Is the banning culture really the resolve to Pakistani society’s troubles? If so, what determines the reason for the placement of the ban in the first place? In the recent session of LIVE with HSY, renowned Pakistani actress, Sanam Saeed and HSY discuss the same.
Over here we have ads where people are rubbing soap or smelling it, so that’s okay? – Sanam saeed
Whenever censorship is instilled, the question of restricting true freedom of speech arises. However, can freedom of speech really exist in the true meaning of the term? For a society to function at its best these rights have to be measured on a spectrum. We’ve witnessed so many incidences in the past where complete liberty has resulted in conflicts on a global level. For instance, the recent uproar around musician Rihanna’s ‘Savage X Fenty Show’ which featured an Islamic verse or the famous case in Canada of a man collecting photographs of young children posing it as ‘art’.
Perhaps, a set criterion for censorship should be laid out. HSY and Sanam Saeed go into a deep dive about the criteria censorship organizations such as PEMRA use when deciphering what should be banned and what shouldn’t. HSY gave the example of web-series ‘Churails’ which was recently banned for its explicit content. He then proceeded to ask Sanam Saeed her opinion on the multiple bans which have recently happened in Pakistan. She agreed that some kind of censorship board is necessary and in certain instances a ban is plausible, however, what room does that leave for creatives/artists to fully express themselves? And what impact is it making on society as a whole?
“We need some kind of censorship board which we have but what kind of things are we censoring? What is the sense? the public is getting confused because you’re taking their sentiments and their confused perspectives and fueling that so they will never be able to be not confused about what’s okay and what’s not okay. With artists there’s no support at all, there’s no direction, sometimes it’s like Sarmad Khoosat ban sometimes it’s Asim ban, but what about those horrific little children groups, love boy, cute boy lover Facebook groups. I get so many DMs saying please report this to the cybercrime department and I get a million links to little boy groups in Pakistan and it’s scary,” opines Saeed while reflecting on the basis of these bans, where artists suffer but social media groups that share provocative and borderline illegal content go unscathed.
The conversation progressed to both, HSY and Sanam Saeed, discussing bans of specific ads. “Over here we have ads where people are rubbing soap or smelling it, so that’s okay? The thought process behind what you’re implementing there or that image of a bathtub and soap is fine. But dancing in a biscuit ad? I mean the brand, ‘Tarang’ was all about dancing in the ads, I mean again it’s like ‘PEMRA? People? Where are you? Soap ads are fine because they’ve been there for years? And the biscuit ad is fine? So, what’s happening? What is this shift that’s happening?”, Saeed stated.
When thinking about these things, the question comes to mind, where do we draw the line? How do we know when censorship is needed and when it’s gone too far? Perhaps a subjective discourse but one that definitely needs a set guideline for Pakistani artists, audience and creatives would go a long way.