Art and Censorship

Posted by: Rajat Bhateja

With the paradigms of morality fluctuating every day in art and cinema, it is upon the viewer’s discretion to understand and decide what is moral and immoral for them. We all loved watching Jordon Belfort’s notorious acts in Wolf of Wall Street or Walter White’s immoral deeds in Breaking Bad but none of us are trying to commit it. However when it comes to Indian cinema, they are always under the scrutiny of censor board to be morally upstanding and justified. Censor board has a choice to certify a film with an A certification if it has mature content but the rest of the discretion should be left upon the adult viewer. If an adult in this country is considered sensible enough to be a part of the biggest democracy, then there judgment should not be questioned when it comes to cinema.

And with the media always focusing on the hard hitting negative aspects of news everyday which is seen by children and adults alike then there is no point to filter what you cater as cinema to adults. In the eyes of the censor board a movie in India is considered more as a how to do tutorial (read how to be a protagonist in your own life) than a work of art. Some fragment of audiences might not like the vicarious aspects of evil and immoral acts being shown on screen but as long as it is a work of fiction and is not harming anybody directly or indirectly it should not be censored on moral grounds.

And how can any governing body, autonomous or not, define a moral compass (for everybody else) based on which a work of art should be judged. Is it not the responsibility of an individual? We have become so much involved in social consciousness that we have stopped thinking as individuals. Our understanding has been clouded with what others have to say. In today’s world, censorship has become a way of empirically establishing a work of art, based on its suitability with the audience, judging it on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of offensiveness.

After all, isn’t it high time that we all get offended? A work of art shows something not soothing enough for our eyes and we want it banned. Well then don’t see it. How can any single person or a body take a consensus decision about viewership? And a world where rapes, genital mutilation and paedophilia are being practised covertly, why is it such a big problem if these issues are addressed in a work of art.

As a society, we still haven’t reached a point of culmination to realise that we are all a bunch hypocrites.

Leaving you with what Frank Zappa once remarked regarding censorship “What do you make of a society that is so primitive that it clings to the belief that certain words in its language are so powerful that they could corrupt you the moment you hear them?”