I have not been forthcoming in my contributions to the net in recent months, but here's a really provocative article by Ninez Cacho-Olivares.
It touches on a plethora of issues related to freedom of expression vs censorship, sexuality, moral values, and the notion of Filipino womanhood. I lean towards Olivares's view, although I have not seen the film, simply on the grounds that it is precisely the association of women's anatomy with the somehow sinful and immoral that has contributed to women's low status and vulnerability to exploitation. I do not agree, however, that we should necessarily emulate European sexual libertarianism (we need not bare our breasts on the beach to show that we are thoroughly modern and sophisticated). The morality of female (or, for that matter, male) nudity on the screen needs to be assessed according to the context in which it is depicted. Does it celebrate or debase womanhood, disempower or disempower women?
Henrietta Mendez of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board is truly one for the birds.
She not only seems to believe that it is wrong for Filipinos to view the birds and the bees in tasteful, simulated action on screen, but that it is also wrong for the viewing public to see a bit of the birdies' feathers or the bees' fur.
Jeez! If Filipinos didn't know what sex is all about or are unfamiliar with the anatomical structure of a man and a woman, would the population in these parts have grown to some 68 million?
But maybe Mendez and her ilk are precisely the reason we, as a people, are overly malicious when it comes to sex and near nudity.
Censors like Mendez have succeeded in transforming the beautiful into the ugly and the forbidden.
Go all over Europe and one sees women of all shapes and sizes baring their breasts in the beaches, as they sun themselves.
Does anyone bother to look? No one, except perhaps the malicious Filipino males who look at such scenes as the forbidden fruit.
Go to Boracay and watch how Filipinos pointedly stare at topless women sunning themselves.
If they were used to such scenes, they wouldn't even merit an interested glance.
But as this country, with censors like Mendez, continue to make the human body look like forbidden fruit, Filipinos will always look at the human form with malice.
Mendez is just too much. In Schindler's List, she and her board members objected to certain scenes because of breast exposure and a pumping scene.
In the award-winning The Piano, she again objected to its showing because it showed that the devil was at work, or so she said.
In Belle Epoque, the sex scenes were objected to, for the same reasons.
She is at it again, and with the most ridiculous excuse to use her scissors on yet another film.
The Bridges of Madison County has been rated a double X by Mendez and company, because of a 4-to 5-second scene that showed Meryl Streep's pubic hair.
Good grief! Every one, schoolchildren included, has seen sketches and drawings of the human body and everyone has seen pubic hair.
What then is so objectionable about seeing Meryl Streep's pubic hair on screen? Pubic hair is as natural as the hair on one's head or on one's legs and armpits.
Does she truly believe, like Morato before her, that seeing a woman's pubic hair on screen will transform Filipinos into raving rapists and nymphomaniacs?
As Mendez says, "There is pubic hair exposure which, in the judgment of the Board applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, is contrary to our good customs and is injurious to the prestige of the Filipino women."
Screw Mendez! How dare she speak for the Filipino people and dictate to us what is moral, good and injurious to our prestige.
The existence of Mendez in the MTRCB chair is injurious to the prestige of the Filipinos, and especially the Filipino women.
The sooner she is thrown out of the MTRCB, the faster the Filipino women will rise in prestige.
At the moment, with Mendez pretending to be the guardian of Filipino morality, as well as the authority on contemporary Filipino cultural values and good customs, we have become the laughing stock of the film world.
That woman simply has to be exterminated, and fast before she transforms the Filipino people into a lynch mob, with her as the target!
What is it about Mendez and the human body that she finds so objectionable when it appears unclothed or semi-clothed or when it engages in simulated sexual activity?
What is so revolting about showing a woman's pubic hair on screen? Would Mendez prefer it if Meryl Streep shaved off her pubic hair instead, to conform to "contemporary Filipino cultural values and good customs?"
It is not in the culture of Filipino men and women to shave off their pubic hair, although it is in the culture of Filipino women to shave their legs and armpits.
Still, even seeing Sylvana Mangano years ago in Bitter Rice, with hair on her armpits, does not constitute bad taste.
Mendez's judgment of an XX rating for Bridges of Madison County for the display of Streep's pubic hair does.
Why we have such an aberration of the human race like Mendez is beyond me.
God must have been half-asleep when he created her.
Fortunately, he made so few of them.
Unfortunately for us Filipinos, He put them all in the MTRCB.
(C) Business World Publishing Corporation 1995. SOURCES BUSINESS WORLD (PHILIPPINES)
[posted without permission]
P.S. Mendez was sacked yesterday.