Monday, September 17, 2007

Censorship in Progress

Last night at the 2007 Emmy Awards, Sally Field gets bleeped out by Fox censors (read: Practices and Standards) when she utters an expletive during the conclusion of an antiwar speech during her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series at Emmys. This is the uncensored version, courtesy of CTV:

"If women ruled the world, there would be no goddamned wars in the first place!" -- There was obviously censorship involved on the part of Fox, particularly of an actress who has the First Amendment right to speak her mind, the word "goddamned" not withstanding. This was not another rehash of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" that presumably fell within the realm of obscenity inasmuch as it violated "contemporary community standards." In fact, the judgment call by Fox censors was a ridiculous and asinine an act as Francis Cardinal Spelling condemning the film "The Moon is Blue" from the pulpit because it contained the words virgin and pregnant. This later brought to mind a statement Paddy Chayesfky made at the 1977 Academy Awards where he said in rebuttal to a statement Vanessa Redgrave made, "We should keep politics out of the awards."

Unfortunately, in a rebuttal to Mr. Chayesfky's starement, dramatic art is political in nature. The personal is political ethos goes back to Greco-Roman civilization. Anyone who has read Sophocles' Ajax or Aristophanes' Lysistrata would find them to be strikingly contemporary in the way they portray the human condition. It is a thread that joins together the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Bertholt Brecht, Arthur Miller, Dario Fo, Vlacav Havel, and Edward Albee, and countless others. And since their works were penned in response to such consequental events be they political or otherwise, it should come as no surprise that these plays are by-products rooted in specifically discrete and specific events.

But then, censoring Sally Field's on-camera statements was Fox's maddingly perverse contribution to the war on terror, one where the jihadists are purported to be hating us for the freedoms we have while simutaneously seeking to silence those who dare express a contrarian point of view. Like all of us, Sally Field functions and operates within a society where those with opposing points of view engage in battles not with guns, but with words. And words and sentences -- and the messages they convey -- do very potent and powerful, and they trigger very strong visceral reactions upon its recipients. And unfortunately in this case, for those at the Fox network, free speech is only free if you say what they only want to hear.

Now why do you think "The Half-Hour News Hour" bombed the way it did?

Disclosure: I am making this video excerpt available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This is being distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

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