Saturday, January 2, 2010

No Peeking!

Years ago, when my sisters and I were much younger, our parents protected our innocent minds by ordering us to "cover our eyes" during nude or partially-nude scenes in movies. Though for them "cover your eyes, kids!" seemed like a declaration all parents should make in order to keep their children ignorant about sex and sexuality for as long as possible, for the three of us it was code for, "just look through your fingers!" I can remember many movie scenes viewed this way, though I can't always remember the movie the scenes were attached to.

Now that I am 29 I no longer have to cover my eyes to protect an innocence long shattered; however, the choice is not always mine. Movie theaters in Kuwait are all owned and operated by the Kuwait National Cinema Company (also known as Cinescape
), which is responsible for editing offensive or inappropriate scenes from movies, including love scenes and kisses. I knew of this practice in theory and saw in practice when Seth and I went to see Terminator: Salvation. You know that part in the beginning when Sam Worthington and Helena Bonham Carter's characters kiss? Well, I can only assume they kiss because one moment they're talking and, after an odd jump, are talking again. It's no big deal, really: what do kisses and love scenes add to a plot, anyway? So when Seth and I went to see Avatar last week we were told that two scenes were cut out but thought nothing of it.

Until the first cut came during nothing romantic, but a fight scene when alien wolf-like things are being killed. I was caught off guard, but whatever, right? Until 30 minutes or so later the screen suddenly went white. What the fuck, I thought, is something wrong with the film? We could hear the movie, only the picture was mysteriously missing. The white screen went away after a couple of minutes, yet returned during the mating scene. Again, we heard the movie but the screen remained obscured. Impatient and irritated I turned my attention towards the projection booth - and saw the man there holding a piece of paper in front of the projector. Seriously. A random fight scene was edited but when two characters "make their bond" all that's needed is a sheet of paper to uphold Islamic law and custom.

And the worst thing about it? I couldn't even peek.

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