RE: Dealing with disturbing content/censorship

Oksana Dykyj (
Wed, 27 Feb 2002 10:23:20 -0800 (PST)

Years ago I used to teach an introductory level Film Studies course. Even
when warning students about possibly disturbing content in films like
Cronenberg's The Brood, which out of the 11 or so times that I showed the
film, I may have had two students who walked out. On the other hand, I
had people on a couple of occasions complaining about The Conformist (when
there still was a beautiful rental print around). Their complaints were not
so much about the violence at the end of the film but the fact that fascism
was a major topic. I also had one student completely freaked out over Don't
Look Now and she couldn't come back to class for several weeks because of
it, but then I wasn't aware of her fragile state and could not have
predicted her reaction. More humorously, several people complained about
the gratuitous violence in The Birds, and believe it or not, I had one
student once complain about the orgy scene in D. W. Griffith's Orphans of
the Storm.

It is very difficult for academics and librarians to effectively teach and
provide research material without scaring or offending someone. In Art
History there are images of crucifixions, beheadings, ravages of war.
Museums are not going to place warning labels on Goyas or Fuselis or work
by Rops, Bacon, Beckman and others that depict disturbing imagery. And,
surely they are not going to commission outfits to clothe naked statues
(U.S. Justice statues aside). We must just use our judgment on go on.


Oksana Dykyj voice: 514-848-3443
Head, Visual Media Resources fax: 514-848-3441
Faculty of Fine Arts
Concordia University
H-335, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W,
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3G 1M8