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December 1993


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PATRICK J OCONNELL <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Dec 1993 17:54:41 -0500
text/plain (42 lines)
  Doug Riblet <[log in to unmask]>  writes:
   Last month, our local
> paper published an article about another case in which a US university
> film class (can't recall which school) had shown the film Taxi Zum Klo.
> Some students in the class had rebelled, stating that they should not
> have been "forced to watch" such a disgusting film.  The newspaper was
> assiduously "balanced," giving equal weight to the libertarian views
> of various professors and to the protestations of a handful of
> homophobic cretins.  (If any Screen-l participants were directly
> involved in the Taxi Zum Klo case, I would love to hear details.)
> I do not know what troubles me more:  the National Endowment of the
> Arts denying funds to artists like Karen Finley and Annie Sprinkle
> because their work is "obscene," or undergraduate students rebelling
> at being "forced to watch" artworks which offend them.  In my view,
> to shock and disturb an audience is one of the most important effects
> that an artwork can achieve.  The idea of 18-23-year-olds putting
> forth a "right" to be protected from such artworks and insisting that
> they only be exposed to artworks which provide pleasant experiences
> strikes me as one of the most disturbing trends in our culture.
> It is relatively easy to formulate a strategy for fighting state
> censorship -- how does one try to counteract the latter phenomenon?
Without getting mired in the censorship debate (which seems quite clearly
decideable, for me):  When I teach a course in Documentary Film History and
Criticism, I make clear early on that there will be some films that may
offend some students and that they are free to leave any film at any time
without comment.  I also identify films that I think may offend, in advance.
(Films that have caused some scattered reaction: Tongues Untied, Truth or
Dare, Night and Fog, Soldier Girls, Hearts and Minds, No Lies, Mondo Cane,
California Reich, Primate, Chicago Nazis.)  In practice, there
have been very few walkouts (Night and Fog gets to some), and spirited
discussion in many cases.  It seems a workable compromise.
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