RARA-AVIS: Re: Television censorship and video market

From: Etienne Borgers ( wbac1203@wanadoo.be)
Date: 21 Aug 2003

Censorship on TV in the USA is worse than what you think. The love scenes or nudity are not the sole targets.

A lot of films are cut in order to fit nicely in a normal program "slot" for TV channels (this means that in some films, 15 min can be gone just for the sake of TV madness, no other reason). Then, as you may know, there is a wide bridge for films between the video market and TV broadcasting. A lot of time, it's the "cassette" version that your funny TV system will use. Better! you think. False: a lot of films are cut to make the film more acceptable by the video markets ( a lot of criteria can be used... and you will lose anything between 2 minutes to 3/4 of an hour, depending on the feeling of the video producers, and the type of film). It's not finished. Some video "vendors" chains impose their own views in the USA, and there we are again: a film that was already cut could be cut further to suit the vendor.
"Blockbuster" (a Viacom Cy) was a specialist for this type of third level censorship, applying a kind of moral code to many films which they felt could be suited for the "family" viewing... with a little help of their friends.

You will tell me that now with DVDs, this vendor bulls...t will end. False! it's technically cheaper to design, fabricate and sell different versions of the same film when the support is digital.

But let us come back to US TV: do not forget they were (and still are) the infamous voices which claimed for "pan and scan" (you know, your TV is so tiny that you must be happy they cut up to 2/3 of the image to suit your dreambox....). So, you practically never see the image at a size which is CLOSE to the original one. And then do not forget colorization (courtesy Turner and his cultural staff). I'm sure you crave to watch Huston's 'The Maltese Falcon' in a version that allows you to see which color was Brigid's dress, or the right color of the hairs of Mr Cairo, all essential elements to understand this otherwise dumb movie...?

Ah, I almost forgot. Remember my bridge: because of the TV impositions
(P&S, colorization) you will happily remember that the video cassette market was systematically applying the same improvements... Hey! you still have the same screen on your TV set when you are watching a video, don't ya?

Happy viewing!

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6384

At 20:24 20-08-03 -0500, you wrote:
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Mario Taboada [mailto: matrxtech@yahoo.com]
>I rarely watch movies on television, but in recent months I
>have noticed that the Bravo channel, for example, cuts
>movies. They totally eliminated a brief but key sex scene
>in Kieslowski's Red (with Trintignant). I think it's
>outrageous. When Bravo started out, they were a good
>channel, not an exhibitor of disfigured films.
>--After they stopped being a "premium" (extra-pay, such as HBO) service, and
>became a "basic-cable" channel (not that this stopped some cable outlets
>from charging extra for Bravo and other "basic" services), it began doing
>silly things such as reframing such films as A MAN IN LOVE so that you were
>seeing only 1/4 of the already truncated "fullscreen" image...you could hear
>the sexual encounter, but you might see only the foreheads of the
>characters. Making for a very grainy experience, nostalgic for fans of
>midcentury porn films...
>Many channels also seem to have some kind of aversion to
>female breasts and to nudity in general, as if there were
>something unhealthy about the human body. So they butcher
>the films they show. I am talking about US television.
>Things are different in Europe (how are they in Canada?).
>As an occasional visitor to border country (Vermont, Michigan), I can attest
>that mild-mannered Canadians attempt to pollute our virgin Yank eyes and
>ears with unedited movies in primetime on CBC, and perhaps even on CTV and
>the other commercial nets. But then, most (by no means all) PBS stations
>let more adult imagery and language go forth than most of the commercial
>nets do, most of the time (NYPD BLUE, CHICAGO HOPE...perhaps it helps to
>have a city in the title...being often-precious examples of exceptions over
>the last decade). ROOTS had a few scenes that surprised me in this regard,
>back when (and everyone I've met who's ever seen it seems to remember the
>PBS HOLLYWOOD THEATER production of Bruce Jay Friedman's "Steambath", with
>Valeri Perrine). TM

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