My Belief on Censorship

In my first blog of the year, I posted a very weak, straddle-the-line opinion where I believed banning books was wrong but some form of censorship is okay. Although that opinion is valid in its own way, I believe that censorship is any way is wrong, and that we shouldn’t censor or ban anything. My main influence for this is a certain author named Ray Bradbury, but also because of the importance I place on history.

When Ray Bradbury wrote the book Fahrenheit 451, he did so thinking that the version everyone would read would be his words, his writing. He had no idea that what would be published in mass and read by most was a censored version of his writing. He was infuriated by this, and said this in response, “All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch, I run the bases. At sunset, I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m up again, giving it the old try.”(Bradbury) This quote really opened my eyes to the opinion of a writer. I thought about it from their perspective. If I wrote a novel, and found out people had changed my writing, it would lose its meaning. I would be infuriated too. Censorship isn’t just changing words, it’s changing thoughts. My writing was meant to portray a certain message, and I want that message to be the one to get across, not some other editor’s message.

Lastly, I think many books, whether fiction or non-fiction, can tell us so much about a society at the time that we can’t afford to ban it. Books such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Always Running, and Mein Kampf are good examples of this. In Perks, the story has two young gay lovers who are very marginalized. We as a society could look at this tale and think that just maybe marginalizing gay people, who are just like everyone else, is wrong. Instead, our minds stop at the word gay and immediately want to torch the book because it isn’t “normal.” In Always Running, we could read the story and discuss how bad gang life is and do our part to clean up ghettos and get kids off the streets and into schools. Instead, we stop at the word gang and want to torch the book because if our children read this they will want to be gangsters. Funny, because after I read the book in middle school I wanted nothing more than to stay in school forever. Finally, a book like Mein Kampf lets us stop from having history repeat itself. I have no doubt that in a few hundred years some idiot will have the idea of purging the world of humans who don’t follow him and his beliefs. It is inevitable. However, if we keep Mein Kampf around, a good historian can say to this guy “hey wait, someone already did this and it was a terrible idea. You should stop.” However, we want to torch this book because it defiles the memories of lost lives. The lives are already gone, a book you chose to read or not to read will not defile their memories. That’s like Kim Kardashian saying homosexual marriages ruin the sanctity of marriage. It’s just stupid.

In conclusion, I believe that censorship is a terrible idea. Even a book about how to become a molester has its values. I haven’t read any such book, but there is no such thing as a useless idea. Everything has its own value, has its own worth, and it’s up to us to actually read the whole thing and figure out what it is worth. It could be that the author has his own message that shouldn’t be changed. It could be that the author liked a story about witches and vampires, which have been around for centuries. It could be that the book has historical value, or significant societal impact. Whatever the case is, censoring and banning the book is wrong.

The Perks of Doing this Presentation

First of all, I learned a lot in this class. I learned a lot about the different merits of book banning, what’s okay to ban, what’s not okay to ban, and how to go about the subject in general. I’ve also learned more about our society, and what we as a collective group take as okay, and what isn’t okay. It kind of surprised me, but I was also pretty disappointed.

While doing this project, though, I learned a lot about how homophobic our society really is. The gay portion of the book is pretty small and marginalized, just like how it is in real life, and yet still we can’t handle it as a society and want to ban the book over this. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a very good book, one that encourages students to read and gives them relatable stories to read, and yet we can’t get past the controversial themes, themes that don’t seem to even affect the students. It’s pretty disappointing what parents will do, but it’s not unexpected.

The best part of this project was the easiness in which research was done. Thanks to the Chapman library database, researching for print resources was incredibly easy. Rather than paging through magazine after magazine, I was able to, from the comfort of my bed, research magazines and books that talked about Perks. After I discovered this, I volunteered to be the group researcher because it was such an easy job I felt confident I could get it done quickly. Our group had other things to do as well, and we used our strengths well to get the job done.

Lastly, while 20 minutes seemed daunting at first, when split up between four people, and including time for questions and videos, it wasn’t bad at all. It didn’t seem like we were up there for a very long time and that we were able to get all the information out in a concise manner, but still enough information that we filled up the twenty minutes we needed. The presentation aspect, at first what seemed to be the hardest part, ended up being far easier than expected.

Fahrenheit Four-Fifty-What?!

Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, is about a fireman’s interest in books. Guy, the main character, is looking for answers in his own messed up society, and hopes books will give him the answers he is looking for. While it is a science fiction novel set in the future, there are still some realistic examples throughout the text that make the book still seem like a real scenario. The use of all this advanced technology, while not directly relatable, is still realistic enough that I believed it.

Mildred was a good example of this realistic character who is still grounded in the future. She uses sleeping pills in order to help her sleep, but when night when Guy comes home he finds an empty bottle of sleeping pills, when there were 30 pills in the bottle the night before. A lot of people overdose on drugs, whether prescription, over the counter, or illegal. They might not know how many drugs they have taken in a particular time span or they might feel like the amount wasn’t enough, or sometimes they just don’t care anymore. Whatever the reason was, overdosing is a serious and real thing and Mildred’s case is no different.

She is also the kind of person who wants just the perfect scenario. She is envious of TV families and she isn’t pleased with her own life. She uses the television as her escape into another world so that she can ignore all the negativities in her own life. I’d hazard a guess and say most of the American population does that too. She is very realistic in that aspect as well.

Memorably Awkward Scene

While reading Always Running, I came across a sex scene that Luis played a part of in the back of a car. It was painfully awkward. This scene was very memorable to me for a few reasons. First of all, the fact that it was so hard to read made it very easy to recall later. Secondly, as a teenager who has done the dirty, I could very much relate to Luis and it actually helped me cope with my experience somewhat. It also made my experience seem not as bad as I had thought originally.

When I read this scene, it felt like I was watching it at home with my parents. The most awkward and embarrassing thing in the world is watching sex or sex-related with parents. I remember watching the movie Superbad with them, and wanting to cringe or trying to hold back laughter because it was just so awkward. Now, while reading Always Running, I was clearly not with my parents. However, the entire venture was so voyeuristic and the sex itself just seemed so naturally awkward that it made me uncomfortable to read. I wanted to skip past it but like a really bad TV show I couldn’t just leave it.

The other reason this was memorable is because my first time was in the back of a car with a girl I hardly knew. I knew it was awkward and I knew sex couldn’t be that bad, but I had no idea as I had never shared stories or anything. When I read this story, it made me feel good that others had first times as awkward as mine, even when we come from totally different backgrounds. The scene in the book felt so much more uncomfortable than it did in real life, so it also made me feel better about my own first time.

By being able to relate to the scene, and also remembering it for its uncomfortability, Luis Rodriguez made this one the most memorable in his book.

Play to Movie

There are certain things that should never make it to cinema. No matter how popular a certain book, play, TV show or video game may be, things tend to not translate when they make it to the big screen. Unfortunately, A Streetcar Named Desire is one of those plays that just didn’t turn out well on the movie screen.

The big reason for this has to do with restrictions placed upon the movie industry and what they can and cannot show. One of the biggest and most impactful scenes in the play, the scene in which Blanche gets raped, is completely changed and skipped in the movie, due to the fact that rape can’t be shown on screen. People who only watch the movie and don’t watch the play will not see what actually happened, and thus were probably a bit confused at Blanche’s mental and emotional dive. The viewer doesn’t fully understand, and thus the rest of the movie loses a bit of its meaning.

Another thing that was different was Blanche’s background wasn’t fully fleshed out. We know she moved in with her sister because of the fact that her husband committed suicide after he cheated on his wife, but that isn’t shown very well in the movie. In fact, it’s almost completely skipped over as well. She pushed him to suicide after she discovered him cheating, something that would make someone go a little crazy when he does commit suicide. This somewhat explains her behavior, but in the movie, none of this is revealed, and it looks as though Blanche is just weird.

If someone wants to adapt something in to the big screen, they have to realize what has the most impact and meaning, and find a way to incorporate it into their movie. If you can’t include the rape scene, find another way to make that impact. The movie did a horrible job of this, and when doing a play such as A Streetcar Named Desire, all the meaning has to be there.

Sexuality and the Child

First, let me go on record as saying that the idea “If I teach my child x, they will start doing x,” is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in my life. I’ve seen movies about gun fights, watched documentaries on the army, heard about suicide attempts, read about gay sex, and listened to songs about getting girls like crazy. I have partaken in none of these things. Now, educated or uneducated, I probably would not engage in most of these as most are not things I would do anyway. However, the one that is the most dangerous is having sex.

Without being educated, a child will hear about sex from his friends, who will probably tell him all the good things about sex, how amazing it is, how girls love it, etc. What they won’t hear are all the consequences we need to hear about to keep us in check. STDs, unwanted pregnancy, even the social stigma that comes along with it, these are all things kids don’t tell each other about, and that is the parents’ or educators’ job to teach.

Take The Color Purple for example. Shug was the one who taught Celie about sex. Now they were both consenting adults when this happened, but imagine this scenario being played out in middle school or high school. Neither one of these women were educated about sex, yet Shug taught Celie all about her “button.” While this is hardly a disaster in the book, it could cause chaos amongst young girls in a school setting.

In the book Forever, the two kids weren’t educated about love and sex either, and had big dreams and plans that didn’t work out as soon as life threw them one curveball. Luckily, it was a planned curve by the parents, or else those two kids would have had a lifetime of relationship problems ahead of them as they found out they were hardly a “forever” couple. Had the parents stepped in sooner, perhaps these two would have had more realistic expectations. It all worked out in the end, for the long term, but the parents could have stepped in much sooner.