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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Decadent, obscene Rome

The BBC mini-series Rome begins tonight on BBC Two. I doubt that I will have time to watch it. What I do find the time to watch is the morning news, and this morning the BBC used their Breakfast programme to run an extended newsvertisment plugging Rome. This series has already been shown in America, where it has been well received. It was, apparently, a little controversial. What could be the source of this controversy? Perhaps the BBC News could tell us. Well, it did not, at least not directly. Perhaps it was the relatively rough English and Scottish accents that these BBC Romans possessed? No, probably not. In the course of this newsvertisment we were shown men being stabbed, slashed and whipped. This did not raise a comment. But then we see a clip of a woman in a bath. She stands, and her body is censored by a post-production blur. We presume that she is naked. This, apparently, is the controversy.

Did you know that people were naked under their clothes during the first century BC? Did you know that people in both the crumbling Roman Republic and, subsequently, the Roman Empire, enjoyed having sex? Controversial, I know.

Murder and torture are palatable it seems, compatible with the entertainment tastes of America and Britain. Nakedness and sexual pleasure are shameful, obscenities to be censored. The latter are both beautiful and part of, we hope, our lives; joyful and affirmative. The former involve the destruction and degradation of life; negations of our humanity.

In my cruellest moments, I wish that all those people who have complained about the nudity and the sex in programmes that are otherwise packed with murder and torture were subjected to a whipping. They could keep their shirts on, of course.

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