Minipost 19 – Movies and Censorship

I love horror fiction. Not all – blood and guts bores me, can disgust me (just why invent such nasty things) and, at best, makes me laugh – sometimes tomato ketchup and latex looks just too silly.

Horrors that are best are psychological rather than gory – The Shining, The Ring, The Grudge, The Others, The Village, The Sixth Sense and even the thriller series of Hannibal Lecter are all terrific and where there is gore, there is there for a reason rather than just to titillate.

Best though, is to combine sci-fi with horror but you don’t get that too often – not well anyway. There is one classic movie that did it perfectly though but, alas, it’s not appreciated yet in my house.

Alien.

I think I had a girlfriend who looked like this once…

I’m trying to persuade my son to watch it. Yes, I know, possibly not the best choice for your nine year old boy, but then, censorship was never my strong point. Thankfully, in Bangladesh, this is not an issue.

Long ago I remember my department was asked to lend a video to use for a cover lesson. The class was for some kids who are in danger of exclusion. We gave them one we regularly used in our Film music classes. Later the head came and read us the riot act for giving a film rated 15 for 14 year olds to watch. Come on! These kids were used to much worse! Nevertheless, one of them had noticed and picked a perfect opportunity to raise a complaint and cause trouble.

In Bangladesh, there are no movie ratings and a very different cultural mindset is at work. This culture happily shows photos of the latest murdered person or of extreme violence taking place daily in the newspapers and has no problem letting children watch the most blood-curdling horror movies as we accidently discovered once. We thought we were taking our kids to a 3D show. We actually took them into a horror show made up of all the worst bits from 80s zombie movies! We left, but the Bangladeshi families and their kids remained.

I know several children at LAMB who watch all sorts of pretty gruesome movies. Oddly, none of them are violent, have nightmares, behave in a socially unacceptable way or anything else we see in their UK peers where such movies are usually blamed as the cause. The correlation, I suggest, is actually the other way around. The movies don’t cause the behaviour – the behaviour problems cause obsession with the movies.

As it is, it looks like my son has self-censored. He watched the Alien trailer on Youtube. That was enough for him! I guess I will have to wait a year or two yet before he’s ready. I’ve given up with my scaredy-cat daughter. She didn’t make it past the first few seconds of the trailer.

I guess I’m watching Prometheus, the prequel for Alien, on my own then. Hang on, I know some Bangladeshis who will watch it.

I’ll have to ask them.

About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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19 Responses to Minipost 19 – Movies and Censorship

  1. Agreed! Psychological horrors are better than the blood-and-guts horror films…every one of them that you mentioned are in my Top Ten list of favourite scary films.

    But, really? You’re trying to force your 9 year old boy to watch Alien?? I haven’t even seen it yet and I’m…well…older than him…😉

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    • Persuade – not force…honest! It is a brilliant film and well worth watching if you’ve never done it. If you love all those other films it’ll be nothing to you. He loves sci-fi and usually is pretty ok with monsters and mildly scary – but the trailer was too much for him. In retrospect it may not have been a good idea. However, I have to say, I was about the same age when I saw it…

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  2. Ladygardenia says:

    I don’t like horror at all.. I used to watch before but never felt good so I stopped at some point.. Now I just go for romantic comedies… which make me feel rather good and make me laugh🙂 But I do like fantasy movies like The avatar or LOTR and Harry Potter.

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    • Ha ha – well I love those films too and I have been known to enjoy the odd romantic comedy or two! Oddly, my wife has gone the same way as you. In her youth she LOVED horrors like the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Now she hides her face and puts fingers in her ears for even just a police drama!

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  3. Sajib says:

    I too love all things horror and paranormal. Those movies that you mentioned, The Shining, The Ring, The Grudge, The Others, The Village, The Sixth Sense, I watched all of them.

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  4. boomiebol says:

    I enjoyed this post but the caption on Alien’s picture…priceless, can’t keep a straight face as I type this too funny.

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  5. basangsisiw says:

    That’s a rather clever thing to be the one persuading your kids to watch gruesome movies, Ken. At home, I make it a point not to let my nephews watch anything gorish. I just cannot take letting them watch them, when I have gut- issues of viewing them myself. Once, I tried with the help of my pillow and the supervision of all family members to finish the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, luckily I succeeded finishing the movie, unluckily it went several weeks before I stopped having nightmares and regaining my appetite.😦 Poor me, it’s not really my thing… Am glad though that my nephews share same disinclination over this kind of movies, at least I can now share my pillow with someone, just in case.😉

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    • basangsisiw says:

      By the way, Maligayang Araw ng mga Ama!🙂

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      • hmm…now you’re going to have to tell me which language that is – I don’t recognise the spelling!😦

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        • basangsisiw says:

          Don’t worry it doesn’t mean anything special or something derogatory related to that girlfriend of yours (not that there’s anything disdainful in her or something). Well anyway, it’s a Tagalog phrase which means Happy Father’s Day!🙂 I just thought you might wanna hear it, ya know! Hihi!

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    • LOL well the Texas Chainsaw would DEFINITELY go on my list of more gore than class! Alien isn’t really at all gory – you see just about nothing. It all happens in shadows and sound rather in your face on the whole. So you enjoy the thrill of the ride rather than the horror on the screen. It is for this reason I can justify letting (forcing!) my kids to consider the movie. Chainsaw won’t be on that list until they are many years older!!

      It is funny, I appreciate, that the teacher dad is the one telling the kids to watch a horror and the kids saying ‘no’! My wife tells me I’m the biggest kid of the lot!🙂

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  6. Ah, yes! All thanks to brilliant Giger! It took some time for me to recover and I had been warned [in detail]. Unbelievable creature! Have you seen his work? [http://www.hrgigermuseum.com/] About horror movies: I’m a great G. Romero and D. Argento fan.

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    • Yes, I have seen Giger’s work and it is incredibly beautiful. There is no doubt that his artistry took Alien out of the second rate movie category and into cult movie status. Beautiful work. In some ways, his work reminds me of Salvador Dali’s work mixed with Bacon’s. Both artists I adore even though Dali often gets criticised – probably because his work was so popular once upon a time. But his nightmarish ideas and incredible visions really struck a chord with me as I was developing my love of art. Bacon’s too was disturbing – but not beautiful. I look at his when I want to be shocked! Giger took the vision of one, the horror of the other and added his own beauty into the result. Genius!

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