Are Americans unable to handle the hard truths of life and its presentation in the media, or should Americans be freed from the disgrace of unpleasantries, real or concocted? Would that be a breach of the First Amendment, or should the plane-bombing of the World Trade Center be shown repeatedly on television?
It is a truth that life can be very offensive at times. We cannot allow ourselves to simply edit out all the bad things in life, or in the media.
Profanity, violence, nudity and sex in movies, television, news coverage and video games have been a hot topic for many years. Both supporters of free speech and moral conservatives have tackled the issue and felt threatened by the opposing opinion. Moral conservatives have gone so far as to edit media before distribution to the public.
Clean Cut Videos and the chain CleanFlicks carry only movies that have been edited to eliminate profanity, sex, gory violence and nudity, thus reduced from R to PG ratings. These stores cater to a niche market in a predominantly Mormon area of the nation, but there are more mainstream attempts to censor media.
All CDs carried by Wal-Mart are edited to eliminate or change profane or offensive lyrics. While that practice may satisfy some customers, many are opposed to such mass-editing, especially since Wal-Mart gives customers no warning that the contents of their CDs have been modified.
Lately there has been much discussion about whether the twin towers of the World Trade Center should be removed from movies, including the soon-to-be-released Spider-Man movie and video game. Some people say that they do not want the twin towers removed from movies because their image offers a sense of comfort after the recent tragedies. Other people say that seeing the twin towers again would stir up horrifying thoughts of Sept. 11.
Officials involved in the Spider-Man productions say that they will remove the buildings out of respect for the victims of the recent tragedies.
But we cannot remove all images of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. To do so is impractical and would also dishonor the memory of the victims and the history of New York City. The twin towers appear in movies and in every photograph and painting of the New York City skyline made in the past 60 years. To pretend that the twin towers did not fall victim to tragedy would be disrespectful to those who died in the tragedy.
Moving forword, we will undoubtedly be presented with images of the war against terrorism. Should we ask our journalists and photographers to tone down their coverage to make it digestible by the American public? I think not.
To edit the news in such a way would make Americans ignorant to the realities of what our country is currently involved in. Without images of the harsh reality of war, young Americans would continue to over-romanticize and idealize war. I have seen some television news stations attempt to cut down the amount of graphic images in their newscasts in an attempt to make their broadcasts “family friendly.”
Yes, newscasts, like movies and video games, can go overboard in accentuating the horrific. However, we must be careful not to edit out too much.
I believe Americans are mature enough to make their own decisions about what is appropriate media content for their consumption.
When we allow censors to edit the media for us, we do a disservice to ourselves by allowing others to determine our own maturity. Certainly, we should not allow gratuitous violence and profanity to permeate all of our media, but we must not allow censors to hide the harsh realities of life. American media consumers are not so immature as to need all media content to be dumbed-down and beautified, and we should not continue to allow censors to tell us otherwise.