Re: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA & Fox Movie Station

clarkjc@jmu.edu
Wed, 2 Jul 2003 17:35:00 -0400

Two issues going on in this thread. Let me add a few more
comments on both.

1. On an alternative to the Chan ban: Gail has an excellent
idea below. I can't think of a better way to handle
preserving our historical film heritage *and* putting it into
context. This strategy would server every viewer, no matter
what their sophistication or prior inclination.

2. The vexing problem of privatization, the FCC and the
media, libraries, and anything else that's "public" and
threatened:
First step to thinking clearly would be to put such things
into a proper context. These kinds of resources--especially
airwaves which are considered the public's and technically
inhabit a "public domain" by virtue of this fact--are in the
nature of "utilities" because of that. What do you do with a
utility? You regulate it.
By regulation, we don't necessarily have to mean groan-
inducing bureaucracy, but we can't eliminate that option if
it's appropriate. The FCC has had an ineffectual sort of
regulation in terms of stipulating public obligations for
programming of those companies that get spectrum (unrigorous
standards and policing though they have been subjected to).
With meaningful teeth, that'd be a form of regulation
different from setting water rates or something of that ilk.
In terms of institutional public resources such as
libraries, public television support, you name it, the
utilities approach would still be useful--if people could
only see, honestly, that these things benefit everyone in
different ways, even if indirecty, because they benefit their
society. Of course, the almost-ubiquitous inclination to
privatize everything where possible, and pay for as little as
possible in taxes, mitigate against the ability to see
forests instead of trees.
I'm on a rag, but I'll wind up, I promise. I must end with
a observation that Jeremy Rifkin made in his book "The Age of
Access". I've since seen it echoed elsewhere, in other forms.
(You'd be surprised where--such as Barber's "Jihad v.
MacWorld" and his editorial comments since.)
Taking the long and large perspective, as the social
sciences do, yields an almost incontrovertible fact: just as
form follows function, business follows community and thus
culture. Without a communal foundation, no business can be
conducted successfully and independently. (Rifkin used the
example of problems with regenerating an economic
infrastructure in eastern Europe after the fall of Communism--
because the "social capital" of the societies involved, trust
and values in communal relationships, had been so depleted by
the political system.)
Yet obtuse, we too often seem bound to see business-as-king-
and-as-usual as something that goes on without real relation
to the society it's part of, as if the latter were an
inexhaustible resource. It's as if two hands thought they
could wash one another and keep clean without ever
touching.... (Not a perfect metaphor, but you get the idea.
Along the lines of one of those hands, alone, clapping, I
suppose.)
Sooner or later, what's as certain as death and the taxes
too many reflexively don't want to pay, is that you'll lose
something you value that can't be bought for nearly a song at
Walmart. Because you can't price it don't mean it don't
exist. Airwaves and libraries are in that category. And even
the pricing that something solid and vital like water gets,
is an arbitrary figure in relation to its value. Would that
we'd only give recognition to *everything* that's priceless.
I'd rather not think the alternative of obtuseness is
inevitable.

Jeff

---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 13:17:57 -0500
>From: "Gail Fedak" <gfedak@mtsu.edu>
>Subject: Re: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA  & Fox Movie
Station
>To: <videolib@library.berkeley.edu>
>
>Unfortunately, public schools are already on their way to
privatization in
>the form of corporate sponsorships - to pay for what the
local school boards
>and state departments of education are unable (read
unwilling) to support.
>Is it acceptable - no. Is it inevitable - it appears to be.
>
>In advocating that Fox Movie Station refrain from showing
Charlie Chan
>movies, NAATA and other Asian American groups are missing a
golden
>opportunity to offer discussions about stereotyping and
other cultural
>issues related to these films. The History channel regularly
shows movies
>about historical events and intersperses the broadcasts with
discussions
>among historians and others knowledgeable about the depicted
event. Why did
>NAATA not offer to work with Fox along a similar line to
provide cultural
>education to a mass audience?
>
>How can we determine the degree of our progress to improve
anything if we
>cannot be informed of the source of the problem?
>
>Willing to sign Gary's petition,
>Gail B. Fedak
>Manager, Instructional Media Resources
>Middle Tennessee State University
>Murfreesboro, TN 37132
>phone 615-898-2740
>fax 615-898-2530
>email gfedak@mtsu.edu
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Lisa Irwin" <LisaI@kpl.gov>
>To: <videolib@library.berkeley.edu>
>Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 11:12 AM
>Subject: RE: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA & Fox Movie
Station
>
>
>> Linda,
>>
>> Just wondering what you think about applying the same
rationale to public
>libraries and public schools. If the public doesn't want to
pay for them,
>do you think it is acceptable that public schools and
libraries are
>privatized by the for-profit sector as well?
>>
>> Lisa Irwin
>> Audiovisual Services
>> Kalamazoo Public Library
>> Library of the Year 2002
>> (269) 553-7923
>> lisai@kpl.gov
>>
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Linda Fox [mailto:lfox@gw.neric.org]
>> Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 11:34 AM
>> To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>> Subject: RE: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA & Fox Movie
Station
>>
>>
>> Jed;
>> I think we have given the broadcast spectrum away to the
highest
>> bidders (media moguls) and will continue to do so -
because we must
>> continue to lower taxes. If the public doesn't want to pay
for the
>> broadcast spectrum (and they don't ) then it goes to
private hands. The
>> same way that we now have a Pepsi Arena here in Albany,
NY. Because the
>> city didn't want to pay for the arena. Since the Pepsi
company now owns
>> arena, they can for example, decide not to allow Eminem to
perform
>> there. I think it's an old but increasingly true adage -
that he who
>> pays gets to make the rules. If our public officials
insist on lowering
>> taxes and increasing privitization, corporations will be
making the
>> decisions and "we the people" have "sold" them that right -
for lower
>> taxes.
>> Just a note - the ALA didn't define censorship as control
by a
>> government entity - Webster's dictionary did.
>> Have a good day.
>> Linda Fox (not Fox news)
>>
>> >>> JedH@videopipeline.com 07/02/03 11:05AM >>>
>> I think the ALA is missing the boat. Like so many things,
government
>> has
>> outsourced censorship. Have we given away the monopoly on
broadcast
>> spectrum without retaining any interest in it as a commons?
>> Jed
>> PS Does anybody know who controls the performance license
for the
>> Charlie
>> Chan films
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu
>> [mailto:videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu]On Behalf Of
Linda Fox
>> Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 10:09 AM
>> To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>> Subject: RE: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA & Fox Movie
Station
>>
>>
>> Of course the ALA has an Office of Intellectual Freedom.
But the Fox
>> Channel is a private organization that can do as it
pleases.
>> Censorship
>> is specifically defined as a banning of information by a
public or
>> government agency (like a school or a state government
office). On a
>> somewhat different but related note: There is a book
titled Censorship
>> 2001: 25 Years of Censored News (Available on amazon). The
book tells
>> the stories that never make to your news broadcasts. Take
a look at -
>> get it from your local library. You will be shocked!
>> News channels make decisions (right or wrong) all the time
about what
>> they will and will not show their viewers. And isn't that
why there
>> was
>> such a hue and cry over the latest FCC decision about
ownership of the
>> media? This is much bigger than Charlie Chan. Charlie Chan
is the tip
>> of
>> this proverbial iceberg.
>>
>>
>>
>> Linda Fox - Director VOICE: (518) 786-3221
>> School Library System FAX: (518) 786-6401
>> Capital Region BOCES E-MAIL: lfox@gw.neric.org
>> 6G British American Blvd. URL: www.crbsls.org
>> Latham, NY 12110 Member - NYLA Legislative
Committee
>> Member
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> >>> JedH@videopipeline.com 07/02/03 09:34AM >>>
>> I agree. Mr. Chan is a hero of mine. So what can we do
about it?
>> Doesn't
>> the ALA have a group involved in censorship issues?
>> Jed Horovitz
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu
>> [mailto:videolib-bounces@library.berkeley.edu]On Behalf Of
Mary M.
>> Kirby
>> Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:59 PM
>> To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>> Subject: Re: [Videolib] Censorship from NAATA & Fox
Movie Station
>>
>>
>>
>> Bravo, Jessica. This would be terrible censorship, if
indeed it
>> happens.
>>
>> Has the NAATA watched these movies before deciding
to "ban them"?
>> Sure
>> doesn't sound like it.
>>
>> Mary Kirby
>> Library Media Project
>> www.librarymedia.org
>>
>>
>>
>> At 06:56 PM 7/1/03 -0400, you wrote:
>>
>> I am sure I am opening up a BIG can of worms here but
I am VERY
>> upset
>> and sad that due a complaint from NAATA and other
Asian American
>> organizations the Fox Movie Channel has abruptly
cancelled
>> showings of
>> the classic Charlie Chan films from the thirties. I
think it is
>> appalling
>> and tragic that ANY media organization would encourage
censorship
>> to the
>> extent of preventing films from being seen. What is
particularly
>> upsetting is that I doubt most of these people have
ever WATCHED
>> these
>> films. While the issue of white actors playing Asian
roles can be
>> endlessly
>> debated , do we ban ALL films in which white actors
play Indians,
>> Blacks,
>> Asians , Non- Jews playing Jews etc ? In fact the Chan
character
>> IS
>> NOT
>> the shuffling pigeon English speaking buffoon
described in NAATA's
>> letter of
>> complaint , but a well educated , well spoken HERO who
always
>> solves the
>> mystery the white police CAN'T . I realize it is not
>> my place to tell someone what is and is not a
stereotype of their
>> group
>> but
>> I would love to know exactly WHICH films people
watched to come to
>> this
>> conclusion. The Charlie Chan films are much prized by
film &
>> mystery
>> buffs
>> and are wonderful "B" movies that helped launch the
careers of
>> many
>> notable
>> directors, writers & actors
>> To get these films "banned" by removing them from TV (
You can't
>> get
>> them
>> legally on video) is the worst kind of censorship.
Should Kino
>> stop
>> selling
>> BROKEN BLOSSOMS or THE CHEAT since they contain
respectively a
>> white
>> actor
>> playing a Chinese character and a stereotype of a
lustful Asian. I
>> hope
>> they
>> plan on campaigning against the many of the films by
starring Anna
>> Mae
>> Wong
>> & Sessue Hayakawa which often contain stereotypes for
worse than
>> Charlie
>> Chan even if the actors were Asian
>>
>> It is just inexcusable to encourage Fox or anyone to
remove
>> a film that you find offensive. If they wanted Fox to
do some
>> after
>> commentary or have links to a web site explaining
their position
>> that
>> would
>> have been an excellent way of getting their view
across. This is
>> censorship
>> pure & simple
>>
>> There is one amusing bit of irony in that the highest
rated show
>> on the Fox News Channel is Bill O'Reilly who spends a
LOT of time
>> attacking the "left" for their "PC" attitudes on
cultural issues
>> I suggest he look in his own backyard.
>> Jessica Rosner
>> Kino International
>> 333 W 39th St. 503
>> NY NY 10018
>> jrosner@kino.com
>>
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