Banned in Tuscaloosa

I am always amused when a group proclaims something does not meet community standards.  I immediately jump to ‘by whose standards’? And then begin pointing out all the places that equally do not meet those alleged standards already existing in the community that the  group has said nothing about.

Two conservative churches declared that a film, “Turn me on Dammit!” was not appropriate to be shown at the local arts film festival in Tuscaloosa, AL. In fact one pastor sent an email to the sponsoring business basically declaring an all out campaign against her business and the Tuscaloosa Arts Council if she continued sponsorship of this film.

They have not seen the movie, in fact, no one has as this was to be an advance screening of the film before it opened in Los Angeles.  If the promoters are wise they will add Banned in Alabama to their advertisement for the LA opening. It will offer yet another example of why we are the laughing stock in the union, but perhaps if enough people laugh at our narrow minded  attitudes  we Alabamians will finally get the message and grow out of our prepubescent thinking and begin reaching towards rational emotionally mature adulthood.

The director of the film, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen,  was saddened by the news that her film was banned and not even seen by those objecting, had they seen it they would have  seen “it actually has a Christian conservative message about waiting.”

So what does all of this mean?  Besides the obvious that narrow minded people are always threatened by people expressing opinions  that might be parallel to their opinions but just not expressed in the same way.

In a country that claims to have a wall of separation between church and state, such use of religious beliefs against freedom of expression is bullying. This form of religious  intimidation has become endemic in this country and is even more pronounced here in the south.

So what if the film is an honest portrayal about coming of age in the 21st century. So what if the film is honest in discussing sexuality. If these topics offend, then don’t see them.  Remain in the imaginary bubble where everyone is to remain chaste and pure until after marriage–between one man and one woman–but don’t force that bubble of naïveté on others. That is not a right given in the United States.  A right to state displeasure, sure. A right to write op-ed pieces and letters to the editor, yes.  A right to protest, yes.  But to threaten someone’s welfare for showing a film which they have not even had the critical thinking skills to see first before judging? No.  Nor is it a right to demand the mayors of Tuscaloosa and Northport to apply funding withdrawal pressures on the  Bama Theatre and Tuscaloosa Arts Council if the movie was shown.  A film series by the way that was not funded through government funds.

It is ironic that this occurred on the day that Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, died.  He once said, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”   The same could be said for movies.

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One Comment

  1. Very well said, it is amazing how few checks/balances there are to the kinds of bullying that religious institutions + local governments have made everyday practice here in Alabama. I live in Tuscaloosa, and as embarrassing as it is, Tuscaloosa is far more progressive than where I grew up (far southeast Alabama). I hope it gets better one day, but currently the hypocrites are having a field-day finger-pointing


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