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Al Martinez

The greatest evil isn't sex but the sin of censorship a university imposes. : Nudity, Profanity and Violence

February 05, 1987|Al Martinez

Let's hear it for good old Pepperdine U., where solid Christian values prevail and the devil finds no takers among the pristine young undergrads who, thanks to a watchful administration, see no evil, hear no evil and you-know-how-I-hate-it-when-you-talk-dirty, Melissa.

Send the kids out of the room, this could get rough.

I don't like writing about sex twice in a row, but things are happening at peppy Pepperdine, sprawled like an ancient temple to heaven on the shores of swinging Malibu.

They're waging war on moral filth.

For those who missed the story, students are offered popular movies each week on campus but are not allowed to see most films that depict profanity, nudity and violence, the very elements that bind American society and make us strong.

Well, actually, they can see the movies, but the aforementioned evils are clipped out so that the purity of an undergrad's soul is not compromised.

You call it censorship, they call it the enhancement of Christian values.

The problem by whatever name has always intrigued me. I trace that interest to my apprentice days at the Oakland Tribune, where for a time the word "rape" was not allowed in print.

We were instructed to use "mistreated" instead, which, as you might imagine, resulted in a good deal of confusion among Tribune readers.

It could mean a woman was either sexually violated, kicked in the head or denied access to her kitchen.

While I agree that there is probably too much sex in American cinema, used wisely it could serve an educational purpose.

I found this to be true when my son was a preschooler. We were in a museum one day and he pointed to a specific part of a nude female statue and said, "What's that, daddy, and why don't we have one?"

You can assume, I'm sure, what he was talking about, and so could I, but I wasn't prepared to discuss it with anyone who had to ask the question in the first place.

Also, I don't know why women have one and men don't. I think it has something to do with recombinant DNA.

However, the boy's question did emphasize the need for basic sex education, which, alas, wasn't offered at the time in our public schools. So after our visit to the museum I took him to see a dirty Julie Andrews movie.

Up until then, Julie had played mostly perky nannies, which led a generation of kids to believe that she did nothing more sensual than hoist her umbrella and float around town like the Goodyear blimp.

In this particular movie, however, she not only ripped off her blouse to reveal a really nice set of garbonzas, but also climbed into the sack with a trucker.

Julie's cinematic debasement was the moral equivalent of Tinkerbell selling herself to the pirates, and my son couldn't understand it.

Whatever she was up to seemed very un-Mary Poppins-like.

"What are they doing?" I remember him asking.

"Having sex," I said.

"Six what?"

"Not six. Sex."

"What's that?"

"You know. Scoring."

"Like in baseball?"

"Sort of."

"Who's ahead?"

"They're tied."

As you can see, an occasional erotic movie isn't bad if there's a narrator to explain, No. 1, exactly what it is the folks on screen are doing, and No. 2, whether they ought to be doing it.

I offer my services to Pepperdine.

The way this would work is that you show a movie in Torquemada Hall, as always. The movie, say, is about a bus driver with a wife and two lovely children who at some point falls in love with a dirty-mouthed, dope-sucking atheist woman who always boards at 4th and Wilshire.

Then there's going to be a scene where he drives the bus off into the bushes and he and Alice Dirtymouth get it on, if you know what I mean.

That's when I bounce to my feet, stop the movie and say, "What the folks are doing up there is wrong, and they shouldn't be doing it."

"What is it they're doing exactly?" someone is bound to ask.

Since Pepperdine is concerned with protecting college kids from smut, clearly it must be that the students don't know much about it in the first place.

"Well," I say, "it's a lot like baseball."

A phys. ed. major raises his hand and says, "Why aren't they on a field surrounded by crowds?"

"You've got a filthy mind, kid," I say. "The point is, doing it with an atheist poisons the soul, and possibly other parts.

"Anyone want to see it again to familiarize themselves with what they shouldn't be doing?"

I'll let them watch it as many times as they like, and eventually they'll get bored and realize that the greatest evil isn't sex but the sin of censorship a university imposes in the name of Christian morality.

And then everyone can get on with their studies and learn what they must to survive in a world where Mary Poppins no longer exists.

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