April 2006

Cambodian outrage over Thai film

Thai Horror film Ghost Game is generating outrage in Cambodia over resemblances between the films settung and the infamous Khmer Rouge Toul Sleng torture centre.

Accusing the Thai film makers of disrespect for the victims of Cambodias genocide, head of the Cambodian Culture Ministrys cinema department, Kong Kendara, said his office would cooperate with the Interior Ministry to confiscate and destroy any copies of the movie in shops in the capital.

In Ghost Game a group of 11 young Thais play characters in a TV reality show who must stay in a haunted Cambodian prison and brave angry ghosts to win prize money. The set of the film, directed by Thailands Sarawut Wichiensarn, reportedly depicts lines of photographs on the walls in a seemingly direct reference to Toul Sleng, as well as piles of skulls and skeletons.

Catholic cartoon controversy

The Tablet (via) reports that bishops and other leading Catholics in Germany are protesting against MTVs plans to show Popetown in the German-speaking countries on 3rd May.

After finding full-page advertisements for the cartroon series in several German TV magazines the bishops’ conference announced that the advertisements were an “affront to all German Christians” as they mocked the central message of Christian belief, the central message of Christian belief being that the Pope does not ride a pogo stick.

Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Archbishop of Munich, accused MTV of deliberately choosing Holy Week to show the advertisements. “It is obvious, in view of the recent uproar over the Danish Muhammad caricatures, that the time has come to treat people’s religious beliefs and symbols with greater sensitivity in public,” he said.

Surely the opposite should be the case, I would have thought.

But the poor dears are taking action. The archdiocese of Munich has sent MTV an ultimatum through a lawyer, which obliged the station to decide whether to go ahead with the broadcast or face legal proceedings and a member of the conservative CSU has also lodged a complaint against the station.

The Bavarian leader, Edmund Stoiber, told the German daily Münchner Merkur that he intended to try and change Germany’s blasphemy laws “in order to protect people’s religious feelings”. Under German law blasphemy is punishable only if it disturbs the public peace. Mr Stoiber said he hoped to get a new law passed by the summer that would make mocking religious symbols a crime and added that he had already discussed the matter with the President of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, and the leader of the Lutheran Church in Bavaria.

Jesus! What a stupid idea.

Its times like this that a sense of proportion would help

The Philippine Alliance Against Pornography Inc. (PAAP) has called on President Arroyo to ban the showing of the film version of The Da Vinci Code. They are also demanding that the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Customs to confiscate and destroy master copies of the film - although its not clear how much jusrisdiction they expect the Phillipines to have over a foreign film studio.

But it gets madder:

In a statement, PAAP spokesman Aldo Filomeno said copies of Brown’s books available in bookstores and related establishments should also be destroyed.

Finally, the group wants Brown to be declared persona non grata in the country.

And madder:

Therefore, theologians and historians are unanimous (in saying) that Brown is the one having a code. That is to conquer the world with greed for billions (of dollars in) profits. Brown is the modern-day Adolf Hitler. By his highly questionable writings, he wants to destroy the divinity of Christ so the world will worship his evil empire, [PAAP spokesman Aldo] Filomeno said.

Aldo Filomeno really does pull his head out of his arse and ask himself whether he really thinks that a second rate novellist can ever be compared to the worst mass murderer of the 20th Century.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

Banned in Canada

Movie website, Twitch, have started providing downloadable PDF files of the seven most recent issues of the Quarterly List of Admissible and Prohibited Titles of the Prohibited Importations Unit (PIU) of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Each of the issues contains a list of titles - including books, magazines, comics, CDs and DVDs - which have been reviewed by the PIU who determine whether the material is admissible or prohibited, based on whether or not it deemed the material to be obscenity or hate propaganda.

For those who may be wondering what an article on material deemed by the PIU to be obscenity or hate propaganda has to do with the kind of movies normally discussed here on Twitch, it should be noted that on Friday September 10, 2004, CBSA arrested a man for importing into Canada a copy of Bo Arne Vibenius Thriller - A Cruel Picture (Thriller - en grym film), and on Monday July 28, 2003, CBSA - then Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) - arrested me for importing into Canada a copy of Catherine Breillats Cannes-prizewinning Fat Girl (À ma sœur !).

You can find the lists here.

Enforcing intolerance all around the world

Sometimes I read a story and dont know whether to snort derisively at the sort of fool who thinks he can enforce his own brand of parochial intolerance internationally, or express concern that someone might actually be taking seriously the sort of fool who thinks he can enforce his own brand of parochial intolerance internationally. Take this one, for example.

Police in Pakistan have registered cases against the editor and publisher of a Danish newspaper and several other European dailies over publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons under a blasphemy law that carries the death penalty, an officer said.

Internet giants Yahoo, Hotmail, the Internet search engine, Google, were also named in the cases for allowing access to the drawings of Muhammad that were considered sacrilegious by many Muslims. The cases were submitted by a Pakistani lawyer who runs a citizens no-rights group.

A Pakistani lawyer, Iqbal Haider, who runs Awami Himayat Tehrik or Peoples Support Movement, had petitioned the Supreme Court against the publication of the cartoons under a blasphemy law that allows the death penalty for anyone guilty of insulting the Prophet or the Quran.

Cases were registered against Jyllands-Posten, its editor, publisher, a cartoonist, and newspapers in France, Italy, Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands at a police station in Karachi.

It is now the governments job to contact the Interpol and bring the offenders to a court of law in Pakistan, Haider said.

A government prosecutor, who opposed the petition, says Pakistans courts have no jurisdiction over a crime committed abroad.

Brothel arouses Muslim passion

In what probably seemed like a good idea at the time, Europes largest brothel, the Pascha in Cologne - which claims to be the worlds only brothel with a money-back guarantee - attached the flags of all 32 nations competing in the World Cup to its façade in a bid to demonstrate international flair and attract custom during the tournament this summer.

The poster, which covered the side of seven-story, 126-apartment building showed a friendly-looking blonde woman lifting up her bra above the slogan A Time to Make Girlfriends, in a play on the World Cups official slogan A Time to Make Friends. Right beneath her pink panties were posters of the flags, including those of strictly Islamic Saudi Arabia and Iran.


On Friday evening we were threatened by 11 masked men who demand that we take down the Saudi Arabian flag, [Pascha's manager Armin] Lobscheid told the Kölner Express, a local newspaper. Not wanting any trouble, the brothel obliged and removed it and the Iranian one. But that still left the flags printed on the poster.

On Saturday night there were 20 masked men armed with knives and sticks. They threatened to get violent and even bomb the place unless we black out the Iranian and Saudia Arabian flags on the poster as well, said Lobscheid.

The men had left before the police arrived. But to spare his establishment any more trouble, Lobscheid ordered a crane to black out the two flags as well. Lobscheid is now considering filing a complaint but also wants to hold talks with the local Muslim community.

MediaWatchWatch, via whom I found this story, note that the Tunisian flag, which bears the crescent symbol of Islam, remains on the advert.

Dancing for freedom

According to the Melon Farmers, dancers, musicians and models rallied in Indonesia on Saturday against the proposed anti-pornography bill that could impose jail terms for kissing in public or baring sensual body parts.

Most of the nearly 1,000 protesters were women dressed in colorful traditional costumes that showed off their shoulders, cleavage, calves and midriffs. This bill defies logic, said rally coordinator Yeni Rosa Damayanti as they marched through the streets of the capital, Jakarta, under a light drizzle. The state shouldnt try to dictate how women dress.

The protesters said they fear traditional dancing, skimpy clothes and even bathing in rivers could be declared illegal if it is passed.

Muslim groups should not be allowed to force their beliefs on the whole country, said the demonstrators, who included actors, writers, beauty pageant finalists, and a truck loaded with transvestites.

According to the organisers, the parade was intended to demonstrate Indonesias cultural diversity as part of a national movement to reject the bill.

The legislation, supported by Muslim leaders and the Indonesian Ulema Council, contains articles which could make it illegal for women bare their thighs, breasts or navels in public.

Those opposed to the bill say it could also end up outlawing the traditional costumes of non-Muslim ethnic groups in the country, along with the traditional kebaya and kemben dresses used in ethnic dances throughout the country.

Activist Yeni Rosa Damayanti said that the parade was not about debating religious values. Instead it was about protecting Indonesias cultural diversity, which the bill had put under threat.

Idiots issue threats against Interview

Sienna Miller has been on the receiving end of a number of death threats over her involvement in the film Interview.

This is a film about a fading political journalist (played by Steve Buscemi) who is forced to interview Americas most popular soap actress (Miller). Not much to complain about there, so whats the problem?

Well, Interview is a remake of a 2003 film made by Theo van Gogh - the director who was brutally murdered in 2004 following the release of Submission, which attempted to highlight the violence against women in Islamic societies.

Interview has nothing to do with Submission, but the mere association with van Gogh seems to be enough for Islamic fundamentalists to start making threats and, given what happened to van Gogh, these are not threats that can be taken lightly.

According to a member of the film crew: Sienna refuses to give in to these threats. The film hasnt got anything to do with Islam. But because its being made as a tribute to Theo, the Islamic fundamentalists have hit the roof.

Three cheers, then, for Sienna.

Singapore bans blogs

The Singapore government has been condemned for gagging political discussion on the web in the run up to the countrys parliamentary elections.

The government has extended censorship laws to ban podcasts and videocasts that carry political content and already strictly regulates websites and blogs, which must be registered with the government. The ban is enforced under a 2001 law that seeks to prevent overt advertising by political parties. The ban is a blow to the opposition Singapore Democratic Party which has used both podcasts and videocasts in an attempt to get round traditional media censorship laws. Reporters sans Frontieres said: Once again the Singapore authorities are showing their determination to prevent the holding of a genuinely democratic debate on the internet. No date has yet been announced for the election.

(via Index on Censorship)

Offended without knowing why

An untitled, anonymous piece of art featuring a black panther on a background of mathematic equations sparked controversy after an official thought the drawing could be offensive.

On Sunday evening, the artwork display was in the process of being erected as part of a Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination’s (CARED) ‘Art in Colour’ event at Queen’s College when AMS Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Bavidra Mohan raised concerns because he felt the drawing could be seen as offensive because it might possibly have something to do with the US Black Panther movement.

If Mohan ever finds himself in front of Steve Martins most recent film, I fear that his brain will explode.

(via Index on Censorship)