Friday, March 11, 2005

Bad Education, Worse Decision

Both dustbury and Existential Ramble take exception with an 11th-hour decision by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to cancel scheduled screenings of Bad Education, the Pedro Almodovar-directed thriller that made numerous critics' "best of" lists in 2004. The problem? The film is rated NC-17, and apparently the museum's board of directors, which has never shown a movie rated as such, got cold feet.

While the museum's trepidation isn't exactly sinister, it is a sad testament to the cultural limitations of the home city I love so much. The Daily Oklahoman has long refused to publish advertisements for NC-17 films, a policy that effectively kills their chances to be shown in Oklahoma City theaters. The Tulsa World, which services the other major city in the state, approaches NC-17 ads on a case-by-case basis, which subsequently means a good number of so-called art and independent movies, such as Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers and John Waters' A Dirty Shame, reached Tulsa but not the largest city in Oklahoma.

While the art museum and like-minded entities obviously need to make a buck as much as any other business, they also have a mission that transcends matters of profit.

The art museum is not obligated, of course, to show NC-17 films. But when it is obvious that the aforementioned museum is the only option for the movie to be screened -- a critically lauded work made by a world-renowned filmmaker -- we think the museum's governing body has a responsibility to help enrich the cultural appreciation of its community.

And surely that responsibility can take precedence when no one is seriously calling the movie pornographic. I haven't seen Bad Education, and it evidently does present depictions of homosexual sex, but no serious critic has yet accused it of being a "dirty" movie.

As Literary Tech puts it:

"I would suggest that the Motion Picture Association rating system should not be used as a benchmark of tolerance or a limit to the inquisitive human imagination. It is a better tool for parents in managing the upbringing of their children. Even in this matter it falls short of the mark, for there is little that the MPA or MPAA has to say about films that I find sufficient in choosing material for my son. I find it even less significant in determining the quality of material I would choose for the intellectual stimulation of my community."

It was only in 1997 that anti-porn crusaders turned Oklahoma City into a brief national laughingstock when they labeled the Oscar-winning film The Tin Drum as obscene and demanded that it be pulled from area libraries and videostores. The last thing we need is a knee-jerk return to disproportionate righteousness.

Chaz at dustbury laments that the art museum's decision has made him re-think becoming a museum member. That's a shame, but it is a reasonable reservation when a so-called beacon of artistic freedom opts for rainbows and kittens.

In the meantime, we're just waiting for OKPartisan (of Oklarama fame) to hurry up and open that dang movie theater.


At 2:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it was not for IFC we would all live a bland OKC life.. Wait I think that has been banned tooo.... Damn you Al Frakin during the election. One day we will get to watch the evil that is free speech in the great state of Oklahoma but until then all hale Bush.. That was not me at the anti war rally so please call off the dogs.... Sure I made a film but I have never been a member of the Communist paty Mr. Chairman!

At 12:28 PM, Blogger OKPartisan said...

Are you really that surprised? This is from our beloved state, where one of our national politicians has said that Schindler's List was obscene for showing emaciated nudity.


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