Ethical Background of Films’ Editing in the UAE

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The government of the UAE is known to protect its citizens from harmful influence of certain modern tendencies. In particular, this country prohibits the scenes that have a content of sexual character as well as those that violate religious dogmas of the UAE and the nearby states. The UAE government justifies this approach claiming that the relevant laws serve to defend national security including the country’s S moral values. Whereas, this decision is reasonable and understandable, it indicates the violation of human rights, preventing free access to information. Besides, the obligation to trim the movie impacts cinema industry in a negative way because due to significant films’ editing it becomes impossible to comprehend their plot not even talking about getting positive emotions from the pastime. As a result, the businesses, which are involved in this entertainment industry, report considerable reduction of profitability. Given a great rivalry in this area, the necessity to cut films threatens a lot of business owners as well as their employees. It also happens because the movies’ owners often forbid cutting off the scenes since this action may reduce the value of the film (Deleon, 2012). The acknowledgement of plausible negative and positive consequences achieved in a result of such state control evokes ambiguous attitude of people who live both inside and outside the country. The dilemma is whether the cinemas of the UAE are supposed to follow the legislative and ethical responsibility imposed by government and community or adhere to their financial responsibility towards the stakeholders.

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One of the recent UAE’s bans is a famous movie, Noah. The National Media Council of the United Arabian Emirates claims that the film is prohibited because of religious grounds. To be more specific, the NMC explains “the film conflicts with all religions. Out of respect for these religious sentiments, we are banning the film” (UAEWorld, 2014). It goes without saying that every country must protect its national heritage including the role of the church in its community. This strict measure is justified given the circumstances of different religious beliefs. Nevertheless, even though it is hard to deny the NMC’s rationale, it is possible to identify alternative actions and approaches. Aiming to defend the UAE’s citizens, the government applies the measures that are seemingly too strict. For example, an alternative measure is a simple notification that the movie Noah violates religious dogmas and, thus, is potentially offensive for certain category of people with a strong faith. The warning of such character would be more appropriate in the modern world of democracy that advocates for humans’ rights and freedoms. The proposed alternative provides a possibility of a free choice to every individual. The prohibition to watch Noah is unethical because it does not take into consideration the will of the majority. Apart from that, this decision is also unreasonable from financial perspective. For instance, this film is potentially profitable because of being “a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins” (UAEWorld, 2014). Undoubtedly, the UAE’s prohibition leaves numerous domestic businesses without considerable earnings. Given the above-mentioned negative social and financial outcomes, it would be better for the government of this country to consider more restrained means of protection from undesirable ideas.

Apart from religious grounds, the government of the UAE is known to prohibit or trim international films based on inappropriate societal behavior. To be more precise, in these cases the reasons for banning the movies are the scenes of sex or profanities. Considering the case, the citizens of the UAE claim that

about 45 minutes have been cut from the nearly 3-hour high-finance extravaganza The Wolf of Wall Street for Dubai audiences, or a quarter of the film, leaving many viewers disappointed and confused about the sequence of events (Malkin, 2014).

It goes without saying that the outcomes of this action is unethical relatively to people who spent money and time in order to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, but did not receive the service (entertainment) in the amount they expected. What is more, it is also unethical in respect to the film’s owners because they aimed to create a brand, but their efforts were “trimmed” by national policy of the UAE. Given the point, an alternative measure to consider would be the government’s suggestion to provide an age restriction. It is a rational approach because in this case, the nature of the film would be precisely defined as well as its targeted audience. Without doubt, it is unbeneficial and even dangerous for a state to allow the reduction of moral values in its communities. Obviously, the generation that is raised on the protagonists with negative personal characteristics is a threat towards general well-being of a state. Nonetheless, in the contemporary world, the bans of movies in cinemas are not relevant enough to anticipate and prevent such probability. It is still possible to watch the desired film in the Internet, but in this case, the possibility to sustain and enrich domestic businesses is lost.

In contrast to the above-mentioned evidence of restrictions, the adherents of cutting films explain that the UAE legislative regulations do not prohibit films screening. The only government’s requirement is to remove “any scenes involving moral turpitude, or violating religious morals or values on which state and society are based” (Underwood, 2013). Once the necessary editing is done, the choice whether to screen such movies or not rests completely with the cinema industry (Underwood, 2013). Instead, what most people accept as bans is the denial of films’ producers to cut off the scenes. For example, the movie The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo was not screened in the area of the Arabian Gulf. It happened because “the producers of the US$90 million (Dh330.5m) film declined to make the cuts required by the authorities in the region, including in the Emirates” (Underwood, 2013). Evaluating the situation from this angle, the requirements of the UAE government seem to be worth considering; they do not aim to limit humans’ rights, but care to protect the society.

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Besides, there is a tendency towards mitigation of the state’s requests. The UAE’s native filmmakers hope that they will be able to push off the boundaries of laws. Local filmmakers are not afraid to expose their intentions, for example, “Nayla al Khala, the first native female filmmaker, publicly emphasizes the need to screen both positive and negative aspects of human life (Chubb, 2010). She believes that it is up to the audience to distinguish good from bad and make personal conclusions based on the obtained definition.

The meticulous studying of the UAE’s restriction policy for the foreign films encouraged me to identify my own position regarding the issue. In my opinion, it is relevant to censor the movies in order to eliminate their possible harmful influence. To succeed with this goal, one should consider the following ways of censoring a movie: age restrictions; cutting off all scenes that are potentially offensive or dangerous for particular group of people; and different warnings regarding probable undesirable effects from watching certain movie. Nevertheless, when attempting to defend people from dangerous influence, it is better to make an emphasis on notifications and age restrictions rather than apply abundant chopping. This approach would help to support domestic businesses, providing cinema industry with every possible opportunity to flourish. Besides, giving people the right to make their own choices would create a sense of self-worth of every particular individual whose opinion as important would be taken into account.

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