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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.21)
    Two comments:

    There are those in the US that posit that it's only censorship if the Gov't does it. The exact same act, if done by a private (or public) company or institution in the service of defense of its profits or goals, is Fair and Good. What does this bring to the conversation? I don't know, beyond an interesting aside on whether what we're discussing can properly be called censorship.

    2nd: I'm a little surprised to see the comments on Philosopher's Stone relating to some kind of Puritanical reasoning. I don't know where I got the idea, but I'm under the impression that the change was more motivated by the fact that a 'Philosopher's Stone' isn't a widely known concept here, and therefore would be lost on the bookshelf browser who judges books on the cover/title. By changing it to sorcerer's stone, they conveyed that this was a book about magic, not Descartes' pet rock. I'm willing to bet the same title, had it been intended for book 2, wouldn't've been changed after the huge success of the first book since Harry Potter became a household name.

    This kind of change, or at least the logic, isn't unheard of - I recall James Cameron had to fight to keep the title of 'The Abyss' because the suits figured that most of America didn't know what an abyss was. I only knew what a Philosopher's Stone was thanks to reading Gaiman's Sandman.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.22)
    I think Joe Paoli got it right RE the re-titling. As a D&D nerd I knew what a philosopher's stone was. Most grade-schoolers would not.

    Scholastic probably thought that the word "Sorcerer" in the title would make it more appealing.

    From the Woo-Woo files:

    I went to see the first "Harry Potter" movie during a matinee. Lots of kids in the audience. After the film, a woman several rows in front of my friends and I started chatting up some youngsters. She was early middle age, a little plump and very smiley, dressed in a vaguely "witchy" costume. Black and white with gold hoops.

    Paraphrasing: "I'm trying to get my hands on the British edition of the book. It has instructions for doing the spells the characters use. The American version censored that because fundamentalists don't want kids using magic."
    •  
      CommentAuthorpKone
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.23)
    You may wish to look in Canada for cheaper British copies. Typically we get the British versions for saale in bookstores.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2007
     (273.24)
    Getting back to the movie:

    It's pretty damn obvious what The Magisterium is supposed to be. The chief baddy's (Fra Pavel?) haircut and clothes are very clerical looking. The buildings look . . . well, sectarian. And Mrs. Coulter's creepy speech justifying "intercession" plainly refers to original sin. It's a PC dodge.

    I'll give them two out four on the ballsiness scale for that.

    It's going to get much harder in the second and third parts, what with the gay angels and disgruntled ex-nuns and the war against heaven and Lyra shutting down the afterlife so the souls of the departed can evaporate in peace.
    •  
      CommentAuthormrkvm
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (273.25)
    It's going to get much harder in the second and third parts, what with the gay angels and disgruntled ex-nuns and the war against heaven and Lyra shutting down the afterlife so the souls of the departed can evaporate in peace.

    I'm just about to read the first book, and this quote made me smile thinking about the stuff to come later. Thanks!
    • CommentAuthorAlexa_D
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (273.26)
    Disgruntled ex-nuns who become theoretical particle physicists, thank you very much. (I love her so much).

    There are those in the US that posit that it's only censorship if the Gov't does it. The exact same act, if done by a private (or public) company or institution in the service of defense of its profits or goals, is Fair and Good. What does this bring to the conversation? I don't know, beyond an interesting aside on whether what we're discussing can properly be called censorship.


    Well, as an American, I clearly speak for all Americans on this subject, so you can quote me.

    It's not that we don't see the latter as censorship, we do. The difference is that if a private corporation wants to edit your book or film, you have options. You can debate them over the necessity over the excised parts, you can sue them for the return of rights to your own intellectual property and theoretically take it somewhere else, you can take your name off it, you can write angry editorials in magazines and newspaper about how your ideas are being bastardized and raped.

    When the government censors your stuff, usually your only other option is prison.
  1.  (273.27)
    <blockquote>As for the Harry Potter title change, I never understood why that happened. What, "philosopher" is a dirty word?</blockquote>

    Yes, as someone suggested, it was because they thought that American audiences would be confused as to what a "Philsopher's Stone" was, thinking it something more along lines of Plato than Alchemy.

    As for the Golden Compass, I saw the movie, didn't read the books, and all of it does smack of censorship to me. I would call something done by a private publisher and the government both as censorship. It's like Freud's Super-Ego (I think it was), where society creates an interior authority that acts to punish people from within. Our (America's) society is set up to be afraid of anything suggesting sex or criticizing Christianity, and so we (in the form of editor's or large governmental institutions) scratch through it all with whatever colored pen will get the inner voice to shut up.

    However, I can understand why the movie producers wanted to avoid ticking off the American public. As much as it sickens me, they have to make their money, and wouldn't even bother putting it out if they thought it would annoy too many people to be profitable.

    What was most amusing to me was a quote you can find on Wikipedia of a Catholic spokesman talking about how we have to protect little Christian boys and girls from reading things that question their faith. Then you watch the movie and the evil cadre from the Magesterium (sp?) says basically the same when they talk about censoring "dust" and cutting off the people's spirits. You'd think the guy would have watched the movie and tried NOT to sound just like the bad guys...

    But no one thinks that much, of course. They just blab.
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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (273.28)
    Well, as an American, I clearly speak for all Americans on this subject, so you can quote me.
    As a fellow American, I thank you for speaking for us. ;)

    The facets of this argument became apparent to me during the whole Dixie Chicks controversy. I was surprised that many people didn't see injustice going on when they were boycotted. It was a lot like censorship in my eyes and I was startled at the amount of people who defended any corporate entity for blacklisting a musical group that voiced a political opinion as within their rights.
    • CommentAuthorAlexa_D
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
     (273.29)
    I saw injustice in the whole Dixie Chicks controversy (especially since oh, because they're country musicians, they can't be liberal like rock stars?) I don't condone any of the corporate blacklisting that happened, but my point is that they remained at liberty. They were not imprisoned or fined, their albums could still be bought and sold within US borders, hell, Bush himself went on record to say that he supported their right to free speech (yes, we know he really wanted to send Cheney's goons after them, but it would have been hard to sell the Iraq War on "Freedom: We Take it from You to Give to Them!")

    By the same token, boycotts are a form of symbolic speech, and I would never force any private entity (either a single person or a corporation) to suppress their own speech, no matter how much I disagreed.

    Besides, Dixie Chicks sales have been going up ever since most of the country woke up and saw how far to shit the Iraq War has gone, and how groundless it was in the first place (Better late than never?)
  2.  (273.30)
    Censorship requires a censor. This is an example of bad editing. Galling, certainly. Stupid, probably. Censorship, no.

    Corporations more powerful than the government? When Laurel Leaf can kidnap people, transport them to some East European dungeon and have them waterboarded, and no one can do anything about it, then you'll have a point.

    WRT to the Harry Potter title change, that was probably not due to a desire to avoid anyone's sensitivities, but rather because the American publisher believed "Sorcerer's" in the title would be more appealing to American teens, and therefore sell more books, than "Philosopher's."
  3.  (273.31)
    Corporations more powerful than the government? When Laurel Leaf can kidnap people, transport them to some East European dungeon and have them waterboarded, and no one can do anything about it, then you'll have a point.


    While this may be true and my statement may have been an exaggeration, we do live in a country (speaking of "we" as "Americans, from my point of view, not "everyone in the world") where money says a lot, and it buys a lot, and it certainly buys politicians, who then run our country, and kidnap people, transport them to some Eastern European... you get my point. We have a citizenship that proudly shops at Wal-Mart despite the company's habit of joyfully, albeit metaphorically, raping third world countries. We have a government that is so intertwined with oil companies that it literally baffles the average citizen into a stupor where they can't draw a connection between their Hummer H3 gas guzzlers and terrorism. And, come to think of it, our government and our military support companies like Blackwater, who are very, very close to kidnapping people, tranporting them to some Eastern European... right. Same point. And, the humdinger, that our leaders can send us into a war on non-existent evidence, and no one will stand up and accuse them of doing so, and when all of the smoke clears, the only thing that will be certain is that hundred of thousands of innocent people have died and Halliburton made a shit-load of money in no-bid contracts.

    None of this has anything to do with publishing companies removing lines. Or maybe it does.

    I live in a country where sex is a disgusting, filthy, vile, inappropriate topic, but Violence with a capital V is A-OK.

    This seriously fucks me up. And it's too late for me to keep writing. I have to work very, very early in the morning.

    -J
  4.  (273.32)
    I hate the fact that it's not so much censorship in America but WARPING of ideas here that are screwed to the floor.
    If you tell me, not to "read this", or you took out something from it, well then, I give you the finger and go look for my own.
    But when you change it, and then not tell me, and I'm left there like a stupid dolt thinking I got the real thing, no?
    Whats more insidious?
    It's all a punch in the scrots, I tell ya.
    • CommentAuthorWilf
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2007
     (273.33)
    It may well just be those lines that were removed.

    I am a big Douglas Adams fan, and at one point I bought an American collected edition of all the Hitchhiker novels (mainly because there was a 'bonus' story in there that I hadn't read).

    While reading that version of Life, The Universe And Everything, I noticed (god knows how or why, but I noticed!) that one word had been changed! When the Krikketers first appear, in the english version, they make a noise 'like a million people suddenly saying WOP!' - yup, WOP had been changed to POP, presumably due to the racist angle. As far as I can tell, nothing else had changed.
  5.  (273.34)
    Ha, wow that is something I had seen myself at one time, but thought it was just a mistake of translation!
    I never made that connection though.....so I'm not crazy!
    Thanks for pointing that out.
  6.  (273.35)
    I've had this discussion before with other people. Personally, I'm more horrified by someone going in and quietly changing one word in a book and telling nobody than putting a gun to my head and telling me I better shut up or I'll die.

    At least in the second instance the opression is direct and can't last forever. Eventually, any group of people that is held down by force and told what to do will get angry and overthrow their opressors.

    But when you just shift, twist, - and yes - WARP little things to save the delicate sensibilities of a nation, there's very little to fight against. Even if you went out on the streets and used your given rights to protest it, who'd care? There's little proof it happened and in the end everyone else will simply say: "Yeah, well, what's the big deal? It's just a few words!"

    To me the big deal is that if you can get away with a few words that might suggest, god forbid, sex, what else are you capable of as a nation? Obviously more direct falsehoods like massive wars waged for vague reasons that aren't stated or put out enough to argue against them. And believe that the advertising people and the American government KNOW that subtlety and blank looks will get you whatever you want.

    In my mind that's the scariest thing of all. Cause, again, how do you fight it??
  7.  (273.36)
    PseudoSherlock,
    Dead on. I think that in the information age it's not the info we should worry about anymore, but the misinformation. One thing is to not know, because most folks, with common sense, will not act. But give them misinformation and...well, look at the blood war!

    I think thats what get me more mad. I'm used to the BS of people in power, it's fine really, because you know what? They want to stay powerful, but it's the insidious lie, the real twist of the mental nipple that gets me screaming at my Television everyday. What's the word magician use to pull off a trick? Oh yes MISDIRECTION. That the one.

    Now obviously we're talking about a book for YA readers out there and one can say "Who gives a scrot?" but when I heard what they pulled in the movie and what I read here, I just thought they might as well put in Burt Reynolds, a couple of car crashes and robot dog form the future and call it something else.
    Of course Mr. Pullman is probably swimming in his fabulous lake of money to really give a crap, and I don't blame him, but all I think about are young readers getting jipped by something so gorgeous as that book. Shame really, even though this is all we talk about, everytime somebody rapes beauty I can't help but get all deathwish-y
    •  
      CommentAuthorScottBieser
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2007 edited
     (273.37)
    Personally, I'm more horrified by someone going in and quietly changing one word in a book and telling nobody than putting a gun to my head and telling me I better shut up or I'll die.


    I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you've never actually had someone point a gun at you and bark commands.

    I have. Six cops in my living room, crouching behind furniture and pointing the biggest guns I'd ever seen right at my head, thinking I was the crazy-ex-girlfriend-with-a-gun that my roommate had called them about (the actual crazy having ditched her gun and told them I was their man).

    I promise you, it's a very clarifying experience.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAdam
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007
     (273.38)
    Okay, so I finally just got around to seeing this film.... and if it hadn't been for this thread opening my eyes to Pullman's intent before I went along, I never would have had a clue. If you keep it in mind, then you can make the connections to the metaphorical meanings that Pullman was no doubt alluding to all along.

    If not for the prior information, I definitely would have just dismissed this as another Fantasy children's movie using too much CGI for its own good *yawn*, and walked on. But its really sparked my interest now, and -- surely enough -- it makes me want to read the books. I'm intrigued with where Pullman is going with this...

    And as a sidenote, I find the naming of Lyra's uncle, Lord Azriel, rather interesting... Azriel of course being the name of the Angel of Death in Hebrew and Muslim lore, the being whose duty it was to separate the soul from the body at the point of death. Which of course is the intent of the Intecision device in the story, and not at all the character Azriel's intent.

    What made me interested in this is my -- entirely possibly mistaken -- belief that Azriel had been the name of a Babylonian god. Then, when the Babylonian pantheon fell out of fashion (as happens), catholicism took root and poached the name for one of their demons. Which would make sense for Pullman using it in this context -- in that it infers that what the Church decrees to be evil in essence is not necessarily as sinister as they would have you believe, and it is just one of their tools for control.

    Can anyone back up this theory? I have no idea where I sourced the info from (probably it was a different name entirely), but I've not been able to find any history to the name beyond the Hebrew mythology, and it also being the name of a Judean lawmaker in the 6th century who was favoured by the king of the Persians after their defeat of King Nebuchadnezzar. I figure at least a few of you on here are likely to be better versed in Babylonian mythology than I...
    • CommentAuthorJakobus
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2008
     (273.39)
    hey, I go to school in Denmark and in english classes we have been working with the differences between Northern Lights and The Golden Compass. Someone stated that a total number of 20 words were changed in trilogy, but to me it seems that the changes are more serious.
    For instance somewhere in the GB (original) version it says: (I have marked the differences with italics)

    "From time to time he even tried being a fish, and once joined a school of dolphins, to their surprise and pleasure. Lyra stood shivering in the fos'c'le and laughed with delight as her beloved Pantalaimon, sleek and powerful, leapt from the water with half a dozen other swift grey shapes. It was pleasure, but not simple pleasure, for there was pain and fear in it too. Suppose he loved being a dolphin more than he loved her?"

    whereas the US version says:
    "From time to time he even tried being a fish, and once joined a school of dolphins, to their surprise and pleasure. Lyra stood shivering in the fos'c'le and laughed with delight as her beloved Pantalaimon, sleek and powerful, leapt from the water with half a dozen other swift grey shapes. He had to stay close to the ship, of course, for he could never go far from her; but she sensed his desire to speed as far and as fast as he could, for pure exhilaration. She stared in pleasure, but for her it wasn't pleasure, for there was pain and fear in it too. Suppose he loved being a dolphin more than he loved being with her on land? What would she do then?"

    Unfortunately, I do not have the page number for the quotation. But there is also another example.

    The GB version says:
    "He took the spray and broke off a twig for her.
    >> Did she fly with this<< Lyra said, awed
    >> Yes, she did. I can't give you all of it, because I need it to contact her, but this will be enough. Look after it.<<"

    whereas the US version says:
    "He took the spray and broke off a twig for her.
    >> Did she fly with this<< Lyra said,
    >> Yes, she did. But then she is a witch, and you are not. I can't give you all of it, because I need it to contact her, but this will be enough. Look after it.<<"

    So in my opinion it is not just minor changes that can be explained by linguistic differences.
    But I would like to hear your opinions about the differences, because I do not understand why they have been made.

    Jakobus