Saturday, September 24, 2011

"A Strange Journey": Censorship and The Rocky Horror Show

  1.  An attempt to deprive us of what may deprave us.
  2.  A decision made by ONE to force certain values on ALL and to limit or block what ALL is exposed to in the name of morality.
  3.  A limit on personal freedoms and the right to choose.
  4.  Something that makes Katie Ross MAD. Like, REALLY, REALLY MAD.
I’ve been on a tear through the last week or so. Like, so mad that I’ve been unable to think straight, much less type a coherent thought. I’ve talked about how passionate I am before, and there are few things that incite more passion within me than the nasty little subject of censorship. Now, from the definitions provided above, I would say there’s no arguing which side of the censorship coin I fall on, but to be perfectly clear, I find the idea of censorship and the thoughts and reasoning behind it to be despicable in the worst way.

Nevertheless, I did hesitate to write about this particular topic. Not because I’m afraid of sharing my opinions. Nope, if that were true, I wouldn’t make much of an opinion columnist. I mainly was concerned about writing on this particular topic in this particular setting, because I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed for my community, for my elected officials, for the fact that a stereotypical view of the South and its people is being supported by the actions of a few.

But I can’t hold my tongue any longer. I would just like to preface this by saying that there are many open-minded people living in my neck of the woods. We may be outnumbered, but we’re down here.
What’s all the fuss about? Well, the mayor of my fair city decided to cancel a stage show in our Cultural Arts Center for fear he’d “get run out of town” for letting the show go on. He objected to the content from a rehearsal video posted to Facebook by one of the show’s cast members. The show was “The Rocky Horror Show.”  

For those unfamiliar with “Rocky Horror,” it is a stage musical/farce (with a film version that’s the longest running movie in history) with strong sexual, bisexual, and homosexual themes. It’s definitely a musical for adults; there’s no argument there. And when the city agreed to allow “Rocky Horror” to be performed in our Cultural Arts Center, it was agreed that there would be age restrictions on who would be allowed to attend.

Well, now that agreement is a moot point, because someone decided that the stage show didn’t reflect my community’s “values,” and as such could not be performed in the community’s Cultural Arts Center. Never mind the fact that I’m an adult who can make those kinds of decisions for myself. Never mind the fact that the show was going to generate revenue for the city. Never mind the fact that the city had already agreed to allow the play to be performed. None of that is relevant, because one individual, an elected official who is supposed to make decisions for the good of the community AS A WHOLE, decided based on one rehearsal video that an adult-themed show with an adults-only audience didn’t fit into his mold of our community.

Needless to say, the backlash from this decision has been far-reaching. A Facebook movement has over 3,000 members. A fund-raising campaign with the aim of finding the show a new venue has raised over a thousand dollars. Stories on the cancelled show have been featured on,, The Huffington Post, and many, many more news and media outlets alike.

I won’t bore you all with more ranting and raving on why I personally think the mayor’s decision was the wrong one, but I will say this: I don’t believe anyone has the right to take away my ability to decide what may or may not be “good” for me to view or see. Censorship is alive and well in America, and until we can become more accepting of others and ourselves, it will be alive and well for a long time to come.  

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