The Modern Heroes
At the beginning of last year, I spent a few weeks travelling through Morocco, meeting so many amazing and inspirational people in various villages and ancient cities along the way. In particular, I bonded with Hassan, a 25 year old man who was a driver for a living but worked casually as a tour guide around Essaouira (where I met him). Only having five years difference between us, we were exchanging stories, similar interests and jokes. I asked him what his favourite movie was, and to my surprise, this athletic, quite ‘cool’ looking guy replied with “Titanic.” I was shocked. Titanic??! It seemed like such a bizarre choice. I mean sure, it is a fantastic movie, but really? A 25 year old, outgoing and macho Moroccan man surely was not the target audience. “All my friends love it too,” he continued. “I know every word!”
Although completely perplexed by such a revelation at first, I soon began to understand the reasoning behind Hassan’s movie choice. Morocco, like many countries, imposes strict censorship on mediums from movies to music and books. The reason Hassan loved Titanic so much was because it was one of the few Hollywood blockbusters allowed to be shown within the conservative nation; other choices at video suppliers being old Western 70s movies and outdated French films (their previous colonisers). I did a bit of research and found that, for example, Iran banned ‘Zoolander’ because they felt it promoted gay rights, Burma banned ‘The Simpson’s Movie’ because of it’s usage of Western dress sense (seen as ‘erotic’) and aggression (more than 10 separate occasions of punching) and Malaysia prohibited ‘Pineapple Express’ for its drug use.
Hence, when movie piracy was brought up in our tutorial last Wednesday, it really struck a chord with me. In my opinion, although piracy is understandably harmful to the film industry, and I do not encourage illegal downloading and file sharing, ultimately the role of ‘internet pirates’ in providing music and movies to censored regions is an important one. They say the internet is a democratic place, and although that could be debated for centuries, this facet of content distribution in this sense, is a display of democracy. It could be seen from this viewpoint that although governments may make the decision to censor films or music or what have you for whatever reason, but the internet now provides us with access to whatever we wish to view. Does this make internet pirates modern day heroes, crusaders for freedom of expression and the end to government censorship? It’s an interesting concept.