Tuesday, 15 March 2016

All steamed up

This fiasco in Italy is exactly why I have no time for the organised church. Not content to encourage religious beliefs, they too often want to impose those beliefs on everyone else, with utter contempt for people's freedom of opinion. In this case, proselytising has become overt censorship.

The Catholic Church, which owns over 1,100 cinemas in Italy, has decreed that the film "Weekend", from the same director who made "45 Years", is irreligious and has banned it from all their cinemas.

According to the Italian Conference of Bishops' Film Evaluation Commission, the film is "not advised, unusable and scabrous (indecent or salacious)." It claims that the film's main themes - seen by critics as love and identity - are actually drugs and homosexuality.

So now it can be seen in just ten independent cinemas not controlled by the Catholic Church.

The film is in fact about two gay men who meet in a club and spend the weekend together. They talk about sex, relationships, coming out, careers and aspirations, before finally separating.

Says Cesare Petrillo, the distribution company's President, "I cannot see any other explanation than a problem of homophobia in the church. They decided that it was unacceptable, that it should be censored, and they have used their power to paralyse the distribution."

What gives the church the right to censor a film, or anything else, and declare that people can't decide for themselves what they think of it? What gives them the right to say their views are the only valid ones and other views count for nothing?

I have plenty of time for religious teachings in general. People like the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Buddha and Jesus have helped many troubled individuals to live better and more productive lives. But what repels me is when religions aggressively seek converts and try to control other people. When they turn into ruthless empire-builders rather than spiritual advisers. That's when humility gives way to arrogance and the rot sets in.

Pic: Chris New and Tom Cullen in "Weekend"


John Gray said...

Wellsaid that man!
The guy on the right is a cutie!

Helen Devries said...

The Index all over again...

Nick said...

John: He is rather striking, isn't he? That's Tom Cullen.

Helen: I presume you mean the Catholic Index of Prohibited Books (which I was unaware of). When can we expect the Index of Prohibited Films, I wonder?

CheerfulMonk said...

Fortunately there are other ways of watching movies nowadays, and often censorship makes them even more wanted.

A big problem here in the states is Catholic hospitals don't promise to recognize people's end-of-life decisions. The hospital in Santa Fe explicitly says that, and my sister-in-law in Washington (the state) says most of the hospitals there are Catholic, so the patients don't have much choice.

Nick said...

Jean: That's true. I see there are lots of online sources for the film. Hopefully Italians will make use of them.

Re end-of-life decisions, the same thing applies - what gives the Catholic Church the right to tell people what they can and can't do? It makes me so mad.

Maria said...

Sometimes I think Italy would be better off without the Vatican. Greetings Maria x

Nick said...

Maria: D'accordo! I visited the Vatican once. I was flabbergasted at the sheer opulence, no doubt funded by thousands of hard-up Catholics. The Vatican still has enormous influence, and can sabotage any progressive thinking it happens to disagree with. Italy would undoubtedly be better off without this religious dead-weight. The current Pope may in many ways be a radical, but he's still surrounded by entrenched opinions.

Wisewebwoman said...

I think I saw this film or one extraordinarily similar a year or so ago.

How irrelevant is the RC church? Seriously?

And I've yet to see a religion that is kind to women.


tammy j said...

actually while in his visit to america this new pope francis was not condemning at all toward homosexuals. it shocked many bigoted people. but he is a different type pope apparently. and about time too.
i'm not catholic.
so I don't relate.
but here's what I think about their reaction to the movie.
I think it's ITALY'S SOUR GRAPES! I do! simply because it's an english film perhaps.
federico fellini was NOTORIOUS for making sexually explicit films.
one of his most acclaimed had two young men on a quest for another.
'fellini satyricon.' he was always lauded for being a brilliant director! at least over there he was.
I remember seeing it and not knowing what was going on. then I fell asleep! LOLOL. can't remember my age at the time.
but all of italy thought fellini was just the cats meow.
so why all of a sudden do they show such piety against this film?
sour grapes!!!

Maria said...

Nick, if you can get hold of the book "In God's name" by David Yallop, published in 1984; it is an eye opening read about the murder of Pope John Paul I and corruption in the Vatican. I read it in the 80s but I don't think much has changed. Papa Francesco is bringing tiny changes but he has a lot of work to do and of course he is creating many enemies.

Dave Martin said...

Hardly surprising really. After all, the catholic church hasn't exactly been shy about saying 'thou shalt not' throughout its history.
Luckily more and more people are becoming enlightened and sticking two fingers up at them.
I'm all in favour of people believing whatever they choose (even if it is some invisible celestial fairy) but I share your opinion that they have no right to shove that belief down the throats of others.

Nick said...

www: You probably did. It first came out in 2011. Absolutely, most religions are heavily misogynist.

Tammy: Yes, there could be a sour-grapes element. As you say, Fellini was always hugely popular. There again, maybe that's the reason he was never banned. There would have been uproar from all his fans!

Nick said...

Maria: Thanks for the recommendation. I must check it out. I'm sure the Vatican is thoroughly corrupt from top to bottom. Power always goes hand in hand with corruption.

Dave: Indeed, thou-shalt-not is its central pillar, the same as most organised religions. I prefer the Buddha's advice that we should be a light unto ourselves.

kylie said...

My mum and dad recommend the David Yallop book, too. They loaned their copy and never got it back so I havent read it.

Tammy J seems to have a point, it seems slightly odd to ban a film these days, even one that involves homosexuality.

Many times I am ashamed of "the church" as an entity and I am often ashamed of individuals who try to represent the church.

If I am being generous I can see that the churches were once central to people's lives. They provided social security, education and medical care to people who often had no means to do any of these things themselves. Providing moral leadership would have had some importance where critical thinking was not taught or understood.

It's a pity that position of privilege has been corrupted so dreadfully because if all is in it's right balance, the church has the capacity to be an enormous force for good.

Have you seen the movie Brooklyn?

Nick said...

Kylie: Good point that the church once provided those "public services" that others weren't providing. They still do provide them of course - like the hundreds of food banks in the UK.

I have seen Brooklyn. It was an excellent film. What was it about the film that struck you?

kylie said...

There was a lot I loved about that film (costumes, history, romance, respectful relationships) but I was thinking of the way the priest made so many efforts towards Eilis' welfare. I suspect that story could be told many times.

Nick said...

Kylie: That's right, Father Flood helps Eilis in various ways and helps her find her feet in Brooklyn. As you say, a lot of other migrants must have been given a helping hand by the church.

Rummuser said...

I prefer calling myself 'spiritual' rather than 'religious'. We have enough of intolerance including demand for banning films based on some religious sect announcing that its feelings have been hurt/offended in India as well. Books also receive such treatments and often, the governments either at the state levels or at the federal, succumb to such pressure. Take the case of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. It is officially banned in India and I suspect that India has more copies in private collections than any other country in the world. The banning was done by people who had not read the book!

Nick said...

Ramana: Yes, that's the frightening aspect, that governments and other authorities cave in to the "offended" rather than standing their ground and defending freedom of expression. The Satanic Verses is a good example of how banning something actually increases its visibility and popularity. But people never learn!

Ms Scarlet said...

Seems to be a lot of attempted censorship going on these days. Tiresome. I have nothing more to add... as it has... er.... all been added, but thought I'd pop in and say hello just the same.

Nick said...

Scarlet: I agree, there's an awful lot of attempted censorship. Quite often on the basis of utterly trivial remarks that someone somewhere with a very thin skin finds "offensive".

Bijoux said...

I'm trying to understand how the Catholic Church owns cinemas in Italy? Wouldn't that be for profit?

It's also amusing to me that they would have a problem with this movie, but are fine with the violence in Italian fims?

Nick said...

Bijoux: I'm not sure how the Catholic Church came to own all those cinemas, but it goes back a long way. And as you say, presumably they aim to make a profit, which seems a bit sacrireligious.

That's so often the case, isn't it, that people wanting to ban films are happy enough with the violent, gun-toting ones.

Keith Smith said...

The thing about the various religions, in particular the Catholics, that gets my goat is the fact that they send "missionaries" to remote native communities in Africa, Borneo, South America etc to convert them to Christianity.

They go and indoctrinate and brainwash the natives into believing that their religious beliefs that they have held for centuries before they even saw a white man are wrong. They frighten them into believing that God is the only true god, and if they don't convert they will rot in Hell for all eternity.

What right have they got to do this? Once a tribe is "converted" to Christianity they become unsettled, rebellious, and turn on other members of the tribe who refuse to be converted, causing the break up of families and the community.

Keith Smith said...

Sorry, my comment was off-topic, but I do feel strongly about the continued interference in things that should be of no concern to them.

Nick said...

Keith: Not off-topic at all, since I was objecting to religions trying to convert everyone else to their particular beliefs. As you say, trying to spread Christianity among indigenous peoples is especially outrageous and just asking for trouble.

Nick said...

Keith: Whenever I try to reach your webpage, I get the message "Not Found - The requested URL /wp was not found on this server." Where has your page gone?