by Christian Maurice
It’s amazing how television has so influenced our lives that it is now a major determinant of the quality and how we live. A couple of decades ago, DSTV / Multichoice found a foothold in Nigeria and have gone on to dominate the market, squashing every competition on its part. It is still the number one cable satellite television company in Nigeria and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let go of that position anytime soon. The company’s mantra has revolved around entertainment, unequalled choices and scale. And we have been most generous in our support for them.
However, it appears that such uncanny monopolistic success almost always materializes with a bag of garbage that the customer would gladly deal without.
In this case, it is DSTV/Multichoice efforts to redefine our way of life based on so-called compliances to disputed western standards. I don’t know when it started and I don’t know for how long it’s been going on but sometime last year, I realized that the word “God” and references to it are muted /bleeped in dialogues in movies on both the Mnet and Africa Magic channels.
The first movie that I saw this happen was “Joyful Noise”, a thoroughly Christian movie that shouldn’t have been desecrated with such ignoble regulatory actions.
Secular conventions must not always mean enforced atheism in our national lives as it also impugns on the rights of religious people to listen and view what they want. Sometime in April 2014, The Hallmark Channel ran into a storm in the United States when it censored the word “God” during a re-run airing of the movie “It Could Happen to You.” The network’s response that “it muted the word “God” so as to not use the Lord’s name in vain”, flew in the face Christian anger that it was an attempt to adapt to political correctness.
One visibly upset viewer, Gracie Guillotte, said:
“I would never have thought the Hallmark Channel would cave in to so-called political correctness. You can count on a lot of others feeling the same way and not tuning in anymore if this continues.”
The upsetting thing is that when you scroll through most channels on Multichoice, other curse words are allowed to be aired. It means essentially, that you can curse as much as you want on TV but can’t say God anymore.
I understand there are different shades in our social evolution that have come to define TV programming for some years now. I know, for instance, that the bleeping of the words “God”, “Jesus”, etc comes in the wake of a raging war in the United States to remove Christian symbols and Bible from the public space. There is also the attempt to push through minority rights like gay rights on TV but which have only been able to distort otherwise great shows.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that upholding minority rights whether sexual, gender, spiritual or lack thereof is a worthy cause that ought to be fought for, protected and enforced. However, going to the extremes of classifying words like “God” and “Jesus” as profanities is downright silly and insulting.
When I choose to watch shows like “Will and Grace”, I do so knowing full well that it is gay-themed and the choice to watch or not to watch is mine. The same should also apply to Christian-themed movies where to watch or not to watch ought to be my sole decision. That is how I understand freedom of choice to operate. It is not within DSTV’s rights to make those decisions for me. And if as in many movies and TV shows today there’s a mix-match of the two themes, it is not for DSTV to decide what is profanity by allowing clear curse words like “F-you” and gay people smooching to be heard and viewed while bleeping the words “God” and “Jesus”. Thor and Zeus are deities but nobody bleeps their names.
DSTV/Multichoice has the capacity to influence and have been influencing our lifestyle for over 20 years. While it is good that they have bridged the gaps for our entertainment needs, yet it is important to be wary of practices that seek to change us, not through the desired social evolution but by enforced attempts at political correctness.
Christian Maurice is a freelance from Johannesburg, South Africa. You can follow him on Twitter @kritzmoritz or on his blog
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author