I have two main causes: illegal downloading and censorship. I can always be counted on to condemn illegal downloading and be fired up when I hear of censoring. Illegal downloading hurts struggling artists- it’s a direct attack on their label’s money, which leads to them being cut from said label. But censorship, which seems much more direct than downloading, is actually a much more vile, insidious, indirect disease that must be combated.
This train of thought was kicked off by the recent refusal of British media outlets to play Fightstar’s video for “Paint Your Target”. If you haven’t read about the controversy, you can get fully briefed here. The short of it is that the video shows kids playing war on a playground, but real bullets and rockets are coming out of their hands. There is no blood, there are no weapons, there is no death. There aren’t even injuries. It is merely a digital representation of what kids are already playing in their minds on playgrounds all over the world. There is nothing offensive in the video, other than the fact that Fightstar has very clearly pointed out that we live in a violent society. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they spear the current world order. It’s really quite a brilliant video- probably my favorite since the mind-bending video for Brand New’s “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades”.
But the powers that be don’t like it. They think it encourages school violence. And while they have a valid point, the context in which they are presenting it (modern TV and Movies) completely ruins any credibility that the argument would have.
Yes, showing kids actually shooting at each other is a little bit of a shock. But these aren’t hyper-militaristic kids- these are normal kids. Why are they playing war at all? We get so caught up in the details of real bullets and rockets that we don’t even realize that kids have to get the ideas for war from somewhere before they can play war. Whether they read it in a book, saw it on tv, heard it on the news, learned it in school, or saw it in a newspaper, they learned it from somewhere. The urge to shoot guns at each other is not born in humans. Kill each other, maybe. But with guns? Guns are an outside source. I think we should be concerned that kids already know so much about war –and that’s what Fightstar is trying to say.
If our kids already know about war, then the fact that Fightstar depicts war should not be an issue. The fact that they are depicting kids doing the war at school should be the issue, then? No, it should not be. If you walk onto a school playground at recess, you will find boys playing war. It’s an inevitable part of life. Whether they be playing Cowboys and Indians or actually shooting at each other, war has become a part of our life. Setting the video at school is merely being truthful to the situation. War is a part of being a modern human being, and that’s not a good thing. That’s what Fightstar is trying to say.
So if it’s not the fact that kids are shooting each other, and it’s not the fact that the thing is set at school, it must be the fact that it’s an anti-government piece, protesting the war in Iraq. It’s not that, though- as the approval rating for Prime Minister Tony Blair has dropped to 26% due to the war in Iraq (according to this recent San Francisco Chronicle Article). Members of the British media have also been vocal dissenters to the war in Iraq- so an anti-war video would play into their hands. It’s not that.
Basically, it’s ignorance that’s censoring this. Kids can see much, much worse violence done by kids on their Saturday morning cartoon shows, with weapons, blood, and death. Prime-time TV is enough to give anyone enough information to shoot up their office, school, or other place of employment. And movies seem to glorify killing and other fighting as much as possible. Are they not worthy of censor? Are they not more worthy, even?
I really don’t understand why Fightstar is getting the boot. This satire is brilliantly pulled off, and it needs to be seen. It has an extremely important message for our culture, and yet it is being silenced for no good reason. I don’t see the point.