Friday, June 19, 2009

To think that censorship stunts art, it helps to not have seen Hitchcock's Psycho

In The nascent art form, in which Dustin Sklavos asks "Are video games art?", he also writes:

I'm not one of those "old films are the best films" blah blah jackasses; for my own enjoyment and education, I generally don't watch anything made before 1970.

But one of my favorite examples is in a French film I watched in one of my classes, Francois Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player from 1960. There's a scene in the bedroom where the main character has just had relations with a prostitute, they're lying in bed together, and her breasts are exposed. They're having a conversation, and the prostitute says something to the effect of "look at me, I'm an American" before covering up her breasts with the sheet. Keep in mind that in 1960 with the Hays Code still active, this scene would never have made it to America. So if anything, what you learn from this bit—in context—is that censorship stunts art, and the French will mock us for it.

[My bold.]

Or they might mock someone for not having seen Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, with its infamous shower scene, which is also from 1960. The shower scene has its own lengthy section in Wikipedia's page for Psycho where it's described as "one of the most famous scenes in cinema history". (Indeed, searching for hitchcock psycho shower scene returns about 242,000 hits on Google.) The shower scene alone utterly demolishes any notion that censorship stunts art.

That limitations can spark creativity might not occur to someone arguing that, while there's plenty of violence, what games currently lack is more sexual content.

Shamefully, Slashdot used the Sklavos piece as the basis for its story Censored Video Game Content Stifles Artistry.

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