Sunday, March 9, 2008

Film! Passion! Controversy!

We're now in week 3 of the LAS Faculty Film Series. My design students are working through the complexities of designing an engaging movie poster for the remaining movies and I extended the deadline to this Wednesday. However, the architecture professors are showing 'Blade Runner' this Wednesday, so we needed to get something up for 'Blade Runner' soon. A very driven student, Mena Assad, dedicated himself to finishing a poster ahead of time and completed it today. We edited some details, discussed the colors, and printed/trimmed 35 copies. At least 15 of them are up in the building right now. (The image here is the near-final, as I do not have the final PDF yet).

I just received an email that the poster appears to be creating some controversy. The part in question is the yellow bar containing the word 'Passion' and a obscured image of a kiss. Apparently it's been deemed 'inappropriate' by some students. I wondered what is the main objection- the word, the image, or both? We've determined that it's probably the image and jokingly said we could put 'censor' bars over their 'lips' (?) if things become really controversial. However all this 'controversy' could fuel increased awareness about the event and possibly boast attendance. We'll see.

The thing that strikes me about this are the conflicting messages within the culture. As I mentioned before, kisses  or embraces can't be shown but we can play songs about a woman's anatomy in the grocery store? We can't show a very stylized still from a movie but students can watch 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Sex and the City'? Movies and TV shows are censored here (downloaded ones probably are not)- so you don't see sex or kisses or nudity on TV or in the theaters- but that doesn't change the fundamental moral message of a show like 'Desperate Housewives'. With this poster- one could argue that it's a very obscured 'kiss' and also that if a student objects- then he/she doesn't have to see the movie.

I have never seen 'Blade Runner' or another future LAS Faculty Film Series film, 'Cold Mountain'. However, someone marveled that we would show 'Cold Mountain', given that there are some very suggestive scenes in it. Curious to see how 'Blade Runner' compared to 'Cold Mountain', I looked up the sex/nudity rating of both films online. 

The result? 
Blade Runner-5
Cold Mountain- 7

However the posters currently in development for 'Cold Mountain' are much tamer, while 'Blade Runner' host Professor Kelly Hutzell described these posters as an "accurate portrayal of the movie." So will it be ok to hide the sex/nudity/gore of one movie while honestly expressing the extent of it in another? We shall see.

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