Home Arts Delving Deep into Censorship

Delving Deep into Censorship

by Archives September 8, 2009

They sure don’t make pornos like they used to. Deep Throat, that gem of the ‘golden age of porn’ and the most profitable adult film of all time, screened to the paying public at Cinéma du Parc last Wednesday evening.
It tells the story of a young lady named Linda Lovelace who, with a misplaced clitoris in her throat, seeks sexual thrill with an act involving throats. She is accompanied by hairy limbs and a corny funk score that would only be found in the excesses of the 70’s.
Deep Throat increased in notoriety when the title was borrowed for the name of the Watergate whistle-blower, whose divulging of secrets led to President Richard Nixon resigning in disgrace.
Wednesday was the first time Deep Throat has been screened in its entirety in Quebec. It was part of a roster of films shown in the 2009 edition of the “When Censorship Ruled in Quebec” series at Cinéma du Parc.
Other films included Hiroshima mon amour and Birth of a Nation. The first told the story of a married French actress who spends the night with a Japanese man while she makes a film about peace in Hiroshima. The reason it was banned? Lascivious scenes of adultery! (Where would some movies be today without a good extramarital affair?) Birth of Nation is a silent film from 1915 about two families, set during the Civil War era – it was banned because it tells the story of the founding of the Klu Klux Klan and would appear to support white supremacy.
Needless to say, those films ran into some trouble with the law at some point here in la belle province. Censorship in Quebec is a history of extremes. Film regulation – and censorship is under the jurisdiction of individual provinces, and as such, censorship has been diverse across the country. It can take place on different levels: cities ban movies within their area while custom officials ban movies considered pornographic from entering the country.
In Quebec, censorship was viewed as another way to implement family values and guard against anything that was considered to be against the Catholic Church’s teachings and morality. Eventually, the harsh censorship policies established in Quebec were reversed after much criticism, and Quebec has become the most liberal province. For instance, the sexually explicit comedy Bruno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, was rated 18A in all of Canada, except Quebec where it was rated a milder 16+.
When Deep Throat was screened by students in Montreal in January 1974 at Sir George Williams University (a mere eight months before it would merge with Loyola College to become our very own Concordia University), the city police morality squad interrupted a screening and confiscated both the film and the projector.
While this incident happened decades ago, the debate over censorship is still ongoing: the latest instalment has been about Bill C-10. This controversial bill allows the government to retroactively strip tax credits from films that the Heritage Minister deems offensive to the public. The problem? The government would be deciding what is moral or not for us. Young People Fucking, a Canadian romantic comedy, mainly about sex, was a hit at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and was given as an example of a film that would not make the cut with C-10.
Fortunately, for now, the C-10 initiative has been dropped.
Another question for discussion that crops up with Deep Throat is the matter of restriction. While Deep Throat definitely is a graphic porn movie that should be kept from the eyes of babies, if it were screened today in porn cinemas or was sold in sex shops, would it have aroused as much fervour as it did when it debuted over thirty-five years ago? Sex and innuendo has slipped into the mainstream over the years. The less we restrict art and media content, are we watering down sexiness? What does a society that bares all have to conceal? Linda Lovelace (the actress) herself is said to have stated that one day the mainstream film and porn industries would be as one.
The censorship series at Cinéma du Parc is over for now, and will hopefully re-appear sometime in the future, but why not head to the video store and check out some of these titles to get a glimpse of what was taboo in film in the good ol’ days?

Related Articles

Leave a Comment