Disclaimer: The following post is Adult only...
I was, until yesterday, registered for an "Introduction to Film" class. It looked really fascinating, and my experiences in just 2 hours of class were absolutely mind-bending. Immediately after each class, the world around me looked different, and like nothing I had ever seen before. Unfortunately, due to certain time constraints I had to drop it. I will definitely be taking it as soon as the next semester gets here, though.
Anyways, one of the more interesting things that came up during the class was writing. While discussing the qualities of cinema as an indexial medium, writing and language was mentioned as an example of a symbolic medium. In other words, any word that we speak, or write, in most cases has no direct relationship with whatever it refers to, but rather, is a reference society has collectively agreed on. In our past "Fire" could have been named "Water", and we would still be calling Watermen when we knocked a candle over that set our house on water. While this is something I had implicitly recognized before, discussing it in class made me think more deeply about it. And I began relating it with my favorite pet peeves, censorship and taboo words.
One of the most frustrating things is how we have completely accepted censorship (of speech) as a normal part of our lives. Words in movies, TV are all censored. You watch Friends, and they never ONCE use the word "Fuck". Can you even keep track of the number of times you used the word in the last 24 hours? It is completely ridiculous because of how hypocritical it is. The one argument that can be made is the tired "What about the children argument!". Now dont get me wrong, sometimes it is a valid argument, but it is used so much nowadays (especially in the US) that its effectiveness has been watered down. However, this is one of the few cases where its use does indeed seem legit. Until now, I did not question this, but after the class I got thinking. If a word is nothing more than a symbol, then it is not the word itself that we are afraid of, because if that was the case, then we would have prevented the use of the word fuck on screen even if it meant "to cry" for example. However, that is an absurd assertion, so I will discard the possibility that the word itself is special. That leaves me with what the word refers to. And the word refers to the action of "making love". So by shielding children from the word "fuck" we are protecting them from the concept of inserting a penis into a vagina. Fair enough.
Or is it? Having sex, and more specifically, fucking is arguably one of man's most primal needs. In fact, it is THE process that leads to life. Whether or not a creator god exists, it cannot be denied that there is only one natural process that leads to human creation. And that process is defined by the word fuck. So by hiding the word fuck from children we are screening them from the most powerful natural process in the world; the one that is the reason that there is any complex life on this planet (some far simpler organisms can reproduce asexually but sexual reproduction is essential for the "rapid" evolution that has led to the existence of complex organisms). Why do we want to insulate children from one of man's most basic needs? An individual needs food and air to survive, and similarly a species needs its members to copulate to survive making sex as basic as those essential elements. Yet, when I use the symbol f***, no one mistakes that for "food". Can it really be that bad for a child to be aware of such a basic part of human existence? Or is it simply our unnatural and manufactured disgust for sex that leads to the belief that exposing children to sexuality on screen is a bad thing?
Another thing that really annoys me is the usage of "f***" or other censorship tactics such as that. Really, what is the point? Everyone knows what is being mentioned. Anyone who knows what is being mentioned probably also knows the meaning of the thing that is being mentioned. So what purpose do those little asterisks serve? Coming back to the whole "language is symbolic" premise, we have basically replaced fuck with f*** and just like how water would mean fire if that is what our ancestors had decided, f*** is wholly and completely equivalent to fuck. The only difference I can see is that someone who uses the former is implying that he/she is too cultured/polite to use a coarse word such as fuck. That, to me is ridiculously disingenuous because the writer is trying to have it both ways. They are using the word fuck, and adding all the force and/or imagery that the word provides to their writings, while at the same time claiming that they did not use the word fuck to add force/imagery to their writings, because they are above using it. Yet, they are using it!
And we accept it silently. Honestly, any writer who uses those little asterisks does not deserve an audience, because he thinks we are fools to fall for his "i will use it, but fool you into believing that i did not" trick. Reminds me of the story of the Sardar who when asked if the last number on the 1 rupee note's serial number was 1 or 0, replied 1. When asked if he wanted to change his answer with the further information that the correct answer was odd, the sardar immediately changed his answer to 0. I am not that sardar, and I will not read anyone who wishes to treat me so.
So, did I really need that disclaimer in the beginning?
Friday, August 24, 2007
Disclaimer: The following post is Adult only...