Last week,I railed upon my issues with the Bechdel test and how it shouldn’t be a factor regarding if you should watch a film or not, regardless of your gender. In there, I mentioned Blue Is The Warmest Color, which was an incredible film… which I couldn’t watch in the movie house since they never showed it here in the Philippines. I may be mistaken but I don’t recall seeing it here or promoted in any way. So I say it’s never been shown here.
Never mind the fact that the film is loved by critics, with some of them proclaiming it to be the best film of 2013. Or that it’s a story of a woman coming out of the closet and exploring her sexuality. Never mind that, despite the fact that it’s a story of lesbianism, it’s more about a story of a young girl growing up and accepting that life isn’t perfect.
Nope. I don’t think they released it here in the Philippines for two reasons: homosexuality and sex. You see, I live in a very… I wouldn’t say repressed country. Let’s just say the general personality of the Philippines is “very modest.” I guess we could even be called prudes. We like to think we have a very high moral code but I think the MTRCB, the local censoring board, go to far at times.
Some time ago, my colleague wrote an article as to why he didn’t review of 300: Rise of An Empire even though he wanted to. He felt it would’ve been unfair to pass judgement of the film after the censors or “moral police” of the country decided to cut out the sex scene in the movie and how badly the film was edited because of it. I saw how crude the transition was. While I didn’t mind it that much, it did confuse me when I first saw it.
But it’s not just for movies. No, they’ll censor a whole bunch of stuff here as well. I watch TMZ a lot. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I love watching celebrity news and, even though the people who work for TMZ love the stars, they also love to make fun of them and express their opinions and crack jokes at their idol’s expense.
But they do love to talk about sex organs a lot. They’ll say things like “penis” or “vagina.” Which, I think are perfectly acceptable words in this day of age. Oh, they’ll also casually mention how great Rihanna’s “ass” looks as well. But, here in the Philippines, they’ll bleep those words out! No, really. Evidently, saying the scientific names of the male and female sexual organs isn’t permitted in the Philippines. They’ll also censor out some things, like the protruding nipples of Selena Gomez.
Now, I’m not entirely sure why we do these things but I think it has something to do with how rampant sex was all over the place in the country. From what I know, during the 80s and the early 90’s, most locally produced films would be categorized as softcorn porn by today’s standards. Even tabloids would get into the act, showing nude women on the front page as well just to sell more copies. These tabloids would even have graphic sex stories purportedly sent in by readers recounting their sexual exploits.
I don’t know when all that changed but it did. This was way before my time so I can only speculate it happened before 1995 or something like that. I guess some people decided that all of the sex in media was corrupting the youth or something like that. I can’t say if it helped improve the general morality of the country. But if it did, its effect was minimal at best.
I believe what’s warping the minds of the youth is the lack of education and exposure to these “harmful” things. The Philippine censor board would rather deny that these things exist than show them. It’s the lack of knowledge on how to handle these new ideas of sexuality. Even though the MTRCB will notify the public that a show requires strong parental guidance, a lot of the times, even the parents don’t know how to handle these new themes since they themselves haven’t been exposed to these things.
I think it’s a shame, as a country, we still can’t go beyond what we think is “immoral” and prefer to pretend it doesn’t happen. I guess it’s like the Pleasantville in a sense; we refuse to accept the truth that these things are a part of life and prefer to hide them away instead of exploring these new avenues of thought and actually learning new things.
Well, enough of that! Just by writing this, I just realized something about myself; I’m not quite the naive little girl I was a few years ago. And I’ll tell you what changes I realized about myself… next time!
What’s censorship like in your country? Is censorship is actually needed and, if so, how much is too much? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!