Featured Blog, I: Malaysian Malaise
Sympathy for the Censor
Grady Hendrix, Kaiju Shakedown /March 24, 2006
It’s the worst job in the world: censor. You get blamed for doing too much and stifling freedom of expression, or for doing too little and corrupting children. You watch hundreds of movies for a living, burning out the part of your brain that once found movie going pleasurable. Your career is a dirty little secret because it’s practically an insult: censor. As far as bad jobs go, this is the end of the line.
No one really plans on becoming a movie censor. Maggie (not her real name) left Malaysia to attend graduate school in the U.K. She returned to Malaysia to become a university professor but unable to find work she wound up at one of Malaysia’s few private television companies, sitting in a windowless room and watching movies. She’s not the official in-house censor, but her job is to make sure that Muslims in these films are not shown doing “haram” things: drinking, smoking, or encountering pork products. She has generated hundreds of pages of notes that read: “Scene in which the Koran is discussed in relation to belief in the supernatural needs to be further looked into.” When she started she was promised some training, but a year later none has materialized. It’s just her and a VCR locked away in a tiny office.
This is an entirely voluntary project by her television network, which wants to preemptively remove anything that might upset government agencies. This kind of self-imposed sensitivity is crucial in Muslim-majority, multi-ethnic Malaysia, but, at times, it can seem a bit over-zealous. If a movie shows a Muslim girl walking into a restaurant with roast pork hanging in the window the scene is cut in order to avoid offending Muslims.
This caution is understandable when one realizes that the network takes their cues from the draconian Malaysian censor board, Lembaga Penapis Filem Malaysia, which is responsible for all decisions regarding theatrically released films. The board has decided that if Muslims don’t like pork, then they would really go bananas if confronted with pork that sings and dances: “Babe” was banned, as was “My Life as McDull” a popular, Chinese musical cartoon about a singing piglet. Muslims were not allowed to buy tickets to see “The Passion of the Christ” in a concession the government made to Muslim clerics who claimed that the film not only violated the tenets of Islam by visually depicting a holy figure but that Muslims, inspired by the film, might convert to Christianity. This was a step forward given that Malaysia had outright banned Jim Carrey’s “Bruce Almighty” for the same reasons. To avoid offending Buddhists, the Hong Kong movie “Running on Karma” had its title changed to “Mr. Fit.” Read the rest at Kaiju Shakedown...
Featured Blog, II: War Bounty
Everyone Hates the Christians
Jon Swift/March 29, 2006
When I became a convert from Judaism to born-again Christianity after watching The Chronicles of Narnia, I thought things were going to get a lot easier for me. After all, Jews have historically been the most hated people on Earth. And while Jews are a minority in this country, 85% of Americans call themselves Christian. I thought I would be sort of like a black person who suddenly turns white or a gay person who suddenly turns straight (which apparently happens all the time according to my new Christian brothers). So I was very surprised to discover that in fact everyone hates the Christians! It turns out that there is a War on Christians being waged right now that no one told me about. So in addition to the War in Iraq, the War on Terror and the War on Christmas, I now have yet another war to worry about.
This week a conference was held in Washington to discuss this distressing development, called "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006," which was sponsored by Rick Scarborough, the author of Liberalism Kills Kids Dead. Apparently, persecution of Christians is going on right under our noses and the incidents recounted at the conference were truly chilling. For example, Ted Turner, who used to be the head of CNN but is now unemployed, I think, once criticized Christians a number of years ago. A Christian painter almost had one of his paintings thrown out of an art show, but didn't. And Tom Delay has been denied a gun permit because he is a Christian. Speaking about his upcoming corruption trial, Delay said, "Sides are being chosen, and the future of man hangs in the balance!"
Not to be outdone, Navy Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt compared himself to Abdur Rahman, the Afghani man who was almost executed for being a Christian. Although Klingenschmitt was not threatened with execution per se, he was given a very severe reprimand by the Navy for trying to proselytize non-Evangelical Christians. I can only assume that when the Navy issues a severe reprimand, they really mean business.
Some attendees also talked about how Christians are constantly under assault from the media. Many singled out MySpace.com, which is apparently a child pornography website, for criticism. I think the owner of this website, whoever he is, should be arrested and all of his businesses should be shut down immediately. Clearly, he is a menace and we should do whatever we can to bring him to justice.
Also speaking on the subject of the media was one of my former compadres, Don Feder, founder of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation. Read the rest at Jon Swift...