A Talk on Censorship

A Talk on Censorship

Good morning Rebels and welcome back to my life.

Yesterday’s video was a perfect little springboard for a much broader topic: the topic of censorship.

Censorship is really, really tricky. There’s different types of censorship. There’s different levels of censorship.

At its most basic level, what is the actual meaning of the word censorship?

Merriam-Webster defines it as the institution, practice or system of censoring, and a censor as an official who examines materials for objectionable matter.

Now that use of the word “official” is pretty important here. This is someone in some position of authority who is using their power to suppress part of a communication.

This tells us immediately that you, in your living room, choosing to turn off the TV when the news comes on, is not censorship. That is not an official decision, that is you—one person.

But this doesn’t mean that ALL censorship comes from the government, either. For example, the Motion Picture Association of America can effectively censor a movie by giving it an NC-17 rating, assuring that almost no one will see it because it’s probably porn.

Of course we’re totally fine with the SAW franchise and people carving other people’s skin off and stuff

But we can’t show two adult individuals having consensual sex because we don’t want children to get IDEAS.

Now, for most people, a ratings system is pretty innocuous. And in fact sometimes I really appreciate having the rating system in place. Like recently I saw the trailer for the movie Chappie and thought, “Oh man, I bet my kids would love this!”

Then I noticed that the film was rated R and so I went to see it without my kids. And boy, it’s a really good movie, but yeah, totally not appropriate for my kids at this stage of their lives.

The only problem with rating systems arises from the fact that they are, by their nature, arbitrary, like the aforementioned point that violence is apparently way more appropriate to show our kids than sex is.

And if we are talking about sex, how much sex is too much sex? Why is it that what we consider an attractive boob is more likely to get an R rating than an unattractive boob? And who decides which boobs are attractive?

And I just want to take a second to state for the record that personally, I find all of them pretty awesome.

Language is even more dicey. Kevin Smith’s movies get an R rating because he drops a lot of eff bombs, but Quentin Tarantino’s movies also get the R rating because they have eff bombs AND, you know, often times people being killed in pretty hilariously violent ways.

Is one equal to the other? Do Chasing Amy and Reservoir Dogs really deserve the same film rating?

You’ve also got retailer censorship, and this can certainly be a problem for creators and consumers.

Retailer censorship is when a store, such as the Steam video game store, decides not to carry a product, such as the recent hyperviolent video game Hatred.

Now, this is unfortunate for the game. But there’s also not a whole lot we can do about it, other than force Steam to sell the game, which is itself illegal.

Good retailers, of course, have a system of policies in place so that they’re at least consistent when they choose not to sell a game, and as long as those policies are relatively clear, there’s not much problem. It’s when the policies are murky that things become a little more worrisome.

In the end, censorship can take many forms, and while government 0censorship is the most egregious and should never be tolerated, there are other forms of censorship that, all too often, are carried out in the name of “protecting the children.”

The problem is that that protection comes according to a set of rules and morality that not everyone shares, and this can make it harder for creators to spread messages that might be uncomfortable for their audience—but might ultimately be beneficial, too.

In the end, I think we’re already seeing the solution gain more and more of a foothold.

With the advent of the Internet and the host of content critics it has spawned, more and more people choose to ignore our arbitrary ratings systems and instead just find out what their favorite YouTuber has to say.

As long as we can keep the government from perpetrating any form of censorship, I think we’re getting closer and closer to a society where everyone can find the content curators that match their own moral standards.

And while that can create problems too, like when big publishers start buying YouTuber influence, that’s the subject of another video.

As always, Rebels, thank you for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.


Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

Share This