Controversial Doesn't Mean "Bad"
Politics and Activism

Controversial Doesn't Mean "Bad"

Some of the best ideas come from crossing lines.


The idea that modern audiences do not seem to understand, however, is that controversy is not a bad thing. Subjects become controversial because ideas are challenged, or the subject itself challenges audiences ideas or morality. Looking back at some of the more famous works of media that have been controversial, there are two steady pattern that can be noted.

"A Clockwork Orange" from director Stanley Kubrick (adapted from the novel by Anthony Burgess) follows a futuristic gang of rebel teens who challenge society’s freedom with outrages of rape and a good bit of the “ultraviolence”. The film was theme was made to center around the extremist ideas of both freedom and suppression. It was banned in South Africa, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom for promoting gang violence. In the United Kingdom, the violence was often mimicked which resulted in Kubrick withdrawing the movie itself.

Milk by director Gus Van Sant is a movie following political figure and gay rights activist, Harvey Milk, as he runs for mayor of San Francisco. Upon it’s release, the film was banned in Samoa for being promoting homosexuality which contradicted Christianity and the Samoan culture.

Even the famous book ban across america falls victim to this subject. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee which shone light on racism in past decades, 1984 by George Orwell which conceived and birthed the idea of big brother, or the famous Candide by Voltaire, a satirical publication in which mirrored government of the age of enlightenment were all banned in schools across america for either being too explicit or not abiding by the views of the general public.

Now, these are only a couple examples, but it reigns steady through the long list of banned movies and novels. The pieces of literature and film in question are banned upon questioning or challenging social norms. Homosexuality, the idea of freedom and suppression, government, or simply the freedom to put out something as graphic for artistic reasons in light of the first amendment.

Looking at the reasons in which these films and books have been burned, majority of the population would find that more often than not, the claims are ridiculous, and it is valuable or even essential information that kids know about the past or world around them. The same people, however, will be quick to claim censorship on a separate piece because of the same reason that he or she has just claim ridiculous.

In this way, it is easier to look at censorship and controversy through the lens of fictional. The challenge is ultimately to apply this ideology to the real world.

Day after day, both sides of political and social spectrum will witness people being censored for reasons in which are generally quite simply. In 2016 we had the Berkeley incident in which students protested public speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, when he had arrived to give a lecture; a lecture that many people had wished to attend.

On the internet, there are speakers and YouTubers who are labeled as sexist, racist, misogynistic, simply for their opinions being voiced. YouTuber, Blaire White, was sent artwork depicting her own murder because of a recent video in which she voiced her opinion on Transgender being labeled a mental illness. She was sent this work, while herself is a trans female.

The global population will never agree about what topics are correct or incorrect, or what ideas are moral or immoral. This being in mind, controversy is valuable to the general public because without controversy, without the simple exposure of the ideas in which views may seem taboo, if the audience can surpass the hate that he or she has for the opposing viewpoint, they may learn more about themselves and their own ideologies. In the future, much like the films and books in the list above, it may look rather ridiculous from the other side. If we stop giving ideas the power to be "bad", we may just learn more acceptance.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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