Wednesday, October 18, 2006

All the movies are about sex and violence. Time for censors to act

I turned to the cinema pages of the Life! Section in the Straits Times last Saturday and noted the sort of movies being shown in town. (Why? Did you actually intend to go watch a movie? Or do you have fun conducting meaningless surveys)?

The main themes focussed on violence, crime, death and sex. Here are some of the movies:

. The Black Dahlia - about Hollywood's most infamous sex murders; (it's got Scarlett Johansson in it!)

. Dead man's shoes - about revenge; (dunno, not on my must-watch list)

. Silk - about spirits; (the critics ravaged this one)

. Death Note - about death; (duh)

. The Departed - a crime drama; (based on the critically-acclaimed HK movie, "Infernal Affairs")

. Wet hot sake - about sex, sleaze and sensuality; (if you insist on watching this movie in THAT cinema, please remember to keep your umbrella handy)

. My Summer of Love - more sex and sleaze. (do some research before passing such judgement, please)

The other movies are about inconsequential events. These are time-wasters and sad to watch:

. Talladega Nights - about brainless and crazy people with fast cars; (talk about Cinéma Vérité)!

. World Trade Centre - a disaster; (well, it was a bit long and draggy)

. Rob -B-Hood - no theme. (gambling gangsters having to care for a baby and being reformed by the experience. Gross.)

These movies do not provide any wholesome and meaningful lessons in life. (Since when did we ever rely on Hollywood to teach us the ways of enlightenment)? The more a person watches them, the more he would be made to feel that life is hopeless and meaningless. (The more we read your article the more we are made to feel that you judge books by their covers).

Movie directors are happily ripping off the public by giving (Giving? Where do you get your free tickets from?) us worthless movies that harm us. It is useless to bar only children and those below 18 from watching these movies as the tasteless pictures in the media continue to defile good sense and morals. (We do too bar adults who are succeptible to being morally corrupted by watching movies! It's called, "being selective because cinema tix for ordinary folks are so bloody expensive!").

Where are our educators? (I'm off-duty). Why are they silent on this sad state of affairs? (You haven't been reading my blog). What does our conscience tell us about such movies being screened in public? (That we can exercise personal judgement and discretion in the choices we make for ourselves)? Do we have a conscience at all? (Flawed logic: appealing to authority).

One may argue that we have a choice not to watch these shows. (Exactament!) But if it [is] Hobson's choice everyday with such low quality movies, where is the freedom for one to choose a wholesome and good movie when none is available? (Um, you tend to set your bar a teensy bit high).

What about the public's right to see good movies? (Bad movies are more fun to review). And why do we create for ourselves a famine of morally enriching shows? (We create? What was the last morally uplifting movie you produced)?

A movie that is worthwhile watching would give hope to the viewer about the meaning of life and its purpose. (There's a Monty Python movie with that title).

A good movie should result in stirring a person's mind and heart to do good for society. (People programmed to do good by watching movies. I dunno, that seems a tad worrisome. "A Clockwork Orange" anyone?) It should focus on wholesome family values of love and care, and respect for the elders and the government. (Wow! There's a concept for a new Peter Jackson fantasy movie)!

How should we rate a movie for its value? We should not give ratings to reflect its popularity based on violence, crime and sex, but instead focus on good values such as kindness, gentleness, love, peace, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and joy. (We don't appreciate good values unless we see them against a suitable counterfoil. Good stories are about conflict. Or you could just watch Sesame Street every day instead).

Unfortunately, none of these good values can be found in the movies mentioned above. (One only finds what one looks for, Grasshopper).

Movies that espouse the desirable values are rare. These are 'Chariots of Fire' (It's now become the standard musical sountrack for every slo-mo running sequence) and 'Akeelah and the Bee' (and how we do value kids who can spel difikult wudz). I particularly enjoy watching Jack Neo's portrayal of our primary school system in 'I not stupid'. (Guess you could identify with the characters of the pushy parents).

Yet if it remains only a portrayal of our country's meritocratic education system, it alone would not be able to help us make further progress. (Boy, you don't ask for much, do you)?

It is not enough just to point out society's ills. The movie's director should have concluded the show with lessons on corrective measures for the public. (I've got your "corrective measures" for irrelevance right here! Now, bend over!)

I would like the Board of Film Censors to critically review and evaluate the quality of the movies currently being screened in public. (You would like to be appointed Head Censor).

The guiding principle of the authority should always be driven by good and responsible values that promote hope, compassion and love. (If you look closely enough, you'll find that such values are key factors in conflict resolution in most narratives, regardless of genre and subject material).

And it should not be influenced by the public's lust for sex (but we're not having enough babies as it is), violence (movies don't make us violent; other people who are jerks make us violent) and death ("lust for death" sounds a bit oxymoronic) that leads to a sense of hopelessness for the viewer. (You're right. You'd better stay at home, a safe distance from any cinema).

George Lim Heng Chye

Online Forum letter in the ST, 17/10/06.

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