Alan Ainsworth writes:
>What about films that deal explicitly with religion? With race? Cursing?
>I have a low tolerance for cursing in films, myself, because of
>involuntary blushing mechanisms that I guess my upbringing put into me,
>but I don't know if I'd ask a professor to give me a different set of
>films because of this.
My response would be to take the attitude that nothing is off limits but to
acknowledge that different issues can be offensive to different
individuals, or not as the case may be. If there's an academic and/or a
moral justification for dealing with things which are or could be
controversial, then address the controversy as part of the academic context.
The first time I had to address an issue like this was in a distinctly
non-academic setting: as a fresh-faced 19 year-old, I got a job at the
National Film Theatre in London. The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival was on,
and on my first shift I had to show a homosexual porn film which consisted
almost entirely of non-stop, hard-core sodomy. At the end of the evening,
my boss (who happened to be gay) offered to buy me a stiff drink,
commenting that I must have been 'bored out of my skull' after an evening
showing that 'amateurish c**p'. Being the son of a Conservative-voting,
church going family, and seeing that kind of film for the first time, I can
assure you that boredom was not my initial reaction (although it certainly
would be now)!
Being a level-headed sort of person it didn't really bother me that much.
However, what would happen if you showed that sort of thing to a class of
18 year-old first year students, and then as the lights went up, said 'OK,
now we're going to have a debate about film theory and representations of
the nude male body..'. Some would engage with it (verbally, I mean!), but
I wouldn't mind betting that one or two might tell their parents, who would
then try to get you arrested under some obscenities act or other.
What I'm trying to illustrate is that some people have more open minds when
it comes to specific issues than others. For example, see the joke below,
which I personally found hilarious but which is almost certainly less
amusing to others...
What's the difference between a feminist film theorist and Colonel Gadaffy?
You can hold a rational debate with Colonel Gadaffy.
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