Sunday, October 23, 2005


The Battle Of 'Rome'

You can say what you like about America, but they usually wait for something shocking to come on screen before they complain like crazy about it. British prudes have an even worse strategy - it's called the 'pre-emptive backlash', and the one currently raging over BBC/HBO co-production 'Rome' may be one of the longest pre-emptive backlashes in recent television history.

No 'disgusting' aspect of the story is too revolting for the more prurient of Britains media pressure groups to work over, and discuss in lavish detail, before informing us it's just too much for the general public.

In Italy (Italy!), where, of course, all the gory, glorious action actually took place, a special children's cut has been made. In Britain, the controversy seems to be over the time of the showings. The programme will be shown at 9 pm, which, as all my readers will doubtless be aware, is the watershed. The watershed is specifically designed to separate adult programmes from general interest ones.

The Beeb have decided to run with the programme at nine because they want maximum exposure for a big budget series. Meanwhile, the prudes have been trying to get their oar in first. The worst agony aunt in Britain, Ann Widdicombe, has leapt in first, calling the programme 'a feast of decadence' and 'more akin to a porn movie.' All this proves is that Widdicombe has never watched a porn movie, because if she had, she would realise just how fatuous a comment that is.

The BBC article claims:

'An opening battle scene recalls the ferocity of Ridley Scott's Gladiator, followed by a sex scene that would not have looked out of place in the notorious 1979 film version of Caligula.'

'Those who do not switch off in disgust will be treated to a flogging, a crucifixion, numerous deaths and an impalement.'

It's fascinating, isn't it, that the sort of people complaining loudest about these acts were almost certainly uniformly those praising 'The Passion Of The Christ' loudest. Of course, violence, scourging, flailing and crucifying is all well and good if it's the son of God suffering, but if it's secular? Well, that's just not right.

We are then told that the actor playing Mark Antony won't let his sone watch the film:

'"It's too violent, the sex scenes are too graphic, and it's on after 2100," he told the BBC News website.'

This is written as if admitting the prudes have a point, but in fact his son is just eight years old. Look, if anyone is letting their kids, as young as eight or nine, watch adult programming, then they are just bad parents. That's no reason to stop the enjoyment of the rest of us. Parenting is something that parents have to learn - Ofcom can't teach it to them.

All the lads had turned out for Phil's toga party at the local bathhouse.

In the USA this program is largely under the radar because it is relegated to a premium subscription channel, HBO.
These channels are pretty much allowed free-reign for various reasons, not the least of which is that you must pay to receive the content. If you have a problem with it, you simply cancel your subscription.
This is why some of our best shows come from HBO and its competitor Showtime.

'Round here, they seem much more freaked out about videogames and such.

Still, its heartwarming to know that hypocritical criticism still gets a shot at these programs, even if they have to go to the U.K. to get the licks in.
The demented modern notion that a life without risk is possible has infected everything. Now various censorious groups have decided that a life without being offended is possible. If only similar energy was put into things that really matter.
Well, HBO is a quality service, and it's subscription status does give it a chance to show more controversial content. This is all to the good, in certain respects, although I have to say if I were an American I'd be annoyed that I had to pay extra to see a breast every now and then.

Meanwhile in Blighty, the TV landscape is rather different, and content is decided by relation to the watershed. We also have Pay-TV, which shows much stronger stuff, softcore porn in effect, but anything R18 (hardcore) is banned even from PIN-protected pay-per-view. 'Rome' clearly is nothing like, and is actually, by the sound of it, fairly uncontroversial, something that would cause no problem were it on at ten.

Clairwil, you're absolutely right, except for one thing - this does matter!
Sounds fantastic. I hope it's not too long coming here. With any luck it will be on cable, and thus will have the best picture and be without ads.

We recently had a kerfuffle over smut on Big Brother, but by and large, if a TV show is on late enough, no one bothers much about the sex and violence.

And if it's on cable, there's no rumpus at all.
To the best of my knowledge, no channel Down Under has purchaseed it yet, but it won't be long.

I'm completely with you on adverts. Ads in films absolutely ruin them, particularly on ITV, where they have developed the fascinating habit of cutting up to three minutes of material out of films after each break. Maybe they leave the tape running. Who knows.

I remember the trouble over 'Big Brother.' It was over the 'Uncut' programme, wasn't it? You'd be surprised at how many people arrive here searching for Aussie Big Brother contestants in the nude.
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