Monday, 27 February 2012

Censorship? What should we censor for children?

Our journey back from Manchester, after the excitement of seeing Peppa Pig Live, was, since it was on the train again, full of the same stresses of the journey there, only with the added interest of a couple of incidents.

I was in two minds as to whether to talk about both of them here, but I'm going to split them out and deal with them separately in two posts, so: -

First up, the "filmwatcher" and a question of censorship.

You know how you often get folk on the train with their laptops out, pretending to work but actually watching films or playing computer games on-line?  Our train home was so full that yes, you've guessed it, three of the children and I had to squeeze around a table already occupied by a gentleman who was watching a film on his laptop. Don't I sound all posh referring to a gentleman.  Would 'man' be better?

The two older children sat opposite, and I sat next to him (the man) with my youngest (aged 3 years - that's relevant later) sat on my knee.

My girls and I immediately managed to cover every remaining portion of space on that table with "stuff".  Magazines that we'd bought for the children for the journey home, snacks, drinks, and a lunch box.  The man took it all in his stride, and simply continued watching his film with his headphones on.  I had respect for him at that point.  He was coping remarkably well.  I concluded that he either had children or was used to them being around.  Anyone else would have been tutting by now.

I glanced out of the corner of my eye at the screen (he was sitting next to me.  It's not officially nosey if I can't help but be observant is it?) to see if I recognised what he was watching.

On catching site of the screen and taking in the image, I immediately twisted my youngest around slightly more on my knee so that she was facing away from it, and rested my hand on top of the lunchbox to block her view, despite the fact that she probably couldn't see it anyway due to the tight angle of vision she'd have had.

The reason for this, is that the scene I caught sight of was Daniel Craig with a plastic bag fastened over his face in some sort of torture scene.  I wondered initially if the film was James Bond, but I'm reliably told that it was probably Layer Cake.

The man seemed oblivious to the fact that his film was showing a torture scene and a small child was sat next to him.  Honestly, she couldn't see it at the angle I had her, probably couldn't have seen it before, but still, he was completely oblivious.  I re-evaluated by conclusion that he was used to being around children.

However, that film also had 'scenes of a sexual nature'.  And, very interestingly, the second that a naked Daniel Craig was on screen on top of a naked female co-star, the man's hand shot out to the laptop touchpad to fastforward and skip the scene.

I have never seen a hand move that fast.  I had to try hard not to giggle.  My instinct was not to embarrass him; so I pretended to be equally oblivious to his scene skipping.

He then realised he'd skipped too far ahead, tried to skip back a little bit, overshot and ended up back at the naked bodies, and had to skip right back off them again!

I sat wondering whether he was skipping the scene out of courtesy to me?  But if so, why?  Did he think having breasts on his screen would embarrass me?  Why would that embarrass me?  I see naked breasts every day - it's a (debatable) advantage of being a woman.  Because it had a naked Daniel Craig in it?  Don't skip that on my account.  I definitely won't be embarrassed by that!  Or just for the sake of the 3 year old?  In which case, if he censored the sex, why on earth didn't he censor the torture and suffocation?

I wondered what principles he was basing his censorship on?  Whether he was doing it for himself (embarrassment), for us (compassion or empathy or both), or because he felt he should (peer pressure)?

I'd have preferred him to skip the torture scene and leave the sexual scene on; if I had to choose between the two.  Ideally I'd have avoided both until she's a little older!

What do you think?  I'd love to hear your views on what, if any, responsibility falls on someone watching a film in a public place.

If you want to hear more about our half term trip, with tips to avoid the pitfalls we fell into click the following links:
Taking children to the theatre? Our adventures at Peppa Pig Live
Taking children on the train?  Here's what you really need to consider.
Trying to buy wine?  Tesco Express choose bureaucratic nonsense over common sense

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