Censorship Board’s aims “laudable,” says Filmmaker, Artist

By Sapeer Mayron, 11 June 2019

The Censorship Board’s aim of upholding Samoa’s morality by banning Rocketman is “laudable,” according to filmmaker, artists and manager of Tiapapata Art Centre, Galumalemana Steven Percival.

Rocketman, the story of Elton John’s life, was banned by the Samoa Censorship Board on Thursday for its depictions of homosexual sexual activity.

Galumalemana said his own experience at Tiapapata Art Centre with artists in residence applications showed him the importance of art which fits in with Samoa’s culture, values and beliefs.

Anyone wanting to become an artist in residence must apply first, and show samples of their work, Galumalemana said.

“We had two people apply in the last two years whose work was not in keeping with the culture here, it was out there and in your face, almost obscene. 

“So we declined them. They were technically skilled but their work did not sit well in Samoa… it’s a form of censorship.”

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And when he makes his own art or films, Galumalemana said he considers whether his audience will accept the art in order to appreciate a message from it.

“If a viewer is offended, they won’t accept or understand the message you are trying to portray.”

He said Samoa’s cultural and religious values are clear, and so art needs to fit within those parameters.

“Man is best when elevated, not abased, just like with songs packed full of swear words. These are often not good for communities or good for relationships.”

But he added the Censorship Board should be watching violent films and television more carefully too. While sexual activity is blurred, blacked or otherwise cut out of content, gory decapitations and murders are on full display, he said.

“They are happy to allow 300 people to be slaughtered, happy to show extreme violence which breeds a violent culture, desensitised to violence, which can more easily be applied to real life – that to me is a problem, and it is not consistent.

“Kissing can be a healthy thing to see, a healthy model of relationships.”


By Sapeer Mayron, 11 June 2019

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