The movie is a very powerful medium that needs good assessment before showing them in the movie theaters or cinemas. That’s the big role the MTRCB, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, has to attend to. But the most powerful medium is the television for it invades the privacy of every home – without permission. Maski mga bata masasagasaan ng pelikula na hindi angkop sa kanilang edad. Sa sinehan, may classification ang for minors or general patronage; or for adult rating or even x-rating, if the film is not suitable for public exhibition due to extreme violence, salacious, obscene; or simply against the law, which is well defined in the Revised Penal Code.
Honestly, there are times I see foreign movies shown on Sky Cable that are extremely violent, gory, sadistic and cruel. The MTRCB is not a censorship board but a regulatory board with powers to cut, shorten or extricate very violent and gory and sadistic scenes; or those lewd scenes bordering on obscenity or outright obscene. That’s prohibited by the law and it should be controlled by the MTRCB. Their responsibility to the public at large must always prevail. It’s a great responsibility on each and every board member.
Allow me to give an example on what I went through as MTRCB Chairman from 1986 to 1992. I was told, I had the longest tenure of six years during President Cory’s term; and I was told most Chairman lasted for less than six years. But it was a hell of a job disciplining an undisciplined film industry. It was right after Martial Law and the so-called “Concerned Artists Group” suddenly arose to have “total freedom” when Martial Law was lifted in 1986, the year I was appointed to the MTRCB as Chairman by President Cory. To her credit, she never intruded nor interfered in the way I ran the MTRCB, attacked by the so-called Concerned Artists Group “as being too strict.” But I had to follow the law; and stop the proliferation of “bomba films,” or pornographic movies. It took me the first two years to make the film industry na nagwawala to understand what I had to do. They wanted “total freedom of expression” and I got back at them that there is no such thing as “total freedom of expression” for our Constitution itself says (more or less) that the moment you hurt your fellowmen, they are no longer free. They lose their so-called “total freedom of expression.” There are limits to everything in life. Total freedom, to me, is to do good, not bad and against the law.
Total freedom, to me, is to do good, not to do bad and against the law. A movie is bigger than life. It’s exaggerated for cinematic effect. It’s not real. It’s only a reel, not real. Ang problema ang may masamang kaisipan, ginagaya ang nakikita sa pelikula. Nakakakuha sila ng masasamang gawain. Very bad for the criminally inclined. They see the movie as something real when it’s only a reel!
Imagine the pornographic movies which insult the sensibilities of both the young and the old. The young can be tormented and lose their moral compass and value formation. Those of age can also be affected. They go nuts, crazy when enticed and when tempted, they rape and do things they should not do – all because of what they saw in the movies. That’s how great the impact of movies can have on the people. I have read studies from the U.S. that those living in the big cities have access to X-rated moviehouses. X-rated theaters (not too many) are allowed in the seedy areas of a big city with 5 million population and above. The crime rate was very high compared to smaller communities with less than 5 million population where X-rated theaters are not allowed. The crime was much, much lower than those cities with X-rated theaters. This is the message I wish to put across. I had the most difficult job from 1986 to 1992. But through hard work, including going through rallies against the board, I dialogued with the film industry (both movie and television) to follow the law; and they did after two years of arguing with each other.
The movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ” I was able to stop from being shown in our country without having to quarrel with the foreign producer nor their local distributor. How could I allow it when the law prohibits any film that insults any religion. I simply did not sign the importation permit. It had been banned in several States in the U.S., in Europe and many other countries. Even Israel banned it too.
But the so-called Concerned Artists Group “made a lot of noise” why I banned it. I did not. It never entered our country because I simply did not sign the importation permit. How can I “ban” something that did not arrive in the country? I must admit that I saw the tape on betamax at the time sent to me by a friend in the U.S. it definitely could not be shown in the country because of our existing law. Britain has a very strict film board, but people never complained for it’s only proper what they are doing. The Film Board is based in New York and most of the board members are parents. They, too, have the last say when rating a film.
I read that there is another sensitive film entitled “Corpus Christi” which means “The Body of Christ” due to be released around June to August of this year and there is a call from all Christians to stop its showing. I will explain in my next column on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
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