In this century and with so many triumphantly signed international conventions on equal rights, free expression of speech, and free talk on sexuality, the so-called developed countries have faced a new taboo – the hidden censorship on art in all its forms. This trend is especially unpleasant with movies and books and with the crippling censorship done in a not so obvious way.
The topic of gay communities is extremely sensitive in Eastern Europe with no exception at all, but also in countries that claim to be leaders in inequality and human rights. “Brokeback Mountain” – ranked the second-best love movie of all times with the brilliant performances of the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, was offered dubbed, not subbed, in most theaters in Germany and Austria. The sexual scenes between the two men were even clipped off in some countries, and the movie was banned in some states in the USA.
The outstanding Oscar-winning cinematic achievement was vandalized in terms of conversation, too. The iconic phrase: “I don’t know how to quit you” is missing from the German translation. Plainly put, dubbing movies offer a great opportunity to twist words and impose and reinforce taboos. The protests of viewers and translators are totally fruitless, the latter of them having been threatened with unemployment. The same trend is valid when it comes to the translation of books, but this will be covered later.
The books and movies banned during communist times are a topic of a totally different discussion. Nowadays, publishers in Eastern Europe do not go for books that might start a controversial debate among people, and no matter what achievements come out on paper, only between 20% and 35% of the general population think homosexuality should be accepted, the majority being women. Politicians and businesses go along with the people’s attitude and adjust to their demands.
“The Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch’s stunning impersonation of the genius Alan Turing, who saved millions of lives in World War II and shortened the War by an estimated 2 years, and was later brutally treated against homosexuality and eventually killed by both science and society, went through the cinemas but was poorly advertised. It had little to no media coverage and not many people, least of all males, went to see it, just as they hadn’t seen “Brokeback Mountain”. Out of fear, or what? It’s not contagious, you know.
The hidden taboo stops people from enjoying great pieces of work and learning about the life of great people. In Eastern Europe there is no mention of Oscar Wilde’s sexual preferences, ever, just because no one can deny his absolute talent. Virginia Woolf is presented before the public as a married woman and her bisexuality is ignored. “Will Grayson Will Grayson” has never been advertised as a book about two gay boys. David Sedaris, one of the greatest writers of this century?
Well, what can I say, people, reach for the books, open, laugh while reading the first pages and then they come upon a page where he talks with an unsurpassable sense of humor about his homosexuality and the potential buyer leaves his work like something dirty. “He’s funny, but he’s gay. I don’t need a funny gay on my bookshelves.” The greatest womanizer in the TV show industry – Barney Stinson – was portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, whose homosexuality has been hush-hushed till now for the sake of the show in many countries. How is that even remotely close to fair or close to human rights? Let’s go about secretly it so that we can earn money from his talent.
It is possible. The truth is that most young people in Eastern Europe are afraid to talk to their parents out of fear of rejection which is not uncommon. Some families would disown their children or send them away to avoid shame. “What will the people say? What am I supposed to tell my friends?” The suicide rate among homosexual children between 13 and 19 years of age is five times higher than the rates among heterosexual young adults in most East-European countries with Hungary being the “leader”.
However, these statistics are probably rather inaccurate because the real reason why a child who’s come to terms with their sexuality has taken their life is most often hidden and not registered. The aforementioned taboo works as a well-maintained machine and society will not let go of what it knows and will fear what it doesn’t want to understand.
To be continued…