Saturday, 22 October 2011

Censorship, My A**e!

It's just been one of those weeks hasn't it? Everything has gone mad and that's putting it lightly. Hmm... this opening isn't going the way I wanted it to.


Anyway, as you'll know from my previous post, I found out a few days ago that the store I work at will be closing in January, which was a nasty blow to us all. Now, as I was writing that post, the big story of the week was unfolding, which of course was the capture and killing of Colonel Gaddafi. I'm not going to go into any detail of the politics of that situation on here, as that is for other people on other sites to do.

What really got me - and indeed a lot of people - was the way our media dealt with the event itself and the double-standards of censorship in this country that it highlighted. I had one of the news channels on the TV as the events unfolded. For a while, the line was that Gaddafi had been captured and wounded and that was all that had seemingly been confirmed. After lots of speculation about if he had been killed or not, most TV and internet news outlets started to "confirm" his death, quoting various sources. If that wasn't enough, they started showing photos and camera-phone footage of his capture.

These graphic images appeared everywhere without any kind of warning... until after you had seen them. Now, the images didn't actually confirm if Gaddafi was dead or not, but they weren't comfortable viewing, not even for me and if you know me well, then you know it takes a lot to make me flinch. Let's keep in mind that when these pictures came to light, it was still late afternoon over here.

If I had turned over to another channel that at that time was showing a repeat of a classic, post-watershed drama, then it would quickly become obvious that most or all scenes with violent/sexual content or swearing in them had been edited down to make them suitable for a daytime audience and also to comply with broadcasting regulations. So, why the hell is, for example, footage of an actor pretending to be badly injured or dead deemed unacceptable for daytime TV, yet uncensored images of someone with what turned out to be fatal injuries is absolutely fine for the same time of day?

The next day, the same situation happened, only in print form, as pretty much every newspaper had one of the graphic images on their front page. As we all know, most shops that sell newspapers tend to have them displayed no higher than an adult's waist height, so anyone can see them, including young children. Now, I'm no prude in the slightest, but who really wants kids to see shelves full of enlarged pictures of someone covered in blood and on the verge of death?

What gets me about that scenario is that in any shop that sells newspapers and magazines, the newspapers and most magazines tend to be at adult waist height and the adult magazines are on the top shelves, therefore out of the reach of children. Now in some such places, especially supermarkets, they refuse to stock a lot of these adult magazines, or they insist on putting them in cellophane bags that obscure all but the masthead on the front cover. That has always riled me, as these adult publications keep the explicit content inside the magazine, opting for a safer image for the front cover, but that sort of thing is still seen as wrong and "must be covered up so that young children aren't subjected to such filth". What about the newspapers the day after Gaddafi was killed?

"So, generic retailer, you take steps to make sure scantily-clad women on the front of adult magazines are obscured from view on the shop floor, yet you're quite happy to display all of these newspapers with gruesome pictures of Colonel Gaddafi on the front. Are you not concerned about distressing young children who are bound to see them?"

"Ah, bollocks to them, they'll be fine, it's only a bit of blood."

Of course, I'm not making out that any retailer responded to the situation like that, but you've got to admit, it's a ridiculous state of affairs. Like I say, I'm not a prude, I'm not easily shocked and I've got a strong stomach. I also believe some people complain far too much about silly little things (The "Down with this sort of thing" brigade) that just don't matter in the grand scheme of things, but what really annoys me are these ridiculous double-standards, when rules and morals are only adhered to when it suits some people.

I really could go on about it for days and I'll probably come back to this subject at a later date, but the events of the last couple of days just touched my "FOR COCK'S SAKE!" nerve, so I had to say something. I know I'm not the only one.

WARNING: This post contains strong language.

Oh, shit.

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