Torture too real
The Washington Post recently published a bizarre story about the MPAA banning the poster for the new doco by acclaimed British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom. The doco, titled 'The Road to Guantanamo", investigates the abuses and torture within the infamous US detention facility, following the stories of three British prisoners who were released after two years but with no charges ever filed against them.
Its poster (as above) was deemed by the MPAA as being too distressful because of its depiction of torture (in particular, the bag over the head). The approved poster (left) was framed to show only the prisoner's shackled hands.
This smacks of political censorship. Especially when we compare it to the posters the MPAA did approve for the recent, #1 box office horror movie, 'Hostel'. Both films centre on torture. The difference? 'Hostel' is fictional and unapologetically exploitative of torture. 'Road', on the other hand, actually proposes to take a serious and concerned look at the issue.
The WaPo article distills the layers of irony better than I can:
"Although Osterberg says that torture is not specifically cited in the guidelines governing print materials, the proscription against violence, blood and disturbing scenes "would probably encompass" it. Thus, the MPAA's decision puts it at odds with the U.S. government, which has repeatedly defended techniques, including hooding prisoners, as not legally torture, and not inconsistent with the basic American values the MPAA tries to uphold.
In a 2003 Department of Defense report, hooding was given a green light, as not inconsistent with the United States' obligations under international conventions or U.S. law. The report also approved prolonged standing, though stipulated that it "should never make the detainee exhausted to the point of weakness or collapse." And that it not be "enforced by physical restraints."
Which means that the MPAA required a change in the image that removed something not deemed torture (hooding) and focused the image on the bound hands and extended arms that clearly depicts someone forced to stand (or worse, hang) under restraint to the point of collapse, which might well be torture."
The semiotics of torture. I get chills.