Saturday, September 9, 2006


I'm out on the limb with my trusty hacksaw. The newest media censorship issue is the mini series docudrama on 9/11 that ABC plans to air on Sunday and Monday. I may be offending some of my fellow liberals on this, but I say "show the damn thing." Personally, I don't plan on watching it. That's my choice.

Back in the seventies NBC sponsored a mini series "Jesus of Nazareth" based on Anthony Burgess's novel Man of Nazareth. It's a good book and a fairly good film. Actaully, if you can find it, the book is much better, siimply because so much gets left out when a you try to turn words into film. The thing is the Robertson/Falwell fundamentalist brigade tried to derail the project long before it was filmed. Without knowing anything about the project, they accused it of being sacreligious and blasphemous. I still have the TV Week story somewhere in my small collection of old newspaper articles. NBC bucked the censorship attempts and showed the film. It's a good, thought provoking story giving one view of Jesus ministry and the human beings at the center of it. At least when it's over you have some idea of why the Romans and the temple establishment wanted the Galilean out of the way. Unlike a certain other film that was the center of another censorship hurricane not too long ago.

A few years ago admirers of Ronald Reagan managed to derail a mini series about him. I forget which network was planning to show it. I'm not sure how good it was. If it had been shown I would probably have had my nose stuck in a book listening to the stereo. Again, my choice. But, the precedent is there.

The problem is, if I want my speech to be free I have to let other folks have their say too. Short of yelling "fire" in a crowded room with limited exits pretty much anything goes. Oliver Stone took liberties with JFK. Michael Moore will never be called even handed. Born on the Fourth of July and Coming Home presented one view of the Viet Nam war. It wasn't everybody's view, but nobody rounded them up and bussed them to the theaters and made them watch the films.

Start the current tempest in a teapot with a big, bold public service announcement that "This is a work of fiction based on fact." Remind folks every half hour or so. Run a very slow crawl at the end with type you can actually read (not this tiny little stuff they use in the drug commercials) that acts as a bibliography. A "these are the sources we used type of thing." Show the thrice blaseted thing. If I want the ideas I believe in to be available I have to let everybody else have their say.  Oh, and no Nielson counts on this one. They'd be skewed anyway from all the publicity.

There was an old commercial for some cleaning product or other with the motto "life is messy, clean it up." Freedom is a messy, noisy, elbow jamming, in your face affair. Ya gotta love it. The alternative is too dismal to imagine.


tenyearnap said...

I take comfort in seeing that people are discussing a "war" while it is still happening...not ten years later when everyone is trying too hard to forget the whole thing. (Vietnam, dammit)

lisaram1955 said...

I think the flap is about the fact that this thing is being called a "documentary" rather than a made-for-tv-movie.  "Documentary" still holds, for some, the connotation that what is contained within is unbiased fact.  Which may have been so, twenty or thirty years ago.  These days, there is not an image consigned to film, nor a word consigned to newsprint, that is not colored by some kind of bias, no matter what the authors try to call it.  

It's interesting that this is the tack that the far right has taken so close to the mid-term elections.  It is amazing what a lot of money, influence, and knowing where the bodies are buried can accomplish.  This has Karl Rove written all over it...  Lisa  :-]

lightyears2venus said...

My local Democratic organization has sent e-mails to contact our local affiliate to block it and my reaction is identical to yours.