Does a movie deserve to be banned?

It’s a fairly stupid question to ask, but one that is sadly predictable given the state of modern journalism. We must be objective. We mustn’t take sides or show the slightest hint of bias. When Egypt bans a movie, we cannot be seen criticizing outright such an indefensible act of censorship. No, we must call Paul Krugman’s Very Serious People to the floor, so that they may have a very serious discussion and thereby reach no conclusion whatsoever.

Alex von Tunzlemann writes for The Guardian:

One problem for those who try to ban movies is that this may only increase their appeal. The Interview took a reported $15m (£9.8m) in online sales in its first week, after alleged North Korean attempts to get it pulled from cinemas transformed it from a witless farce into an expression of free speech. Exodus: Gods and Kings has performed modestly so far. It took the No 1 spot at the US box office, but with $24.5m in first-week takings scored significantly lower than comparable biblical epics The Passion of the Christ ($83.8m) and Noah ($43.7m). Perhaps the film-makers are even hoping that controversy might help it make a decent return on its $140m budget. On its own merits, this unfocused, pompous and silly take on biblical history might all too quickly be forgotten.

After paragraphs of pointless drivel, the question overtly implied in the very title of Mr. von Tunzlemann’s piece remains unanswered. He goes on and on establishing that the Egyptian government’s primary charge against the film–that it is historically inaccurate–is essentially true, but rather than weigh in on whether the ban is justified, he leaves us with an anecdotal cautionary tale warning of the popular appeal that invariably follows taboo.

And so the lesson here is not that censorship is largely unethical, but that whining about censorship is pointless because more people might wind up seeing the movie because it is banned. Maybe.

Good job, Guardian.


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