23 August, 2006

A 'Mature' society?

OK, I was going to post on some personal things, but this present situation forced me to write about how mature a society India is. Also, it relates to my previous post on freedom of speech. It's a loooooong post... please bear with me. :-) Scroll down to see two successive poem posts. :D

Now, on TV, we won't see obscenity
No "obscenity", said Mumbai city
(Or so it does seem)
But, only in a dream
Will my TV have a ban on insanity!

My friend Absconding Soul posted today on the same topic at this post, today. It's always nice to read two opinions. He always has much more info, and comments on a point I missed here... the faults of the censorship system.)

It all started with a college professor filing a PIL with the Mumbai high court about obscene music videos shown on TV. (The story from the start is here). Now, the debate has become focussed on obscene material in movies. As of now, I cannot see my favourite movie channels on TV. They're pretty much all I watch of TV.

Well, it's like this: The Central Board of Film Certification, India, gives movies three kinds of certificates: U: Universal (All ages); U/A: Universal/Adult (Adult guidance, not for under 12) ; A: Adult (only for those over 18). The objection is that even the U/A contain obscene material which should not be shown on TV.

The public opinion goes like this: (taken from Mumbai Mirror, Aug 23, page 13)
"It leads to moral disorder in society"; "... should be banned because (TV) provides an easy access to kids to see such things which spoil their minds"; "... it is not part of Indian culture."

And, the other side:
"The choice should be mine."; "... This decision should be left completely to viewers."; " Viewers are the best judges of what they should be allowed to see."

Plus, more moderate opinions like:
"Adult movies should be restricted to late night slots."; "... Anyway the scene will be cut or censored on TV."

I think the obscene material on TV is a real problem, and it cannot always be controlled by parents. But the real sleazy and nude scenes are cut from the movie, and expletives are muted. So what's the big deal? I think the real obscenity is in music videos (which are too full of themselves to care), and the real sleazy material is in TV soaps. But anyway, to what I consider the real points:

Censorship, Obscenity and 'Freedom'

I think, not always. But, just as everybody has the right to watch anything they want, everyone has a right to go to court and object to anything with offends their sensiblities.

Here, the objection was to obscenity, and keeping it out of the view of kids. Firstly, we need a agreed-upon definition of obscenity. There's an interesting word in the linked article: "morally healthy". I don't think most people who watch the banned movie channels are morally "unhealthy". The movies are mostly watched by adults and teens, classes of people who have/are in the right age for having familiarity with sexual and mature content.

Also, I object to the ban on showing U/A films. A definition of obscenity has to be pretty broad (and unrealistic) to include all the U/A films shown on movie channels. Almost every english movie is given a U/A certificate. (Sigh.) And a movie isn't only rated on the basis of obscene content; it's themes, plot, violence, expletives play a major part too (detailed guidlines here). Saying that every movie not rated U is obscene is like saying book has sexual content. (Oh, yeah, maybe books are next. But... no use... children have lost interest in books now... sigh).

In fact, some U/A or even A films are, like, required viewing for teens, because of the mature themes. (Prime examples: Sarfarosh, Schindler's List, etc). Many U/A and A movies, in fact, teach teens valuable lessons about life, society, and India (Hazaaron Kwaishen Aisi), and don't "corrupt society".

And, what about soaps and music videos? I still can see mindless tearjeckers and Rakhi Sawant prowling about on TV... that offends my sensiblities more than any sex scene. I mean my intellectual sensiblities. Mindlessness makes my brain hurt, and there's nothing else on TV now.

Lastly, there's been much talk of "moral policing"... I think that job should fall on the courts, and court decisions are better than "morals". We must voice our opinion... nothing is morally good or bad, only legal or illegal... everybody has a right to his own system of morals, but he must not violate law.

Now, let me go back to an idiot box with an even lower IQ than before...


  1. Are we a mature society? Of course. We are an indifferent society , that is what we are. We allow our interests to be hijacked by the same people we depend on for protedcting them. In this case, the Bombay High Court. The High Court's order is myopic and it also gives the government an easy escape route, instead of forcing the govt to come up with a comprehensive certification policy. I was also appaled by the tentativness shown by teh broadcasters of teh banned channels. Someone should file a counter PIL demanding review of censorship guidelines. We cannot have some moralistic bitch ruining our prime time...

  2. Hmmm... This is one of those 'draw the line' questions. I mean define 'immoral' and 'obscene'. It's all completely relative and subjective. Besides, I think people that object so passionately to things that can corrupt are the people most likely to be corrupted (because they want temptation to be removed)
    And I don't think the 'bubble wrap' approach to parenting is a good one either. The disillusionment can be rather damaging.

  3. Amey Marathe25/8/06 11:13 PM

    Hey... was jus orkutting n landed on ur blogspot...
    Firstly my wishes to u ... u write gr8 poems... i really like em...
    But about ur censorship article...
    i fully agree with u ... even i miss movie channels...
    specially hbo n stuff...
    Infact i agre with u completely...
    Infact if u saw the news...Well i got the DTH box at home so i saw the interview... One guy actually asked that woman "If u really wanna ban A movies frm tv... jus ban the ppl making it...problem solved.. n the lady was stunned...she just refused to reply..."
    the question was totally illlogical but it actually makes sense...i mean the cable people jus show what the broadcasters distribute them...
    so if u wanna take action go against the higher authority...
    n this same lady on tv says that she saw adult content after 12.30 or so... i mean kids dont watch tv at 12.30 ... do they ? and what keeda she had on switching on the tv at 12.30.. now they didnt show it on the news... nor on the soap channels... so they showed it on a movie channel... now why does a teacher frm wilson college, whose college starts at 8...wanna watch a 12.30 movie ?
    funny isnt it ?
    back to the soap channels... in so many hindi soapa(i havent seen any... but heard frm some frnds) they show that a guy gets married 4 times, has 1-2 illegal childs,rapes a woman....n is a total casanova....is this acceptable ?
    then why not ban the soaps... and this story repetas in every ekta kapoor story...
    Even on sports channels... players sledge...thats harmful.. so we must shut sports channels... in every lok sabha meeting sweras are hurled like garlands... and these are coevered by every news channel in the country...so if we ban all this we will be left only with aasthaa channel ...
    i think this tv ban is so ridiculous...
    some1 shud get our voices heard...

  4. Hello Anonick. I don't quite follow you point here. Are you saying that your government's stance on censorship of TV shows India to be a 'mature society'? I read that they tried to ban internet use for a while. Is that true?