POLL: Should Movies Self-Censor in the Wake of Real World Tragedies?

Gangster Squad (2012) Movies Altered by Tragedy

This weekend the movie The Watch hits theatres after much hesitation from 20th Century Fox. The film, which tells the story of a self-important group of amateur males who attempt to protect their community, had its original title changed from Neighborhood Watch after self-titled neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman murdered unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in early 2012.

Earlier this week it was announced by Variety that the period film Gangster Squad is being pushed back to 2013 because of a prominent scene that features a shooting in a movie theatre. Delaying the release will give Warner Bros. and director Ruben Fleischer time to re-shoot and potentially re-write the scene that echoes last weekend’s shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre.

These two instances from this year are certainly not the first examples of movies being altered to account for real world tragedy. Way back in 1928 Buster Keaton changed his film Steamboat Bill Jr. to end with a cyclone instead of a flood after a real-life flood devastated Mississippi. Dozens of films had to go back into production after the events of September 11 shook the nation and permanently altered the New York City skyline.

Are movie studios acting rationally and being sensitive when they censor movies because of real-life events or are they going too far and affecting free speech? It is a widely debated question and it is the subject of this week’s poll. Answer the question below and please share your reasoning in the comments. We will discuss our thoughts and share your answers on next week’s Film Misery Podcast.

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  • No; I understand why people could be frightened or offended by touchy scenes but it has a lot to do with the timing of the release of the movie. Now we get a completely different ending to what could have been an already great one. At the very least I hope the DVD release has both versions.

  • Calvin

    I’d take it on a case-by-case basis, but I lean towards no.

  • Yes. And by “yes”, I mean that there’s nothing wrong with this kind of self-censorship. Whether they should or they shouldn’t is a decision that needs to be made by the studio and the people involved in making the film. But if they want to, that’s fine. It’s their movie, right? This isn’t a free speech issue at all. No one’s making them do this. They’re doing it because they feel it’s the right thing to do, and I don’t see a problem with that. That doesn’t mean I like it, because I don’t. But who are we to say what filmmakers and studios should or shouldn’t do?

    That’s my take on the subject, anyway.

  • My Answer is NO!!!

    They shouldn’t be forced to do it and its ridiculous if people think movies, music and other pop culture things provoke violence and such things. It got nothing to do with this, the person himself is responsible for his actions. Evil is all around us but if you opt to become one than that is upto them so NO censor ship in that terms is really not something that they should do.

    But yes if the studio wants to do it then we can’t do nothing about it (i personally will hate for a movie to be not shown to us as it was suppose to).

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