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June 1994


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"John G. Thomas" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 22:13:11 -0700
text/plain (65 lines)
        I thought I had learned to keep my thoughts to myself, but your
reply along this thread was so well thought out and logical...well, you
deserve a blue star or something!  And Louisville!  D.W. Griffth went o
Junior High there.
        I believe the interesting point about the censorship I had to
deal with is that its origin seemed to be political, rather than,
say, violence or objectional "f" words.  The other day one person on this
distinguished forum posed a question about my reasoning or motivation for
the character making the comment, "Shes a dyke."  The question was
rethorica, and, to say the least, "loaded."  Sort of a, "Do you still
beat your wife" kind of question.  And that, Tom, is THE issue.
        The censorship in this case (the film), was a form of political
censorship.  Why do I say this?   For one thing, when I finished the film
in 1988, the use of the word "dyke" was not objected to by anyone...the
distributor, the critics(the film got a very good review BTW), HBO,etc.
But, sometime later, about 1989 though 1992, the word was changed in
certain cases.(particular networks, foreign markets, etc.)
        It is my belief that in 1988 PC had not yet gathered enough
momentum to assert this kind of change in most media, (Except perhaps PC
censorship on college campuses).  Nothing new really.  EVERY American
film, as you know, was subject to various forms of political censorship
during the late 1940's through the late 1950's.  They too said they were
not clamping down on free speech or thought, just protecting us from
those darned communists.
        If in this case the character's motivation to say "dyke" rather
than "gay" is the character's true and honest motivation, then thats all
there is to it.  Please don't get the idea that I'm some right winger,
I'm not.  Right down the center of the road is where I think I am.  But I
refuse to comply with some PC'ers sensitivity and compromise my work.
Hell, the system compromises it enough already!
        I was absolutely amazed after the screening of my latest
effort at how perceptive the audience was!  Small, delicate points that I
was worried might get lost were picked up quickly.  The audience can deal
with most anything, but never pull your punches or lie to them.  They are
so damned smart.  The dyke/gay question underscores this.  Other
filmmaker friends of mine struggle with this same problem.  And what DO
you do?  Satisfy the thankfully limited number of PCer's well intended
but flawed sensitivity and compromise the whole effort?
        Like many worthy issues, there is no black and white answer here.  But I
would hope that most of us would err on the side of artistic freedom of
expression.  I will never forget a lecture I had in film school from that
incredible German ex-filmmaker, Leni Refinstahl.(sp)  She told us about
an an informal experiment she conducted back in the 1940's when she
screened a wonderful documentary/propaganda film she had just finished which
extolled the virtues of her then close friend, Adolph.  Seems she showed the
film to two different, specially selected audiences.  One audience was
composed of people who already loved Hitler and the other audience most
assuredly hated and despised the man.  Her result was that the film
didn't change anybodys opinion about Hitler, only reinforced their
previous opinions.
        Again, thanks for your most welcomed reply.
---------------->from John G. Thomas ([log in to unmask]) <-------------------