28) Censorship, images… and Jaws.

“You’re going to need a bigger boat”. Chief Brody, Jaws.

Hi there girls and boys, I hope you’re well.

What do you consider “too much”? I attended an art exhibition at the Sage up in Gateshead a couple of years ago. I say attended, I popped in as it was raining and my umbrella was at home. The place has a shop with umbrellas, and as I bought one the nice young man behind the counter asked if I’d enjoyed the exhibition. As I hadn’t I went in and it was quite good, mainly photos of people, some barely clothed. One was of a young boy of about 10, naked. Now to me, that’s too much. Ah but it’s art, they’ll say, particularly the photographer, or the curator, or whoever is showing the exhibition. Is it? I’m far from being an expert in art, but if I were to have a pic of a naked 10 year old boy on my computer, I could be arrested…but it’s ok to show the same image publicly, including to a school group that were attending?

On my wall here in Durham I have a large canvas print of E and I. We’re wearing nothing, but have our arms wrapped around each other, mine around her neck, hers around my waist. We’re displayed from our eyes down to the small of our backs, noses touching and boobs pressed against each other, nothing showing and it’s very tasteful! Everyone likes it, even her parents. Now to some that may be too much but I see very similar stuff in poster shops, in fact thats where we got the idea from. We liked the thought of it being grainy, monochrome, so had our neighbour take a few shots on his phone in low light.

Compare that to stuff I see online, some of which is horrific…at least, horrific to me, and that’s where my personal censorship line is drawn. Gentle images are great for me, then there are slightly more graphic, but please stop after that! Clothed can be sexy, implied, lingerie, topless, nude, but way before the time you’ve got gynaecological shots I’m already gone. If I don’t like an image, and if that type of image is repeated, I don’t visit the site or I block the person. I don’t want to as they may post stuff that I like, and I may be missing out on a good conversation. I unblock sometimes to see if their images are more suited to my eyes but when its ALL they post, the block remains. I can appreciate why somebody would want to see, for example, an arty black and white image of a woman in pvc, perhaps holding a whip, shot from behind to accentuate the curve of her bum, that’s all good. It’s another matter when you see an image of a woman, and it’s almost always a woman, tied to a chair with enough rope to moor a boat, complete with electrodes attached to her nipples.

I don’t censor comments here, as seen by the recent alleged witch in previous posts. On that, I’m still awaiting their curses or sword of doom to descend on me. I’ve never had any really bad abuse here, but by email I get a bit..but its only words, so what? If you felt that it affected you that badly, you’d never go online or cross your door. If I were to censor comments it would only be for spam, of which WordPress deals with anyway. Free speech is fine by me, but then there is the question of at what point said free speech becomes a hate crime? I’m all for a good demo, in the (probably vain) hope that voicing your opinions may make them heard by the organisation they are aimed at. I’ve attended anti-fascist marches in Newcastle and London to counter the odious EDL’s own, much smaller marches. To me, that sends a signal that their hate won’t be tolerated, and maybe that protest will be noticed by somebody. Maybe they’ll think, you know, there are good Muslims/Jews/foreigners after all. Maybe. At other times I’ve stood and watched a demo I totally agree with and that I maybe should have taken part in, but didn’t as the outcome wouldn’t have been affected by a few hundred Newcastle fans outside a Sports Direct shop. Now if it had been outside of Mike Ashley’s house, count me in. This is free speech in action and even though you have people that say we are living in a police state, do we see baton-wielding Chinese-a-like stormtroopers wading in, censoring the participants? In a week where the army, and please stop calling it the military, have taken charge in Myanmar from the democratically elected government, you have to wonder if the people here in the UK that complain about their civil liberties being infringed because the police once asked them to move along, ever watch the news?

TV censorship is something else. Apparently in the US it’s worse than here in the UK, at least as far as nudity goes. Ellie and I were watching tv along with her parents one night, some drama, a heist or something. For some reason one of the bank robbers was in a vault and shagging one of the employees, as you do. Why do they do this? (Have it in the show, not the shagging). We all squirmed in embarrassment as what could have taken a moment dragged on for what seemed like an hour, each thrust drawn out, screams of passion echoing amongst the cash, at which point Ellie’s dad asked if anybody wanted a cuppa at which we all started talking about anything to distract from the tv image. Just suggest they shagged, there is no need for the act to be shown. There is far too much of this on tv, and even though I watch very little it seems to be in most dramas. Yes, you’re having sex with the other person, we don’t need to see it. If I want to see porn then I’ve been told there is loads on the internet!

Am I sounding too Victorian, as in the Queen, not the Australian state? Do I have the legs on my bookcases covered up? Do I swoon when hearing something I don’t like?

Armstrong and Miller.


A girl I know sits and holds her hands to her face while watching a movie, even at the slightest of thrillers. I am detached from movies for the most part, never scared at a horror, rarely laugh at a comedy. Rom-coms, christ, why the fuck do they make those? Who watches them? All the same plot, boy likes girl, girl doesn’t notice boy, boy pretends to be someone he isn’t, girl notices boy, blah blah..dear god. And if I see that clip of some actress faking her orgasm at the table once more.. Yes, I AM fun at parties.

I won’t just watch something because some actor is in it. I read the synopsis on a dvd cover a while back. If they wanted to detract from the movie they were trying to sell you, they did a great job. “X (played by somebody who was in another movie) and Y, (played by somebody who was in another movie) are directed in this thriller by Z (somebody who made another few movies), When A, (played by somebody who was in another movie)”…you get the drift. It’s the same reason I won’t watch a preview of a film, I don’t want to see the best bits. Today it was announced that the latest Bond movie is being delayed again, but they keep showing the same bits when they tell you this news ..NOOOO. I don’t want to know that the plane becomes a submarine. Now I do.

I like a Bond movie, as you know what you’re getting. Strangely it isn’t the girls that attract me to them either. I don’t have a favourite Bond as all of the actors have their moments. I do have a fave scene or two though, the classic Sean Connery strapped to a table, while a laser slowly burns it’s way to his crotch. Even more scary is how they did the burning, a man under the table with a blowtorch who couldn’t see where Connery’s crotch was! “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die”. Superb. The straightening of ties or shooting of the cuffs by a few Bonds is brilliant. Connery does it a lot, Moore also, the underwater one by Pierce Brosnan, and the latest by Daniel Craig as he jumps into the wrecked train carriage in Skyfall….

And then there’s this..

So then..Jaws. I had no idea that it was made 45 years ago! My neighbours had asked me over for a movie night, during the brief period in which we were free from lockdown. I’ve mentioned the huge tv previously, and this has since been joined by a 4k player. Yes the image is a bit grainy in some parts, but on the whole the film looks great. The sliding chair scene on the beach, which I’ve since learned is a lens trick, oh I love it. And when the head falls from the boat, I nearly screamed, but only nearly. The best bit is probably the sheriff’s reaction on seeing the shark, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” I’d heard it before, but hadn’t understood why he was saying it. I found myself telling Brody to shoot the thing, NOW, much to the amusement of my neighbours.

Back when I was 25, I went to South Africa for a holiday. It was uneventful and I wouldn’t recommend Cape Town to anyone….apart from the two days we had from diving in a cage with great white sharks. Well they were outside of the cage. You know what I mean. Ellie was petrified, not being a strong swimmer, but I kept telling her we were going to be in a cage.. “but they might get in, I’ll wee myself, they might snag your hair…”

Imagine the scene. Smooth waters, not a cloud in the sky. Me in my bright pink wetsuit, E in her white version, and a few other tourists/potential shark food. We’d been given the choice of scuba or snorkel diving, and as I’d done scuba previously I chose that. “Ooh Anna but what if you need to get out of there quickly baby!”

When it was my turn I lowered myself in, and immediately there was a shark, like it had been waiting for a tasty British morsel. Huge, full of teeth, but beautiful, it’s nose about a metre from the cage, just looking at me as my heart bounded. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.. It stayed for a minute then drifted away. Meanwhile, I could hear Ellie screaming Shaaaaark even from under the water. When it was her turn she snorkelled down, and once again the shark swam past lazily. And yes, she weed herself. We had a great two days with lots of dives and sharky encounters, and the others on the boat grew used to E’s moanings as a fin appeared. She was very willing to get in the cage, though. One of my favourite websites is this one https://www.ocearch.org/tracker/ on which you can follow shark sightings, then see where the creature goes. Given her track below, I think Katya the bull shark looks particularly scary.

You wonder if she took the bus?

I seaswim wherever I can and have on occasion seen dolphins here in Tynemouth, but no sharks. We do have them in the North Sea, and Dominic, a fishing boat skipper that I see occasionally whilst out running, tells me that while there is no reason for great white’s not to visit as the temperature is good for them and we have thousands of seals to munch on, they just don’t seem to like us, which is fine by me. The other theory is that the amount of sea traffic in the Channel puts them off.

I always go seaswimming with a dry bag attached, if for nothing else than visibility. As a human in the sea you are a tiny target to find if you get into trouble. On three occasions a dolphin has swum around us, nudging the bright orange dry bag. I’m not one of these that posts the interminable look-this-elephant-is-showing-off-her-baby-to-us videos. Animals want us to supply food, and in return you may have a hug from a cat or or dog or weasel. They DO NOT act as we do, so stop anthropomorphising them. No matter how much you want that Staffy to be cute, it will still take your face off as soon as look at you. The dolphin isn’t saying hello, it’s just curious as to why this creature with a flotation device is in her house, that’s all. Marvellous to see one up close, but I don’t buy the friendly dolphin thing either. Each of the three, and maybe it was the same one as I didn’t get it’s name, were hardly asking us to hop on its back for a ride, rather a push with it’s nose in my side and a barge against my swimming partners legs. I wasn’t scared exactly, but would rather it doesn’t come back.

Jaws has three sequels, of which only the second is any good. I can see why the original is so liked. It plays on our fear of something huge, menacing and full of teeth, and the lottery that is the late night sea swim. Will it end with chips in front of a beach fire, or with some of your toes missing?

As ever, thanks for reading.

Anna

Tynemouth

x

8 thoughts on “28) Censorship, images… and Jaws.”

  1. On the subject of Freedom of Speech I believe it was Voltaire who said to someone “I disagree with everything you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” or something very much along those lines. I am very much with him. Today however we are encouraged not to offend – you cannot be honest if you are afraid of offending someone. Typically the row around J K Rowling and her comments about trans women; she is now seen in some quarters as a pariah who must never be allowed a public platform again. Universities which should be places where open and frank discussion takes place are not allowing people who differ from their own views from speaking at events; our students will never know how to form an argument coherently if they are not exposed to some.
    Cape Town – I visited there when I was 19 and when I was 20 and would recommend it to anyone.
    Wildrover

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    1. Hi Wild and thanks for the comment. I imagine that as a person of some fame you have to be quiet on topics surrounding anything. On ly this moenint scientists was on the news, being asked when we could come out of lockdown. He did the right thing by not committing to a date. If he’d have said the summer for example, he’d have been quoted as saying that. The phrase “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing” should really be adhered to more by celebs. Capetown..hated the place! Anna

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  2. Your points are valid in my opinion. Context, intent, and consent are all part of whether or not something is “acceptable”, and unfortunately those things are not clearly present in every image. No doubt some artists rely on this fact to get the shock value that gives them the attention they crave. We could argue that is proof they aren’t that good as an artist.
    In the case of movies there simply is too much commercial influence. Whatever formulaic nonsense sells, for whatever reason, will be repeated. Any given hit movie is bound to have sequels just to milk the financial potential to the last drop. In some cases the fan base is such that this plan will work no matter how awful the presentation.
    But critical evaluation of any art form is something that is generally lacking in most people. Thus the phenomenon of “pop culture”, “fadism”, and archives of landfill-grade rubbish works.

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    1. Hi Marc and thanks for the comment. I didn’t touch on consent, as in the environment of an art gallery it is implied. You’ve paid your money, wandered in, so must be interested in the contents..all utter rubbish of course. Movies though. I don’t watch a lot but am aware that some have four sequels. The cost of making Fast and Furious, (quick Google).. 9(!) cant be commercially viable compared to the landfill the DVD’s will produce in the future. Loving your pics on your blog. Anna.

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  3. I am Dutch so we have a different attitude to nudity and sex, however a nude picture of a 10 year old boy is not art but child porn, in any context . As for nudity on TV I don’t mind that, in fact I enjoy it. Just a bit of trivia on Jaws, The mechanical great white broke on the first day of shooting. The mouth was supposed to be able to open and close but after a few times it wouldn’t close anymore. They just used it for the rest of the movie with an open mouth.
    I am more nervous of Jelly fish. A few years ago I went for a swim in Kilkee IN Ireland, totally naked of course lol, when I got out a nice old lady asked me if I had seen the massive man o war Jelly fish? I hadn’t but when I looked back I saw 8 of them near where I sawm. It would have been quite awkward if I had been stung in a certain area.

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      1. Well I was stung once by a regular jelly fish. I also got a treatment with the ‘fluids’. I remember I was in pain, and there were some bystanders, but that didn’t stop my better half to treat me 😂

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