I am a documentary film director. Subjects of my films have included love, sex, 9/11, indigenous fisheries, hurricanes, refugees, HIV/AIDS orphans, and visualization of God. I am best known for the Real People, Real Life, Real Sex series of documentaries that simultaneously explore the vital role of sexual pleasure in committed relationships and the problematic place of explicit sexuality in cinema. This is my "Safe" blog.

Jeffrey Goldberg Contemplates NSFW Yiddish (or at least NSFNYT)

Posted: June 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Self-censorship or self-regulation? Either way the cultural cleansing continues:

I have decided to make a list of other Yiddish words I will try not to use in the New York Times. So far, the list includes: putz,  mamzer, shlong,shtupknish (in its gynecological, rather than culinary, connotation) and shvantz.

Back in 2007, when Comstock Films was the subject of a PBS article about the Great Google sex bug, but didn’t link to us, it came to my attention that KQED the PBS affiliate in San Francisco used Bulldog filtering software to keep (save?) it’s employies from seeing unsavory things on the internet; and as a result comstockfilms.com was blocked on Mark Glasor’s work computer. The only way he could actually see what he wasn’t linking to was to send a note down to IT asking that ComstockFilms.com be unlocked.

I don’t reckon Glaser is a prude, but neither do I think he’s especially enterprising, and I’m sure he’s busy. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we wrote his piece without ever seeing our site or reading my blog; trusting that if comstockfilms.com was being blocked at work, it was probably something most people would be happier not having pop up on their computer, even if they clicked a link. (Let’s call this the Goatse Calculus.)

I got my panties in a good twist over the whole thing and called Bulldog; to see if we could get off their list of banned sites, of course, but also to find out more about how their software is made and sold.

The long and short is that out of the box, the filtering package is set at third grade level. That’s right, the default setting is to block anything Bulldog’s editors think isn’t appropriate for a third grader.

Then I talked to someone in sales, and as I suspected, the package is pitched as a super-simple, set it and forget it install. No mention of tuning it to a level appropriate to the organization where it’s being run.

Then I got back on the phone with KQED, but this time I chatted up their IT department.

“Running Bulldog I hear?”

“Yeah, it’s great. Really cuts down on the spam.”

“What content threshold are you running?”

“Content threshold?”

—-

Back over on TheIntentToArouse.com, in the chapter “How “X-rated” became synonymous with “porn,” and the death of movie making for grown-ups.” I argue that it was, in part, the MPAA’s failure to trademark their X-rating that contributed to the collapse of a legitimate adults-only movie making space, and the result is that even today, the (trademarked) replacement, NC-17 is a corrupted brand that, like the old X-rating, has come to be regarded as a liablity to anyone to whose work it might be applied.

But I see to importance differces between the collapse of thelegitimate adults-only movie making space, and this new SFW internet.

The first is that as big a part of our culture as movies are, it’s just movies. Even at the height of it’s power, editors at the New York Times were not making choices about what words and ideas to put in their papers on the basis of what rating the MPAA would give them.

The second is that whatever deficiencies in the MPAA’s rating system, and especially those around the MPAA missteps in protecting grown-up filmmaking, there’s still room for words like putz and mamzer in the MPAA’s regime.



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