Wednesday, April 24, 2024

BC’S B’DOS: Black Swan song


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SO BARBADOS last week joined that other global bastion of freedom of expression, the United Arab Emirates, in banning the Oscar-nominated film Black Swan; nice. What’s next, I wonder? 
Will Barbados follow the Taliban and ban music at Crop Over? Or will Barbados pursue the UAE association and declare pigs unclean, rendering irrelevant the famous Bajan distinction between proper and improper pork?
Google “Black Swan ban” and, in 0.14 seconds, you get 34 Internet pages of hits, almost all reporting that Barbados’ film censors, in their wisdom, banned outright an Oscar-nominated movie. 
Many hits, thankfully, report the ban was lifted after protest, but the report was still run by media, including ABC News, the Denver Post, Facebook, the Internet Movie Data Base, the Miami Herald, the Long Island Press, the Washington Times and The story was even picked up by the Idaho Statesman! 
In the first 34 pages of hits – that’s 340 hits – only five were not about the Bajan Black Swan ban – and those five disclosed the UAE’s ban. You have to go through 35 Net pages before the negative Bajan ban hits begin to be interspersed with other Black Swan news, like that Natalie Portman stars in it. 
Last week, there were people from Kentucky to Kenya laughing at Barbados. Not having seen the film – it was banned – I can’t say what “sexual and violent content” was so awful it necessitated a ban, but a friend informs me there are scenes of oral sex involving women only.
So Barbados’ reputation was dragged through the mud all over the world, and Barbados’ perspective on gender relations directly connected to those of the United Arab Emirates, for the sake of a lesbo rim job.
There are too many arguments against banning a film to make them in this small space – I mean the column, not the film censors’ minds – so I won’t bother. 
There is also good news emerging from one or two prudes, in the immediate, widespread and sustained protest that forced the swift overturn of this most resoundingly annoying decision.
But how much comfort is it, when Libyans are being murdered in Tripoli by their government, to know Bajans were pressed into defending an Oscar-nominated film from the whims – and, I suspect, the prejudices – of a handful of people who have done great harm to a tourism-driven economy in a recession?
Heads should roll. But it is more likely tongues will, on pulpits across the island, praising the hatred that equated Barbados with the UAE. 
Imagine someone in Kentucky choosing a holiday destination. Decide whether you’d prefer to go somewhere you could see an Oscar-nominated film, or whether you’d prefer to fly 4 000 miles to go to a church where you could hear its ban celebrated? 
But perhaps the censors know something we don’t; perhaps this is part of a plan to woo a whole new brand of visitor to Barbados: the hijab-wearing fundamentalist Muslim. Ban Black Swan and soon Accra Beach will be overrun by burkinis. 
B.C. Pires saw Saw but foresees a black swan song for sophistication. 


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