Banned Books Week 2006

Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedom
The new school year has begun and so have the stories on book banning. A teacher usually assigns a book and some “concerned” parent takes exception to the choice, usually on “moral” grounds. Within a week the school board or library has banned it and both side are on the local news protesting.

The most irritating attacks are those on books and “controversial” movies that challenge us intellectually. How many people out there have read Origin of Species and the Bible? The Canterbury Tales written in 1380 had been banned…… I read it in 6th grade. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were both banned, most of Shakespeare has at one time been banned……..the list is long. In almost all cases the people screaming for a ban have never read the book or seen the movie. How is it possible to make a decision to ban something based only on a passage or two taken out of context? How about banning it based on just the general plot or premise?

A lot of people believe there is only black and white, good and evil, up and down…etc. In other words they ONLY see two ways of looking at issues and the world in general. The way I see it the Universe exists only in shades of gray. Any argument can be and should be viewed from either extreme view or anthing in between and be valid. We live in a society where everyone has an opinion based on their first impressions, malformed beliefs and unstudied bias. A large portion of what society believes is greatly influenced by pop cultures psudo-religions, psudo-science the “news” and our uninformed policy makers and self proclaimed experts.

What follows is a thought experiment / example of how to take a movie or book and spin the premise into a potential banning candidate. I will take something considered a classic and spin it into something twisted.

Movie Premise:
A young girl is transported against her will to a surreal landscape where she kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three very weird complete strangers to kill again. (Definition: weird- one stranger is not wearing any clothes another is carrying a weapon and the third is mentally challenged.)

Based on only this information would you let your children see this movie? Can this movie possibly be any good ? Is there any possible way to put a spin on this “movie” and get responsible adults to take their 7, 8 & 9 year olds to see this now perceived “dreck”? Armed with this description could I get this movie banned from my kids school and library? What if I told you this movie was originally a book and has been banned by outraged fundamentalists determined to purge “witchcraft” from public schools and libraries.

The movie has been around for over 65 years and has made a lot of people a lot of money. The book has been made into a movie many times. The most popular version has been seen by millions of children.

The movie? The Wizard of Oz.