Dirty Picture: Why is Amazon Prime Video in India Self-censoring The Marvelous Mrs Maisel?
As the second season of the show premiered on the OTT (over-the-top) platform earlier this month, we noticed many botched up efforts being made by Amazon Prime Video at self-censorship.
In the first season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, we saw Mrs Maisel being arrested for flashing her breasts to a crowd at a nightclub. Back then, her soon-to-be manager, Susie, posted her bail. But the very next day, Mrs Maisel was arrested again by the same policemen, for using 'inappropriate language.'
As the show progressed, we as audience soon realised that these surfeit of arrests will have no bearing on her whatsoever; she will continue to tell her dirty jokes, rebel against the patriarchy and challenge unnecessary censorship and we loved her for it. However, it seems Amazon Prime Video has clearly missed the memo because they have been trying very hard, and very sloppily, to censor The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
As the second season of the show premiered on the OTT (over-the-top) platform earlier this month, we noticed many botched up efforts being made by Amazon Prime Video at self-censorship. In the show, the cigarettes and the cigarette packs were blurred whenever they appeared onscreen. However, the censorship was done so half-heartedly that sometimes it took forever for those blurry patches to appear, and even when they did, they only appeared on some objects. At one point, the male genital was blurred in an art class scene, which brings us to the important question of why Amazon Prime Video is endorsing this form of self-censorship? Or if it is self-imposed at all?
Amazon Prime Video has been on a self-censorship mode for while now. In the fourth season of The Grand Tour, they axed out almost 30 minutes worth of content in India, including scenes that showed cow's organs being placed in a car. The Independent reported that the OTT defended the move by saying that it was taken keeping 'Indian cultural sensitivities in mind'. Even with American Gods, two different versions, one international unedited version, and the other, a censored version was released.
In India, Hotstar is still streaming shows that have nudity and so is Netflix, so there seem to be no censorship policies for OTTs to follow at the moment (and thank god for that). In fact, if you think of it, that is part of their charm. Unlike films, which have to get a censor board certification before making it to cinema halls, and tv shows which are meticulously combed through to make sure nothing 'inappropriate' is EVER done or said, OTT platforms' content does not have such restrictions, which allow us to view international content in the way they were made, without cuts and edits, and they also give Indian filmmakers the freedom to create content, without worrying about its appropriateness.
These liberties although may be shortlived. Attempts at self-censorship may also be a pre-emptive strike to ward off government regulation if reports are to be trusted. Last month, The Print reported that even Netflix and Hotstar may follow in the path of Amazon Prime Video and go for self-regulation of explicit content. The Print quoted two unnamed government officials saying that more OTTs will now do self-censorship, which Netflix has denied.
Whatever the situation may be, it will be great if Amazon Prime Video leaves Mrs Maisel alone, at least for now, given that there are no policies in place. Let her tell her dirty jokes, smoke her cigarettes and let her mother look at as many nude men as she needs to until she stops hyperventilating at the sight of male genital. This unnecessary censorship of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is not only taking away from the marvellousness of Mrs Maisel, but also from that of the OTT platform, and if Amazon Prime Video does not want to fall back in the race for eyeballs, let's hope they will give this self-censorship some rest.
Also, as viewers, let's all say a quick prayer that Hotstar and Netflix do not switch on this self-regulatory mode any time soon, and we can watch Game of Thrones and Sacred Games the way their creators intended them to be viewed.