Bowdlerizing is Censorship
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question is…
“Do you think that the metrics the Academy Awards will start applying in 2024 regarding the composition of at least 30% of the cast and crew by under-represented groups in order for a film to even qualify for the Best Picture Oscar nomination is appropriate? Or, do you share Richard Dreyfuss’ opinion that because filmmaking is an art form, imposing such criteria in order for a film to even be considered for an Oscar is inappropriate?“
It is as ridiculous as the publishing world rewriting books to conform to today’s politically correct woke-driven standards. It is a form of censorship that we cannot allow to happen. I believe the best people applying for the position should be employed. I’m not naive, I fully understand that there are bigoted factions in society and sometimes affirmative action initiatives are appropriate. There are other ways to ensure a representative workforce. Stifling art is not the place it should be applied.
Art must be judged on its merit, not on a headcount of arbitrarily delineated categories of people. Salman Rushdie said it best of the literary world at the 2023 British Book Awards when he was talking about publishers re-writing works by authors such as Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl. “Books have to come to us from their time and be of their time, and if that’s difficult to take, don’t read them. Read another book, but don’t try and remake yesterday’s work in the light of today’s attitudes.”
While Hollywood may not be re-editing or updating older works there is a push to rewrite the screenplays of the stories Rushdie talks about to conform to today’s rules. I point to the example of The Aeronauts, a fictional film based on the true history of scientists James Glaisher and Henry Tracy Coxwell. When the screenplay was being written and the cast chosen there was a conscious effort to replace Henry Tracy Coxwell with the fictional Amelia Wren (the name of the character, no doubt chosen to mimic that of female heroine Amelia Earheart, only serving to further muddle the true history) to make the film more inclusive. Essentially rewriting the past for public consumption and to an audience that will take it as a fact and never consider looking up the real history.
While I believe that all people who are qualified should be able to apply and work in the film industry (or any industry) I suspect the new rules the Academy will impose only encourage more bowdlerizing of art and history and that is a form of censorship that cannot be tolerated.
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