We discuss the pros and cons of web censorship

Censoring web entertainment: Necessity or curtail of freedom?

Freedom, the term is enigmatic and intriguing at the same time. At an era when diversity and divide tussle over prominence, and major media platforms look into the eyes of stifling censorship, modern day web entertainment comes as succor, voicing and expressing, proving cathartic and near mimetic.

However, when the space is vast, the innate inkling to toy and mar with its essence is paramount… all in the name of creativity.

Web entertainment in the last couple of years, thanks to the increasing reach and acceptance of Youtube and mushrooming of OTT platforms, has become a definite content force to reckon with.

Indeed, some great content pieces are being doled out in the space. However, there are also deliberate slip-ins wherein creators resort to easy clickbaits of sex, cuss and cocky thumbnails to draw eyeballs and ride high on the ‘trending’ chart. The issue is not about a toss-up between vile and virtue but the core idea of moral responsibility.

Thus, comes the moment of epiphany and the question: does web entertainment need censorship? IndianWikiMedia is wedded to the idea of free speech, however some limits must exist, and if not adhered…should they be enforced? If yes, who will bell the cat and how will the vast space be monitored? Do we need censorship in the first place?

In an earlier chat with Manasi Sapre, Content Head at Viu, she called for ‘restrain’ and ‘being responsible’ but said no to censorship.

“I feel, censorship should not be brought in the digital space. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that content creators will shirk away from responsibilities. One can debate on it, of course, but the space needs liberty. Viu has certain principles like we don’t show violence against children, don’t objectify women, among others, and we stick by it. One can have a counter opinion, which is okay, but the essence of storytelling has to be intact in digital space. Dialogue is needed but not a sudden overnight axing. Yes, there are certain shows out there you feel are very irresponsible. One has to be more careful, but censorship is not what the medium needs,” said she.

Some valid point, indeed.

When we dropped a text to TV Czarina Ekta Kapoor-now bringing a paradigm shift via her content coups in OTT network AltBalaji- asking her thoughts on web censorship, she replied with a big  ‘NO’.

Web does give one an opportunity to depict multiple thoughts & expressions with varied veneers of storytelling. Creativity and its perception/intake is dynamic, its influence relative based on one’s collective consciousness. Having said that, when titillation is served without any conceptual connect or need, it does affect the overall web entertainment ecosystem. After all, the idea is to watch good stories, not seek alternative for primitive means of blood rush.

Digital star Abish Mathew, popular for his chat show Son of Abish, is of the opinion: “I would say censorship would take away creativity. Furthermore, one has an option to skip if you don’t like or agree to certain kind of programming. That’s a blessing web has, you can always choose what to watch and what not to watch. And the medium is still evolving, what is right or wrong is yet to be defined.”

Of course, the medium has immense potential and is in a nascent stage of evolution.

Filmmaker Lakshmi R Iyer, who recently made a poignant short film Appa, believes: “Banning or bringing in censorship doesn’t help, actually. If one intends to watch certain kind of entertainment on net, he or she has enough means to watch it. End of the day, it all boils down to your upbringing and values. What you choose to watch is individual preference.”

Well, the popular opinion seems to keep web entertainment away from the clutches of censorship. However, with passing time, as the medium’s might strengthens and roots deepen, it’s only a matter of time before a big ‘censorship’ debate begins.

We would like to state that there is no single straightforward road to set the rules for the internet, given the diverse nature and ethical standards in our country. It’s not about censorship, but setting certain self parameters of content creation which will make the space more organized, vibrant, credible and potent. If at all someday regulation hits the medium, it has to be made democratically not whimsically or dictatorially. Till then, more power to web.

(If any information is incorrect, offensive or you have a diverse opinion, we will be happy to hear from you. Please connect at editorial@indianwikimedia.com)

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