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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Snip, snip: English TV channels play nanny

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times   November 10, 2012
First Published: 00:04 IST(10/11/2012) | Last Updated: 00:06 IST(10/11/2012)

Full rant alert. Please don't say I didn't warn you. Last week, I wrote about how I, along with many other viewers, enjoy watching international fiction shows. The sheer scale and production values alone put them in another league altogether. But watching foreign shows (and films) is also becoming an exercise in deep frustration. That's because of the massive censorship of these shows on our English TV channels. I was thrilled to watch Game of Thrones on HBO since I've read all the books by George R R Martin and the TV series has done an absolutely magnificent job of bringing the books to vibrant, pulsating life. Till I got the DVDs of the show and watched them. I was aghast, because I realised just how much had been cut on TV, whether it was the violence or the love-making scenes (yes, there's quite a bit of both). To give one more instance from another favourite show of mine: In Supernatural, many of the 'killing' scenes (vampires and other monsters getting beheaded/ killed in an even slightly cold-blooded fashion) are routinely censored on AXN.

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And don't even get me started on the movies. The other night, I watched Friends With Benefits on Pix but by the time I finished, I wished I hadn't bothered. Not only because it was a silly movie (sorry Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis fans!), but because after a while I didn't even know what I was watching. More than 50 per cent of the dialogue was beeped out. I could barely make out what people were saying to each other. What's the point of showing serials/films if they're going to be so brutally censored? Why should words like 'sex' or 'shit' be removed? Why should all curse words be removed? Why should most violent/sensuous scenes be removed? Frankly, who's supposed to watch these shows? Two-year-old toddlers? I don't remember this kind of censorship of foreign shows some years ago. But now things have come to such a pass that I have all but stopped watching English films on TV. I'm seriously contemplating doing the same for fiction series on TV. It's better to buy DVDs of the films (they're not that expensive) and to watch TV series online or buy their DVDs. At least you'll get to see the real thing. Maybe our scissor-happy censors don't realise but many of the scenes/dialogues they cut actually have something to do with plot/character development.

If the English TV channels are so hell bent on extreme censorship, here's a bit of unsolicited advice. Why not convert your channels to children's  channels? Then you can happily show TV serials about teddy bear picnics. But if you profess to be a channel for grown-ups, treat your audiences like grown-ups. Also, to clear all confusion, I am not talking of censorship of particularly grisly scenes or some especially offensive dialogues. I'm talking of hacking away at everything and anything. So yes, my DVD bills may go up. But that's all right. It's a small price to pay for the pleasure of watching good, uncut fiction.

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