Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Proscription Television

I recall, with enough residual amusement, watching The Playboy Channel in the mid-1980s, when the amount of quality softcore erotica was scarce and the channel's producers had to resort to airing hardcore, adult movies with their hardcore scenes scrupulously "softened" to appease the FCC, which forbade (and still forbids, I think) scenes of suchan explicit nature shown on a licensed cable channel. This often rsulted in reducing feature-length movies like Debbie Does Dallas to sometimes half their original length. The raison d'etre of such movies was compromised by the removal of depictions of genitalia and penetration to the extent that they were rendered pointless [pun]. The Playboy Channel's censorship was self-defeating - porn stars, while well-equipped for combat copulation, are no good as nude models. And the very notion of a porn movie without porn is nonsensical.

Here on the Pacific Rim, some of the major American cable channels have Asian affiliates whose programming is tailored for a non-subscription, basic-cable audience. Consequently, much of the strong language, graphic violence, and the nudity that are routinely featured on programs produced by HBO, for example, have to be removed in order to reach a PG audience. The appeal of programs like Boardwalk Empire, now in its fourth season, depend to a large extent on plentiful gore and sex. Game of Thrones, also in its fourth season, is a clumsy mixture of medieval fantasy of the sword and sorcery variety and soap opera - and is HBO's most unlikely hit show. But it, too, is awash in blood, butts and breasts - all of which has to be excised when every episode is aired, often on the same day they are seen in the States, on HBO Asia. Without the periodic surprise of spurting blood and/or heaving naked bodies, Game of Thrones is a thoroughly moribund and feeble saga of Lord of the Rings proportions. The shows fans, sensing this, try to argue that the TV series doesn't do the books on which Game of Thrones is based justice. To which all I can say is -- the nudity is so much better on TV.

No comments: