International Censorship law: A case study
Censorship definition: ‘The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.’
This essay will illustrate (prove) countries choices in Censorship vary in opinion on what is morally correct and that animators must cautiously decide what areas in animation will be explored.
It will do so by exploring an overview of Censorship laws on the topic’s politics, where political leaders’ opinions and choices surrounding the topic of Censorship will be examined, the history of Propaganda to show how the countries have viewed themselves and one another, the comparison of western and eastern cultural standards and finally religion where the use of religion as a justification of Censorship is regarded.
This is worth considering because it gives navigation of art law exploring the cultural and commercial obligations that animators and artists need to take into consideration.
Censorship is a way in which a piece of the creation is monitored by a governing body that decides what should and should not be conveyed to an audience. Censorship itself has a mixture of good and bad reviews with some believing it is a restraint on freedom of expression and a way the government can control citizen views “The state has historically used Censorship to silent political dissent even when laws invoked were enacted for different reasons” ( Khullar. 2005 p.484)
While others have reasons, censorship is needed and valued for example in western countries “In these regions, censorship is typically explicitly motivated by the desire to protect children from images that may be harmful to them and tacitly motivated by financial and moralistic concerns.” (P, Livings. 2009 p.55)
This is still a matter of opinion within western and eastern societies which stems from arguments, for example, the recent controversy on Twitter regarding whether the platform should have Censorship or not.
This essay will further explore examples on censorship with reference material such as THE ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO PHILOSOPHY AND FILM, Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America, Chapter 7. One Belt, One Movie: China’s Campaign to Cancel America’s Cultural Dominance and Assert Alternate Narratives and Mexican Law on Obscenity.
List of figures:
Xi and Obama meme, Twitter.
Authaur/date/TheDucktators1942 [screenshot] Available from: …
The comparison of American and Chinese viewpoints in Censorship
The governing bodies and viewers reasoning for limiting expression vary but there are overall subjects throughout the world that are primarily focused on in censorship, these subjects being cultural appropriation, political opinion and religion.
Freedom of expression is something that carries many varied opinions all over the world.
“What counts as a sufficiently compelling reason to limit expression in any particular instance will depend on how freedom of expression is defended in the first place.” (Livings, 2009 p. 56)
In China, a supreme leader can ban something vastly popular over the world because the look of a character was compared to them. This shows the power dynamic in different countries and how the interpretation of media can vary in different cultures. This stemmed from a photo of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama, walking next to each other during a visit to the US, which was pictured next to an uncannily similar image of Winnie and Tigger as shown in Fig 1. This one meme had instigated many Winnie the Pooh comparisons to Xi Jinping and now Since 2017, a specially developed piece of software has automatically blocked all Xi Jinping /Winnie comparisons on China’s Internet but by this time the meme had spread to western cultures.
Some Americans clearly do not agree with China’s views even making a South Park animation criticizing the censorship laws in an episode called Band in China episode 2 season 23, in that episode Winnie pooh (Brock L. Baker) is shown sitting in jail as shown in Fig 2.
Research recently carried out by Freudenstein and Martens Centre for European Studies (cited in The Hollywood Reporter, 2019) found that:
In June 2018, the US television channel HBO was blocked in China because John Oliver had picked up on Winnie’s newfound fame in China (Kuo 2018). And the 299th South Park episode in October 2019, ‘Band in China’, was, indeed, very soon banned in China, and led to a total ban on access to episodes of South Park there (Brzeski and Parker 2019).
America has not held a positive opinion of the Chinese government this is stated in a piece of work written by varied authors stating “It is not an exaggeration to state that China is and will remain a significant challenge to the US on all aspects of national power for the foreseeable future.” (Courtois- Astorino, et al.,2021.p.i) And an article surrounding the topic of a shift in public attitudes toward China “The share of Americans who see China as our greatest enemies has doubled in the past year from 22% to 45% “ (Galton, 2021). There are many reasons but one of the main reasons is China’s rise as a global economic superpower which is a threat to the US’s position on the world stage as some would believe like Ted C. Fisherman who in his published work states “No country plays the world economic game better than China” (Fisherman, 2005, p.1).
These views are post-pandemic due to recent years views possibly being biased over the source of the pandemic, Pew research center article shows graphs and examples of how the unlikability of China has increased, with the stated reason being “The rise in unfavorable views comes amid widespread criticism over how China has handled the coronavirus pandemic.” (Silver, Devlin and Huang, 2020).
Following on with the episode, in the storyline, the character Randy Marsh (Trey Parker) plans to travel to China to expand the family’s Tegridy Farms marijuana business. Upon boarding a plane to China, Randy sees many other people, including NBA players and characters belonging to Disney, who are also going there to expand their businesses as shown in fig … This shows that despite Americans holding negative and suspicious views toward China they will still positively look toward the country and notice them as a good asset to hold in the distribution of merchandise, proving that when merchandising along with animations you need to consider where you’ll be distributing and also to consider censorship laws within that country on what you can and can’t sell there.
Though businesses can benefit from the opportunity of the Chinese market, this episode goes on to show how companies bend over backward to meet the censorship requirements so they can meet the Chinese market, as shown in the episode where the music producer mentions not being able to include the subject of Dali lama because of the Chinese beliefs. This is ironic as the animation itself is banned from China because its criticism of China and of the Chinese government. This is a clear example of animators needing to be cautious about what they produce, they need to take into consideration if they want to mass produce their product, they will need to tread cautiously on where other countries censorships lie.
British humours approach to Censorship and the justification of Censorship for China:
These views on having more open opinions on political leaders surround more western cultures. Similar memes have happened to political leaders in western culture. For example, a whole show was dedicated to ridiculing important political figures in England called Spitting image using puppets, which greatly exaggerates their features as shown in Fig 2his is to humanize our political leaders and is believed to actually benefit them as stated by Rebecca Higgie quoting other sources: “Scholarship on satire has argued that it is a form of political communication that can engage young voters, provide useful political information and commentary, and call politicians and the media to account” (Basu, et al.,2014, P.89-103). In summary, this shows a diversity in opinion on how countries agree and disagree on the representation of political leaders, therefore this is something to consider when making animations similar to Spitting image and other material involving political subjects.
The following example shows a wider perspective, leading away from animation but delving into the comparison of limited Censorship in western culture, primarily the United Kingdom compared to Chinese culture:
Although the UK allows mockery of political leaders, for us it is a way to hold them accountable for their actions.
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