14.5.08

Perversion Heal Thyself

Daniel Thompson, 31, was so upset by the sex, profanity and violence in movies today that he opened a video store in Orem, Utah, offering major Hollywood films but with the objectionable parts manually removed. Hollywood studios got a court order shutting down the store in December because of copyright infringement, and in January, Thompson was arrested after police said he paid two 14-year-old girls for sex.

From NEWS of the WEIRD

13.5.08

Burn After Reading



The first science fiction novel I ever read was, coincidentally, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. We had a maverick 5th grade English teacher (whose name escapes me) who really enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable literature for 10 and 11 year-olds and this was at the top of his list.

For whatever reason the logic behind the banning of books made perfect sense to me. Not that I was a proponent, instead that I could clearly see how a oppressive government could see the written word as a threat, and how censorship of any kind would lead to total suppression of individual expression.


Our teacher followed the reading assignment with a screening of Fran├žois Truffaut's 1966 film based on the novel (another set of firsts, my first Truffaut film and my first taste of the French New Wave). I remember being disappointed by the exteriors of the 'future', save for the scene shot at the French SAFEGE test track. I also seem to remember that the film's producer's saved a few bucks by keeping the 'mechanical hounds' in the dark, represented solely by glowing red eyes, ala The Curse of the Cat People.

This was the true start of my ongoing love affair with science fiction. Soon after I picked up The Illustrated Man, R is for Rocket, and for some inexplicable reason 1984. Thanks to that teacher single teacher and his 'wild ideas' my life set off into totally unforeseen territories of imagination, for which I owe him a debt of gratitude.

Ironically, not all of his students felt the same. The teacher was reprimanded due to a parental complaint. Seems one of our peers had complained to Mummy and Daddy that the teacher said the unspeakable word 'shit' or more than one occasion in the front of the class. The little stool pigeon even had the temerity to surreptitiously attempt an audio taping after the reprimand had been publicly announced (Teach was forced to make an apology to all of his students). I'm glad to say that I was one of the students who caught the junior g-man with a tape recorder under his Trapper-Keeper, and knocked the damnable instrument to the floor.

Of course at the time none of us were intellectually advanced enough to see the irony, but I'm sure my underpaid and overly enthusiastic teacher discovered a new level of discourse when it came to teaching about a book who's main themes are censorship, conformity, and the exultation of ignorance.