The US has taken another step backwards with what appears to have become a virtual laissez faire approach to monitoring obscene behaviour in current motion pictures and stage performances. What has become of the established limits on material considered to be unsuitable for specific audiences, such as young adults and children?
Many of the popular films exhibit their core ingredients of explicit sexual behaviour, high-speed vehicle pursuits that end in total destruction, and the "run of the mill" fundamental motives of the stories which are greed and avarice created by the abuse of drugs and money also called "filthy lucre". What is particularly injurious for public viewing of these toxic films is the obscene language and actions that are now becoming commonplace under the banner of "art for the sake of art".
In earlier times, offensive language, though forceful, was permitted but limited within the screenplay. However, as time goes by, the industry has permitted the entire range of indecent expressions, including some sacrilegious and never before heard, and in certain instances are not understood. Consider these examples presented in extended acronym form so as to be inoffensive: "Fox Uncle Charlie King". This word, previously forbidden, now frequently forms part of regular conversation. "Southern Hemisphere Investment Treaty"; has found its way into colloquial dialogue, and is now a common expletive exclaimed with impunity. The real shocker added very recently to the list of recognisable swear words and not heard before on the silver screen, but now heard infrequently and should be deleted from film scripts as offensive; "See You Next Tuesday"! The list is not exhaustive.
There are now movies being shown on television, in cinemas, and on the stage, which could be described as being "soft porn" that in most cases involves the abuse of women. Young adults with developing minds become corrupted when viewing these erotic situations. It has long been said that watching violence on screen has induced viewers to act with aggression in critical situations.
Historically, the landmark event of viewing worldwide was the Howard Hughes movie called the Outlaw that gave star billing to the indescribably beautiful Jane Russell, who bashfully exhibited her ample bosom along with her well-defined décolletage, which sent both astonishment and delight around the globe, clearing the way for further liberal interventions leading down the path to a greater degree of sexual freedom as part of the public's cinematographic diet. Now that topless females are filmed along with full-frontal, stark naked men and other women, performed by some of the names in the Hollywood industry, including winners of the Academy Award, where do we go from here?
The next observation to consider is the extent of sexual activity allowed for showing in any one film or play before it becomes a pornographic work. In some recent offerings from Hollywood, during the school holidays, little has been left to the imaginations with the "high jinks" of high school and university students.
Of course, as Jamaica follows America closely in its liberalised lifestyle, the same attitude is appearing in our local dramatic offerings to a point that borders on "soft porn" to the delight of the record audiences. While adult videos are available for private home viewing, they now appear to be spilling over into the public domain. It seems that media writers and dramatic producers are seeing how far they can "push the envelope" before a caution is issued.
The Observer of 20th September 2013 reported "the jaw-dropping erotic thriller Risqué returns to the Stages Theatreplex in New Kingston for last weekend only. Written by David Tulloch, it created a stir in theatre circles with scenes of frontal nudity and strong sexual content". In another release, the Sunday Observer of 22nd September states; "Tulloch and his team should take some credit not only for the guts to attempt this project, but creating a piece that appeals to a market found at dancehall parties and clubs." Finally, "Risqué is a hugely entertaining ride, marked by surprising twists and turns, crazy humour, and quite a treat for those who can stomach an adult adventure". The three young female actresses, all in their 20s are reported to be comfortable with their roles in the play. The "ride" is restricted to adults 18 years and over and was expected to be to sold-out audiences.
Further afield in the US, is the reported performance on MTV by Miley Cyrus, who is photographed in the Observer of 23rd September 2013 mimicking what Jamaicans call a "back shot" with her co-performer Robin Thicke. She is photographed in a most provocative position with her tongue protruding from her mouth, which is supposed to be one of her trademarks that is also vulgar. Her father says he is proud of his daughter and her performance.
So what are we moaning about? In a word decency; which means "conforming with generally accepted standards of behaviour or propriety. Avoidance of obscenity -the requirements of correct behavior (OED)". A civil society which is morally conscious would consider such behaviour as described above, as offensive. However, it is ignored in the name of "freedom of expression" and adopted by those of an impressionable age along with the sexual "apps" (I hate that word!).
As a sign of the times, the school buses again have tinted windows. Commander John McFarlane to the rescue again, please!