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A ‘naughty bit‘ from The Pornographer
ensors working overtime
Who is protecting whom in the film censorship debate? Words: Tony McKibbin
here's a great comment from the (ioncourt brothers. the l‘)th century
French writers who. noting the rise in pornography. reckoned
“pornographic literature tames a people as one tames a lion. by tintsturbation.~ In Britain. though. well over a century later. we might wonder whether we’ve even advanced to the sorry status of a lion. Not only do we have among the most stringent pornographic censorship in liurope. btit filmmakers commenting on the nature of the sexually explicit often have their work edited to remove the 'naughty bits'.
A couple of recent examples are liaise Mai and The l’i)i'iingi'up/n'r. In the former. a rape scene is stripped; in the latter the BBl5("s removed a shot showing a man coming over a woman’s face. (ii'altlilotls sequences. perhaps. but it's maybe less an exploitative gratuitousness than an ethical questioning: that the sequences in the aforementioned lilms. as well as the pornographic extracts on show in Scu/ ('oiili‘c 'Ious. lzit'lt'iisimi (/11
Domain (/c It! Lullc and The Plain) 'li'ut‘licr. serve as viruses in the art movie: they demand from the viewer that the art movie - _ he seen less as about the conventions of art fllm! btit as an act of cimfrontational ethics. We might then say that if the (ioncouits stays does !
had a problem with taming by masturbation
a century ago. is that still not less oppressive
than the censorship taking place in [false
Mar. The l’uriiogmp/n'r and Sen! (‘oiim' Thus where (ironically) Vaseline was smeared on the frames to excise close tips of a couple fucking?
It‘s as if the taming taking place with this censorship serve basic purposes to the pornographic: in each instance they‘re based on two assumptions. In the pornographic. that we are sedated by the sexually vicarious; in the censorial. by a vicarious moralism that tells us the BBH' knows best.
And of course it's this censorship that‘s so ironic. because while liuropean filmmakers are busy trying to turn its into active viewers by incorporating the explicit. we have the censorship hoard forcing us into the very position of passivity the filmmakers are so often trying to rouse us from. :\s The Piano 'Ii’uc/icr's Michael llaneke suggested. in relation to his equally confrontational I'iiiiirv (in/mas. '.-\nyone who leaves doesn't need the lilm: anyone who stays does.‘
So it‘s all very well for the BMW to hack away at these ‘gratuitous‘ sequences. but is this notion of the gratuitous based on moral and aesthetic criteria that the lilms themselves are no longer abiding by‘.’ Consequently. by conforming to the conventions of form over the radicalisation of aesthetics. the censors aren‘t just protecting our sensibilities. they’re de-radicalising art.
10 THE LIST it! 7A I”
1 Steven Campbell
Art The New Glasgow Boy brings us The Caravan Club, his first large-scale solo show in a decade, which looks firmly on the dark side of life. See preview, page 96. Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh.
2 Sunshine State
Film American maverick John Sayles once again speaks up for the little guys and gals with this diatribe against big corporations in Florida. See feature and review, pages 14 and 36. GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh.
Clubs Soma teams up with Wall of Sound for a free night featuring Les Rhythmes Digitales‘ Jacques Lu Cont and Propellerheads’ Will White. See preview, page 84. CCA, Glasgow.
4 Judy Pascoe
Books The former stand-up wields her writerly skills in her fiction debut, My Father Who Art in the Tree, a stark yet unsentimental take on family grief. See review, page 114. Viking.
5 Mulholland Drive
Video David Lynch’s latest may have achieved two things: set Naomi Watts on the road to stardom and baffled the heck out of millions. See review, page 111. Universal.
6 Edinburgh Jazz Festival Music With over 100 events over a ten-day period, you‘d have to think there’s something for most jazz tastes. And there is: Van Morrison. Acker Bilk, Carol Kidd and Marcus Miller for four. See preview, page 58. Various venues, Edinburgh.
7 James Yorkston and the Athletes
Music See and hear why we reckon this Fifer may have released one of the albums of the year with Moving up Country. See preview. page 57. Barfly; Glasgow; Venue, Edinburgh.
8 Red Hot Chili Peppers Music By the Way. the eighth album from RHCP is a more mellow affair than you’re used to. even throwing in the odd flamenco riff. See review. page 116. Warner.
9 Dundee Rep Summer Festival
Theatre With Edinburgh gearing up for some festival or other. quality drama can be discovered in Dundee. as the Rep‘s ‘summer' season continues with Mince? and The Cherry Orchard. Dundee Rep.
10 Bob and Roberta Smith Art The Smiths. aka one man called Patrick Brill. gives us Artists are a Bunch of Cowards. an attack in installation form on cultural and intellectual icons. See preview. page 97. Collective Gallery, Edinburgh.