Amazon Prime and self-censorship: Understanding the streaming service's selective sanitising of its authentic content material

A lot is being stated about Amazon Prime Video’s self-censorship insurance policies, but once more. The controversy was sparked off this time by their use of the blurring machine through the second season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, arguably their largest present globally. Within the absence of any authorities rules or pointers pertaining to streaming content material, it truly is as much as the platforms themselves to make that decision. Netflix and Hotstar haven’t gone down that route but, and Netflix has even gone on document denying that it has any plans to take action.

Censorship has at all times been round in India, and any type of mass media and content material has been topic to a few sorts of censorship — ethical, cultural and political. And it’s of curiosity to notice what Amazon has determined to censor and what it hasn’t.

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel/Picture from Twitter.

Alcohol and cigarette packaging, we’ll put all the way down to their authorized crew masking their bases — the very last thing you want is a few jobless fool with a PIL seeking to exploit a sketchy legislation on what constitutes tobacco and alcohol promoting.

Let’s speak about nudity as a result of that’s what everybody notices first. This season of Mrs Maisel noticed the blurring of male genitals, however the first season has Mrs Maisel flashing her breasts at a complete nightclub of individuals and their in-house VP of Blurring didn’t blink. So, you begin pondering that possibly breasts are tremendous and it’s solely genitalia which can be an issue, simply possibly. That’s once you additionally do not forget that there was full frontal feminine nudity in American Gods and pictures of man-swallowing vaginas, however they blurred a penis there as nicely. Not a really gender inclusive method to censorship, you’d need to say. Language, however, doesn’t appear to be an issue in any respect or they simply haven’t employed a VP of Bleeping as but.

Violence and gore appear to be tremendous as nicely. What isn’t tremendous, nonetheless, is questionable conduct with cows. After the Grand Tour incident the place an hour-long episode was chopped in half, as a result of the innards of a cow have been seen, Amazon’s VP of Cow Welfare determined that they might air two totally different variations of American Gods in India. The ‘Worldwide’ model could be uncensored, whereas the ‘Indian’ model would have some ‘slight’ censorship, primarily to do with subject material revolving round a cow-slaughter home in episode two. Clearly, other than the blurring of penises, nudity and gore weren’t the issue right here.

This ‘barely’ censored Indian model was Amazon’s try at being cultural delicate and that is only one facet of a really confused image. One would possibly argue that Amazon’s method to enterprise has at all times been quantity pushed and it’s mirrored of their pricing. They need the numbers, they need the lots and ergo they should enchantment to households. Their investments in content material, one expects then, would mirror that. Sure, they’ve the newest Bollywood motion pictures and loads of the favored TV sitcoms from overseas, the type that has made for household viewing in India through the years. You’d count on to see a transparent course once you look in the direction of their domestically commissioned content material to attempt to get an image of what’s going to fly and what gained’t.

Pankaj Tripathi in a still from Mirzapur

Pankaj Tripathi in a nonetheless from Mirzapur

You see Mirzapur with its generic maa-behen number of cuss-words, after which some actually artistic ones too. You see numerous blood and dismembered physique components, and graphic intercourse although with none frontal nudity. Oh and there’s a trendy masturbation scene as nicely. None of this actually paints an image of a contented household sitting round a tv set and having dinner collectively.

Okay, so Amazon needs the ‘early adopters’ as nicely, those that take a look at streaming platforms as a supply of content material the place artistic freedom isn’t curbed by societal norms. And why not? An OTT platform ought to enchantment to each viewers, and let every viewers select what they wish to watch.

Which is why censorship is an issue. And self-censorship needs to be left to the person.

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