I thought I had completely exhausted all I had to say about the controversy surrounding A SERBIAN FILM on February 21, 2011 edition of THE GASH until I read an article that spread like wild fire about a man being criminally charged for showing the film at his festival.
Angel Sala, who runs the Sitges film festival in Spain, was arrested for “Exhibition Of Child P*rnography” during the Sitges festival in October 2010. Prosecutors claim that the depicted scenes of child rape (one being a newborn and one being a five year old child ) violated the countries terms of child p*rnography and due to Sala’s decision to run the film, he should face the criminal charges for showing it to the public.
Now, unless you have been sleeping under a rock, I’m sure you all have heard the outrage being screamed from the mountain tops about this film. People are calling it vile, disgusting, an abomination, a complete and udder revolting picture, and the backbone to all of these comments have been based on the fact that it “involved” child p*rnography. But this is where I feel the need to correct something to the naysayers. There is NO child being raped or violated in this film. Is it inferred?? Absolutely. But not once do you see a child being violated at anytime. The now infamous newborn p*rn scene has a mechanical baby that is shown screaming but at no time is penetration shown.
There are also no penetration, inappropriate touching, or sexually charged scenes shown of the five year old. The most you get is a small amount of fake blood on the buttocks of someone but the face is never shown to know if it was truly the child.
Before you all start screaming at me or putting on your Captain Hate-A-Dai capes, I will absolutely agree that just because it was inferred doesn’t mean it makes it right. (I like watching people get brutally killed in films but it doesn’t mean I believe THAT is right to do in real life, either. Just saying…) BUT I also think the context in which the content was happening is as important to consider as the theme of what was happening is. Did this film in any way glorify or sensationalize the molestation of children? No. I think this should seriously be taken into account along with the fact that no real children were touched in the film.
As I was writing this, a very interesting article by Heidi Martinuzzi from FanGirltastic.com showed up in my FB news feed.
Along with reporting on the charges being brought against Sala, she brings up an excellent point as to, according to the wording of the laws in Spain, other films that could be considered child p*rnography as well. Heidi stated “…that were he to have screened Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 16 Candles, a very special episode of Facts of Life, or just about any depiction of minors engaging in sexual activity, he would also be prosecuted?”
The legal definition of Child P*rnography states:
“child p*rnography” shall include p*rnographic material that visually depicts:
a. a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
b. a person appearing to be a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
c. realistic images representing a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
So, just for sh*ts and giggles, lets look at some films that are considered “Child P*rnography” in accordance to the words of the law. (Not including the examples noted by Heidi above)
-HOPE AND GLORY (1987)
-ROMEO + JULIET (1996)
-THE BLUE LAGOON (1980)
-THE COLOR PURPLE (1985)
-THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)
-AMERICAN PIE (1999)
-And just to keep my fingers from falling off I will say pretty much all of the Friday the 13ths, Nightmare On Elm Streets, and most of the horror films we grew up watching where the pot smoking sex crazed teens went off to the woods for a little “pickle tickle” or masturbation session before getting their heads lopped off by a serial killing mutant.
In each of these films, a scene happens where a minor, or actor portraying a minor, gets into a sexually charged situation.
None of the makers of these films have ever been charged with child p*rnography.
So why is it exactly that Sala has been charged for showing ASF when others that have shown the films above have not?
Is it the age of the victims? Is it the fact that the sex was in a violent and forceful way instead of a romantic or comedic way?
I would go as far as to say yes to the last two questions. Had this been a brutal rape of a female teenager, it would have been barely acknowledged as risquΓ© let alone child p*rnography. If it would have been a male teenager, it would have probably been noted as controversial but, once again, not child p*rnography.
The fact that it included the very core of what we consider innocence (newborns and very young children), people have let the “thought train” leave the station and violently plunge down a steep hill of overreaction. In a Facebook thread started by Jennifer Cooper, we started to discuss this topic and I was struck by the comment a fellow contributor made.
Nia Edwards-Behi stated:
“A Serbian Film is neither a snuff film nor a film about child p*rnography. It’s being pushed that way for sensationalism’s sake, and it’s a campaign that’s worked a little too well”. This statement embodies exactly what is going on here with the film. But why? Why this film and not others? My opinion on the whole thing is that we like keeping ourselves in a box of what we feel is safe. And before you get offended or disagree with me, allow me a short explanation. We are used to the fact people die on camera, we know that they can die in the most vicious of ways and that we will watch and cheer for both the heroine and the villain. We also have a level of comfortableness with rape when it comes to a man raping a woman because we have seen it time and time again. But look at it now when addressing what was in ASF, or films of the like. We have male on male rape. Other than a handful of prison movies (don’t laugh, you know it’s true), we don’t see this very often. We are more comfortable watching a woman’s innocents being taken than a males “Manhood”. Then the kicker of the whole movie is the biggest taboo in the USA.
We live in a world where you can rape women, murder an old couple, beat homeless people to death, but if you are convicted of child molestation, you are the ABSOLUTE bottom of the barrel of scum. So when this is addressed in film, which is not very often at all, it is barely touched upon and made more of an after thought than an actual plot line (other than a few select films but the molestation is always inferred verbally, not actually inferred physically.) Both of these taboos are touched in this film and completely take us out of our safety box. That’s where most of the outrage comes from, even if they realize it or not. This film has become more notorious because of what people THINK they will see than what they actually do.
I could go on and on all week talking about this (after all, thank you A.D.D for making me take 5 days just to spurt this out in-between Charlie Sheen videos) but I think I have made my opinion about what is going on very clear.
Sala allowed a very controversial film to be played to an audience who may not have known the full extent of the disturbing content they were about to see. Granted, I can understand people’s shock when they finish the film, but to charge this man for showing child p*rnography is just a gross over exaggeration of what actually went on. How can you charge someone with showing child p*rnography when child p*rnography is not present in the film? That is my question and I hope soon the authorities will answer that question accordingly and allow Mr. Sala to continue on with his business undisturbed.