What do you do when you’re in the city and need to kill some time? Watch­ing a film sound­ed like a fair option to me. The cin­e­mat­ic mas­ter­piece (!), ‘Epic Movie’, caught my eye. I was­n’t expect­ing much from it at all, so I placed myself into Low Expec­ta­tions Mode™, grit­ted my teeth, and went in. It went accord­ing to plan, with the LEM buffer­ing me some­what from almost-cer­tain dis­ap­point­ment.

One thing struck me, how­ev­er. I was sit­ting through the clos­ing cred­its, and I noticed an attri­bu­tion to a char­ac­ter named ‘Steve Irwin’. That’s strange, I thought. I did­n’t remem­ber a Steve Irwin char­ac­ter. The clos­ing cred­its were punc­tu­at­ed by short video clips, each fol­lowed by a change in music as the stan­dard cred­its scrolling returned. A minute lat­er, the screen flick­ered for a split-sec­ond, the cred­its returned, and the music sud­den­ly changed. Did they cut some­thing out? At the end, there was still no sign of Steve.

Was the Steve Irwin scene removed some­where between the film stu­dio and Hoyts? It could not have been done by the stu­dio — the cut was far too ama­teur­ish for that (although I might be giv­ing them too much cred­it, giv­en the mediocre qual­i­ty of the film). While I under­stand that Steve Irwin died not too long ago, in my opin­ion that is no excuse for any­one to tell me what I can and can­not watch. The cin­e­ma prob­a­bly cal­cu­lat­ed that the risk of pub­lic back­lash from main­tain­ing the scene would be greater than the oppo­si­tion to cen­sor­ship. If so, they were prob­a­bly right. That still does­n’t change the fact that I paid mon­ey to view a title that has been ren­dered incom­plete at the (like­ly per­ceived) behest of extrem­ists.

Cen­sor­ship has its place in soci­ety, but this is going too far. With­in rea­son, a free and open flow of infor­ma­tion is the hall­mark of a healthy democ­ra­cy. Of course, the per­cep­tions of what exact­ly ‘rea­son’ is is debat­able, and that’s what lies at the heart of such debates. I pre­fer to err on the side of open­ness, in the same vein as ‘inno­cent until proven guilty’. I don’t like being told what to think, and what I can view. If I want­ed that, I’d be using Win­dows Vista with all of its Dig­i­tal Restric­tions Man­age­ment non­sense.

There’s always the chance that I’m com­plete­ly off the mark with my accu­sa­tions. I’d appre­ci­ate it if some­one could verify/dispel my claims.

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