Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random Wednesday - Censorship Then and Now

Let the Random References romp freely!

Anybody else out there ever see the full version of the 1976 made-for-televsion movie Sybil, starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward? I saw it. The whole thing. The original. Complete with kitchen scenes and piano playing moments (and if you saw it, you know what that's about).

I saw it when I was around 8 years old. Nobody saw it with me.

It was on tv. It was like the Saturday Afternoon Matinee movie on tv.

It was on tv again recently. Guess what? They cut the second half. They rolled the credits at the midway point, completely denying today's generation the privilege of the kitchen scenes.

My reaction: why was I allowed to see it back in the '70s? Why did they show the whole thing back then? (I just googled it, and discovered that the original television version was over three hours long. No wonder they didn't show the whole thing this time around!). And where were my parents? How come nobody stopped me from watching it? WTH?

Dad was probably working and Mom was probably doing laundry.

Not that viewing it totally screwed me up. But still. That is some messed up stuff, watching child abuse for free on tv in my parents' living room by myself, my 8-year-old self.

To be clear: as a made-for-tv movie, for what it is, it is excellent. I am a fan. Sally Field was excellent in Sybil. That's not what this post is about.

What this post is (partly) about is summed up by one reviewer's observation: "How these scenes got past broadcast censors in 1976 is a mystery."

It's also (partly) about the fact that I don't think they'd be shown today.

How funny, don't you agree, that tv censorship today blocks stuff like the second half of Sybil, but shows extremely adult-oriented content (sex and violence and horror) in movie previews (for instance) during primetime viewing periods?


dgm said...

OMG! I saw that movie several times as a child--I thought Sally Field was incredible. I still remember poor Sybil with her purple crayon, frenetically drawing the purple chicken, and the hot water bottle over the kitchen table. Ugh. Thank you for ensuring me nightmares this evening.

But you are so right. It's amazing what gets cut these days and what is deemed acceptable for kids.

BTW, my mother let me watch SYBIL and that Charles Manson movie even though I wasn't allowed to watch "Bewitched" or "I Dream of Jeannie" because of their alleged glorification of the occult. Oy!

Hyphen Mama said...

I had never seen it, but heard what it was about. Then about a year ago, the 2nd one came out with Jessica Lange as the psychiatrist. I flipped to it every few minutes, because it was like a train wreck... I couldn't take my eyes off. I saw some seriously freaky parts that ruined me for days. I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS let my less-than-16-year-old watch it. I kept thinking someday when my daughter is in her teens and she thinks I'm a hideous mother, THEN I'd have her watch it.

I, too, am disturbed at what gets through TODAY, in commercials for upcoming movies, etc at times of the day when most kids are watching tv.

blognut said...

I've never seen Sybil! Not even the half they show on TV now.

I may have to check it out.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

I saw it so long ago I don't remember much at all. Maybe I'll pick it up on Netflix.