If you’re from the Lowlands or London censorship is a very alien concept. I don’t watch a lot of telly, but I love films and now and again Anna and I watch a film or two on a lazy evening on MBC which is a satellite channel . The films are broadcast in the original language (English in all cases) and subtitled in Arabic. I started noticing that they sometimes made swear words inaudible and if they don’t do this they give them a rather silly translation. Like f*ck is something like, let evil befall him. Now, swear words are sometimes made inaudible on UK television too but never in a film or in drama series.
When we were watching the modern classic of Clueless I started noticing that they had cut all the scenes in which people are snogging. And they cut the scene in which the guy Cher fancies reveals his gay! They show the scene after that when they are in the car and looking back on it all; ‘well, he dresses well, he likes Oscar Wilde’ etc. But if your gaydar is not that well tuned you completely miss why he is not into her and you miss a good joke. (If your gaydar is finely tuned you saw it coming all along).
On that same night I saw they were broadcasting Californication on another MBC channel. It took me a few episodes to get into the groove but now I Iove Californication. It is incredibly well written, funny, mad, bitter sweet, funky and Hank Moody is the hottest fictional character in television history. If you know Californication you’ll also know it is sexually very explicit and there is some swearing going on here and there so I was very, very curious if they would broadcast it uncensored because they couldn’t possibly cut all the snogging and shagging and swearing, I mean, they’re wouldn’t be a show left. They broadcast the episode from the first season in which Hank arranges a job for Karen, Charlie and Marcy are having a threesome with Charlie’s assistant and Karen and Hank go rescue Mia from her teacher’s flat. Although I could have known, I was absolutely amazed and appalled that they’d cut all the naughty bits! They show Marcy in Charlie’s office telling her husband with his assistant Dani present that it has all been arranged . The rest of the scene is cut. The scene in which Charlie expresses his doubts about having his assistant participate in a threesome is cut. They show when Dani is about to arrive at the Runkle residence, the rest of the scene is cut! They do show the scene in which Charlie and Marcy are in A&E with Charlie holding an ice pack on his man boob, but since the previous scene is cut you have no idea why they’re there and what happened. Then, at the end of the episode when Becca expresses her disappointment to her father and says ‘f*ck you’, they changed it into ‘forget you’. No one ever says that and in that context it sounds like incorrect English. Then she gives her father some money and tells him to keep the change. What’s the point of that if she’s not swearing! (Becca and her father have a deal that whenever one of them swears they have to give a dollar to the other). I understand that Arab societies are more prudish and far less open about sex – and sex related swear words- than people in the West. If this is the case why are they broadcasting a show like Californication in the first place? If you cut all the naughty bits there is very little story left to understand and you have to do a lot of guessing. I also find it an insult to the makers of the show. They ripping apart someone’s work which I find very disrespectful. If you don’t want to expose audiences to scenes of a sexual nature that’s absolutely fine but have the balls not to take half measures and don’t broadcast the show at all. No one is served by a show that is that strictly censored.