the wrong hands of would be terrorists.
You can make the argument that there are something’s that the public should not be allowed to have access to; such as Secret Documents that contain delicate Intelligence that could endanger men and women in the armed services or covert operations. Same thing could be said about the private lives of public servants or celebrities.
But to ban a book or a movie… or remove the offensive content out of either is a crime. It’s no worse then burning books, an activity that was very popular in Germany during the rule of the Nazi party. Censorship is a slippery slope. If you allow a committee to decide which is decent and which is not, then a president is made that would allow another committee to decide what should or shouldn’t be written about in the newspapers or on web-sites such as this one.
Thoughts and ideas can and often DO change the world. Because of people who dared to speak and write against such indecent atrocities such as slavery and inequalities towards women we now live in a better society. Imagine where we would be if those evil-doers where successful in silencing those powerful voices who were trying to correct a great wrong- where would we be today?
George Orwell gave us a warning in his most famous book - "1984" - about the dangers of an all powerful- oppressive government. Any Government or Agency that can control media has the power to have absolute control… and do as they please with out any opposition. In my estimation, there has never been a time in human history when a society has benefited from not having total access to art and information. Shutting down the media and the press is the first step in the total domination of society by a fascist regime... And it could all start with the removal of a few essential scenes of a B-Action-Adventure movie.
It’s up to responsible adults in a free society to filter out the good from the bad that comes from the media. To allow a “Big Brother” bureaucracy to do it for us would insure a complacent and lazy populace which is a formula for systematic abuse.