According to dictionary.com, to censor is to examine books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
Censorship is an interesting topic because it’s still very present in some countries, while not very present in others. To some degree, the government must play a role in society though. For instance, in my Communication Law class, we are learning all about the First Amendment in the United States. We are learning what kind of speech and expression is protected and what is not. But this issue goes beyond just what can and cannot be said, it’s also about how ideas can be expressed. This topic is even part of the presidential debates in the United States today–how much do we want the government to be involved in our lives? The difference between the United States and other countries however, is that the United States is founded on set of values, such as freedom. This completely changes how the government goes about controlling the exchange and development of ideas in the country. In Venezuela however, the country is under strict regulation due to the system of government in place.
In our telenovelas class, Dr. A has taken us through the history of Venezuela and how the country’s government has affected the development and production of telenovelas. Basically, the Venezuelan government wants to control all media content, making sure that it does not include any ideas, words or actions that are against the government in any shape or form. The problem with this though is that as a result, the people of Venezuela have lost their identity. They no longer can say what they want, express what they want or even relate to the telenovelas that for so long have been their escape from reality.
As we’ve learned in class, telenovelas mirror reality. They give consumers an opportunity to relate to and see themselves in the characters within a telenovela. However, when telenovelas are limited and regulated by the government, the telenovelas aren’t going to be able to have the same draw and significance among viewers in a country. Unfortunately, being regulated wasn’t the only issue for telenovela production in Venezuela. Networks started to lose viewership as the government took over, causing all but one of the networks to disappear. Nowadays, the Venezuelan government controls almost all forms of media, making sure that all of the media channels support the government.
Overall, I am in disbelief that this is still an issue in the world. I know that makes me somewhat ignorant, but with all the freedom that we have in the United States, it’s difficult for me to imagine living in a country where ideas are constantly squashed by the government. It is also incredible to think about where the Venezuelan telenovela industry once was compared to where it is today, almost nonexistent. As Perla Farías said today in class over skype, there is no more competition in Venezuela and consequently, the industry is dying.
Altogether, by comparing what I’m learning about in my Communication Law class to what I’ve learned about the Venezuelan government, it is fascinating to compare the varying roles of government in society. But most importantly, I have learned the power of freedom and the necessity for humans to have it.