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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Mindless censorship that makes you gag!

Poonam Saxena   July 12, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(12/7/2013) | Last Updated: 23:48 IST(12/7/2013)

The other day while watching an episode of Suits Season 2 on Comedy Central (more about the show in a bit), this is what I saw. A character makes a reference to Herman Melville’s book, Moby Dick. The word ‘Dick’ is beeped out. On the same channel, in an episode of that old TV series, Mind Your Language, a character draws the outline of a woman on the blackboard with a piece of chalk. The drawing is blanked out. Another character is reading what is clearly some sort of girlie magazine. The cover of the magazine is blanked out. The same character is holding a cigarette in his hand. There is a ‘Smoking Kills’ scroll that immediately appears on the screen.

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This is not censorship anymore. It’s insanity. You can’t even blame the channel, because remember, Comedy Central was recently banned by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for 10 days because someone objected to the allegedly inappropriate content the channel telecast a couple of years ago. No channel wants to face that kind of action. The result is that television censorship (particularly on the English channels) has reached such ridiculous, insensitive and dangerous levels that soon all we’ll be able to see are shots of people just sitting or standing or walking but not doing or saying anything. Because, potentially, anything can be offensive to anybody. Someone may be offended by the sight of a character eating meat (you’re promoting the killing of animals), or having a drink (you’re promoting alcohol), or going out with a member of the opposite sex (you’re encouraging loose morals), or wearing a swimsuit (you’re showing obscenity), and so on and so forth, endlessly.

It didn’t used to be like that some years ago. You could happily watch an English movie or a TV serial without encountering this kind of lunacy. Sure, nudity would be censored, but that was about it. However, what is currently happening is inexplicable. It is a mystery why TV channels are not asserting their right to show content as it should be shown. And it is a bigger mystery why the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is behaving as if it exists in one of those ultra-conservative, fundamentalist countries where all you’re allowed to see is religious discourses because everything else is corrupting and offesnive. As a TV viewer, this kind of mindless censorship leaves you feeling enraged and frustrated. I can’t even bring myself to laugh at it anymore.

Anyhow, to return to Suits. It’s probably one of the smartest shows on TV. Set in and around New York law firm Pearson Hardman, it centres around the relationship between the arrogant and super successful corporate lawyer Harvey Specter and his associate, the naïve but brilliant college dropout, Mike Ross. Season 1 was very enjoyable, full of sharp, witty repartee as the Harvey-Mike combine tackled complex legal cases with unconventional inventiveness. In Season 2, the drama and emotional quotient has been upped quite a bit. The action has shifted to the tussle of power at Pearson Hardman and the serious threats the company faces. Also, characters become more vulnerable — Harvey Specter is not as ruthless as he appears (Oh my God, he actually cares deeply about his colleagues and clients) and Mike Ross goes through some testing times of his own. Though Season 2 still has the classic Suits flavour, it is a wee bit more more somber. But it’s still a great watch.

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