No Caption Needed is a book and a blog, each dedicated to discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society. No caption needed, but many are provided. . . .

December 20th, 2007

Hollywood Censors Torture?

Posted by Hariman in visualizing war

Of course not. Where would the movie industry be without Saw, Hostel, and similar delights? So it might come as a surprise to learn that the Motion Picture Association of America has censored this movie poster:


According to Variety, the Association was put off by the hood. We can’t have children seeing a prisoner wearing a hood, can we?One wonders where to begin. Will the MPAA also be firing off a letter to the Bush administration protesting their treatment of prisoners? Since the hood is seen via a photograph of can actual event (and not an illustration or a staged image of a fictional scene), one might ask why the MPAA is prohibiting visual documentary–indeed, depiction of the practice of detention that is the subject of the film. And if children are to be protected from seeing hooded prisoners, does that mean that we should also censor the daily newspapers that have been carrying such photos for the past several years? If so, we also had better protect those tender eyes from this photograph, which received a World Press Photo Award in 2003:


There are two sides to the normalization of violence in the US. On the one hand, fictional protrayals of beatings, rape, torture, and murder are standard fare in the culture of popular entertainment (TV, film, video games). The viewing public is constantly rewarded for suspending disbelief and ethical revulsion about the conduct of violence; just play along and you get all the pleasures of the show. On the other hand, actual violence being perpetrated by the government is minimized, sanitized, or outright censored. Let it not be said that the MPAA does anything in half measures.

Second photograph by AP/Jean-Marc Bouju. Thanks to Steve Perry at The Daily Mole for the heads up. Additional links are available at Movie City Indie.


2 Responses to ' Hollywood Censors Torture? '

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to ' Hollywood Censors Torture? '.

  1. on December 24th, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    [...] the poster for Taxi to the Dark Side, from No Caption Needed: There are two sides to the normalization of violence in the US. On the one hand, fictional [...]

  2. on January 9th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Allison Hannigan…

    I will dream of your poetic words tonight….

Leave a reply

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains images and excerpts the use of which have not been pre-authorized. This material is made available for the purpose of analysis and critique, as well as to advance the understanding of rhetoric, politics, and visual culture.

The ‘fair use’ of such material is provided for under U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Section 107, material on this site (along with credit links and attributions to original sources) is viewable for educational and intellectual purposes. If you are interested in using any copyrighted material from this site for any reason that goes beyond ‘fair use,’ you must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.